Top Ten

April 25, 2017

Sexual assault complainants turn to civil justice instead of criminal

The difficulties of successfully prosecuting sexual assault at the criminal level are leading some complainants to turn to human rights tribunals in an effort to achieve broader change and restitution, reports the Canadian Press. “The civil context is seen as a fairer process because the parties are more on an even keel,” said Marcy Segal, a former criminal lawyer who now focuses on civil litigation. While the threshold for criminal conviction is very difficult to fulfill, say experts, a civil case only requires that an allegation to be more likely true than not. Further, the civil justice system offers a broad range of outcomes beyond guilty or not guilty. “A criminal case can’t provide financial compensation, can’t provide an apology, can’t require police to do something different, can’t require training,” says University of Manitoba Law Professor Karen Busby. The CP highlights a number of recent PSE examples of complainants either considering or pursuing civil suits to address allegations of sexual assault. National Post (CP)

11 McGill institute directors issue letter criticizing school’s handling of Potter’s resignation

Directors from 11 institutes based at McGill University have sent a letter to the school’s principal criticizing the school’s response to last month’s resignation by Andrew Potter, the former head of the Institute for the Study of Canada. Simona Chiose of the Globe and Mail writes that the letter in question was sent to McGill Principal Suzanne Fortier in early April. “The reasons and justifications that have been offered for the university’s response may undermine academic freedom and may discourage faculty members from taking positions of responsibility, contributing to university service and entering into public debate,” the letter states. Two weeks following Potter’s resignation, Fortier issued a statement saying that senior administrators must protect academic freedom, but adding that these officials also “have an obligation to ensure that administrative responsibilities are discharged effectively to the highest institutional standards.” Globe and Mail

UWindsor, St Clair launch EPIC Genesis to promote skills connection, entrepreneurship

St Clair College and the University of Windsor celebrated the launch of EPIC Genesis last week at St Clair’s south Windsor campus. The Windsor Star reports that the project aims to connect the skills sets of students at both institutions in order to encourage entrepreneurship and incubate business startups. The EPIC Genesis office will take over the former Genesis Centre at St Clair and will offer work and event spaces for students. “St Clair College faculty, students and alumni will add a new dimension to the innovative activities taking place in EPICentre,” said UWindsor President Alan Wildeman. St Clair President Patti France added that “the opportunity for our students to work with the students and staff of the university—and their students and staff to work with the college’s—means that entrepreneurs will have access to the cutting-edge expertise of both institutions.” Windsor Star

Universities must know when to hold, cancel controversial events: UA contributor

“We must provide a safe and appropriate environment for discussion and debate,” writes Andre Costopoulos for University Affairs, which means that universities must know when and where to stop an event due to safety concerns. “We are entrusted with deciding when physical safety trumps intellectual exploration,” the author adds, “but we are also trusted to not be bullied or intimidated out of carrying out the essential elements of our institution’s academic mission.” To this end, Costopoulos offers tips for how schools can best deal with upcoming controversial events. These tips include opening dialogue with stakeholders as early as possible, taking on security costs when feasible, setting up the event to lower the risk of conflict between opposing groups, and when necessary, “mak[ing] the decision to cancel an event or speaker when, despite all efforts, the risk to life, property or institutional reputation is too high.” University Affairs

Collège Montmorency to support active learning, Indigenous students with $16.7M from Canada, QC

The governments of Canada and Quebec are investing $16.7M into infrastructure at Collège Montmorency in Laval to improve the school’s facilities. The funds will reportedly support the creation of three active learning classes, better services for Indigenous students, a new green roof, and a new building for research and technology transfer. “This significant investment is excellent news for Collège Montmorency and for the Laval region,” said Montmorency Director General Hervé Pilon. “Improvements to infrastructure at the college will help us respond to the great demand for higher education in our region while offering new state-of-the-art spaces for teaching, research and business development support.” Canada

How universities can avoid being on the wrong side of history: UWN contributor

“The political upheavals of the past 12 months have certainly provided fodder for debates and opinion pieces,” writes Grace Karram Stephenson for University World News. The author highlights the legal action undertaken by institutions against Donald Trump’s travel ban, faculty boycotts of US conferences, and “students protesting against... well, pretty much everything” before writing that institutions must be careful if they wish to avoid ending up on the “wrong side of history.” Reporting on a recent lecture at the University of Toronto, Stephenson cites a presentation by Sir Peter Scott in identifying three main concerns for universities looking to address the potentially negative consequences of populism, which are outdated curricula, critical thinking, and elitism. University World News

Canada invests in SIIT, SaskPolytech infrastructure needs

The Saskatchewan Indian Institute of Technologies and Saskatchewan Polytechnic will receive nearly $2M from the Government of Canada in order to update and develop new infrastructure on their campuses. SIIT will receive $1.7M for infrastructure improvements, such as upgrades to its ventilation system. SaskPolytech will use their $260K to construct the Hannin Creek Education Research Facility in partnership with the Saskatchewan Wildlife, which the institute describes as the only facility of its kind in Western Canada. “Investments in the infrastructure of our post-secondary system help our students and support our economy,” said SK Minister of Advanced Education Bronwyn Eyre. “The projects being funded at Saskatchewan Indian Institute of Technologies and Saskatchewan Polytechnic will enhance learning and research facilities, creating better learning environments for our students.” Canada | CBC

New campus sexual assault policies offer a good start, but only that: experts

Campus sexual assault policies are a good first step in presenting students with options for reporting these assaults, reports CBC, yet many experts believe that these policies are “far from a perfect solution.” For Charlene Senn, a women's and gender studies professor at the University of Windsor, the policies are productive insofar as they provoke universities to think through the process by which complainants can interact with the school. Further, Senn argues that having clear policies means that for students, “you can see [the policy], you can access it, and then if it's not what you expect, if it's not as promised, then there is a really good place for a challenge to that.” Some experts have further called for a national strategy around campus sexual assault. CBC

Northlands CEO confirms that NORTEP students will be admitted

The CEO of northern Saskatchewan’s Northlands College recently issued a statement clarifying that current Northern Teacher Education Program students will be accepted into Northlands now that the college has taken over the running of their program. SK announced in March that NORTEP’s programming and administration would transition to Northlands by August 2017. Northlands CEO Toby Greschner said in an interview last week that officials are working to make the transition as smooth as possible for students despite a decision by NORTEP’s council to not transfer its assets to the college. “We are trying our hardest to make sure those students retain what they were promised going into NORTEP,” Greschner said. Global News

Institutions must find new way to evaluate nontenured faculty in politically charged era

“Now that more that 75 percent of the instructors teaching in higher education in the United States do not have tenure, it is important to think about how the current political climate might affect those vulnerable teachers,” writes Robert Samuels. In particular, Samuels points to how new faculty typically rely on student evaluations to keep their jobs or earn raises, which the author argues can place that instructor in an impossible situation and further impact their ability to speak freely. Samuels goes on to state that institutions must find a new way to evaluate nontenured faculty in order to promote the free exchange of ideas in the classroom. Inside Higher Ed