U of A re-examines mental health policy

The University of Alberta’s board of governors will vote on a mental health policy later this month. The program encourages staff and students to report anyone on campus displaying a change in behaviour suggesting they could cause themselves or others harm.

A team would review the information and assess the student. Depending on the result, campus security may be contacted.

The intention is that psychological support will be made available hours after a report is made. Dean of students Frank Robinson said the action is not disciplinary and that the university cannot force someone to see a psychologist.

“But we can talk to them and offer those services, make them very available, if that would help that person.”

Programs like this one have been developed after numerous school shootings, including the mass killing at Virginia Tech, Robinson’s alma mater.—Carolyn Arnett

Source: CBC News

Virginia Tech receives threats

A video and postings on YouTube have threatened another attack on Virginia Tech, nearly three years after the deadly shooting. A YouTube account called “nextvirgtechkiller” sent threatening messages like “the massacre is incoming,” students have voiced concerns for their safety.

The Virginia State Police and FBI believe the threats emanate from Italy and pose no direct threat to the community.

University president Charles W. Steger has urged students to remain calm and continue their daily routines, as there will be an increased police presence throughout the university. Students and faculty have been instructed to avoid visiting and replying to threatening content on the Internet and to report any suspicious activities to the authorities.—Sasha Kalra

Source: Associated Press, Virginia Tech website

Groups decry proposed change to Aboriginal student funding

The Macdonald-Laurier Institute has released a new report criticizing the current structure of post-secondary education funding for Aboriginals. The current system, the Post-Secondary Student Support Program, allocates funds to band councils, who in turn allocate funds to the band members who qualify.

The report suggests scrapping the current system and creating a savings account for those who qualify to ensure equal access to post-secondary education. The sum provided to each student would remain unchanged in the scheme.

Although the report says that there would be no funding cuts, both the Canadian Federation of Students and the Assembly of First Nations chastised the report, calling its proposals “gimmicks” and saying that the proposed structure does not address the needs of the Aboriginal community. Neither group commented on the report’s findings that the allocation of education funding is corrupt.—Kari Vierimaa

Source: Globe and Mail

B.C. fights former student over $20,000 loan

Former University of Victoria law student Kent Glowinski is set to face the B.C. government in small claims court over $14,589 of student loans borrowed more than five years ago, at prime plus 2.5 per cent. He works for the federal government in Ottawa.

The court date is the next chapter of a year-long legal battle complicated by a number of legal filings made by Glowinski, including a claim that he never borrowed the money and a claim that student loans violate the Charter of Rights.

Crown counsel submissions describe Glowinski as a “a self-absorbed, aggressive, and vexatious litigant.”

Glowinski, in an interview with the Globe and Mail, said the proceedings are “like a scorched earth policy: ‘Don’t fight the government or we will take you down.’”

Early this year, Glowinski allegedly offered to repay the loans with interest. The province, however, appears determined to see the case through and is set to return to court later in March.

Glinowski filed for bankruptcy in 2004, but B.C. does not recognize bankruptcy as a defence against student loan debts. According to B.C. Attorney-General Mike de Jong, “There is [the] question of deterrent to others who might see a lack of collection action as an indication that you don’t have to pay your bills.”—Charley Wang

Source: The Victoria Times-Colonist