Top Ten

October 11, 2016

UBC rescuer condemns racist narratives surrounding Saudi attempted murder suspect

A University of British Columbia student credited with saving a fellow student from attempted murder says that he wants no part of the Islamophobic narratives that have emerged around the assailant, reports The Province. The suspect in the assault is 18-year-old Thamer Almestadi, an international student from Saudi Arabia whose actions have reportedly prompted a significant number of Islamphobic comments online, with one website repoting on the story with the headline: “Saudi international student tries to MURDER girl with knife, gets put in chokehold by heroic Canadian boy.” “I think that some people are bigoted, they’re xenophobic, they’re racist and this is just going to feed their bias,” said Adam Casey, the student who stopped the attacker. “We had one quite violent incident … and they’re going to ignore the fact that we have tens of thousands of students here from across the world and everyone gets along just fine.” The Province | CBC (Attack) | UBC (President’s Statement)

uMoncton considers eliminating some majors, adding new graduate programs

Université de Moncton is considering a major revision to its program offerings that could see the cutting of existing majors and the creation of new graduate programs, reports CBC. The university has completed a 500-page study of its current programs and made 83 recommendations regarding potential changes, although the details of this study have not yet been made public. uMoncton Vice-Rector of Teaching and Research André Samson told CBC that the report does recommend cutting some programs, such as the majors in philosophy and geography, while adding others, such as a Masters in Acadian Studies. Internal consultations with faculty and student groups are ongoing, and Samson says that a dozen community groups will also be consulted. CBC

Embattled UWaterloo student group loses funding

A University of Waterloo student group has lost funding after fellow students voted 82% to eliminate the mandatory student fee that supported the group financially. The Waterloo Public Interest Research Group was created in 1973 and has a reported history of supporting social justice and environmental issues on campus and around the Waterloo Region. The group sparked controversy, however, when it supported the Palestine Solidarity Action Group, which calls for a boycott of Israeli universities. The move drew charges of anti-Semitism from Jewish advocacy groups, and the Hamilton Record reports that some of these groups became involved in the campaign to vote down the group’s funding. Jana Omar, a co-op student with WPIR, noted that the group's support for PSAG “unfortunately dwarfed a lot of other things WPIRG had done up to that point and is doing still.” Waterloo Region Record

“We have absolutely no idea” how many assaults happen on Canadian campuses

“Asking for the national number of [campus] sexual assaults is easy,” writes Rosemary Westwood for Metro, “but here’s the truth: We have absolutely no idea. We don’t even attempt to know the answer.” Wood highlights the “fairly fruitless” attempts by media outlets such as the CBC and Toronto Star to gather data on sexual assault on Canadian campuses, due largely to the inconsistency and unreliability of the data collected by individual institutions. Wood adds, however, that “even if all schools could be counted on to record and publicize every formally reported sexual assault, the results wouldn’t come close to representing the true number of victims. Many survivors simply don’t tell their schools anything.” For this reason, Wood argues that victimization surveys should be performed at all schools to give all students the anonymous opportunity to say whether they have experienced sexual assault. Metro

Georgian officially opens $7.5 M Algoma Central Corporation Marine Emergency Duties Centre

Cadets and mariners will now be able to receive all their needed life-saving and emergency training at Georgian College, thanks to the newly opened Algoma Central Corporation Marine Emergency Duties Centre. The facilities include four classrooms, instructors offices, and a bunker gear storage room; as well as a lifeboat simulator that is reportedly one of a kind in Canada. “After several years without a training facility in Ontario, mariners will no longer need to travel to Canada's east or west coast to obtain this certification,” stated Georgian Vice President, International, Workforce Development and Partnerships Kevin Weaver. “Everything they and our students need is right here, from lifeboat simulation to fire training.” The $7.5M centre was funded by Grey County, the Ontario and Federal governments, and industry partners Algoma Central Corporation and Lower Lakes Towing. Owen Sound Sun Times

uWinnipeg, uManitoba introduce extended fall breaks to promote mental health

The University of Winnipeg and University of Manitoba have extended the Thanksgiving long weekend to promote mental health among students, reports Metro. uWinnipeg students will get the full week off from October 10th to the 14th while uManitoba students will be off for the 6th and 7th, in addition to the Thanksgiving Monday closure. uWinnipeg Students’ Association President of Student Affairs Laura Elsie said the change was inspired by schools like Ryerson University and the University of Alberta, which have instituted similar breaks. Yet not all students are fans of the new breaks, reports Metro. Hannah Kroeker, a second-year psychiatric nursing student at uWinnipeg and Brandon University, notes that “not having a fall reading week... would allow students to have a more moderate workload for an extended period of time, as opposed to a week off and then a more intense workload.” Metro

“We need to do a better job”: MUN pledges to improve student alert system

“We need to do a better job of letting folks know what's happening,” said Memorial University Manager of Communications Dave Sorensen last week, following reports of a possible armed man on the university’s main campus. Police later confirmed that the suspect was unarmed, yet added that he was detained under the province’s Mental Health Care and Treatment Act. Following criticism that MUN had not done a sufficient job of notifying students and faculty, Sorensen highlighted the challenges of delivering a message to “60 or 70 buildings on campus” and pledged that the university will look into an email or text alert system to ensure students and staff are notified directly should another campus emergency occur. CBC | Telegram

Sheridan to enhance academic, municipal collaboration with Partnering Across Boundaries project

Sheridan College has received $12.5M from the federal and Ontario governments to support its Partnering Across Boundaries project, an initiative that focuses on strengthening academic and municipal collaboration on energy. The partnership will focus specifically on developing a centralized system of energy production that improves energy efficiency, allows for more flexible fuel options, and decreases life-cycle and building costs. “With this funding, we will work with our local municipalities to share our district energy expertise and develop a model for academic-municipal collaboration that can be shared nationwide,” said Sheridan President Jeff Zabudsky. Sheridan will provide an additional $8.9M to fund the $21M project. Canada

Helping students recognize, learn from classroom incivility

“One of the most pervasive topics of concern and frustration that I address in my workshops with faculty members and graduate teaching assistants is classroom incivility,” writes Courtney Wright for Inside Higher Ed. Wright argues that instructors will often unintentionally escalate incivility due to their misguided efforts to “regulate” incivility instead of using it to create teachable moments. Wright offers a series of tips for how instructors can reframe incivility in order to better address and channel it. These include paying attention to the features of incivility, considering the intentions and diverse motivations behind incivility, and remembering that external factors can incite incivility in the classroom. Inside Higher Ed

Selkirk receives $1.8M for trades training

The British Columbia government has invested $1.8M in trades programming at Selkirk College’s Silver King campus in Nelson, according to the Nelson Daily. The funding will reportedly fund 458 seats in trades such as carpentry, welding, and cooking. “We are expecting almost one million job openings in BC by 2025,” says Shirley Bond, BC Minster of Jobs, Tourism and Skills Training & Minister Responsible for Labour. “That’s why these crucial investments targeting high priority trades in our post-secondary institutions are essential. We need to ensure that we have the workforce necessary for our growing economy today and in the future.” Selkirk | Nelson Daily