Top Ten

November 15, 2016

“Enroll elsewhere,” uLaval employees’ union tells prospective students

Le Syndicat des employés de l'Université Laval has advised prospective students to enroll at other institutions, reports La Presse. The union reportedly attended one of the university’s open house events  and advised students to enroll elsewhere. The advice was accompanied by a warning from the group stating that it “cannot guarantee that there will not be a labour dispute that could disrupt the winter session” of classes at the school. The union’s members have yet to vote on a strike mandate, and according to a CUPE representative, two meetings with the employer could still prevent an escalation in the group's actions. The union has reportedly been without a collective agreement since March 2016. La Presse

Divided UManitoba Students’ Union endorses striking faculty

The University of Manitoba Students’ Union has voted to formally support professors in their ongoing strike, reports the CBC, yet the union’s president says students remain divided on the issue. UMSU President Tanjit Nagra says that passing the motion to declare the union’s support came only after a five-hour meeting, which ended with 18 councillors voting in favour, 10 against, and three abstentions. “At the end of the day, whether people support UMFA or not, it's really just, they want to back in the classrooms, they want to be back learning, and they want to be actually getting education for the tuition they're paying,” said Nagra. As part of the formal statement of support, UMSU will also execute a “student day of action” to support the picket lines next week if a deal has not been reached. CBC | Winnipeg Free Press (Endorsement)

New McMaster VP role aims to bolster equity, diversity

McMaster University has created a new leadership role that aims to advance the school’s commitments to being “a fair, equitable and diverse place to conduct research, teach and study.” The Vice Provost (Equity and Inclusion) will report to the school’s Provost and lead a restructured Equity and Inclusion office. McMaster says that some of the immediate priorities for the new VP will be the implementation of recommendations from Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission report, and working to help the school meet government expectations for diversity in major grant proposals, research chairs, and leadership roles. “McMaster has taken many steps to become a more equitable campus,” says Provost David Wilkinson. “But more is needed to help us move to the next level and this requires a dedicated leader who can focus on these issues.” McMaster

TWU ruling is “a game changer,” writes Vancouver Sun contributor

“It was a game changer,” writes Barry Bussey of the recent decision by the BC Appeal Court to uphold Trinity Western’s application for law school accreditation in BC. Bussey argues that while TWU’s requirement for students to sign its community covenant “may be abhorrent to many,” he insists that “the court was unequivocal, TWU has every right to practice its faith on campus.” Bussey echoes the arguments of the BC Appeal Court in stating that while TWU's covenant does in principle discriminate against the LGBTQ community, “that discrimination does not outweigh the severe effect to TWU’s loss of religious freedom to open an accredited law school.” The author further argues that in real terms, “it would be only the smallest of numbers of LGBTQ students who would even want to attend a religious school like TWU and who could not sign the covenant dictating conduct.” Vancouver Sun

Athabasca criticized by auditor general for failure to develop disaster recovery plan

A report from the Alberta auditor general reportedly states that Athabasca University has failed to establish off-site disaster recovery facilities or to complete and test a disaster recovery plan despite being instructed to do so in 2010. The Edmonton Journal reports that the AB auditor instructed Athabasca establish the facility, describing it as “critical to reliably providing accessible online learning to Albertans.” “It’s not that the recommendations have gone unattended,” explained Athabasca President Neil Fassina, who described building a more secure system without disrupting day-to-day operations as a complex task. The report further criticized Athabasca’s lack of monitoring and reporting of security violations. Fassina responded that “a number of stop-gap measures” had been put in place, but that a “full, robust system” was still “two years away from fruition.” Edmonton Journal

In job talks, the Q&A is more important than the talk itself: Chronicle contributor

“Far too many graduate students earnestly prepare for their job talk as if the talk itself is what matters most,” writes Karyn Lacy for the Chronicle of Higher Education. But the author notes that far more important than the talk itself is the Q&A that comes afterward. The reason, she argues, is that “the Q&A provides insight into how you perform under pressure. It is a measure of your temperament, of the kind of citizen you would be should the faculty members listening attentively invite you to join them.” For better or for worse, the author notes, academics invest great value in whether or not a person can “think on their feet,” seeing it as “an indication of how smart you really are.” For this reason, the author recommends that PhD supervisors and departments spend much more time preparing job candidates for Q&A sessions, rather than focusing solely on polishing their job talks. Chronicle of Higher Education

UCalgary shuts down open access to BitTorrent on its campus

The University of Calgary has cut off open access to BitTorrent sites on its campus, residence, and Wi-Fi networks in an effort to combat piracy, reports CBC. The move reportedly comes in response to new changes in federal copyright laws, which call on internet service providers to send letters to users suspected of illegally distributing files. “Now of course the university doesn't want to be the internet provider that has to deal with those notices because the rules are, you have to pass them on to the end users, whoever was doing it has to be notified,” says UCaglary Professor Tom Keenan. But Katy Anderson, a Calgary-based digital rights advocate, argues that “there is nothing in Canada's Copyright Modernization Act that requires restricting access to websites or blocking content, it's an arbitrary and unfair restriction which has no legal basis.” CBC

Changes to immigration policy offer new benefits to students with Canadian degrees

Canada has introduced new changes to its immigration policy that will provide additional advantages to international students with Canadian degrees, reports Canadian Business. The changes award additional points within Canada's Express Entry system to applicants whose degrees were obtained in Canada. Previously, applicants could earn up to 150 points for their educational qualifications, and the only advantage for those who studied in Canada was not having to prove the equivalency of their degrees. Under the new system, applicants with a Canadian educational credential will get up to 30 additional points. “It’s going to be a boon to international students who have studied here—it’s going to give them a big leg up,” says immigration lawyer Tamara Mosher-Kuczer. Canadian Business

UWaterloo, Huawei agree to strategic research partnership

The University of Waterloo has entered a strategic research partnership with global information and communications technology solutions provider Huawei that will serve as a framework for existing and future investment. Huawei reportedly plans to invest $3M into the development of further research projects with the university as part of the agreement. UWaterloo reports that this collaboration will spur a wide variety of research and development initiatives that include cloud computing, next generation communications, data management, and data analytics. UWaterloo President Feridun Hamdullahpur noted that “this formalized partnership brings together one of world’s top innovation universities and one of the world’s most innovative companies, positioning us for some exciting research opportunities in the future.” UWaterloo

MacEwan boosts athletics resources with $3.5M ice-time deal

MacEwan University’s president says that a new $3.5M deal for preferential ice time at an Edmonton rink could usher in a new future for the men’s and women’s hockey programs at the school. David Atkinson says that while the university does not have a home facility on its campus, securing the ice time may give it the access it needs to join the Canada West Universities Athletic Association. “We are not a campus-driven university, we see ourselves as an urban university and one of the things you do is you interact with the community around you,” adds Atkinson. “This deal demonstrates that we try to use our resources intelligently and smart and it gives us a premier facility.” Edmonton Journal