Top Ten

March 6, 2018

YorkU contract faculty on strike, university to remain open

The Globe and Mail reports that the union represnting contract lecturers and teaching assistants at York University has called its second strike in three years. Temporary contracts, job security, and graduate student funding are said to be the main points of disagreement, with picketing reported to begin this morning. The university has stated that classes will not be cancelled. CUPE 3903 chair Devin Lefebvre argues, however, that “it will not be business as usual” at the school, as contract faculty reportedly shoulder 60% of the university’s teaching load. YorkU provided its best offer to the union on March 1, according to a university statement, which described the offer as a sector-leading example. Globe and Mail | YorkU  

Trent opens Chanie Wenjack School for Indigenous Studies

Trent University has officially opened the Chanie Wenjack School for Indigenous Studies, named after an Ojibwe residential school student who died in 1966. Pearl Achneepineskum, Chanie’s sister, said that although both the Canadian government and Trent have much work to do toward reconciliation with Indigenous peoples, the School is a step in the right direction. “I have a soft spot for Trent,” Achneepineskum stated. “They have gone out of their way to do the right thing.” Shirley Williams, a Trent professor emerita, spoke at the panel that followed the opening of the school, stating that when she began teaching, “I was taught my language and culture was witchcraft and I was forbidden to speak the language.”

StFX creates $1M scholarship fund to honour former school of education director

Saint Francis Xavier University has established a $1M scholarship fund in honour of former faculty member and director of StFX’s school of education, Ann Sherman. The scholarship will specifically support African Nova Scotian and Aboriginal Canadian students in all programs in StFX’s Faculty of Education. Last week, StFX announced a $500K donation from the John and Judy Bragg Family Foundation to establish the Dr Ann Sherman Scholarship, which was matched by $500K from the Jeannine Deveau Educational Equity Endowment Scholarship Fund. “The $1 million endowment in [Sherman’s] name will provide bursaries to ensure we are able to support African Nova Scotia and Aboriginal Canadians to attend StFX in the Faculty of Education,” said StFX President Kent MacDonald. StFX

More frequent, in-depth academic advising boosts student engagement

Students in two-year PSE programs who spend more time with academic advisers and have more in-depth discussions during their advising sessions are more engaged in their education, according to a new US-based study. Produced by the Center for Community College Student Engagement at the University of Texas at Austin, the study surveyed roughly 180,000 students at 297 colleges around the US. It found that while a majority of students meet with an adviser, most of those sessions are focused on determining which classes they need to take for their educational goals. The researchers found that while the first advising session for almost half of students lasted 16-30 minutes, students who met with an adviser for more than 30 minutes had higher engagement scores. Campus Technology

ACC seeks funding boost to make up for impact of ESL cuts

Assiniboine Community College is asking the Canadian government for increased funding after facing cuts to its English as a Second Language program last year. In 2017, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada proposed to cut ACC’s English language program from $730K per year to $190K at a time when demand for the program was reportedly increasing. “That’s been one of the areas where we’ve been concerned is that last year, as a result of the funding decrease, we had to eliminate the evening and weekend programming,” said ACC President Mark Frison. “And so we do have an additional proposal in to try to re-establish some of that.” Brandon Sun

Over 30% of world’s PSE students enrolled in private institutions

One-third of students across the globe are enrolled in private higher education institutions, according to new research drawing on data from 192 countries. The research found that private institutions currently enroll 56.7 million students, making up 32.9% of the world’s enrolment. The report also found that the current proportion of US students enrolled in private institutions was 27.5%, which was lower than the global average. Private universities’ share of enrolments is highest in Latin America (48.8%) and Asia (42.1%). Times Higher Education

Difficult classroom conversations in the wake of Boushie, Fontaine cases

The deaths of Colton Boushie and Tina Fontaine are pushing universities to ask difficult questions about the meaning of reconciliation within Canada, writes Simona Chiose. The author notes that according to many Indigenous studies professors and students, it is neither possible nor desirable to discuss Boushie and Fontaine from a rational distance. “It's always a huge responsibility being a teacher but Indigenous studies is not like teaching math, said Confederation College Professor Jana-Rae Yerxa. “I could not reflect on those cases in an intellectual way, I had feelings about the verdicts.” Chiose goes on to highlight the experiences of other Indigenous studies instructors and students in the wake of the Boushie and Fontaine cases. Globe and Mail

Carleton support staff on strike

Support staff at Carleton University took to the picket lines yesterday morning after the latest round of negotiations with the university failed, CBC reports. The pension plan has been the main point of contention, according to CUPE 2424 president Jerret Clark, as the university reportedly intends to replace the existing pension plan with a defined contribution plan. While the current plan ensures that retirees receive a fixed monthly pension, a defined plan stipulates that although employees contribute the same amount every month, their monthly pension amount is not guaranteed. In a statement, Carleton president Alastair Summerlee asserted that the university has no intention of replacing the current plan, and the university stated that the strike will not interrupt classes. CBC

Acadia probe of controversial professor intensifies free-speech debate

The National Post reports that Rick Mehta, Associate Professor of Psychology at Acadia University, remains embroiled in controversy for his views on contentious topics like gender inequity, immigration, and decolonization that he expresses during his lectures. A group of Canadian professors who declare themselves as proponents of free speech have condemned Acadia’s decision to launch an investigation into Mehta’s allegedly “racist and transphobic” comments. Meanwhile, Ryerson University professor May Friedman asserts that Mehta’s opinions “border on hate speech,” and Rob Raeside, Mehta’s designated department head, has expressed concern that Mehta has failed to provide rigorous, methodologically sound arguments to back his statements. National Post

Twelve displaced after fire at student residence near UOttawa

Twelve people have been forced from their dwellings by a fire that broke out at a student residence across from the University of Ottawa campus last Friday evening. CBC reports that Ottawa firefighters responded to reports of smoke billowing from the Sandy Hill residence at 3 AM on Saturday. City firefighters says that the crew was able to bring the blaze under control, and no injuries were reported. The cost of the damage has not yet been estimated. CBC