Top Ten

April 29, 2016

BC introduces legislation requiring universities to have sexual misconduct policies

British Columbia has introduced new legislation mandating that universities establish standalone sexual misconduct policies. The decision comes in the wake of allegations that schools in BC are not doing enough to protect and support survivors of campus sexual violence. The Sexual Violence and Misconduct Policy Act would compel universities to establish policies to prevent and address sexual violence, report to the province on a regular basis, and review these policies at least once every three years. BC Advanced Education Minister Andrew Wilkinson says that the legislation would take effect one year after receiving royal assent, giving institutions time to create and implement the policies. Vancouver Sun | CBC | BC

MUN VP calls spin on NL budget cuts “intolerable”

Memorial University Provost and VP Noreen Golfman has called Newfoundland's budget cuts a “monster of enforced attrition and reduction.” Citing higher numbers than the $8 M cut to MUN that was reported by the province, Golfman states that “the spin from government about Memorial having received enough to keep a tuition freeze is intolerable” in light of reduced tuition funding, deferred maintenance costs, a shrinking operations budget, and the new HST costs. Golfman directs attention to the Alberta government and federal Liberals as figures of “hope, and much better messaging.” She concludes by asking for a silver lining in the budget and states that “we all want the same thing, a university this province can be proud of, one it deserves for this and future generations.” CBC | MUN (Blog Post)

GPRC, ACAD agreement “walks the talk” in supporting students

Grande Prairie Regional College and the Alberta College of Art and Design have signed an MOU that ACAD President Daniel Doz praises as a sign of the two institutions “walking the talk” when it comes to supporting students. The MOU specifically opens up new opportunities for Fine Arts students by allowing them to transfer seamlessly from GPRC to ACAD’s professional Bachelor of Fine Arts programs. “ACAD is known for its excellence and is sought out by many of our graduates,” said GPRC President Don Gnatiuk, “creating this opportunity for students is a great example of how two institutions can work together and meet the needs of students.” GPRC | Daily Hearld Tribune

Institutions raise concerns over funding at stake in divestment decisions

When it comes to the topic of divestment from oil and gas companies, “Canada’s universities are grappling with a serious moral issue while they fight to retain valuable research dollars,” writes Charles Mandel in the National Observer. Mandel highlights the concerns raised by a number of institutions that have felt pressure to divest. The article also discusses the issue raised by Dalhousie University Dean of Science Chris Moore in a report stating that “a senior executive at Shell... told [Moore] directly that the company is monitoring the university divestment movement closely and would look unfavorably on any university that divested in regard to future investment.” A Shell Canada spokesperson denied any intention to pull funding from institutions that chose to divest. National Observer

Disputes emerge over acknowledgment of rape culture in Carleton sexual assault policy

Administrators at Carleton University are facing criticism from students, unions, and community members over the development of the school’s new sexual violence policy, reports the Ottawa Citizen. A group of sexual assault survivors, as well as outreach workers and supporters, are reportedly asking the university to acknowledge the existence of “rape culture” in its new policy. Yet previous discussion of this issue, and on the related issue of having “survivor centric” language in the policy, has been “incredibly combative” according to Dawn Moore, an associate professor of law and equity chair of the Carleton University Academic Staff Association. Carleton has stated that, “stakeholder consultation has happened and will continue to happen” with respect to the new policy. The university reportedly hopes to have a policy approved by the end of 2016. Ottawa Citizen

Not into MOOCs? How about a SPOC?

Teachers with many non-traditional students understand the appeal of digital learning, writes David Burns of Kwantlen Polytechnic University, but the question of how to use this technology effectively can create doubt. This is why Burns created what he dubs a SPOC, or small private online course. Burns argues that creating a SPOC required him to make two fundamental changes to the way he approached teaching. First, he stopped thinking of his class as being divided into time blocks, instead seeing every moment as a possible opportunity to record a new thought and post it to his course’s online materials. Second, he extended his office hours from three hours per week to 30, effectively putting himself “on-call” for whenever students wished to seek out his help. Times Higher Education

Med students need a “dose of realism,” says QC minister

Quebec’s medical students might lack “a dose of realism” when it comes to the financial realities of the health care system, according to an address given by QC Health Minister Gaétan Barrette at a recent students’ round table. Students had sent Barrette a “wish list” prior to the event that reportedly included a request for electronic medical records, more full-time health care positions, and reinstatement of the province’s health watchdog. Barette said many of the requests were not financially realistic, although he stressed that he and the students were “all in agreement” about the values of the system. McGill University medical student David Benrimoh, however, said that the roundtable succeeded in proving that “contrary to what the minister told us at McGill at the beginning of the year—that public consultation [on health care policy] can be done … effectively in six months, and by students, no less.” Montreal Gazette

Top nine practices of effective presidents

Higher education can provide us with many examples of effective and ineffective leaders, writes Scott Newman for the Chronicle of Higher Education, but those who are effective tend to follow a set of key practices. Newman outlines nine of these practices, which include: conveying a coherent vision, keeping one's own counsel, and understanding one's obligations to boards. The most important of all, however, might be a president’s mindfulness toward her or his “fit” within an institution. Newman concludes that, “successful CEOs in academe are almost always the beneficiaries of careful research on their prospective employers and sincere assessments of their own capacities to advance the institution.” Chronicle of Higher Education

Pro-life club takes legal action against uAlberta

A pro-life club has pursued legal action against the University of Alberta for attempting to charge the club over $17 K to hold an event on its campus. UAlberta Pro-Life has asked the Court of Queen’s Bench in Edmonton to determine whether it was legal for the university to charge the fee, which uAlberta reportedly justified as a routine requirement based on the security risk connected to the event. The club believes that the fee infringes on its freedom of expression. It is also currently seeking acknowledgement of wrongdoing on uAlberta’s part for allegedly failing to discipline protesters who tore down the group’s signs and obstructed its displays at a 2015 on-campus demonstration. Edmonton Journal

Mohawk building new innovation centre for engineering-technology students

Mohawk College’s recently approved budget includes funding for the first phase of a new partnership and innovation centre to be built on the school's Fennel Campus. This $54 M innovation centre “will be a mix of classrooms and labs” according to Mohawk Spokesperson Jay Robb, who explained that the engineering-technology program was experiencing high demand. The initial phase of construction is expected to be completed by Spring 2018, and the college is looking for additional federal and/or provincial government funding, as well as funding from engineering-technology partners from the private sector, to support the rest of the project. Hamilton Spectator