Top Ten

June 1, 2021

Higher ed community responds to discovery of children’s remains at former residential school

The Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc recently discovered the remains of 215 children on the grounds of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School, and members of the higher ed community are responding to the discovery with expressions of grief and calls for action. "We need to make sure [former school sites] are controlled and protected so full investigations can be done," said Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond, director of the Indian Residential School History and Dialogue Centre at the University of British Columbia. Institutions across the country have issued statements and lowered their flags in response to the news, and UBC has announced that it will be reviewing the honorary degree given to Bishop John Fergus O'Grady, former principal of the residential school, in 1986. “Days like today reveal how much there’s still to uncover in regards to the history and impact of residential schools — how many more children there are still awaiting honour and remembrance,” said Ry Moran, associate university librarian of reconciliation at the University of Victoria. “We still know there’s a big, huge piece of work to be done.” CBC | The Star | TRU | Global News (National)

UAlberta, MNA, RI partner to support Métis postsecondary students

The University of Alberta, the Métis Nation of Alberta (MNA), and the Rupertsland Institute (RI) have partnered to support Métis postsecondary students. The partners will work together to conduct research that addresses Métis concerns; provide support to help Métis students achieve their postsecondary education goals; and increase the number of Métis academics, fellowships, and employees at UAlberta. “Education of our Métis citizens is the key to success, the key to true reconciliation and continued education for all on our story and our history,” said MNA President Audrey Poitras. UAlberta (AB)

U of T partners with Ted Rogers Centre for Heart Research on TRANSFORM HF

The University of Toronto has announced a partnership with the Ted Rogers Centre for Heart Research that will see the development and utilization of innovative solutions to monitor and treat people with heart failure. TRANSFORM HF will focus on making therapies and approaches based on new medical and artificial intelligence technologies accessible to Canadians. “Technology is often developed in a bubble, so for our engineers and scientists to collaborate with patients on design will change everything,” said Craig Simmons, a professor in the Faculty of Applied Science & Engineering and the Institute for Biomedical Engineering. “The ability to interact with end users early will help us create solutions that work more quickly and more smoothly.” U of T (ON)

Using Zoom chat as a pedagogical tool: Opinion

Instructors should explore the use of Zoom chat as a pedagogical tool in the virtual classroom, write Zachary Nowak, Michelle-Marie Gilkeson, and Samantha Tracy. The authors suggest ensuring accessibility issues are accommodated, encouraging students to use private messages to optimize their chats, identifying the appropriate times to ask questions, openly addressing privacy concerns when saving chats, and ensuring that chats are not overused. The article also highlights how chat can benefit self-conscious students who might not be comfortable with speaking on camera, as well as students who are overactive in their participation. “[I]t’s a simple, useful tool that you, the instructor, can wield to enlarge and enrich your course,” write the authors. Inside Higher Ed (Editorial)

“Contract cheating” companies responsible for rise in cheating: Eaton

Postsecondary institutions have experienced an increase in cheating during the pandemic, and University of Calgary Professor Sarah Eaton says that the fault lies more strongly with the companies that help students cheat than with the move to online education. Eaton says that there is little or no legislation for companies specializing in “contract cheating,” and explains that these firms use aggressive marketing tactics and blackmail to keep students as paying customers. Students who are overwhelmed by factors such as the COVID-19 situation may have chosen to pay for a service, after which the companies continue to target them with marketing, withdraw monthly payments as “subscription fees,” and threaten to report the student for cheating if they do not pay. “We need to name the problem in our policies and our procedures in schools,” said Eaton. “We need to talk to students about the real risks of engaging with these companies.” National Post (AB)

YorkU partners with UNITAR to establish CIFAL centre

York University has announced that it has partnered with the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR) to establish a Centre International de Formation des Acteurs Locaux (CIFAL). The centre will provide training and serve as a knowledge exchange hub for government officials, the private sector, academia, and civil society. “The creation of this CIFAL Centre, in partnership with UNITAR, will enable us to bring leaders from governments, not-for-profits, and industry together with researchers and educators to share experiences and expertise, and to train new generations of global leaders,” said YorkU President Rhonda L Lenton. YorkU says that this is the first CIFAL centre in Canada. YorkU | The Star (ON)

Disciplinary action taken against URegina prof after email containing racist remarks

CBC reports that the University of Regina has taken disciplinary action against a professor who sent an email to students containing racist remarks. Professor Allan East allegedly sent an email to his Chemistry 105 class about final grades, in which he said “I could not help but notice that all 14 of you cheaters have East Indian last names. None of the Canadian or other international students cheated.” URegina has issued a statement condemning racism, and CBC states that East later apologized for his comments and is now taking sensitivity training. “I couldn't believe that this was something that was sent in 2021, at the end of Asian Heritage Month, after the university has released countless statements and has done countless campaigns against racism in the building and on campus,” said URegina graduate student Aysha Yaqoob, who felt that more action should be taken. “I feel like training after an incident has happened doesn't hold the professor accountable.” CBC | Global News | Regina Leader-Post (SK)

WLU employee put on leave after allegedly posting Islamophobic messages

A Wilfrid Laurier University employee who worked in international recruitment has been put on leave after allegedly posting Islamophobic messages on Facebook, reports CBC. The employee reportedly posted a message in a private Facebook group that “advised people to tell their children to stay away from Muslims and not to buy anything sold by them,” and additionally described participants in a rally supporting Palestinians as “jehadi’s [sic].” “These posts were brought to our attention and we are investigating the matter with high priority,” said a WLU spokesperson. “Laurier is committed to creating a culture that is inclusive and safe for everyone, and does not condone behaviours that promote hate, induce fear, or threaten people’s safety.” Kitchener Today shared a statement from the Waterloo Regional Police, who investigated the reports and spoke to the individual in question. CBC | Kitchener Today (ON)

Using social-emotional frameworks to support jobseekers: Opinion

Essential or transferrable skills have received an increasing amount of attention in recent years, writes Noah Arney, a Career Services Coordinator with Thompson Rivers University, and these skills are now seen as a crucial component of education. The author discusses the value of using a skills framework that includes key life skills such as critical thinking, global citizenship, and physical and psychological health; and how these frameworks can provide jobseekers with ways to describe their skills to employers. The author compares the strengths and applications of social-emotional frameworks, comprehensive frameworks, and career development frameworks. CERIC (National)

Hundreds of claims expected as Laurentian, Ernst and Young, establish claims process

CBC reports that Laurentian University and the court-appointed monitor, Ernst and Young, are establishing a claims process. Claims and supporting proof must be submitted by July 30th, and Laurentian lawyer DJ Miller stated at a recent Ontario Claims Court hearing that she expects in excess of 15 claims of over $5M and hundreds of claims overall. Large claims are expected from TD Bank, RBC, Laurentian’s Faculty Association, the federated universities, and the Laurentian University Staff Union. The article says that the process will not include individual employee claims, but that Ernst and Young will work with unions to address losses. The court hearing also included a request to appoint a chief redevelopment officer. CBC (ON)