Top Ten

October 24, 2016

Canadian universities take steps to discourage, ban offensive Halloween costumes

Several Canadian universities and their student associations have developed protocols in an effort to prevent students from wearing offensive costumes at Halloween, reports the Montreal Gazette. The Brock University Students’ Union has warned students that they may be barred from student-run events if they wear certain traditional religious and cultural items. The union reportedly developed its costume rules two years ago after a group of students dressed in blackface. The Gazette reports that the move is part of a growing trend among North American campuses to restrict what Halloween costumes students can wear. University of Windsor Professor and freedom of expression expert Richard Moon says that while universities need to encourage open discourse, they may also enforce standards of civility similar to those enforced in other spaces where people are expected to live and work. Montreal Gazette | UBC

CAUT questions uToronto response to professor’s statements on gender, free speech

The Canadian Association of University Teachers has stated that the University of Toronto might be testing Canada’s free-speech rights in its effort to discourage psychology professor Jordan Peterson from speaking on his refusal to use gender-neutral pronouns, reports the Globe and Mail. CAUT Executive Director David Robinson says that the question of whether Peterson’s comments can be limited under Canadian law is debatable, and that “the onus is on the university to prove that his refusal to use certain pronouns constitutes a violation of law.” When asked by the Globe what he would do if asked to use a student’s preferred gender pronoun, Peterson said, “I guess I would say no, then I am probably prosecuted for a hate crime, that would be my guess.” Globe and Mail

Competition rising for high-demand college programs

Programs at Canadian colleges that train students for high-demand jobs are becoming increasingly competitive to enter, writes Paul Attfield for the Globe and Mail. A number of colleges across the country are now reporting that they receive more than 10 applicants for every available seat in an in-demand program. St Lawrence College President Glenn Vollebregt says that one of the key factors behind this trend is students’ desire to secure a good job after graduation. Langara College Associate Vice-President, International and External Development Ajay Patel notes that students are also becoming more aware that “the education they get may be very different than the careers that they evolve themselves into, and so they are becoming much more broad-minded.” In addition, colleges also have a responsibility not to graduate too many students in certain fields in order to avoid unfairly saturating certain labour markets, says Anne Neufeld, provost and vice-president, academic at Saskatchewan Polytechnic. Globe and Mail

New AB program to help cover tuition costs for apprentices pursuing trades

Alberta is looking to provide additional support to cover tuition and other postsecondary fees for those pursuing technical training with a new $1.5M grant. Apprentices who have successfully completed their first period of technical training and are registered for technical training at a postsecondary institute are eligible for up to $1K in assistance. The Edmonton Journal writes that the new program is welcome news to many who have been affected by Alberta’s oil downturn. Ken Bird, a member of the Apprenticeship and Industry Training Board, said that “this province needs these apprentices to complete their training. Alberta’s economy will recover and we’ll need to prepare ourselves today for that diversified economy.” Edmonton Journal

uOttawa to cut back on library expenses to meet budget shortfall

The University of Ottawa is set to cancel subscriptions to thousands of academic journals to make up for a budget shortfall, reports CBC. Administrators at the university claim that the school is instituting a 2% across-the-board budget cut for the 2016-17 year to make up for a shortfall created in part by the weak Canadian dollar. The school’s academic community has launched an online petition to “protect these critically important library resources for the benefit of its students and research staff, its undergraduate and graduate programs, and its national and international reputation.” ​Most of the cancellations are scheduled to come into effect on Jan 1, 2017. CBC

Lakeland opens Livestock Research Facility

Lakeland College has officially opened its Livestock Research Facility. Home to 50 head of cattle, the facility will look to increase Lakeland’s capacity to participate in applied research projects of importance to the livestock industry in Western Canada. “The opening of the Livestock Research Facility is an exciting milestone for Lakeland’s Student-Managed Farm,” says Lakeland President Alice Wainwright-Stewart. “With this modern facility, our students have the space and tools necessary to … gain valuable research experience as they work alongside faculty and industry leaders on innovative research projects.” Lakeland

Culturally competent advising requires a holistic approach

“To be better advisers, we need to consider the cultural baggage a student brings to a conversation when discussing their major,” writes June Y Chu for Inside Higher Ed. Chu illuminates the ways that culturally competent advising must grow to better serve a diverse student body. This approach uses a holistic approach that goes beyond telling a student to pursue the subject they love, and takes into account issues such as family conflicts and responsibilities. Chu further adds that “the question for advisers is how our own cultural values influence our advising and potentially devalue the cultural history a student brings into our office.” Inside Higher Ed

Lethbridge receives formal approval for agriculture program

Lethbridge College’s Agriculture Business Risk management program has received formal approval from Alberta Advanced Education, allowing the students to receive certificates of accomplishments. “The approval provides potential for Agriculture Business Risk Management content to transfer to the University of Lethbridge as well as other post-secondary institutions,” noted Lethbridge Interim Dean for Applied Arts and Sciences Edith Olson. The program is an online course offered in modular form, and was developed in consultation with industry partners to reflect the needs of agriculture professionals. Lethbridge Herald

UBC dominates list of highest-earning university, college employees

The Vancouver Sun has published its annual public sector salary database and found that the University of British Columbia accounted for nine of the province’s ten most highly paid university and college employees. UBC spokesperson Susan Danard explains that the salaries reflect the fact that UBC is by far the province’s largest institution and that “to compete internationally for talent with those top-ranked universities and the private sector, UBC’s compensation must be competitive and commensurate with the responsibilities of the positions we are hiring for.” The Sun reports that this year was also unique in that the top earner in BC’s postsecondary system was not a university president or senior executive, but a radiology professor from UBC. UBC

NU creates committee to guide joint-venture university project

Nunavut Education Minister Paul Quassa says that the territory has convened a committee to oversee the development a joint-venture university in partnership with Nunavut Arctic College and an established university. A feasibility study conducted earlier this year found that NU would not have the student population necessary to support a standalone university. Since then, a group of officials from the education department and Arctic College visited five Canadian universities in three provinces to look at best practices.  “A joint venture would allow us to increase the number and diversity of degree programs delivered here in Nunavut,” Quassa told the legislature last week. “It will provide an opportunity for Nunavut Arctic College and a partner university to share their respective expertise and establish a university in the Canadian Arctic.” Nunatsiaq Online