Top Ten

August 31, 2017

Dal bans alcohol from residence during orientation week to reduce alcohol harm

Dalhousie University is banning alcohol from residences during orientation week this year, and CBC reports that violations will be met with education rather than punishment in order to encourage first-year and other incoming students to make better decisions. “Our main goal here is to practise alcohol harm-reduction programming,” says Dal Student Union Vice-President of Student Life Cory Larsen. “Our whole reason for this is exactly to shift that culture as seeing orientation week as a party-hard week to more of an educational, integrative, getting-used-to-your-surroundings week.” CBC reports that the program stems from a number of tragic cases that involved binge drinking deaths, adding that other universities such as Acadia have also banned alcohol from their dorm rooms. CBC

Nearly 50% of first-year Ryerson students choose “all gender” housing

Nearly half of all students moving into dorm rooms at Ryerson University this past weekend chose the school’s recently created all gender housing option, reports Metro. The new option does not require students to disclose their gender when applying for housing, and the university has also expanded the number of gender category options on applications to “represent a non-binary spectrum.” Camryn Harlick, vice-president of equity for the Ryerson Student Union and a third-year trans student, says that the new policy will help improve campus culture, adding, “I think it sets the tone that transphobia won’t be accepted.” Metro

Confederation introduces Indigenous Governance and Public Administration Program

Confederation College has established a new Indigenous Governance and Public Administration program to support a growing need for education focused on working with Indigenous communities. “The IGPA program will develop the skill-set of our future leaders and support them in building relationships across communities that will be of benefit to all,” stated Confederation Vice President, Workforce Development Don Bernosky. The one-year Ontario College Graduate Certificate program will be offered in both full-time and part-time study formats, and may include the opportunity to complete a 6-9 month work internship. Confederation

Last-minute applications lengthen waiting lists for UBC student housing

More students than ever before are applying for housing at the University of British Columbia due to Vancouver’s rental housing shortage. The Vancouver Courier reports that the trend has been creating waitlists and driving up what is already a significant demand for student housing at the university. UBC Managing Director of Student Housing Andrew Parr explains that one of the key factors fuelling the applications is last-minute requests from students who would have otherwise lived off-campus. Nearly 6,000 students are on the waitlist for housing this year, Parr adds, which marks an increase of nearly 3,000 since 2010. Rental rates for campus housing also increased by 20% in 2015. UBC

CNC Quesnel Campus dedicates new Aboriginal learning space

The College of New Caledonia’s Quesnel Campus has dedicated a new on-campus Aboriginal learning space. The space has been named “Koo hoonzoo ‘et hots’dul’eh, which means “It’s a beautiful place; we are learning.” The gathering space is located at the heart of the campus, and President Henry Reiser explains that “the location is an acknowledgement of the importance of our continued relationships with the three First Nations in the Quesnel area. The space is reportedly designed to be a welcoming and culturally safe environment for Aboriginal learners. CNC

Universities should reconsider automatic entrance scholarships

Many of Canada’s universities offer guaranteed entrance scholarships, writes Moira MacDonald, but research suggests that these awards may have very little effect on where students choose to enrol. The author cites a study published jointly by Academica Group and, which found that only 39% of Canadian students said that their eligibility for an entrance award affected their choice of institution. Further, only 3% said that they were “flipped” away from their first choice by a scholarship offer. “We do it because every other university does it,” says one anonymous student-aid manager, who argues that her university should not offer generic, guaranteed entrance scholarships. The Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance has also called on the Ontario government to stipulate that institutional operating funds be used only for needs-based student financial aid and not for merit-based scholarships. University Affairs

Tips for navigating a higher ed PR crisis

“Schools can no longer be certain they’ll avoid the media spotlight or trust that their hard-earned reputations will protect them,” writes Zach Olsen. The author describes how universities face unique challenges when responding to crises, due to their siloed and hierarchical structure, diverse stakeholders, and inability to build consensus quickly. With this in mind, the article offers several tips for higher ed leaders who do not want their legacies to be tarnished by a poor response to a crisis. These tips include having contingency plans for foreseeable crises, having a crisis communications playbook with drafts of press releases, understanding the risks that are unique to a given school, and being aware of online narratives. Inside Higher Ed

York, U of T, OCADU, Ryerson partner on affordable housing research initiative

The presidents of Toronto’s four universities - York University, the University of Toronto, OCAD University, and Ryerson University - have partnered on an initiative called StudentDwellTO to tackle the issue of affordable housing. The initiative brings together nearly 100 faculty and students from the universities for a two-year initiative that will include wide-scale research, the development of experiential learning courses to propose and test solutions, and collaboration with government, community, and other partners in the GTA. “The GTA’s housing affordability crisis has attracted a lot of attention, but we know very little about how post-secondary students are coping in the current housing climate,” explains YorkU faculty member Luisa Sotomayor, who is a co-principal Investigator of the StudentDwellTO project. YorkU

CIBC warns of education/skills gap unless postsecondary system changes

Canada’s postsecondary institutions need to change in order to produce graduates with the right skills to drive future economic growth, according to an economics report released by CIBC this week. An online poll found that students are “becoming more pragmatic in choosing careers where their skills will be needed” and increasingly pursuing high-paying careers through business and STEM programs. The report notes, however, that these programs have seen fee inflation that is almost double that of other programs, leading students to enter the workforce with greater levels of debt. “The cost of that mismatch (between education availability and need) is already visible in both disappointing youth employment conditions and the rising share of Canadians earning below average incomes,” the report states. “Those vulnerabilities will be fully exposed in the next economic downturn. The time to act is now.” Times Colonist

URegina students put on unique theatre production examining Treaty 4

A group of University of Regina students has developed a theatre production to examine the meaning of the historic Treaty 4. CBC reports that the play, also performed by the group of students, delves into the issues that plague First Nations communities in the present day. “One of the primary principles of making Treaty 4 is the spirit of inclusiveness, so we want to bring together people from all walks of life and ethnic backgrounds,” said First Nations University of Canada professor Jesse Archibald-Barber. “We have different people playing different types of characters: we have First Nations actors playing white characters, white characters play First Nations roles ... so in a sense we're flaunting all of those ethnic boundaries and categories because those are what are limiting and oppressive.” CBC