Top Ten

August 27, 2021

Ryerson Board accepts all Standing Strong Task Force Recommendations, including renaming

The Standing Strong (Mash Koh Wee Kah Pooh Win) Task Force’s final report has been presented to Ryerson University’s Board of Governors, and the Board has approved a motion to accept all 22 recommendations. These recommendations include renaming the university, sharing materials that recognize Egerton Ryerson’s legacy, increasing supports for Indigenous and Black scholarship, and providing more opportunities to learn about Indigenous history. “My sincere thanks to our community members and stakeholders for contributing to and participating in this valuable initiative,” wrote President Mohammed Lachemi. “Our next steps will reflect and support our institutional values and our diverse community.” The university will be announcing its next steps in the days to come, and has committed to developing an action plan by January 2022. Ryerson | Ryerson (Report) (ON)

QC launches Cloutier Commission to develop guidelines affecting academic freedom

The Government of Quebec has launched a special commission that is tasked with developing guidelines that will affect the freedom of university professors to discuss sensitive issues or use controversial words. The Cloutier Commission will lay out the roles and obligations of students, teachers, universities, and government. It will also decide if elected officials should be asked to adopt a law providing a better framework for contentious issues. The commission has begun public consultations and has sent a questionnaire to 33,000 professors and lecturers. “There's no doubt,” said Alexandre Cloutier, vice-rector of the Université du Québec à Chicoutimi, “that concern has spread to the classrooms of our universities, whether it's the prevailing chill around the words used, the topics addressed or the choices of guest speakers. The risk of giving in to self-censorship seems to be very present.” CTV News (QC)

As campuses reopen, international students need support: Opinion

International students will need additional support as campuses reopen, writes Ezgi Ozyonum, as they have faced physical, financial, and emotional challenges to studying in Canada during the pandemic. Ozyonum says her research has shown that international students face more isolation and anxiety than domestic students, and that postsecondary institutions should promote support for students in anticipation of this. The author also highlights unique barriers for international students, such as needing to self-isolate on arrival, having unrecognized vaccinations, and not having access to health insurance. Finally, Ozyonum encourages governments and institutions to work together to remove financial barriers for international students. Montreal Gazette (National)

Why trigger warnings are needed in the postsecondary classroom: Opinion

With rising rates of mental health issues, existing trauma, and the use of multimedia in the classroom, trigger warnings are needed now more than ever, writes Michael Bugeja. Bugeja argues that instructors should respect students by warning them before showing content that will evoke a strong emotional response, and that past arguments against the use of warnings tend to affirm the instructor’s viewpoint instead of the student’s. The author describes the way that he compiled a list of potential trigger topics through discussion with students to determine where trigger warnings in the class are needed, and explains his use of an alternative study guide for students who do not wish to attend class. Inside Higher Ed (Editorial)

Collège Montmorency, Laval sign agreement on cultural infrastructure project

Collège Montmorency and the City of Laval have signed an agreement to work together on a cultural infrastructure project. Montmorency and the Laval will collaborate on feasibility studies for a new building that will combine cultural organizations such as a professional artistic creation centre and a central library with modern study spaces for students at the college. “Alliances between these sectors have existed for quite some time in Laval, and this approach with Collège Montmorency will facilitate the creation of dynamic and innovative partnerships,” said Laval deputy mayor and executive-committee VP Stéphane Boyer. Laval News | L'Écho de Laval (QC)

Institutions across Canada announce plans to observe National Day for Truth and Reconciliation

Postsecondary institutions across Canada have recently announced their plans to observe the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation on September 30th. The date of the new statutory holiday coincides with Orange Shirt Day and is also the time of year that Indigenous children were taken from their families to attend residential schools. Several institutions – such as Saskatchewan Polytechnic, Athabasca University, and Simon Fraser University – have shared that they will be encouraging the community to wear orange or hosting events for Orange Shirt Day that week. The University of British Columbia is encouraging community members to honour the day through actions such as personal reflection, education and awareness activities, or participation in other events. Nation Talk (Sask Polytech) | AU | UBC | SFU (National)

MUN vaccine mandate opponents unlikely to succeed in challenge: Opinion

Those who oppose Memorial University’s vaccine mandate are unlikely to have the legal grounds to succeed, says constitutional law expert Emmett MacFarlane. MacFarlane says that institutions have an obligation to ensure people are vaccinated to keep them safe in indoor environments, and that accommodations can be made through remote learning in some classes. MacFarlane argues that “a vaccine mandate is crucial,” and argues that certain exemptions may not be relevant in all circumstances. “[N]o one is saying that a vaccine mandate means that the state comes and injects you,” said MacFarlane. “You have a choice.” The Hamilton Spectator (NL)

Postsecondary institutions face significant post-pandemic change: Opinion

In a new editorial for the Chronicle of Higher Ed, Arthur Levine and Scott Van Pelt argue that education will not go back to its pre-pandemic state, but instead will change in a number of ways that must be anticipated by institutions in the future. The authors outline a number of trends that they expect to see, such as increased consumer power, changing expectations around program cost and accessibility, increased competition from entities such as Coursera, and reduced preference for degree programs over non-degree programs. Levine and Van Pelt recommend that institutions address these issues by embracing long-term thinking and avoiding complacency. Chronicle of Higher Ed (Paywall) (Editorial)

VCC music department introduces Indigenous Vocal Ensemble

Vancouver Community College’s music department has announced the creation of a new Indigenous Vocal Ensemble that will provide an introduction to Indigenous music and Salish music forms. The singing group, which is under the direction of Russell Wallace from the Lil’wat Nation, will rehearse and perform Indigenous songs using percussion and voice. The group will focus on traditional songs, but will also include collective improvisation and student arrangements and harmonies in its repertoire. Indigenous students and staff are invited to participate in the group, which is open to all levels. VCC (BC)

Centennial releases OER textbook on global citizenship

Centennial College has released an updated Open Educational Resource (OER) titled Global Citizenship: From Social Analysis to Social Action. The 10-chapter OER is designed to provide students with information about global consciousness and how they can work toward social change. It includes interactive features such as Youtube videos and concept pieces, and considers the principles of Universal Design for Learning to accommodate learning differences. “The team thought critical thinking practice was just as important as updating the content, so that’s a strong element in this online textbook,” said Centennial professor Paula Anderton. “These are skills that will be useful to students well beyond this course.” The resource was created through collaboration between Centennial faculty, staff, and students, and is free for students. Centennial (ON)