Top Ten

March 2, 2017

Universities must stand up against the “enemies of enlightenment,” says McMaster president

“Parochialism and protectionism are the enemies of enlightenment, progress and discovery, and no institution can expect or continue to be great if it is walled off from the rest of the world,” writes McMaster University President Patrick Deane in a critique of recent developments in US travel policy. Deane notes that the very purpose of universities in the West has been to “protect the unimpeded flow of people and ideas” as a “prerequisite for learning and human advancement.” After exploring the historical context behind his assertions, Deane concludes that “where there is injustice, intolerance or exclusion, there cannot be academic freedom. Universities have therefore a fundamental and essential obligation to oppose bigotry and closed-mindedness in all its forms.” McMaster

“It keeps students in schools”: MacEwan allows students, staff to pick preferred names and genders

Students and staff at ​MacEwan University can now change their genders or names in the university's record-keeping systems, reports CBC. MacEwan Vice-President, General Counsellor and Compliance Officer Michelle Plouffe says that the school made the move so that students would be empowered to “define their own identity,” adding that “some students had raised concerns that the system made it difficult to change to their preferred name or gender marker. … So we're making changes that allow people to be who they are.” The change has drawn applause from Kristopher Wells, director of the Institute for Sexual Minority Studies and Services at the University of Alberta, who says that MacEwan’s move “keeps students in schools. When they're actually recognized for who they are it says, you exist, you matter, you have value here. And you're welcome at our post-secondary institution.” CBC | Edmonton Journal

Five years Later, Maple Spring effects still felt in QC

La Presse reports that legal uncertainty still persists in the wake of Maple Spring, a 40-day strike that occurred 5 years ago. Reflecting on how Quebec has reportedly never since clarified students’ right to strike, former Cégep de Sherbrooke student and student association external affairs representative Olivier Mercier expressed his concerns that any legislation introduced by the government would tend toward the neutralization of student movement. Recently, a CEGEP student has been compensated over $6K for a “delay in his professional career” caused by the Maple Spring strike five years ago, to be paid by the student association of the St-Laurent CEGEP. The small claims court dismissed the student association’s argument that the strike was the right of freedom of expression. Montreal Gazette | La Presse (Maple Spring)

CFI issues $51M to attract, retain top research talent

The Government of Canada has announced more than $51M in new funding for scholars across the country to give researchers the tools they need to conduct cutting-edge research. Canadian Minister of Science Kirsty Duncan announced that the funds will support 223 projects at 39 universities across the country. “Investments in Canada’s research infrastructure, like those we are celebrating today, are incredibly important to our nation’s future,” said Duncan. “They help us to attract and retain the very best scientists and give Canadian researchers the tools they need to perform excellent cutting-edge research, train the scientists of tomorrow and enable innovative new discoveries that improve our environment, economy and communities.” CFI

UNBSU expresses concern over university’s decision to terminate Dons

The University of New Brunswick Student Union has issued a release expressing its concern over the university’s decision to terminate current positions for live-in Residence Life staff, or Dons. According to UNBSU, the school’s Residence Life department is pursuing a restructuring that will see three full-time Residence Life Coordinators replace the Dons, with each managing three to four residences. The restructuring also includes the creation of a Residence Fellow to support students’ academics. The UNBSU claims that the removal of the Dons could negatively impact residence life for students. “The combination of insufficient consultations and weak communications only encourages students' distrust for these changes,” said Katie Beers, UNBSU Vice-President External. “The restructure and its methodology conflict with the needs and wants of students and limits access to support for many of our residence leaders.” UNBSU

Okanagan to create Indigenous garden in prominent campus location

Okanagan College has announced that it will create a new 6,000 square-foot Indigenous garden. The garden is meant to show the relationship between nature and Indigenous people, its name being a Nsyilxcen word meaning “the things that we do.” The garden will reportedly feature over 50 plants and is the product of close collaborations with local elders, historians, and members of surrounding First Nations communities. “This relationship we have with each other and the natural environment is rooted in being respectful and thankful,” said Okanagan Aboriginal Services Coordinator Anthony Isaac in a release. “We make offerings before we harvest, saying our thanks to the plants or animals for giving their lives for us and never taking too much.” Infotel | Okanagan

Keyano to offer evidence-based mindfulness training to college community

Keyano College has announced that it is offering online mindfulness training to all faculty, staff, and students in an effort to support mental health, improve resilience, and increase performance. Next Monday, 5000 members of the Keyano community will be invited to start the 30 Day Mindfulness Challenge, a program that has been used at the Mental Health Commission of Canada, UBC, WestJet, Coca-Cola, and Harvard Law School. A Keyano release states that the program has been shown by the Sauder School of Business to lower stress, increase resilience, improve teamwork, and strengthen leadership skills. “It’s a dynamic, face-paced environment at Keyano College so we want to support our community as much as possible, especially as we approach the one year anniversary of the fire,” said Debbie O’Halloran, Keyano Chair, Counselling & Accessibility Services. Keyano

BCIT receives CRJ100 Aircraft from Bombardier

The British Columbia Institute of Technology has received a CRJ100 aircraft for use by the school’s Aerospace programs, courtesy of Bombardier. The event reportedly marks Bombardier’s first donation of a commercial aircraft to an educational institution and symbolizes the company’s commitment to the training of a skilled workforce in Canada. The donated aircraft was originally created by Bombardier for airline operations in 1994, and spent many years in service across Europe before it was retired and transferred to the BCIT Aerospace Technology Campus. “Industry partners like Bombardier are at the heart of the BCIT applied learning model,” said Paul McCullough, BCIT Vice President Advancement. “With their generous donation of the CRJ100 aircraft, Bombardier is equipping the next generation of aerospace professionals with an indispensable tool that will give BCIT students yet another competitive advantage upon graduation.” BCIT

Fleming, Trent, student groups, and local organizations partner on sexual consent campaign

Fleming College, Trent University, the Fleming and Trent student unions, the Kawartha Sexual Assault Centre, and PARN: Your Community AIDS Resource Network have partnered on a new campaign called #DoYouTalkConsent? “We want to encourage people to have more communication around sexual consent and what that looks like in practice,” said Amie Kroes, Fleming’s Student Rights and Responsibilities Officer. “Negotiation of consent, specifically in situations where one or both parties have been consuming alcohol, can get complicated. Seeing positive, pro-social messaging around how to negotiate consent in those cases is our goal.” Fleming | PTBO Canada

Students need to democratize campus at the departmental level to fight tuition fees: opinion

“If we are to see progress on abolishing tuition, we need to look beyond lobbying and start taking direct action,” writes Dylan Fijal, a member of the University of Manitoba Student Action Network. For Fijal, the direct action needed must take place through grassroots democratic organizing, which would see students set up departmental student associates where they do not currently exist. The effort would also involve reenergizing departmental student organizations that have become inactive, as Fijal argues that strengthening student associations and direct democracy at the departmental level will help students build a more democratic campus from the bottom up. By creating these organizations, the author concludes, students would be able to trigger the walkouts and mass protests necessary to effective substantial change and to provide “a taste of what a democratic student movement can do.” The Manitoban