Top Ten

November 1, 2016

Six Canadian universities partner on unprecedented health initiative

Six universities have become the first in Canada to formally adopt the Okanagan Charter: An International Charter for Health Promoting Universities and Colleges. The charter was recently signed by the University of British Columbia, Simon Fraser University, Memorial University, Mount Royal University, the University of Calgary, and the University of Lethbridge. Together, these institutions will lead the new Canadian Health Promoting Universities and Colleges Network. Each institution has reportedly made individual commitments to enacting the Okanagan Charter on their campuses in a variety of ways—from the creation of mental health strategies to the development of campus spaces that support connection and community. UBC | uLethbridge | UCalgary | MUN | SFU

Increased coverage through NS program to make higher ed more accessible

Nova Scotia has increased its coverage options for the Career Seek Program, which helps social assistance recipients pursue a postsecondary education. The program has room for 50 participants, but only four are reportedly taking advantage of it this year. CBC explains that the program previously paid the fees associated with a community college diploma. Now, however, it will cover one year of university tuition and fees, all textbooks, up to $500 per semester for child care and transportation, and $500 per semester for food, supplies, and personal needs. Halifax YWCA Executive Director Mila Suokonautio points out that the child care funding alone will impact the accessibility of the program for many women. CBC

UManitoba, UMFA mediation reaches impasse, UMFA alleges that province illegally interfered

Mediation between the University of Manitoba and its professors has reportedly reached an impasse, which CBC reports could force 29,000 UManitoba students out of class. The Winnipeg Free Press reports that the Pallister government directed the university to extend its collective agreements one year at 0%, an action that UManitoba Faculty Association President Mark Hudson says "represents illegitimate government interference in a constitutionally protected process of collective bargaining.” "The province has unnecessarily endangered a complex negotiation through this misguided interference, and its action has jeopardized the educational goals of every U of M student,” added Hudson. A statement from the university says that UManitoba has asked the province to appoint a conciliator to resolve its outstanding issues with the Faculty Association. Winnipeg Free Press (1) | Winnipeg Free Press (2) | CBC | UManitoba

UNBC student union faces $100K debt, proposes cuts to programs

The Undergraduate Student Society at the University of Northern British Columbia has stated that it will need to make major changes to its programming to address its $100K debt. Among the proposed changes are the permanent closure of the students’ campus pub and cuts to the funding of student clubs. “This is a culmination of many years of poor planning," said Northern Undergraduate Student Society VP Finance Eric Depeneau. “It shows, frankly, that we're doing a number of things exceptionally poorly.” Other proposed changes to the NUGSS operations include adjusting student society fees to increase with the consumer price index, and investigating the possibility of charging rent to organizations that use the building owned by NUGSS, including the campus newspaper, radio station, and Pride Centre. CBC

How institutions can help address “micro-barriers” for first-generation students

Many of the barriers faced by first-generation students can be nearly invisible to professors and administrators, writes Eric Johnson for the Chronicle of Higher Education. The author notes that a clear example of these barriers emerges in the difference between how first-generation students and “wealthier, parentally enabled students” react to the idea of asking their mentors for support or accommodations. As Johnson notes, even the prospect of asking for a letter of recommendation can be difficult for first-generation students, who might have been brought up with the belief that they should not ask others for favours. More entitled students, on the other hand, might feel it is natural to demand certain accommodations and services “in exchange for their tuition dollars.” The author concludes that if a school is going to do a better job helping first-generation students, it needs to recognize these “micro-barriers” and work to address them. Chronicle of Higher Education

McGill student support workers embark on five-day strike

Student support workers at McGill University began a five-day strike on Saturday morning after negotiations with the university had broken down, according to a statement on the group's website. The statement notes that the cause for the breakdown was a disagreement over changes to a work-study program, with union president Claire Michela stating that the current program makes it difficult for students with the greatest financial need to secure employment at the school. On Saturday morning, hundreds of causal non-academic staff leaving their positions at McGill residences, research institutes, and athletic facilities. The strike is scheduled to last for five days, and the group reportedly plans to return to negotiations on November 10, 2016. CBC | Global News |  McGill | AMUSE

How to rethink social science education: UA contributor

“Undergraduate education in the social sciences is anything but a simple proposition in the current climate for higher education,” writes Rod Missaghian for University Affairs. While some have called for the social sciences to restructure themselves around exciting and emerging fields, the author notes that this often seems out of sync with calls to examine how undergraduate education is failing to provide the job skills sought by employers. The author says that these concerns must be taken into account when charting a way forward for the social science. To this end, the author specifically calls for an exploration of social science programs that incorporate teaching in computation, in addition to better understanding how students are using their skills for job placement. University Affairs

UPEI to combat student hunger with new free-lunch kitchen

The University of Prince Edward Island has announced that it will soon open a new kitchen on its campus to serve free lunches to students. The decision comes in the wake of an Acadia University study that found 38% of students were not accessing enough healthy food. Kitchen program organizer Claire Byrne suggested that this number is probably similar at UPEI, adding this level of food insecurity “essentially means you don't know where your next meal is coming from, or you're not eating healthy meals, or you're not eating three meals a day.” The new program will reportedly be a collaborative effort between the school and the UPEI Student Union. CBC

Queen’s gives Indigenous names to 12 campus study rooms

Queen's University has announced that it will give Indigenous names to 12 rooms in its Stauffer Library in an effort to increase the visibility of Indigenous culture on its campus and make these rooms more welcoming for Indigenous students. Seven of the rooms are named after the Seven Grandfather Teachings in Anishinaabe, while five of the rooms have names from Mohawk, Cree, Michif (Metis), Mi'kmaq and Inuktitut languages. “The assigning of indigenous names to 12 study rooms in the Stauffer Library, the symbolic and physical centre of study and learning, make an important statement that Indigenous presence is recognized at the heart of the university,” said Marlene Brant Castelano, co-chair and elder of the school's Aboriginal Council. “University spaces have not been perceived by Indigenous peoples as a welcoming place where their identity and knowledge is respected.” Kingston Whig-Standard | Queen’s

CCNB Campbellton to offer two new programs in senior care

The New Brunswick government has announced that it will invest more than $424K to help the Campbellton campus of the Collège communautaire du Nouveau-Brunswick offer two new programs focused on senior care. The Personal Support Worker—Acute Care program, offered in English, will begin at the end of January 2017 and train up to 15 people over 40 weeks at the Campbellton campus. The second program, titled A Helping Hand for Seniors, will begin at the end of November 2016 and run for 28 weeks, training up to 20 people between the ages of 55 and 64 to become nursing home attendants. “These two training programs, focused on acquiring practical experience within a team of health-care professionals, will enable students beginning their post-secondary education, and those wishing to return to the workplace at age 55 or over, to provide quality long-term care to people in our communities,” said CCNB President Liane Roy. NB