Top Ten

August 21, 2017

Ryerson cancels panel discussion on free speech, cites security concerns

Ryerson University has cancelled a panel discussion on freedom of speech that was originally scheduled to run on its campus tomorrow. The Ottawa Citizen reports that the event, titled “The Stifling of Free Speech on University Campuses,” was slated to feature controversial speakers such as University of Toronto Professor Jordan Peterson and former Rebel Media journalist Faith Goldy. The event reportedly received significant pushback from activists who accused it of giving a platform to fascists. “After a thorough security review, the University has concluded that Ryerson is not equipped to provide the necessary level of public safety for the event to go forward,” said Ryerson Communications Director Michael Forbes in an emailed statement. “In light of recent events, Ryerson University is prioritizing campus safety.” Ottawa Citizen

CEGEPs appearing to avoid “demographic slump” affecting QC higher ed

CEGEPs in Quebec are not feeling a “demographic slump” among students born in 2000 that La Presse reports is being felt by other institutions. The article notes that in Québec City, enrolments at CEGEPs are stable or only slightly decreasing. After experiencing enrolment decreases in recent years, the Cégep de Saint-Georges has benefited from an 8% increase in new students this year, which the school says is mainly due to the attractiveness of its new Lac-Mégantic and Sainte-Marie campuses. The article also highlights a number of other CEGEPs that have seen positive trends in their enrolments in the past year. La Presse

OSAP student funding should account for parental debt load, says aspiring university student

Students whose families have high incomes and high debt are “trapped” when it comes to accessing the Ontario Student Assistance Program, says 19-year-old university hopeful Morgan O’Brien in an interview with CBC. O’Brien notes that because the OSAP application does not account for family debt, it does not work well for a family like hers, which is trying to finance a fourth child’s PSE while also caring for a sick elderly relative. Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Development Spokesperson Tanya Blazina told CBC News in an email that “students who believe that their circumstances are not reflected in the standard assessment may request a review of their OSAP file by contacting their financial aid office and completing a review form.” CBC

Construction begins on $2M Anishinabek skills training centre in Northern ON

Students on Ontario’s Manitoulin Island and along Lake Huron’s North Shore will have the opportunity to start learning a skilled trade without leaving home, thanks to the new Anishinabek Skills, Innovation and Research Centre. Construction on the centre began last week, and when complete, the $2M, 9,000-square-foot facility will offer students introductory learning opportunities in a variety of trades, such as welding, construction, and plumbing. The initiative is an expansion of Kenjgewin Teg, a non-profit educational institute located on the M’Chigeeng First Nation. Northern Ontario Business

NIC announces new TV and Film Crew Training program

In response to a booming Vancouver Island film industry, North Island College has introduced a new television and film crew training program, which will begin in October. “We have so many productions that want to film here,” said Joan Miller, commissioner of the Vancouver Island North Film Commission, who explained that a shortage of local, trained crew “has been a barrier for years.” “NIC is very pleased to be working with our regional film commissioner and industry to develop customized, applied short term training aligned with film and television productions,” said NIC’s Dean of Trades and Technical Programs Cheryl O’Connell. “The fact that these courses are being offered in response to industry demand is very significant to the region.” NIC

Higher ed shares ideals, imperatives, perils with digital reputation economy

As research faculty are increasingly encouraged to engage in the types of online impression management typically seen on social media websites, the similarities between the two fields become increasingly apparent, writes Brooke Erin Duffy for Times Higher Education. “Many of the same ideals that animate academics – independence, flexibility and the perennial quest to do what one loves – also propel the labour (much of it unpaid) of social media hopefuls,” writes Duffy, who notes that the similarities also appear in the form of “long hours, unpredictability and an over-reliance on contingent labourers.” To this end, Duffy recommends that instructors teach students to think critically about “the self-commodification imperative” and ensure that “being well marketed never becomes a substitute for high-quality research.” Times Higher Education

Cross-Canada collaboration aims to fight high-risk campus drinking

Three dozen universities and colleges have partnered with the Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction and Universities Canada to fight high-risk drinking on Canadian campuses. The Postsecondary Partnership – Alcohol Harms (PEP-AH), is working to connect students, administrators, and health experts in order to create campus programs that reduce the harms associated with binge drinking. In a 2016 survey of 43,780 students from 41 Canadian campuses, more than a third of students reported having five or more drinks the last time they partied or socialized, and many reported physically injuring themselves (18%), having unprotected sex (24%), forgetting where they were or what they did (29%), and doing something they later regretted (38%) due to alcohol. University Affairs

UBC researchers gain new knowledge from wildfire forest damage

Researchers at the University of British Columbia have found a new learning opportunity in the loss of 10% of a UBC research forest that was burned by wildfire. “I've found it quite interesting,” says Ken Day, manager of the UBC Alex Fraser Research Forest. “Looking at the [forest fire] treatment we've done over our 30-year history and some even before the research forest was established.” Day says that the researchers found reduced fire intensity and tree mortality in areas where the forest floor was thinned of dead wood, which lends further evidence in favour of treating at-risk areas before future fires start. CBC

UNB herbarium puts collection online

The University of New Brunswick’s Connell Memorial Herbarium, reportedly the second largest collection of its kind in Atlantic Canada and the oldest institutional collection still running in Canada, is entering its catalogue into an online database in order to support other researchers and citizens seeking to identify plants. The herbarium houses over 64,000 specimens and includes plants from the early to mid-1800s, with specimens collected by some of the first botanists in New Brunswick. Over the last few years, Robyn Shortt of the herbarium says that a team of volunteers at UNB’s “plant library” has been working to put the specimens’ data online with high-resolution scans of the herbarium’s collection. The project has been funded by the New Brunswick Wildlife Trust Fund, UNB’s biology department, and proceeds from the sale of a manual on identifying NB plants. CBC

Making a case for faculty, staff self-care programs

“Self-care -- maintaining a healthy and balanced lifestyle through individually determined activities -- has been found to improve productivity and a sense of well-being as well as physical and emotional health in a variety of work settings,” write Carolyn Jeffries, Michael Spagna, and Shari Tarver Behring. Yet despite the growing evidence in support of self-care programming on campus, self-care is still a low priority for many faculty and staff members. The authors argue that if more colleges and universities implement self-care programs, the result will be more engaged campuses that are capable of promoting greater student success and faculty research productivity. Inside Higher Ed