Top Ten

June 9, 2020

OCUFA releases policy brief highlighting COVID-19 impact on PSE

The Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations has released a policy brief regarding the pandemic’s implications for the province’s universities. The brief was developed in response to the Ministry of Colleges and Universities’ call for input. The policy brief highlights six key areas that need attention: equity implications, mental health impacts on academic staff, collegial governance, university funding, remote teaching and online learning, and impacts on students. For each area, OCUFA outlines the context surrounding each issue as well as recommendations for government. “Academic staff have a vital role to play in maintaining the teaching and learning process during these difficult times, and in the economic revival once the crisis passes,” concludes the brief. “We hope the government does not ignore this historic opportunity to renew Ontario’s universities as the province heals and recovers from this crisis.” OCUFA (ON)

UQAM launches eco-responsibility action plan

The Université du Québec à Montréal has launched an action plan regarding social and environmental responsibility. Plan d’action intégré en matière d’écoresponsabilité 2019-2024 aims to unite the community around eco-responsibility objectives and enhance UQAM’s sustainability actions. The plan also details the school’s intentions to become carbon neutral before 2040, create a dozen eco-responsibility working groups, launch the new visual identity “UQAM écoresponsable,” and other waste-reducing and energy-saving campus initiatives. UQAM (QC)

Brock adopts Open Access Policy

Brock University has joined 11 other Canadian universities in adopting an institutional Open Access Policy to promote accessibility, accountability, and transparency in research. The new policy calls for Brock researchers and scholars to deposit an electronic copy of their academic journal articles into the Brock University Digital Repository, an online collection of scholarly output produced by the Brock community and managed by the Brock University Library. “The value of our Repository is that it really helps our research products get out there into the world because the Repository is search-engine optimized,” said Brock University Librarian Mark Robertson. “It allows knowledge from research that might otherwise be behind paywalls to be able to be shared with the broader community.” Brock (ON)

UManitoba launches online resource to promote student-alumni networking, mentorship

The University of Manitoba has launched an online resource to promote networking and mentorship among students and alumni. UM Café–an online platform powered by Ten Thousand Coffees–will see mentors and mentees who sign up matched based on occupational goals, interests, and skills to exchange knowledge and advice. Participants will also receive monthly introductions to others, and can suggest a time to chat by phone or online. “Having a central place to connect virtually will make networking a little easier and more flexible,” said UManitoba Director of Alumni Relations Tracy Bowman. “It will open so many doors for students, alumni and employers looking to meet their future workforce.” UManitoba (MB)

Promoting on-campus needs to go beyond diversity statements: Ahmad

While many postsecondary institutions have released equity and diversity statements in response to institutionalized anti-Black violence, University of Toronto professor Aisha S Ahmad argues that there is more that institutions can do to ensure that Black, Indigenous, and other students of colour are protected on campus. For example, Ahmad suggests that institutions regularly meet with equity-seeking student groups, that senior administrators commit to direct dialogue and concrete action in consultation with student leaders, and that schools make student health and safety the priority. “These steps — not a diversity statement on a website — constitute the bare minimum required to demonstrate a commitment to equity on a college campus,” concludes Ahmad. Chronicle of Higher Ed (International)

Dawson expansion project put on fast-track by QC

Dawson College has announced that the construction of a new pavilion has been fast-tracked by the Government of Québec. The expansion will allow Dawson to welcome approximately 800 additional students in coming years through housing several health-related training courses. The Dawson expansion is part of a string of projects funded by QC that aims to address a potential influx of 37,000 students to the province’s college network. QC is thus considering two other projects which would see space added to Collège Ahuntsic and Cégep Édouard-Montpetit campuses. Journal de Montréal (QC)

Schools launch programs to address food insecurity

Several colleges and universities across the country have created programs that address food insecurity. Members of Conestoga College’s Muslim Student Association are working with the Waterloo Region chapter of the Muslim Association of Canada to provide meals to houseless and senior members of the community. Meanwhile, Brandon University Food Services Team has partnered with the Brandon Food Council, the John Howard Society, and Assiniboine Community College to create the curbside meal pickup program Everyone Eats which allows individuals to receive chef-inspired meals via a confidential donation of $0 to $100. “With Everyone Eats there will be no stigma as everyone who picks up a meal may be in a different situation, and all donations are confidential,” said Brandon Food Services Manager Nicholas Namespetra. Conestoga | Brandon (ON, MB)

Western nursing students express concerns regarding call to return this summer for placements

Some nursing students at Western University are expressing concerns after finding out they are required to return to London during the summer to finish hospital placement or do the entire course again and delay graduation by a year. Students have cited issues like flights costs, housing, and summer employment as factors that make the decision difficult for students. However, Western director of the Arthur Labatt Family School of Nursing Victoria Smye told CBC that the situation is complicated. "We can't shift [the placements] because it has an impact on everybody else as well,” said Smye. "We know it's hard on students and we know it's really frustrating for them, so we do the best we can to support them." CBC (ON)

The role of higher ed in economic recovery: Petter

“The capacities of advanced education institutions are among the most powerful and responsive tools that governments can leverage toward post-pandemic economic recovery,” writes Simon Fraser University President Andrew Petter. According to the author, higher ed can help support economic recovery in three ways: re-skilling and educating a displaced workforce, distributing knowledge and opportunity to combat inequality, and generating research and innovation to drive the transition to a low-carbon economy. “On the other side of the worst health crisis in living memory could await a more equitable, sustainable and democratic world,” concludes Petter. “Advanced education’s potential to grow knowledge and expand opportunity holds the key to the future we choose.” The Province (National)

UWaterloo issues statement responding to anti-racism petition

The University of Waterloo has issued a statement responding to an online petition signed by more than 13,000 people asking the school to hold a St Jerome’s University professor accountable for their use of racial slurs in class. “We would like UW to hold accountability for the actions of its staff members and reprimand those that violate the safety of students,” the petition reads. In response, UWaterloo has issued a statement indicating that while leadership will speak with the president of SJU, UWaterloo “does not have the authority to exercise any decisive action with respect to this specific racist act.” However, the school lists several initiatives that it is taking to ensure that the voices and experiences of the Black campus community and people of colour are amplified, such as expanding anti-racism workshops and creating spaces for Black campus community members to come together. The Record | Kitchener Today | UWaterloo (ON)