Top Ten

July 18, 2018

PCs propose bill to order YorkU staff back to work

Ontario’s Progressive Conservative government has introduced the Urgent Priorities Act, an omnibus bill that could force the remainder of York University’s striking academic staff back to work, reports CBC. If the bill passes, it will ban lockouts while sending all outstanding issues between the university and the union to an arbitrator. The Star states that both the Ontario Civil Liberties Association and the Ontario branch of the Canadian Federation of Students oppose back-to-work legislation. CUPE President Mark Hancock stated that premier Doug Ford is “sending a clear message to working people in Ontario that, despite all the rhetoric, this is not a government for the people.” Toronto Star | CBC

Responding to worrisome behaviour from members of the campus community

“Student affairs officers frequently get reports of worrisome behaviour on campus. […] In the back of your mind is always the question: ‘What if this is the one?’” writes University of Alberta Vice-Provost and Dean of Students Andre Costopoulos. The author notes that worrisome behaviour is often expressed by a campus community member in crisis, and that it is best to respond to it as such. In addition to this, the author notes that it is crucial for a campus to have some sort of behavioural or risk assessment team. Finally, the author offers guidance on the difference between active and passive measures, as well as when each might be used to the benefit of all involved. University Affairs

MUN investigation finds evidence of sexual harassment and bullying at medical school

An external investigation of Memorial University’s Faculty of Medicine has found evidence of sexual harassment and bullying, reports CBC. Faculty of Medicine Dean Margaret Steele stated that she announced plans for a review after "allegations of bullying, intimidation, harassment and sexual harassment" came to her attention late last year. Sandra LeFort, a former Director of MUN’s School of Nursing who authored the review, found that although the School’s environment is generally respectful, “there is a culture of tolerance of disrespectful and harassing behaviour by some individuals in some areas. As well, there is concern about some gender-related issues.” LeFort has recommended hiring more staff for the school’s sexual harassment office, as well as creating an arms-length equity office. CBC

International students speak up against treatment at CNC

International students at the College of New Caledonia cannot access many of the courses they need, and many do not learn about enrolment restrictions until they have already arrived in Canada, reports CBC. One student from India stated that he spent $4.5K on courses that he does not need for his program in order to maintain his enrolment status. According to CBC, recruiting agents in a student’s home country are not always honest about how enrolment processes work. CNC’s acting VP Academic Chad Thompson stated that he is glad that international students are coming forward with their concerns. The CNC students' union is collecting written statements to provide to school administration. CBC

Algonquin cyberattack exposes student, alumni, faculty data

The Ottawa Citizen has learned that a security breach at Algonquin College earlier this year affected nearly 112,000 people. In a statement, officials from Algonquin said they do not believe that the hackers acquired any sensitive financial or medical information, but the breach might have revealed birth dates and home addresses. CBC adds that the “non-sensitive” information of an additional 106,931 individuals, including students, alumni, and past and present employees, might have been exposed in the cyberattack. Algonquin states that it has contacted the Information and Privacy Commissioner of Ontario and Ottawa, “in the unlikely event that some misuse of information occurs.” Ottawa Citizen | CBC

Majority of Americans still believe in higher ed’s public good: study

Despite anecdotal evidence to the contrary, a new study shows that most Americans continue to support government funding of higher education and believe that postsecondary institutions play an important public role. The study, conducted by researchers at Columbia University’s Teachers College, found that three-quarters of respondents said that public funding of higher education was either an excellent (44%) or good (32%) investment, while an additional 17% felt it was a “fair” investment. When asked about specific areas where postsecondary education might serve the public good, roughly seven in ten respondents said that PSE made “a lot” or “some” contribution to various areas. Inside Higher Ed

HEC Montréal partners with NEXT Canada for AI startup accelerator

HEC Montréal has partnered with NEXT Canada to launch NextAI, an accelerator program for AI startups. “We are forging special relationships with HEC Montréal as well as with Hélène Desmarais and her colleagues at SCALE AI, who have built a consortium of incredible partners,” stated Sheldon Levy, CEO of NEXT Canada. "We intend to make NextAI an integral part of Montréal’s robust AI ecosystem." According to an HEC release, all ventures launched through NextAI will receive $200K in seed funding. The program will work in collaboration with several universities and research labs throughout the city, as well as a concurrent NextAI program in Toronto. HEC Montreal

WesternU to eliminate use of plastic straws on campus

Western University is taking steps to eliminate plastic straws on campus. “We’ve been considering this for well over a year,” stated Craig Clifford, Residence Operations Manager and Procurement Manager within Hospitality Services. “We’ve been doing our research and many companies are moving to a straw-less, paper straw or biodegradable-straw alternative. And that is what we are looking at.” Mark Cleveland, Dancap Private Equity Professor in Consumer Behavior at WesternU, stated that eliminating straws does not have a significant environmental impact on its own, but it signals a shift toward bigger-picture sustainability initiatives. WesternU

AB funds inclusion initiatives at ULethbridge, Portage

The Government of Alberta has invested $575K to help Inclusion Alberta support students with developmental disabilities at Lethbridge University and Portage College. “Our government is committed to ensuring more Albertans with disabilities have access to post-secondary education. We are proud to partner with Inclusion Alberta and expand this program to help more students achieve their goals and dreams,” said Irfan Sabir, Minister of Community and Social Services and Acting Minister of Seniors and Housing. According to a ULethbridge release, students with disabilities under this initiative will receive support from peer and university facilitators to participate in assignments, practicums, exams, extracurricular activities, and students’ associations. AB | ULethbridge

How one US higher ed president tripled the size of his school

One president tripled the size of his Florida-based university with a leadership style that allowed the school to take advantage of positive external forces, writes Lee Gardner. Chronicling the story of University of Central Florida President John C Hitt, the author notes that a collaborative approach and strong sense of humility has allowed Hitt to build partnerships and foster allies over his 26-year tenure at the school. Among Hitt’s favourite operating principles is “If it’s worth doing, it’s worth delegating,” and the author notes that Hitt built trust in his colleagues by listening intently at meetings before adding any comments to a conversation. Chronicle of Higher Education(Subscription Required)