Top Ten

October 12, 2018

“Grievance studies” hoax sparks debate over social justice in the academy

Scandal has erupted over an academic hoax that saw peer-reviewed journals publish fake papers discussing topics such as rape culture in dog parks, fat bodybuilding, and the imperialist tendencies of AI programming. Vinay Menon of the Toronto Star argues that the publication of the articles shows how academic fields concerned with social justice have “fallen foul to the same kind of motivated reasoning and naked partisanship that is currently engulfing the country as a whole.” In response to the controversy, the Chronicle of Higher Education interviewed a group of professors with varying opinions on the hoax, with some insisting that it marks a much-needed wake-up call for academia. Others contend that all academic fields routinely settle into certain habits of thought, with the only difference being that the fields targeted by the hoax receive exponentially more criticism for doing so. Toronto Star | Chronicle of Higher Education

WIL, Indigenous access, research among top priorities outlined in federal pre-budget submissions

Work-integrated learning and increased post-secondary access for Indigenous communities are two of the major trends in this year’s pre-budget submissions to the federal government, writes Léo Charbonneau. Universities Canada, Colleges and Institutes Canada, the Canadian Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences, and the Business/Higher Education Roundtable (BHER) have all called for expanded WIL opportunities throughout higher ed, with the BHER calling for 100% of the country’s PSE students to have a WIL opportunity during PSE. Several groups also called for increased research funding, including the Canadian Association of Graduate Studies, the Canadian Association of University Teachers, and the U15 group of universities. University Affairs

Okanagan College to offer special intake for health care assistant training

Okanagan College has announced that it will provide direct-access health care assistant training in the South Okanagan district. “Students will be making a living wage right out of school, in a profession that offers a variety of shifts, making it easy to find work that best fits their lives,” said Lisa Kraft, Associate Dean of Science Technology and Health for Okanagan. WorkBC states that the BC Ministry of Health has identified health care assistants as a priority occupation, with employment growth rates sitting at a projected 13% through 2022. An Okanagan release adds that demand will likely increase in light of the provincial government’s decision to inject funding for more staff at residential care homes for seniors. Okanagan

UWindsor sexual assault prevention workshops foster changemakers

The Bystander Initiative, an eight-year-old sexual assault prevention program at the University of Windsor, has experienced a recent explosion in popularity, reports CBC. Currently, the program runs two workshops a day twice a week, but Acting Director Frankie Cachon told CBC that she is considering adding a third day in response to demand. While students said that the $50 gift card that the Initiative uses as incentive to participate is nice, Cachon added that many of them place more value on the feeling that they are social changemakers. “We know, in our culture, there tends to be so much minimization of the harm ... Our program is about cultivating a community of responsibility,” said Cachon. CBC

USask prioritizes reconciliation in new strategic plan

The University of Saskatchewan’s new strategic plan will prioritize “Indigenization,” reports CBC. The plan is rooted in what USask calls “courageous curiosity,” “boundless collaboration,” and “inspired communities.” “The world needs a university in which Indigenous concepts, methodologies, pedagogies, languages, and philosophies are respectfully woven into the tapestry of learning, research, scholarship, creativity, and community engagement,” the plan states. Meanwhile, the Indigenous Students’ Council has continued its ongoing boycott against USask’s reconciliation efforts, stating that Indigenous students on campus want an independent Indigenous students’ union. USask Vice-Provost of Indigenous Engagement Jacqueline Ottoman said that she will help any group that would like to form a union, but notes that students are responsible for their own governance structures. CBC (1) | CBC (2) | Saskatoon StarPhoenix | USask

Aurora social work program should be restarted, expanded to meet demand: report

A social work program currently on hiatus at Aurora College in the Northwest Territories should be both restarted and expanded, according to a 60-page review conducted by the territorial government. The review was released earlier this week by Yellowknife Centre MLA Julie Green, who reportedly needed to obtain the report through an access to information request after the Department of Education allegedly refused to share it with her. The report states that social workers are in high demand in NWT, and that the program should be restarted and expanded in order to help meet this demand. CBC

Alumna donates $5M to McGill for food security research

McGill University alumna Margaret A Gilliam has donated $5M to the university’s Institute for Global Food Security. A release states that the donation will help faculty and student researchers understand the root causes of global hunger, and to develop novel solutions for food insecurity worldwide. “Ms. Gilliam’s investment will extend far beyond McGill and will ultimately have a powerful impact on the health and well-being of our entire global community,” said McGill Principal Suzanne Fortier. McGill adds that it will rename the institute in Gillam’s honour. McGill

UPEI, Holland College get $1.5M for international recruitment

CBC has learned that the University of Prince Edward Island and Holland College will receive $1.5M from the federal and provincial governments to attract more international students. UPEI has doubled its international cohort over the last five years, and UPEI President Alaa Abd-El-Aziz told CBC that the university plans to attract students from India, Mauritius, and South America. Holland College VP of Innovation, Enterprise, and Strategic Development Michael O'Grady stated that international recruiting has grown especially important in light of declining domestic enrolments. “If we did not have our international students this year, we would be an institution of under 2,000. This year we're about 2,500,” said O’Grady. CBC

UoGuelph prof charged with assault

John Kissick, a Fine Arts professor at the University of Guelph, has been charged with assault, reports CBC. Talia Yeo, Kissick’s ex-girlfriend, reported Kissick to the police in September, two months after she had posted a video online of Kissick beating her. Yeo stated that she went to hospital with a “documented concussion,” swollen jaw, and minor bruises from the incident in the video. UoGuelph said that Kissick is on leave while the university investigates, “which is standard procedure during such a review.” Kissick did not respond to interview requests from CBC. CBC (1) | CBC (2)

UOttawa students mount effort to replace embattled student federation

A group of students at the University of Ottawa are attempting to form a new student union. The Ottawa Citizen  reports that the effort follows UOttawa’s decision to sever its relationship with the existing Student Federation of the University of Ottawa following allegations of fiscal mismanagement. Thus far, the group has posted a provisional 36-page constitution and a list of proposals on its website. The Citizen states that permanently cancelling the agreements between the university and the existing student federation would involve significant complications, but adds that the university supports any student government that operates in good faith. Ottawa Citizen