Top Ten

December 5, 2018

Canadian Federation of Students urges UOttawa students to stick with embattled union

The Canadian Federation of Students has announced that it opposes the University of Ottawa’s decision to sever ties with the Student Federation of the University of Ottawa following an investigation into its finances. The CFS states that the dissolution of the SFUO would have far-reaching consequences for on-campus businesses,  service centres, and employees. In addition, the SFUO holds contracts with vendors, is a signatory to the U-Pass agreement, and administers the undergraduate health and dental plan. According to the CFS, “[t]he university does not have the right to dissolve the corporation with its many contracts, employees and services and unilaterally assign them to a new entity.” UOttawa students will vote on the SFUO’s future on December 4. CFS (ON)

UoGuelph receives $1M to support research chair in medicinal plant biology

The University of Guelph has received $1M from PhytoGro to launch the PhytoGro Chair in Medicinal Phyto Substances. A UoGuelph release explains that the Chair will support the development of new medicines from plants, including those made from cannabis. “The only way for a plant to be utilized consistently as medicine is for it to be grown in a standardized way, batch after batch. U of G plant scientists have the expertise to achieve that consistency, and we are hoping to gain from their expertise,” said PhytoGro CEO Ken Clement. UoGuelph adds that the Chair will be housed in the university’s Controlled Environment Systems Research Facility, which focuses on innovations in biological life support. UoGuelph (ON)

Two profs investigate the pros, cons of online classrooms

Steve Mentz and Christopher Schaberg weigh the pros and cons of online teaching in a joint-op-ed for Inside Higher Ed. Shaberg, who admits that he has yet to teach an online course, considers some of the pedagogical possibilities that online forums can engage. He adds that he remains wary of the fact that online technologies concentrate wealth in the hands of a small number of elite actors. Mentz states that although he prefers the “human” dimension of in-person learning, he teaches online as a way to engage with the fact that contemporary culture is inseparable from the digital realm. Both authors conclude that online learning is here to stay, with the caveat that its implications remain inconclusive. Inside Higher Ed (International)

MUN lecturer’s union to hold strike vote

CBC has learned that contract teaching staff at Memorial University will hold a strike vote this week. The Lecturer's Union of Memorial University of Newfoundland states that instructors want better pay, including an in-lieu pay increase for a pension and other benefits. According to CBC, LUMUN staff earn 43-63% less per-course than members of the MUN Faculty Association, although some part-time instructors bounce back and forth between the two unions. MUNFA has also reached an impasse with the university, CBC adds, as the two sides cannot agree on the terms for a proposed right of first refusal for senior workers. Negotiations between the university and LUMUN have been ongoing since April 2017. CBC (NL)

UBC board member explains why he opposes tuition increase

“During my previous two terms on the UBC board of governors […] I always voted in support of the administration’s maximum government-allowable 2 percent increases in tuition fees for domestic students,” writes UBC Board Member Nassif Ghoussoub. The author notes, however, that he is now voting against a proposed increase. Ghoussoub attributes this change of heart to the fact that while increases in international students have led to a 44% increase in tuition and student fees revenue for UBC, the school is not using enough of this windfall to alleviate the financial burden of PSE for those in BC, or to properly invest in the school’s core mission of teaching and research. Ghoussoub claims instead that the surplus funds are going disproportionately toward administrative expenditures, even while a significant proportion of UBC students express concern that they will run out of money to buy food while at school. Straight.com (BC)

ULethbridge, support staff disagree about allocation of 2017-18 surplus

The University of Lethbridge and the union that represents its support workers are at loggerheads over a $206M surplus, reports the Lethbridge Herald. According to AUPE 053 negotiator Dale Perry, the administration has not been transparent about the specific sources of the surplus, or about how decisions around spending and restricting the funds are made. Perry added that the union is not asking for a pay raise, but that it does want increased benefits, a concession that the university has reportedly refused in recent negotiations. ULethbridge VP of Finance and Administration Nancy Walker told the Herald that although administrators have the right to exercise how surpluses are allocated, they need to exercise fiscal responsibility above all else. Lethbridge Herald (AB)

UWindsor opens $30M science facility

The University of Windsor’s Faculty of Science has opened a new, $30M research space. CBC reports that the Essex Centre of Research, which is dedicated to nanotechnology, medical physics, and cancer research, features an open-concept layout where offices and labs share the same space. “All of the labs are glass, completely transparent,” said Dean of Science Chris Houser. “It's indicative of the approach we are hoping for—collaborative and open to bringing in partners.” The facility is open now, with the official ribbon-cutting scheduled for some time in early 2019. CBC | UWindsor (ON)

US college strips deceased professor of honours following allegations of bad behaviour

A US college has announced that it will remove the name of a late professor, Lester Mazor, from an on-campus room and an endowed fund in his memory after determining that allegations of inappropriate behaviour in the 1970s were "more likely than not" to be true. Inside Higher Ed states that the allegations were not the only ones to be brought forward against Mazor. In a statement, the college said that the case raises questions around how to deal with harassment allegations against a deceased person, and that part of an institution’s responsibility toward victims is to establish protocols around how such questions should be addressed. Inside Higher Ed (International)

UQAM implements campus-wide smoking ban

The Université du Québec à Montréal has announced that it will go entirely smoke-free. According to UQAM, the unanimous decision was informed by a broader university policy that aims to promote health and wellness on campus. UQAM states that it will also implement an awareness campaign around the risks of cannabis use, and that it will prohibit employees from any work-related activities if they are impaired by cannabis or any other substance. The smoking ban applies to all facilities, grounds, and buildings owned, rented, or occupied by the university, as well as university residences, adds UQAM. UQAM (QC)

CNC raises tuition 2%, launches international road safety campaign

The College of New Caledonia’s Board of Governors has approved a 2% domestic tuition and mandatory fees increase for the 2019/2020 school year. The board has also approved a motion to use the funds from the increase towards the support and development of students. The Prince George Citizen reports that a 2% increase is standard practice for colleges in British Columbia. “CNC remains the second lowest tuition at a BC college for a full-time academic arts program student,” said CNC President Henry Reiser. CNC also recently launched an international road safety campaign in partnership with ICBC and the RCMP. The impetus for the campaign was the death of CNC international student Sandeep KaurPrince George Citizen | CNC (1) | CNC (2) (BC)