Top Ten

June 3, 2021

Postsecondary institutions discuss, consider mandatory vaccine policies

Postsecondary institutions across Canada are continuing to evaluate their vaccine policies. Trent University will require students living in Peterborough and Durham region campus residences to have had at least the first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, and Fleming College and Algoma University are considering making vaccines for students in residence mandatory. Other institutions, such as Laurentian University and Cambrian College, have announced that they are not planning to require vaccinations. In PEI, the University of Prince Edward Island and Holland College have stated that they’re consulting with the provincial Chief Public Health Office. University of Montreal professor Vardit Ravitsky shared concerns about the ethics of mandatory vaccine policies at postsecondary institutions in an interview with CBC, arguing that these polices can block student access to education. Ravitsky further stated that, if vaccine mandates are implemented, these mandates should be temporary to avoid setting a precedent of medical or biological discrimination. Global News (Trent) | CBC (ON) | CBC (PEI) | CBC (Ravitsky) (National)

SFU launches two new residence halls to expand student housing

Simon Fraser University has announced the expansion of their student housing through two new $69.9M residence halls with 482 single-occupancy rooms. The residence halls include accessible room options, community and learning spaces, shared washrooms and laundry rooms on each floor, community kitchens, and multi-faith spaces. A traditional ceremony was held by members of the Tsleil-Waututh Nation to cleanse and purify the buildings’ energy to prepare the buildings for students to move in. “The completion of this project is an important milestone in expanding our housing options,” said SFU President Joy Johnson. “And we’ve kept our student needs at the forefront in designing these new, modern spaces, which include all the amenities and supports students need to make the most of living on campus.” SFU (BC)

Students, professors use “X University,” drop Ryerson’s name from review of journalism

Ryerson University’s School of Journalism has also announced plans to remove the name of Egerton Ryerson from its Ryerson Review of Journalism magazine and The Ryersonian newspaper. The school aims to introduce new names by the Fall 2021 semester, and students and Indigenous creatives will be involved in the renaming and design of the mastheads. CBC says the news came a day after the statue of Egerton Ryerson was covered with red paint and graffiti. The Star also reports that students and instructors from the Yellowhead Institute have begun using the name “X University” in response to the institution’s “Standing Strong” task force. An open letter from the Yellowhead Institute letter says that the task force “was designed to answer the wrong questions” about ties to Egerton Ryerson’s name. CBC | The Star (1) | The Star (2) (ON)

FNUniv, Reconciliation Education, BMO launch Nisitohtamowin ᓂᓯᑐᐦᑕᒧᐃᐧᐣ course

First Nations University of Canada has partnered with Reconciliation Education and BMO Financial Group to launch the Nisitohtamowin ᓂᓯᑐᐦᑕᒧᐃᐧᐣ eLearning course. The course is available for free for all Canadians throughout June, and is intended to “promote healing, equity and respect of Indigenous cultures and values in Canadian Society” through education. The course has been developed to meet the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s calls to actions and recommendations, and includes a personal account as well as an introduction to the impact and legacy of Residential schools. BMO will also be providing $250K to FNUniv to provide financial assistance for Indigenous students through a variety of different supports, including entrance level scholarships, business student scholarships, and emergency bursaries. Newswire (SK)

QC cégep, university students not required to physically distance for Fall semester

The Government of Quebec has announced that cégep and university students will not be required to physically distance when they return to campus for the Fall 2021 semester. The decision is dependent on 75% of the student population being vaccinated and the status of the epidemiological situation is. “It’s really in your hands,” said Quebec Higher Education Minister Danielle McCann. “It depends in great part on the success of the vaccination campaign.” Postsecondary institutions must also have a backup plan in case vaccination targets are not met and to enable quick changes in case institutions need to return to physical distancing. CTV News | Global News (QC)

Strategies for senior administrators undergoing reviews: Opinion

Senior administrators undergoing administrator reviews can use strategies to ensure the process is helpful and beneficial rather than uncomfortable, writes Jeffrey Ratje. Ratje emphasizes the importance of having a good committee chair and offers suggestions on selecting a strong committee chair. The author also encourages administrators to take their reviews seriously, avoid putting disproportionate weight on negative criticism over positive feedback, and have supervisors and mentors put review material in context. “Mutual respect is at the heart of a fair and meaningful administrator review,” writes Ratje. Chronicle of Higher Ed (Subscription required) (Editorial)

ON postsecondary students struggle to find affordable, safe off-campus housing: OUSA, WUSA

The Star reports that the Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance (OUSA) has released a report on the need for affordable and safe off-campus housing for students. The report expressed concerns around safety and affordability of student housing throughout ON, and called for the construction of student-focused accommodations. “Increasing admissions without paying careful attention to the issues and limits in the local housing stock is irresponsible and exposes students to unfair, unsafe and unpleasant housing experiences,” wrote report authors and McMaster students Maanvi Dhillon and Ryan Tse. CBC reports that the Waterloo Undergraduate Students' Association (WUSA) also released a report that suggests that many students struggle to find affordable and quality places to live, with some experiencing homelessness. The Star | CBC (ON)

Transferrable skills are a by-product of university education: Opinion

The point of a university education is not to teach students “transferrable skills,” writes University of Toronto – Mississauga Associate Professor Mairi Cowan. Instead, the author argues that transferrable skills are a byproduct of postsecondary education; students are taught competencies as instructors teach them how to engage with the class material. Cowan explains that as students practice the skills, they gain competencies that can be transferred to a variety of different contexts and life paths. “I’m not teaching these skills as transferrable skills; I’m teaching them as historical skills that my students can transfer to whatever contexts they see fit,” writes Cowan. University Affairs (Editorial)

Additional counts of sexual assault, indecent assault for former professor

CBC reports that former University of King's College and Dalhousie University professor Wayne Hankey is now facing new counts of sexual assault and indecent assault. Hankey is reportedly facing one charge for sexual assault in 1982 and one count of indecent assault for multiple incidents that occurred between 1977 and 1979. In an article on Saltware, the University of King’s College alumni association president Paul Thomson has urged former students to trust an independent investigation into the allegations, which has a scope “broad enough to include these additional matters.” CBC | SaltWire (NS)

CTF releases document showing AB postsecondary employees received pay raises in 2020

The Canadian Taxpayers Federation (CTF) has released Pay hikes at Alberta’s universities and colleges during the downturn, a report that states that over 11,500 postsecondary employees in the province received a pay raise in 2020. RdnewsNOW says that this raise cost taxpayers and students $29M, and that the overall compensation paid to postsecondary employees from 2014-2020 has increased by almost 9%. “The government is right to look for savings at Alberta’s colleges and universities and it should push these employees to help share in the burden and take a pay cut,” argued CTF’s Alberta Director Franco Terrazzano. Report | Western Standard | RdnewsNOW (AB)