University Briefs

Photo courtesy of The Varsity

UBC Board of Governor’s chair steps down amid national controversy

[VANCOUVER] – John Montalbano, formerly the chair of UBC’s Board of Governors, resigned from his position on August 25 amid controversy over Montalbano’s response to a blog post published by Jennifer Berdahl, a professor in the Sauder School of Business.

The blog post, entitled “Did President Arvind Gupta lose the masculinity contest?” was written in reference to Gupta’s resignation as UBC’s President earlier that month. According to Berdahl, Montalbano responded by calling her at her home to discuss his concern that the post, in his words, “had the potential to damage UBC based on its assertions.”

Berdahl then published a second blog post detailing her conversation with Montalbano, which has led to a debate over whether his actions constituted a threat to Berdahl’s academic freedom. This has included several calls for Montalbano’s resignation, including open letters from the Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT) and UBC’s own Faculty Association.

Montalbano has publicly ceded his position to Vice-Chair Alice Laberge pending an investigation from the university’s Fact Finding Process. He will remain on the Board in the interim.

With files from The Ubyssey


University of Toronto under fire for anti-vaccination course

[TORONTO] – A course at the University of Toronto Scarborough has attracted controversy for allegedly including anti-vaccination material.

According to several students interviewed by The Varsity, “Alternative Health: Practice and Theory,” taught by homeopath Beth Landau-Halpern, includes anti-vaccination content in its syllabus without sufficient counter-arguments. CEO of Public Health Ontario and U of T’s vice-president Dr. Vivek Goel has countered claims that the course is academically “unbalanced,” arguing that students are already familiar with arguments surrounding the study of vaccinations from previous courses.

Landau-Halpern claims that the reaction from the scientific community towards the course constitutes bullying, and argues “the assertion that science is objective and impartial is erroneous.”

With files from The Varsity


International students to require new travel authorization

[FREDERICTON] – A student at St. Thomas university is calling for the university to reexamine its policies on accessibility after a professor rejected her doctor’s note.

Katherine Cleven, who suffers from focal segmental glomerulosclerosis (FSGS) and pituitary Cushing’s disease, says she received a failing grade after her professor neglected to accept a note from her doctor excusing her from class. This was in preparation for Cleven to receive brain surgery to remove a tumour. “I was essentially told [by the professor] I was lying, I wasn’t actually sick,” Cleven told The Aquinian.

Though the university’s Student Services department was unable to comment on the specific case, director Shannon Wright noted that the university is limited in its ability to accommodate special cases. “All students do still need to meet the academic requirements of their classes,” she said.

With files from The Aquinian