Top Ten

November 15, 2017

VIU responds to allegations of human rights violation

Vancouver Island University has responded to allegations from its former director of human rights and workplace safety, Katrin Roth by stating that it took appropriate action to “protect the safety and well-being of our campus community.” Roth filed a humans rights complaint against the school alleging that she was fired for investigating a situation in which a student’s harassment of at least six women was attributed to a disability. VIU said that it could not comment on the specifics of the case, but did release a statement saying that the university used an external investigator and took appropriate action to protect the members of its campus community. CBC | VIU 

Concordia issues safety alert after reports of luring, sexual assault

Concordia University sent out a public safety alert on Monday evening after two students reported being lured off-campus and sexually assaulted. The students reported that they had been responding to off-campus job interview offers on Instagram before being drugged and assaulted. Montreal police are reportedly investigating the incidents, and Concordia is warning students to be cautious on all social media platforms. University Spokesperson Mary-Jo Barr said the first incident took place last winter and the second in September, but that the school was only made aware of them last week after the women filed complaints to police. The warning came in the form of a public safety alert emailed to students and staff. CBC | Montreal Gazette | Journal de Montréal

Universities must unambiguously defend free speech: Globe editorial

Universities’ core mission of advancing debate and knowledge “requires them to be steadfast in their defence of freedom of expression and inquiry,” writes the Globe and Mail. The piece reflects on the University of British Columbia’s recently released draft statement on freedom of expression, which the Globe describes as reaching “the startling conclusion that the freedom of expression required to achieve the institution’s goals is not of paramount value.” The editorial points toward statements on freedom of expression issued by Yale University, Princeton University, and the University of Chicago as examples of the “unabashed” defense of free speech that should be contained in the statements of Canadian institutions. Globe and Mail

UWinnipeg project to preserve Rocky Cree language, history, culture receives $2.5M

A seven-year project to extend the reclamation of Asiniskow Ithiiniwak (Rocky Cree) language, history, and culture has been awarded a $2.5M federal grant. Entitled Six Seasons of the Asiniskow Ithiniwak: Reclamation, Regeneration, and Reconciliation, the project will be housed at the University of Winnipeg and directed by UWinnipeg Dean of Graduate Studies Mavis Reimer. “The project is founded on the revelation of an ancestor, but it is oriented to the future and the ongoing work of reclaiming Rocky Cree languages, histories, and knowledge,” says Reimer. “We plan to share our work on multiple platforms and at multiple sites with multiple audiences. Our first audience is young people, particularly First Nations young people, but we also want to reach teachers, scholars, policymakers, and the general public. We see our project as research for reconciliation.” UWinnipeg | CBC

UBCO,YMCA partner on evidence-based community health program

A collaboration between the University of British Columbia Okanagan and the Kelowna Downtown YMCA is looking to fight type 2 diabetes with a personalized diet and exercise counselling program. With the help of a private BC foundation, Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research, and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, Small Steps for Big Changes is now available to the Okanagan community at the Kelowna Downtown YMCA. The program was reportedly developed with the intention of addressing the “silent epidemic” of prediabetes, which Diabetes Canada reports is expected to grow to 23% of the Canadian population by 2025. UBCO

The future of learning demands that PSE get rid of grades: Blum

Formal education can stifle learning in many ways, writes Susan Blum, yet one of the most powerful impediments to learning is the assignment of grades. The author argues that while PSE institutions promote a focus on credentials and obedience, they do not necessarily promote learning. Blum argues that grades are prone to make students fixate on a grade above all else while discouraging them from taking risks in their work. To address this problem, Blum recommends spreading a class grade over as many different types of assignments as possible, emphasizing a student’s entire portfolio, and encouraging self-evaluation. Inside Higher Ed

Hiring targets, quotas are effective at boosting equity: PSE, business leaders

There is no “quick fix” to addressing a lack of diversity in both the faculty and administrative senior ranks of academia, yet there are many ways to improve the current inequity, according to attendees of The Gender Summit North America 2017. Anqi Shen reports that both academic and industry leaders at the conference agreed that one of the most effective ways to address a lack of diversity is to set targets, whether those be in the form of diversity expectations or hard quotas. “I think what’s really important is there’s a level of transparency … this is about accountability in a very public way,” said University of Calgary President Elizabeth Cannon. “And putting targets around underrepresented groups and ensuring that they are supported within our organizations I think is totally appropriate.” University Affairs

Canada announces changes to CRC Chairs program

Earlier this month, the Government of Canada announced a series of changes to the Canada Research Chairs Program that were informed by recommendations made in the Fundamental Science Review. The changes included limiting Tier 1 Chairs to a single renewal, providing universities with increased flexibility in converting chairs between Tier 1 and Tier 2, and revising the distribution of research chair allocations. “We must make every effort to give more people—women, Indigenous peoples, visible minorities and persons with disabilities—the chance to make their greatest contribution to research,” said Minister of Science Kirsty Duncan. “Today’s changes to the CRCP will encourage greater diversity in research and will show Canadians that they have a place in science no matter their gender, race or heritage.” Canada

UWindsor NSA hosts TiiPii campout fundraiser

Students from the University of Windsor’s Native Student Alliance are hosting a Sleepy in the TiiPii event to show their commitment to First Nations issues and raise funds. They will spend a night outside in a teepee in UWindsor’s Campus Community Garden and collect donations towards the NSA, as well as the Can-Am Indian Friendship Centre and the Tiny House Warriors project. The alliance will also invite visitors to join them for two meals to discuss the living conditions of First Nations communities across Canada. “The campus really won’t want to miss out on this event. It’s a great time to socialize and support some great initiatives,” said Aboriginal outreach coordinator Kathryn Pasquach. “The commitment and dedication these students have made is incredible.” UWindsor

UWindsor NSA hosts TiiPii campout fundraiser

Students from the University of Windsor’s Native Student Alliance are hosting a Sleepy in the TiiPii event to show their commitment to First Nations issues and raise funds. They will spend a night outside in a teepee in UWindsor’s Campus Community Garden and collect donations towards the NSA, as well as the Can-Am Indian Friendship Centre and the Tiny House Warriors project. The alliance will also invite visitors to join them for two meals to discuss the living conditions of First Nations communities across Canada. “The campus really won’t want to miss out on this event. It’s a great time to socialize and support some great initiatives,” said Aboriginal outreach coordinator Kathryn Pasquach. “The commitment and dedication these students have made is incredible.” UWindsor

U of T, USW ratify agreement

Members of the United Steelworkers 1998 (casual unit) have voted to renew their collective agreement with the University of Toronto. A U of T release states that the USW unit represents about 3,000 casual administrative and technical employees at U of T at any given time, with over 8,000 people being represented by the unit over the course of 2016. “I'm very pleased that members of USW 1998 (casual unit) have ratified this agreement,” said Kelly Hannah-Moffat, U of T's vice-president of human resources and equity. “I'd like to thank the university and union bargaining teams for their dedication to the collective bargaining process.” U of T