Top Ten

February 15, 2017

McGill Students’ Society votes against removing member who published “Punch a Zionist” tweet

Controversy has emerged around a McGill University student representative who encouraged people on Twitter to “punch a Zionist today,” reports the Montreal Gazette. McGill, B’nai Brith, and the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs have denounced the tweet, with the latter two groups expressing strong concern about the experience of Jewish students at McGill’s campus. This Monday, the board of directors of the Students’ Society of McGill University rejected by a vote of 5-4 a motion calling for the removal of the student who published the tweet. The Windsor Star reports that during the SSMU meeting, some students called for the removal of a Jewish council member who had deemed the tweet hateful. Montreal Gazette | Windsor Star

CEGEPs demand more resources to end sexual violence

Roughly half of Quebec’s CEGEPs are embarking on a major campaign to raise awareness about sexual violence and the notion of consent, reports La Presse, yet many non-participating institutions lack the resources to do so. Of the province’s 48 CEGEPs, 25 will reportedly participate in one of two campaigns. “In the wake of recent events ... the CEGEPs feel that they are challenged and feel that they need to do more,” says fédération des cégeps CEO Bernard Tremblay, adding that current institutional budgets do not provide many schools the resources they need to participate in the campaigns. “This is totally unacceptable,” adds Rose Crevier-Dagenais, president of the Fédération étudiante collégiale du Québec, who argues that institutional participation in outreach programs should be mandatory and financially supported by the government. La Presse | fédération des cégeps

Indspire, UWinnipeg partner to support 80 FNMI students in coming year

Indspire and the University of Winnipeg have partnered to support 80 First Nations, Métis and Inuit students through the creation of a new award. The University of Winnipeg/Indspire Indigenous Awards Program will provide student with demonstrated financial need with an award of $4.4K. Administered by Indspire, the awards program has been made possible through fundraising efforts and cost-sharing by UWinnipeg, as well as matching funds from the Government of Canada. “I am delighted The University of Winnipeg has shown its leadership and willingness to meet a critical need,” said Roberta Jamieson, President and CEO of Indspire. “Research shows that a lack of funding is a key impediment for Indigenous students who are striving to complete their post-secondary education.” NationTalk | UWinnipeg

Bishop’s students agree to nearly double fee to support refugee students

Students from Bishop's University have voted to double the fees used to support a refugee sponsorship program. In a referendum held last week, the students of the university voted to increase their dues payment for refugee student sponsorship from $2.60 to $5. The new fees will increase the amount contributed to the program from $12K to $24K. Additional funding will come from donations and various activities organized by the committee during the year. “Honestly, it's still a bit surprising,” says Kyanu Soulet, the executive coordinator of the sponsorship committee. “It was a magical and special moment to know that our school community is so generous and aware of what is happening in the world. It's nice to see.” The committee reportedly wants to ensure that it can accommodate a minimum of two students per year. La Presse

$2M investment to help Saint-Félicien improve specialized training in animal health

The Cégep de Saint-Félicien has received a $1.3M investment from the governments of Quebec and Canada to expand and upgrade its animal health pavilion. The CEGEP will contribute an additional $709K to the project for a total investment of just over $2M. The investment will also allow the college to build a greenhouse for exotic animals, increase the school's capacity to accept animals, and expand the amount of clinic space available for the community. “During its initial construction a little over 20 years ago, there were about 30 students specializing in animal health who frequented the animal health pavilion,” said Saint-Félicien Director General Gilles Lapointe. “Today, there are almost 120 students who train in these same spaces every year. It is why this project was becoming more and more of a priority. We are happy that it can be carried out.” Canada

Northern, Algoma, Durham collaborate on online bridging program

Northern College, Algoma University, and Durham College have joined forces to build a new online Bachelor of Computer Science bridging program. Reportedly the first of its kind in Ontario, the collaboration will be supported by $307K from eCampusOntario. The program will create an online bridging program for students to move from Computer Engineering Technician diploma programs at the participating colleges to a Bachelor of Computer Science degree program. This is reportedly the first full online path that allows learners to move seamlessly between the college and university system. “We are very excited about this collaboration that will ensure quality, accessible education, through an innovative new program,” said Northern’s Vice President, Academic and Student Success Audrey Penner. “The collaboration will build on knowledge and expertise developed within each of our institutions with regards to supporting under-served student populations by extending this support into an online forum.” Timmins Press | Northern

Trent moves to finance debt, raise capital with $71M inaugural debenture offering

Trent University has issued its first-ever debenture to investors in an effort to refinance existing debt and gather funds for capital projects. A university release notes that the school has issued $71M in senior unsecured A debentures after receiving an “A” (stable) rating due to its “reputation as an important, primarily undergraduate and liberal arts institution.” “The inaugural debenture offering is a sign of the strength of our Board’s financial stewardship. This is a groundbreaking move for smaller universities. It shows that we can, like larger universities, take advantage of the Canadian bond market and the financial advantages it provides without a discount,” said Trent President Leo Groarke. Trent

Reconciliation at risk of becoming a buzzword, says NCTR director

“What role can and should universities play in reconciliation efforts between Canadian institutions and Indigenous communities? What’s working well and what needs to change?” writes Natalie Samson for University Affairs. Looking back on a recent conference in Ottawa, Samson recounts how Ry Moran, director of the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation at the University of Manitoba, expressed concern that the term “reconciliation” has become a buzzword with no real action behind it at some Canadian universities. Robina Thomas, director of Indigenous academic and community engagement at the University of Victoria, reportedly used her time to identify several “actionable deeds” for universities to perform, such as developing required courses that provide students with the “knowledge of the imperial impact on Indigenous communities” and the “deep systemic violence” waged against them. The article goes on to highlight a number of other perspectives expressed at the symposium. University Affairs

RRC looks to broaden access with program redesign

Red River College has announced that it plans to redevelop and expand some of its existing programs to provide both Indigenous and non-Indigenous students with an opportunity to enroll in a wider range of programs. RRC will specifically focus on its ACCESS programs, which at present restrict students to studying in the four program areas of Nursing, Aircraft Maintenance & Manufacturing, Business Administration and Civil Technology. A college release states that RRC will work with its community and industry partners to ensure that the redevelopment of ACCESS is also responsive to their needs. “Ultimately one of our main goals is to remove some of the existing program restrictions and provide Indigenous, immigrant and other students facing barriers to education, more training options and new and improved pathways to meaningful careers,” said RRC VP Academic Christine Watson. RRC

AB universities “punching above their weight” despite current funding, say PSE leaders

Alberta universities are “punching above their weight” when it comes to research, according to provincial PSE leaders speaking with the Lethbridge Herald. Representatives from the University of Lethbridge, University of Calgary, and University of Alberta recently travelled with provincial ministers to promote shared research and innovation initiatives at the province’s institutions. Speaking from Ottawa, AB Advanced Education Minister Marlin Schmidt noted that “the federal government is very interested in the directions we are taking. It’s good that there’s alignment between us.” Lethbridge Herald