Top Ten

October 24, 2017

URegina ordered to pay $9M to woman rendered quadriplegic by swimming injury

A jury has awarded over $9M to a woman who became a quadriplegic after suffering an injury at a swimming pool located on the University of Regina campus. After two days of deliberations, the jury found URegina liable for the  injury Miranda Biletski sustained during a swim club meeting. The university argued that Biletski and the swim club had been negligent in their use of the pool. Biletski’s lawyer says that the final sum paid by URegina will likely grow to $14M once taxes, interest, and costs are considered in the final judgement. Lawyers representing URegina declined to comment on the verdict. CBC | Saskatoon StarPhoenix

Dal defends free expression as student faces hearing over Canada 150 post

Dalhousie University has issued a statement saying that the school firmly believes in freedom of expression after facing criticism for its handling of a student leader's comments on Facebook. Masuma Khan was accused by another Dal student of targeting white people in a Facebook post after she received criticism for the Dal student union's decision not to participate in Canada 150 celebrations. An ensuing investigation by Dal vice-provost of student affairs, Arig al Shaibah, concluded that while Masuma did not target a specific group, she violated the school’s Code of Student Conduct. Since Dal issued the statement, 25 professors from the school’s Schulich School of Law have written a letter to the school stating that its response to Khan constitutes a stifling of free speech. Globe and Mail (Dal commitment) | Globe and Mail (Professors’ letter)

Financial support, parent with degree, not working influence degree completion time: MPHEC study

A combination of financial support, not working full-time, and having a university-educated parent make a student more likely to finish a degree in four years and less likely to borrow, according to a new study from the Maritime Provinces Higher Education Commission. The study found that 63% of students finished their program within four years. However, this number rose to 74% for students who did not work full-time during their studies, had financial support from parents, and had at least one university-educated parent. MPHEC CEO Catherine Stewart notes that all three factors needed to occur together to produce the higher rate of four-year degree completion. CBC | MPHEC

ON college strike reveals “new norm” of contract labour in academia

A strike by Ontario’s college teachers is highlighting the growing issue of precarious work in higher education, writes Meagan Fitzpatrick. The Canadian Association of University teachers estimates that since 1999, there has been a 200% increase in contract faculty in Canada and only a 14% increase in regular faculty. “It does affect the student experience,” says CAUT Executive Director David Robinson. College Employer Council CEO Don Sinclair says that using a mix of part-time and full-time instructors has worked well for the colleges. “We believe we've got a good quality product," said Sinclair. "I will admit we are not perfect, but we also have evidence that says that what we are doing is working for the students and employers in Ontario.” CBC

UAlberta deferred maintenance bill nearing $1B

The University of Alberta says that it is not panicking about a deferred maintenance bill that is nearing $1B, reports the Edmonton Journal. James Allen, associate vice-president of operations and maintenance, told a board of governors meeting Friday that even though the approximate cost of $938M is high, the strain placed upon the university can shift with various factors. “As we conduct maintenance, as we do things with our infrastructure, that deferred maintenance goes down and then, with time and activity and with use, it goes up,” he said. The university is reportedly considering the demolition of existing buildings, the exact list of which is still under consideration. Edmonton Journal

More options for student loan repayment making difference: PEI, student unions

New programs offering PEI students more ways to pay off their student loans are having a positive effect, according to provincial officials and the student unions at UPEI and Holland College. Rising tuition, cost of living increases, and the difficulty of securing full-time employment after graduation have all contributed to growing student loans, but major changes in provincial loan repayment programs have reportedly caused the balance of defaulted loans to shrink over the past year. This decline follows five years of growth in the balance of defaulted loans. CBC

Part-time professors vote 92% in favour of strike at UOttawa

Part-time professors at the University of Ottawa have voted in favour of a strike mandate. Held last week, the vote saw 92% of the Association of Part-Time Professors University of Ottawa support the strike. The union represents 700-plus part-time professors, whom it says teach half of the school's first and second-year students. The university has offered a three-year contract with a 1.25% increase in each of the first two years and a 1.5% increase in the third year. The union is seeking a one-year contract with a 3% increase; a 3% catch-up; a 4% increase in vacation pay; an “experience bonus” of 2% each year for up to 10 years after the first two years worked; and a severance bonus after working 15 years. Ottawa Citizen | CBC

Three ways to address student anxiety caused by hypercompetition: Zimmerman

“Why has there been a spike in mental illness on college campuses, especially at highly selective institutions? And what can we do to prevent it?” writes Jonathan Zimmerman. The author blames a culture of hypercompetition on the rise in student anxiety, offering three ways that schools can work to offset the destructive effects of this culture. To begin, Zimmerman argues that schools should set specific standards for admission and use a lottery system to choose between these applicants. Second, Zimmerman suggests that schools prevent student clubs or extra-curricular programs from using exclusionary criteria. Finally, Zimmerman asks that schools ban all forms of on-campus recruiting by businesses. Chronicle of Higher Education

Student unions appeal to government officials to help end ON college strike

Eight postsecondary student unions from across Ontario have penned a letter asking a number of government officials to do whatever they can to bring the current college faculty strike to a resolution. The letter has been signed by the Niagara College Student Administrative Council; Fanshawe Student Union; Mohawk Students’ Association; Seneca Student Federation; Sheridan Student Union; Student Union of Confederation College Inc; St Clair Student Representative Council Inc; and IGNITE, University of Guelph-Humber and Humber College’s student union. “As the representatives of our individual student associations and advocates for our students, we are calling on you ... to continue encouraging both the OPSEU and the CEC to return to the table so they can continue bargaining in order to come to a fair settlement,” the letter reads. St Catharines Standard | London Free Press

UMoncton signs affiliation agreement with Vitalité Health Network

Université de Moncton has signed an agreement with Vitalité Health Network for the training of health professionals to improve care for Francophone New Brunswickers. The agreement affects the four areas in New Brunswick where the network operates: Acadie-Bathurst, Beauséjour, Nord-Ouest, and Restigouche. “The partnership we are embarking on today can only be beneficial to all citizens of the province, but also to the medical profession of the Network and to our university community,” said UMoncton Rector Raymond Théberge. UMoncton