Top Ten

August 12, 2016

Canada reverses decision on YorkU prof denied residency over son with Down Syndrome

The federal government has overturned a decision that denied York University Professor Felipe Montoya permanent residency due to his son's Down Syndrome. The Montoyas' application was reportedly rejected on the grounds that their son Nicolas would place an excessive burden on Canada’s healthcare system, but that decision was reversed last week through “ministerial intervention” on compassionate grounds. Professor Montoya, who returned with his family to their native Costa Rica in June, says they plan to return to Canada. Cape Breton Post (CP)

Pro-Israel group files human rights complaint following alleged ban from social justice week

A pro-Israel group has accused the University of Ontario Institute of Technology of discrimination for allegedly excluding it from the school’s “Social Justice Week” activities, reports the Ottawa Citizen. Hasbara Fellowships Canada has filed a human rights complaint against the student and faculty associations at both UOIT and Durham College. According to an email obtained by the Citizen, an assistant of UOIT’s faculty association explained to the group that offering them a table at the social justice fair would constitute providing the group with resources, which would go against a recent motion adopted by  the school’s student association to pursue boycotts, sanctions, and divestment against Israel. Ottawa Citizen

It's time to take student hunger more seriously, says UAlberta research

It is no longer acceptable to think of student hunger as “short-term pain for long-term gain,” according to a new study from the University of Alberta. The survey-based study of 58 student food bank users found that poor nutrition can negatively impact students' health and academic achievement. “Food banks are a Band-Aid solution, they don’t fix the root causes,” says Noreen Willows, a community nutritionist with UAlberta's Department of Agricultural, Food and Nutritional Science. She adds that the research also shows that “what’s missing across Canada is the bigger picture about food insecurity among students in general.” Edmonton Journal

LGBTQ strategies also help straight students, says UBC researcher

Having studied LGBTQ issues among youth for 20 years, UBC nursing professor Elizabeth Saewyc has found that initiatives to support LGBTQ benefit straight youth in addition to LGBTQ youth. Speaking with the Georgia Straight, Saewyc says that she has observed improved health outcomes, such as lower levels of suicidal thoughts and substance abuse, among straight students in schools with supportive LGBTQ policies. She adds that she hopes to conduct qualitative research that will involve speaking with youth about their perspectives on LGBTQ issues and health concerns. Georgia Straight

NorQuest program partners Aboriginal workers with construction industry

NorQuest College’s Alberta Aboriginal Construction Career Centre aims to pair Aboriginal workers with employers in the construction business. The centre has reportedly received significant support from industry, the Alberta government, and educational institutions, including a recent $100K investment from oil giant Syncrude. The Syncrude funding is reportedly intended to help “Aboriginal people share in the benefits of developing oilsands.” The centre will also offer Indigenous awareness training to any company that requests it. Edmonton Journal

NB commits $42M to UNBSJ medical school renewal

New Brunswick is investing nearly $42M to ensure the continued operation of Dalhousie University’s medical education program at the University of New Brunswick’s Saint John campus for another five years. The funding will go toward operations costs at Dal, rental space at UNBSJ, and student support and library services. “The renewal of this agreement will allow New Brunswick’s medical students to continue studying and training right here in their own province,” says NB Post-Secondary Education, Training and Labour Minister Donald Arseneault. NB | CBC

Three investments in teaching and learning your school cannot do without: IHE blogger

Writing for Inside Higher Ed, Joshua Kim argues in favour of three investments in teaching and learning that he believes will allow institutions “to have the resources to compensate all faculty fairly and equitably.” The first is redesigning foundational and other large enrolment courses, the second is developing capabilities and experience in blended and online learning, and the third is instituting a data-driven approach to continuous improvement. “The good news is that we have the platforms, tools, and expertise to tackle this goal,” says Kim. “What is too often missing is the will (and the leadership) to do things differently.” Inside Higher Ed

It might be time to get rid of honorary degrees, writes THE contributor

“Honorary degrees are rarely out of the news, whether for the pomp-filled glory of their award, or the acrimony surrounding their revocation,” writes Malcolm Gillies for Times Higher Education. Yet the author questions whether these honours and titles are in sync with our 21st-Century culture of quality assurance and regulation. Gillies acknowledges the nearly universal appeal of honours and awards before delving into a brief description of where honorary degrees originated. Ultimately, he highlights a number of pitfalls in the “self-aggrandising, honorary fun” of these degrees and argues that schools should consider doing away with them. Times Higher Education

Winnipeg makes significant investment in student public transit ridership

Winnipeg is hoping that a new plan to sell discounted bus passes to students will increase future ridership for its public transit system, reports the Winnipeg Free Press. Winnipeg Transit has offered roughly 5,000 discounted student transit passes to the University of Winnipeg and another 25,000 to the University of Manitoba. The plan was informed by a survey of similar discount plans offered by other jurisdictions across Canada, some of which reportedly saw an increase in student ridership by 50%. Students will be charged $260 for the passes through their student fees, compared to the $566.80 they would normally pay for transit passes covering an eight-month academic year. Winnipeg Free Press (Subscription Required)

Student libertarian group protests “nanny state” food regulation with mock Toronto convenience store

A cross-country student libertarian group set up a mock convenience store in Toronto yesterday to protest what it calls the “nanny state” policies of food label  warnings and special taxes. Run by Students For Liberty Canada, the store contained chocolate bars covered in labels that read “Chocolate may kill you!” and a number of other products designed to demonstrate “what it's like if the government is going to hold your hand through life, over-tax, over-regulate, over-ban everything that's bad for your health,” according to the group's co-ordinator David Clement. University of Waterloo Public Health Professor David Hammond, however, argues that a majority of Canadians make food choices based on misinformation, which means the goal “is to respond to the public health issue ... and secondly to correct some really prevalent misconceptions.” Times Colonist (CP)