Top Ten

March 22, 2018

Fire alarm shuts down talk by far-right commentator at WLU

The Toronto Star reports that a talk by far-right commentator Faith Goldy that was scheduled to take place at Wilfrid Laurier University this week was cancelled due to a fire alarm. According to the Star, hundreds of people had gathered to protest the event an hour before it was to take place. WLU President Deborah MacLatchy also issued a response to calls for the event to be shut down, stating that although she unequivocally rejects Goldy’s views, “the university does not censor or limit the lawful and free expression of ideas, including ideas that are unpopular or offensive.” Goldy reportedly stated that she would return to WLU another time. Toronto Star

CAUT launches inquiry of Mehta case  

The Canadian Association of University Teachers has officially appointed a committee to review how Acadia University is handling grievances directed at Professor Rick Mehta. The association will be determining whether Mehta’s academic freedom has been breached or threatened and will make appropriate recommendations. “Professor Mehta’s case raises important questions about the scope of academic freedom in teaching and the exercise of extramural speech by professors,” said CAUT Executive Director David Robinson. “These issues are of broad significance to all academics in Canada.” Ottawa Citizen (CP)

Modelling professional grace in the face of extension requests

As extension requests and explanations of extenuating circumstances roll in from students at this time of year, “we should not be ashamed to lighten their burdens,” writes St Thomas University Associate Professor Andrew Moore. Moore rejects the argument that strict deadlines prepare students for the ‘real world,’ noting that in the workplace, “meetings and presentations get rescheduled all the time.” While fairness and consistency are valuable lessons, Moore encourages instructors to model charitable conduct and mercy as well. “I am not advocating the abolition of deadlines,” concludes the author. “What I am advocating for is a sort of professorial grace. When it is within our power to extend a deadline on compassionate grounds, I think we ought in incline towards kindness and understanding.” University Affairs

Dechinta concerned about potential loss of public funding

New territorial legislation might exclude the Dechinta Centre for Research and Learning in the Northwest Territories from long-term public funding, CBC has learned. According to a recently published discussion paper, Indigenous institutes would be considered private entities, a decision that Dechinta calls “fiscally and socially irresponsible.” “I think everybody wants and deserves accountable, highest quality post-secondary [education] and that we need to support all of the institutions in the N.W.T.,” said Erin Freeland Ballantyne, Dean of Land Based Academics, Research and Innovation at Dechinta. NWT’s Department of Education, Culture and Employment has stated that private institutions remain eligible for contribution agreements and grants. CBC

Campus Alberta partners improve pathways for business students

Fifteen Alberta PSE institutions have signed a Memorandum of Understanding that will see improved education options developed for business students. The agreement reportedly enables students who have completed the equivalent of one academic term (15 credits) with an AB partner institution to receive full credit toward a ministry-approved business certificate, diploma, or degree program at another partner institution. “This partnership helps strengthen a coordinated adult learning system by enhancing Albertans’ ability to transfer efficiently between providers and programs,” said Portage College Executive Vice President Nancy Broadbent. Norquest

Women with high grades “punished” by potential employers: study

Employers may be disproportionately rejecting female applicants who achieve high academic standing, according to a recent study. The author deployed an audit study consisting of 2,106 job applications with variables that controlled for gender, grades, and undergraduate major. While grades did not appear to impact male applications, the author found that women with average grades fared better than women with high grades. Additionally, the study reports that high-achieving males received twice as many follow-up calls from potential employers than high-achieving women. The problem was especially rampant in STEM fields, where the ratio favoured men 3:1. Insider Higher Ed

Union, YorkU remain far apart as negotiations collapse

CBC reports that ongoing negotiations between contract faculty and York University have fallen apart as each side accuses the other of failing to compromise. According to the union, YorkU issued ‘an ultimatum’ as it refused to continue negotiations. The university argues that the union “had nothing new to offer” in its most recent round of bargaining. YorkU further added that it saw “no path forward to a settlement.” CBC reports that wages and the number of contract faculty to be converted to full-time status remain the main points of contention. CBC

Changing the culture of mentorship in the workplace

In a changing workplace, the culture of mentoring must shift from relaying information to creating an ongoing dialogue between mentors and colleagues, writes Judith S White. White explains that a productive relationship begins with an exchange of information, and that the mentor’s role is to first listen and ask questions. The author then recommends that mentors find ways to expand their colleagues’ networks while encouraging them to identify their strengths, an exercise that can help them to articulate their skills and identify areas for improvement. Finally, White suggests that mentors and colleagues exchange stories about professional experiences. Insider Higher Ed

UMontréal students blast sexual misconduct complaints process

Three hundred current and former students at the Université de Montréal have signed a letter to the Quebec government criticizing the current sexual misconduct complaints process in place at the school. In the letter, the signatories criticize the slow speed, limitations, and bias presented by the current process, which allegedly allows the accused to be present in the room when a plaintiff is questioned. The letter calls upon QC higher education minister Hélène David to rectify the situation through a private bill that would impact the institution’s charter. Montreal Gazette | La Presse | Letter

ON youth concerned about instructors, government credibility on higher ed: poll

A poll released by the Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations has found that Ontario youth are more concerned about the impact of part-time faculty than their older counterparts. The survey found that 71% of 15 to 17 year-olds wanted to see a permanent instructor at the front of the class, as opposed to 64% of all ON respondents. “One of the things that reflects is their own awareness of the job economy they are going into, in addition to increased attention across the province to precarious labour in every sector,” said OCUFA President Gyllian Phillips. The poll also found that 60% of respondents had little or no trust in the ON government’s ability to make decisions about education quality. Globe and Mail