Top Ten

July 24, 2020

BC institutions offer packages and plans for self-isolation

Several institutions in British Columbia have announced self-isolation plans or packages to students and staff travelling from outside of Canada that will enable them to isolate on campus. The University of British Columbia is offering self-isolation accommodation packages on a first-come, first-serve basis to members of its community. The University of Victoria and Simon Fraser University are also offering packages where students can rent private quarantine spaces and arrange for meal delivery. City News 1130 (BC) (BC)

Scrap CSSG, implement strong postsecondary student supports: CASA

Student organizations across the country, including the Canadian Alliance of Student Associations, are calling on the Government of Canada to cancel the Canada Student Service Grant (CSSG) program and reallocate the nearly $900M in funds to stronger supports for postsecondary students. “The goal for the Government of Canada should be to get support to students as quickly as possible in an efficient and effective manner,” said CASA Chair Bryn de Chastelain. “The CSSG is coming too late for students to fully take advantage of the program, so it is time for the government to re-evaluate where best to support students with $900M of existing money.” Federal Youth Minister Barish Chagger has stated that officials are looking at multiple ways and programs to deliver the grants, but did not provide a timeline for such releases. CASA | ACAE | Winnipeg Free Press (National)

NB institutions call for non-Atlantic students to arrive early, offer accommodations

In New Brunswick, postsecondary students are being asked to return to Atlantic Canada early in order to accommodate the 14-day self-isolation period. Mount Allison University is offering shuttles to students, meal delivery during isolation, and possible ways for students to safely spend time outside. Crandall University is not charging students in residence for their room during the quarantine period and arranging a low-cost food delivery service. St Thomas University is asking students to arrive early and will be allowing them to isolate in their rooms at STU. Universite de Moncton is working on a student-by-student basis. New Brunswick Community College stated that it will be “supercharging its outreach program” to ensure its out-of-region students have what they need. The Star (NB) 

OCAD U introduces new courses on pandemic-proof artmaking

OCAD University has launched two new courses that are focused on helping students develop their artistic practice during the pandemic. COVID-19 Responsive Art, a third-year course open to all artists, explores artistic responses to social and health crises from recent history. “When the pandemic started, and we saw all this devastation happening across sectors, I immediately wanted to visually express my feelings about what was happening in the world,” said OCAD U instructor Ilene Sova, “and I knew OCAD U students would feel the same way.” Working From Home, a second-year course, examines how the home can be a site of creative inquiry, and examines perceptions of domestic life, gender, race, and the modern family. OCAD U (ON)

Conestoga to launch program for long-term care workers

Conestoga College has received $340K from the Government of Ontario to support a new Resident Home Assistant program. The program will help unemployed workers in the Kitchener-Waterloo region to transition into essential, entry-level positions in health and long-term care environments. “We greatly appreciate the province’s investment in this important initiative,” said Conestoga President John Tibbits. “The Resident Home Assistant program will address the urgent need for trained staff in LTC homes while providing opportunities for laid-off workers to gain skills that will allow them to return to the workforce and make positive contributions to the health and well-being of our community.” Conestoga (ON)

UoGuelph to offers new course examining pandemics through multiple lenses

The University of Guelph has launched a new course that examines pandemics from a scientific, cultural, historical, and societal perspective. The university states that it believes the online course, Pandemics: Culture, Science and Society is the first of its kind in Canada. “Pandemics and infectious diseases are complex issues, and it’s therefore necessary to take an interdisciplinary approach to understanding what they mean for the world we live in,” said Department of Sociology and Anthropology Chair Elizabeth Finnis. “Students will gain a broader understanding of the complexities of infectious diseases, how they can become pandemics and what they mean for different aspects of society.” UoGuelph | CTV News (ON)

Concordia invigilators, CRARR call for provincial inquiry into union practices

Concordia University invigilators and the Centre for Research Action on Race Relations (CRARR) are calling on the Government of Quebec to launch an inquiry into alleged illegal activity in their union, the Teaching and Research Assistants at Concordia (TRAC). The group of invigilators claim that five of the six members of TRAC’s executive committee are also sitting on the union’s board. Global News also reports that the “majority of the members apart of the union’s executive committee are international students and are not Canadian citizens,” which contradicts the Professional Syndicates Act. The union has expressed that it is “deeply upset” with the position that CRARR has taken in defending the use of PSA legislation to remove non-Canadian citizens from the unions’ executive committee, and union grievance officer Zarish Abbas argued that the citizenship clause in the act “is almost 100 years old and does not appear to be in force in Quebec.” Global News (QC)

TRU economics prof argues suspension is an issue of academic freedom

An economics professor of Thompson Rivers University is contesting his suspension on the basis that it impinges on his academic freedom. Derek Pyne states that his one-year suspension was over a Facebook post praising the Brock University Faculty Association for supporting a professor over an academic freedom dispute. TRU Spokesperson Darshan Lindsay said in a statement that Pyne’s suspension was not related to academic freedom. While Lindsay explained that TRU cannot provide specific information on personnel matters due to employment and privacy laws, they explained that “in situations where faculty members have faced discipline, it is not about their academic freedom but rather other issues that have arisen in the workplace.” National Post (BC)

Dal, UManitoba partner to join fight against COVID-19 with researchers at USask’s VIDO-InterVac

Researchers from Dalhousie University and University of Manitoba are joining the University of Saskatchewan’s Vaccine and Infectious Disease Organization-International Vaccine Centre (VIDO-InterVac) to advance research against COVID-19. Members of the teams will work in VIDO-InterVac’s containment level 3 agriculture facility on antivirals, therapeutics, and testing of COVID-19 vaccine candidates for industry partners, while advancing their own research. “This partnership is an excellent example of how Canadian universities can work together to advance COVID-19 research,” said USask Vice-President Research Karen Chad. “These secondments build on our scientific collaborations with other organizations across Canada and around the world, and will make significant contributions toward achieving our goal of helping to end this pandemic as quickly as possible.” UManitoba (MB)

Economic problems cannot be solely addressed through higher ed, training reform: Opinion

In this piece, Matt Reed discusses the high demand for nursing degree programs in the United States. Reed argues that although “the call” to become a nurse can come from many different places, the salary available to nursing positions “right out of the gate” is tied to program demand. Rather than advocating for a “fairer” way to allocate educational pathways to degrees that lead to high-paying careers, Reed suggests a rethinking of the economy where there are broader paths to financial stability. “I don’t blame students for wanting degrees that lead to good jobs,” concludes Reed. “I blame the rest of us for allowing an economy to make the paths to stability so narrow that the few identifiable pathways to stability get overcrowded.” Inside Higher Ed (International)