post secondary

Title IX

Title IX is one of the most significant laws in the protection of trans students throughout the United States. In states that have additional laws helping trans students, many of those laws clarify or build from the protections stated here.

Title IX is a federal law prohibiting sex discrimination in schools. Courts and the U.S. Departments of Justice and Education have concluded that discrimination because a person is transgender or gender non-conforming is illegal sex discrimination. Title IX applies to all schools (K-12 and post-secondary) that accept federal funds, including nearly all public schools. Complaints of discrimination or harassment can be filed with the U.S. Department of Education.

from the National Center for Transgender Equality website

However, Title IX doesn’t explicitly list transgender people as a protected group – the Obama administration has interpreted it that way. This reading has remained unchallenged for the most part, and a federal appeals court supported the interpretation in a ruling last month. But the policy is still vulnerable to political changes, especially as it comes months before a presidential election.

Now, the stance that transgender students are protected is being challenged. North Carolina recently passed a controversial law requiring people to use the bathrooms consistent with their “biological sex,” including in schools. The Department of Justice threatened to block implementation of the law; the state sued the federal government last week. The Justice Department then sued the state as well as public entities such as the University of North Carolina, alleging that they are violating Title IX.

from this article by the LA Times
Ontario to offer free tuition for students from low-income families
The vast majority of students whose families make under $50,000 will receive free college and university tuition under changes to student aid made in this year’s Ontario budget that represent the most radical shift in decades in how the province delivers loans and grants to postsecondary students

Changes in student aid unveiled in the Ontario budget are the most radical shift in decades in how the province delivers loans and grants to college and university students, and show the government wants to get more low-income people into postsecondary education.

The government said in the budget on Thursday that most college students whose family income is less than $50,000 a year will receive free tuition, while grants for university students, who pay higher tuitions, will not offset the entire amount.

The changes eliminate multiple loan and grant programs, and replace a complicated system with one program, the new Ontario Student Grant. Finance Minister Charles Sousa said the cost of the OSG will be “roughly the same” as the current level of $1.3-billion in aid.

“In fact, we’ve put in the budget the ability to further support an increase. We want this to be oversubscribed. We want to have more students who would not otherwise look to postsecondary,” he said.

Continue Reading.

Life Tips for Uni

Do not take 8am classes: Plenty of studyblr’s will tell you that 8am’s aren’t that bad and with a bit of willpower you can make it. In my experience (as a person who thrives at night), 8am classes are useless. My brain is not prepared to learn that early, I do not pay attention and therefore it is a waste of my time (and money) to take a class at that time of day. 

Take classes based on how you learn: If you can sit through 3 hour lectures and maintain focus through the whole lecture, go for it. However, if you struggle with focus see if the class is available in a twice a week format. 

Do not schedule all your classes on one day: This was another first year mistake for me, I packed 3 lectures into one day. Sure seems like a good idea when you have 2 days off a week, but not when you have to try to focus through 9 hours of lectures with barely any time to eat. 

If you want to change your major: and this happens, make sure you talk with BOTH your student success office AND your program coordinator/the program coordinator of your new program. Failing to talk to the correct people can lead you to miss important information about classes/grades/other requirements. 

Try different styles of note taking: Everyone learns differently, I started first year typing my notes, which I quickly learned I could do without really listening or paying attention. I switched to taking my notes by hand and I found a complete change in my grades. Again, this is something different for everyone so whatever works best for you, but trying something new could be beneficial!

Get to know your profs: I know not all professors are necessarily the most approachable people, but making connections and getting to know your profs can only benefit you. You never know when you’ll need a last minute extension/letter of recommendation/help with a draft, and if they can put a face to a name they will be much more likely to help out. 

Go to class: This might seem obvious (and I am bad for this because I find I learn more from the textbook than I do in class), but going to class is important. You are paying for it after all. Even if you attend and only half-ass pay attention you might be surprised by what you remember when it comes to studying. 

Take notes: Do it. Take notes, and lots of them. I am a huge advocate of using slang/swear words to paraphrase what the prof is saying because that helps me remember.

Go to the library: Libraries are good places because they put you in the right mentality to get things done. But it’s important to find a study place that suits you. If the library is too quiet for you, try another building or a coffee shop!

Read your textbooks: As a law student, there is no way I would have passed my classes without doing the readings. Annotating textbooks and paraphrasing important concepts is a really good start so that when you get to exams you aren’t completely lost. Plus no one wants to catch up on 12 weeks worth of reading right before exams, trust me. 

Take advantage of available resources on campus: There are SO MANY resources available on university campuses for every possible thing, employment services, writing workshops, counselling etc. Do not be afraid to seek these services out because that is exactly what they are there for!

Organize yourself before the semester starts: Chances are on the first day of class you are already behind a week of readings. I like to organize my semester right away so I don’t get any farther behind. Personally, I need a large month calendar above my desk with my assignments on it so I can see when everything is due/ how much time I have. Write out your weekly readings, make sure you know when everything is due and make sure you organize your time during busy weeks!

Try not to procrastinate too hard: I am a serial procrastinator so this is something I still struggle with. The best advice I received about this was “commit to doing at least 5 minutes and chances are you will want to keep going”. Even if you don’t, thats 5 minutes more than you would have done! (Also keep in mind research ALWAYS takes more time than you think it will)

Learn how YOU study: This is another thing that is different for everyone, personally I have to talk through/teach everything to make sure I know everything. (My poor roommate had to listen to a semester of 17th century law). But there are so many different methods (flash cards, mind maps, group studies etc) that work for different people, don’t be afraid to try new things!

Do not take an elective because you heard it was easy: Just don’t (unless it sounds interesting to you), find an elective you know you will enjoy. There is nothing worse than sitting through a class you hate/don’t care about. Your grades will likely suffer too. 

Make sure you look after yourself: Take mental health days when you need them. Eat. Sleep. Shower. Get a little exercise. Clean your room (this makes a world of difference). Don’t be too hard on yourself for a bad grade. Spend time being social. You will thank yourself for it, school is stressful and not taking care of yourself can really reflect in your grades. 

These are just a few of my tips from my personal experience, I realize they do not necessarily cater to everyone but I hope they can help some of you, especially those just starting university or college!

Feel free to message me if you have any questions and please add to the list if you have tips you find helpful! (:
Trudeau fails to deliver on election promise to support Indigenous post-secondary studentst
Trudeau promised to invest $50 million per year in a federal fund that supports Indigenous post-secondary students. Instead, the Liberals invested no new funding.

In the 2016 federal budget, Trudeau failed to deliver on his explicit election commitment to invest $50 million per year in the Post-Secondary Student Support Program (PSSSP), a federal initiative that provides support to Indigenous and Inuit students pursuing post-secondary education. Instead, the Liberals invested no new funding in the program.

For the past 20 years, successive governments maintained a two per cent funding cap on the PSSSP. Funding fell far behind demand for post-secondary education, rising tuition fees and increasing living costs. As a result, thousands of Indigenous learners are denied access to education that is their right. With the limited funds available, Indigenous communities administering the funds are forced to make difficult decisions about which students in their communities receive support each year, and which do not. A process which Trudeau himself describes as “heart wrenching”.

Post-secondary education is a right of Indigenous people. It is, as Trudeau has recognized, both a fundamental right and a treaty right dating back to foundational nation-to-nation treaties.

Following the release of the final report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, Prime Minister Trudeau committed to “fully implement the Calls to Action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission”. Call to action #11 stipulates providing “adequate funding to end the backlog of First Nations students seeking a post-secondary education.”

Just this past month, the Government of Canada announced its intention to fully adopt and implement the United Nations Declaration on The Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Article 14 of this Declaration states that Indigenous peoples have the right to all levels and forms of education of the State without discrimination. Yet in his government’s first real statement of priorities, Trudeau’s first budget didn’t mention the PSSSP once.

While the recent recognition of Indigenous rights is important, without the necessary funding to back it, how will Indigenous peoples’ right to education ever become a reality?

Continue Reading.

A defence for higher education

A defence for higher education
by Naveed A. Khan

As an educator, I understand and respect the value of education.  I also understand that many employers today may not.  The world has changed significantly, and continues to do so at this very moment. Traditionally, the justification for higher education has always been that it results in a good paying, secure job. That’s not necessarily true, and this is not a new phenomena; this has likely been untrue for a long time.  

The truth is, the “degree equals good job” formula is a myth that has persisted for far too long.  Unlike many other myths, however, it is one that also may have been true at some point.  That “some point” is a long way from today.  A post-secondary degree may have landed people good jobs throughout the sixties, maybe seventies, but not likely much longer after that.  It has existed after this time as a semblance of a dream, passed down from one generation to the next.  

As most people have already figured out (likely from personal experience), some degrees offer better employability depending on the markets they cater to.  However, this is also contingent upon time (societal age) and the direction of domestic and international demand in that particular industry.

Today, there are more post-secondary degrees than there are jobs readily available.  This is a result of a few factors: education and funding are arguably more accessible than before, leading to increased enrollment; affirmative action and special access programs exist to provide equal opportunities to education for the disabled or otherwise disadvantaged; post-secondary institutions are run like a business, therefore exist in larger numbers than before and also accept more students than before (which equals more money).  Whatever the reason, it works because an education is sought and delivered, hands are shaken, and the transaction is complete.

For the post-secondary student (read: newly minted and often heavily indebted adult), it doesn’t end there.  The ideal end result – for anyone who invests themselves, their time, energy, and money into higher education – is a career that will (hopefully) return the investment.  But how much of this is actually happening?  How many students are graduating and finding that “good job” in their chosen field, relatively painlessly?

You know the answer: not a lot.

Now, a lot of people make the argument that higher education is not worth it for this very reason, that tens of thousands of dollars (or more) are spent for a piece (or pieces) of paper that really does no good in the long run.  Those who refused to believe this argument before pursuing higher education may be inclined to believe it upon finishing and finding nothing remotely shiny at the end of the tunnel.  However, I argue that higher education is still a considerable asset in the end.

The problem lies within the myth.  We seek higher education for the promise of a job or career at the end that will hopefully carry us through having a family and eventually retirement.  Again, this is false.  This is a dream that we have inherited and might possibly make the mistake of passing on to future generations.  While it’s not at all the wrong reason to pursue higher education, it is a potential trapdoor into eventual disappointment.

Many people use the example of famous school-dropouts who later turned themselves into some of the world’s most well-known billionaires. Bill Gates of Microsoft, Steve Jobs of Apple, Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook; these are just a few of the names of successful dropouts that get tossed around.  Some even equate dropping out of school to being the secret to billionaire success (that somehow academia and institutionalized learning stifles all potential, period).  This too, is untrue.  There is still a considerable amount of highly “successful” people who laboured through multiple levels of post-secondary education and still came out on top.

A lot of it is a sense of perspective. “Successful” appears in quotations above because there is no standard definition of what success is or is supposed to be.  What immediately flashes in one’s mind (luxurious home, exotic cars, sunny vacations, or an otherwise comfortable life) is an image heavily influenced by media and popular culture.  That is not to say that these things are not possible – anything is possible – it’s just that a very small percentage are actually able to attain such heights. Even then, one’s true (filtered) definition of success is extremely personal and varies vastly from another’s.

So if not for a career or for riches, why choose higher education?  Well, for starters, education does not build character, it builds perspective.  Educational qualifications do not define a person.  I often make this argument:  you are an employer interviewing two candidates for the same job.  Candidate #1 has excellent educational qualifications in contrast to Candidate #2.  Candidate #2 might not be stellar in terms of educational background, however, may potentially be a better person overall.  While Candidate #1 may be more educated, that may be the only positive trait the candidate possesses.  Candidate #2 may still be a better fit not only for the role but for the company in general, in terms of level of cooperation and compatibility with other employees.  Of course, there is no way to tell either of these beforehand (obviously they do not have their personality traits listed on their forehead).  Therein lies the uncertainty.

To me, judging a person by educational background is similar to judging a book by its cover.  In doing so, we are completely oblivious to the contents and therefore do not have any grounds for judgment.  I will use myself as an example.  I am a certified teacher, and while I am trained and have classroom experience in teaching, I cannot simply say that I teach better than John Smith just because John Smith did not go to teacher’s college.  In fact, John might be a wonderful teacher who connects well with the students.  He may benefit from training in some aspects of the job, but generally might be a better fit than myself just because he has a natural aptitude for instruction.      

Educational qualifications and professional distinctions cause divide.  They put people into boxes, or bubbles, and completely exclude others who may be capable of the same jobs but simply do not have the qualifications on paper.  While education is undeniably important, it does not account for natural skill, and experience (which arguably actually builds character) is a separate entity entirely.

I think degrees and distinctions have caused people to forget about human traits.  There is no letter grade on one’s transcript that can measure compassion, trust, cooperation, aspiration, love, determination, or fear.  As long as real people are needed to fill roles in society, these traits and qualities will matter just as much as one’s skills in management or problem solving.

“But you still haven’t answered the question: WHY CHOOSE HIGHER EDUCATION?”  

Because I realize now that without it I would not be able to think this way.  Because post-secondary education does not build character, but it does build perspective, and perspective offers depth, and depth offers opportunities for exploration (of both one’s self and the world).  And it is upon THATexperience that character is built.

Throughout ancient Greece, rhetoricians like Protagoras, Gorgias, and Isocrates (not Apple’s version of Socrates) and many others after them opened schools that sought to train the public on the civic art of rhetoric. There was no certification or promise of a career in it, and sometimes these schools were free of charge.  The general purpose of these schools were to produce good, thoughtful, and law-abiding citizens that could further their knowledge and teach it to others like them, in efforts to better society on the whole.

That was then. So, what happened to enlightenment for the sake of self and thy neighbour?  What happened to ideas of social innovation, reform, and change in the form of betterment for all?  In contrast to this, can we say that have truly advanced as a civilization since then, or regressed?  Or perhaps we have gotten stuck somewhere along the way?

Just some questions to think about.  

Higher education is a gateway to higher thought. It is an opportunity for breaking the mould and acclimatizing to new and developing social change and conflict. One does not necessarily need higher education for a good job.  One needs higher education for a good shot at seeing the world we live in for possibly more than what it already is.

So while potential unemployment, temporary financial instability, and conditions resulting in living at home with your parents may not seem as an asset to you right now, post-secondary education will have changed you in various other (positive) ways, if only you let it.
B.C. allows ‘sneaky’ tuition increases, says the NDP
British Columbia’s colleges and universities are being allowed to squeeze hundreds of extra dollars from students despite a two per cent cap on tuition fees, the NDP says.
By Dirk Meissner

On Thursday, the party’s advanced education critic Kathy Corrigan produced documents in the legislature from North Island College president John Bowman explaining the reasons for a new resource fee of $5 per course credit.

“Earlier this year, the ministry advised B.C.’s colleges they had a new interpretation of the Tuition Limit Policy, which enables institutions to implement mandatory student fees,” Bowman said in a November 2015 president’s newsletter.

“This fee will not be used to balance the budget but it will relieve financial pressure to find funding in our current budget to expand services that students need and want.”

Jenelle Davies, secretary-treasurer of the Canadian Federation of Students, which represents more than 200,000 students in 15 universities and colleges in B.C., said the fee hikes start at about $200.

An increase of $2,000 is expected in September for a pharmacy technician program at Vancouver Community College, she said.

“They are trying to make up the shortfalls in their budgets by implementing new fees,” Davies said.

Continue Reading.
Saskatchewan's post-secondary schools working to close aboriginal education gap
The leaders of all 24 post-secondary institutions in Saskatchewan have agreed to work together to close the education gap for aboriginal people.

The leaders of all 24 post-secondary institutions in Saskatchewan have agreed to work together to close the education gap for aboriginal people.

The accord is believed to be the first provincewide commitment of its kind in Canada.

It says universities, colleges and technical schools will consult with aboriginal communities on ways to bring education for First Nations up to par. 

The agreement suggests aboriginal learning lags behind largely due to consequences still being felt from residential schools.

The accord was announced at the start of a meeting in Saskatoon on how universities can respond to recommendations made by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

Peter Stoicheff, president of the University of Saskatchewan, says leaders of all the province’s post-secondary institutions recognize that disparity in aboriginal and non-aboriginal education remains a big challenge.”
Province slashes its funding to the University of Saskatchewan
“We weren’t anticipating these kind of holdbacks and one-time reductions,” said Greg Fowler, the university’s vice president of finance and resources. “This can be weathered, but it is quite difficult.”

Just months after the University of Saskatchewan agreed to hold back $20 million in spending to help the provincial government balance its budget, the province is cutting $9.8 million from the university’s annual grant.

“We weren’t anticipating these kind of holdbacks and one-time reductions,” said Greg Fowler, the university’s vice president of finance and resources. “This can be weathered, but it is quite difficult.”

Fowler said while the institution is “concerned” about the long-term implications of the cuts, jobs will not be lost as a result. Rather, money will be pulled from the university’s reserves to cover its 2015-16 budget, which could affect the timeline or scope of multi-year projects.

The university learned about the one-time budget adjustment this fall. Although initially told it would receive $315.6 million from the province, the U of S is now poised to get $305.8 million for the 2015-16 fiscal year.

It received $330.4 million for 2014-15.

“It’s really the long-term nature of the university and it’s good financial management that we can absorb these kind of shocks, but it will have long-term implications,” Fowler said. “Ultimately, if these kind of things continued, we’d definitely have to look at a lot of different avenues for addressing them.”

A portion of this year’s lost money — $1.35 million toward supporting the work of a Canada Excellence Research Chair in water security — is being deferred. The remainder — $565,000 for a scholarship fund and $7.9 million for capital spending such as maintenance — is being dropped.

The provincial Ministry of Advanced Education already asked all post-secondary institutions to reduce costs this year because of higher-than-normal expenditures to fight the summer’s northern fires and lower resource revenues due to the decline in oil prices.

In response, the U of S said this spring it would hold back $20 million in project spending. The University of Regina, which had requested a four per cent funding increase from the province, received a one per cent increase in March. That increase has now been trimmed to 0.5 per cent, a loss of $539,000 for 2015-16. It will also lose out on $312,000 the province had earmarked for scholarships.

Bob Bymoen, president of the Saskatchewan Government and General Employees’ Union, said in a release that the province’s decision to cut millions of dollars from post-secondary institutions “doesn’t make sense.” At a time when Saskatchewan is experiencing a skilled labour shortage, the province should not cut funding to institutions that train people to enter the workforce, he argued.

The U of S board of governors is expected to discuss how to backfill the funding reduction at a meeting next week.