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Pandemic blamed for delays in student aid for Red River College students

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Disruptions caused by COVID-19 are being blamed for delays in some Red River College students’ ability to access student financial aid.

The college says about 230 of nearly 1,700 applications were affected after a higher-than-usual volume of information caused the data entry process to be overloaded, at both Red River College and the Manitoba Student Aid program.

Changes in program start dates and course times for the fall session due to the pandemic led to the information overload, the college says.

“Program start dates and course times were changed and staggered more than usual this fall,” said Red River College director of public relations Conor Lloyd in an email to CBC News.

He explained the changes were made “to achieve physical distancing on campus and to ensure the health and safety of those students who are doing hands-on learning in our labs and classrooms.” 

About 90 students have yet to see their applications processed as of Friday, he said.

One of those students is Josh Sallows-Harrie, in his final term of the two-year Business Information Technology program.

“Stressful” is how he describes the situation. 

Sallows-Harrie submitted his student aid application Aug. 4, and more than a month later he’s still waiting for approval.

“When I inquire to [the college], they respond with ‘We don’t know when it’ll be resolved,'” he said.

Meanwhile, he says his wife was laid off from her job in March and only just returned to work last week.

“We’re waiting for student aid to come in so we could pay for our rent, and we could pay for our two kids in daycare and we could pay for school supplies, and pay for all these things that we didn’t have the money for because she was laid off and because I didn’t have any student aid,” said Sallows-Harrie. 

His tuition was due Aug. 31, and on Sept. 1, he says he started getting emails from the college saying he’d start incurring late fees. 

“So I’m parenting, trying to go to school and now I’m having to struggle with a pretty severe financial situation where the bills are piling up, right? It doesn’t feel good when you get that notice saying if you don’t pay your tuition, you’re going to start incurring late fees.”

Late fees being waived

Red River College is offering help for the remaining 90 affected students until the problem is resolved.

“In order to help students manage during this uncertain time, RRC is offering flexible payment plans, payment deferrals, and waiving late fees as well,” Lloyd said.

The college will also ensure the students have access to all their course materials and books, he said.

“We also have a program whereby students facing financial hardships can apply for loans up to $1,000 or access to various bursaries and awards,” he added.

As of Friday, Sallows-Harrie says he still hasn’t received any financial aid, but he says the college did offer him a $500-dollar, one-time emergency loan.

The provincial student aid program provides loans, grants and bursaries to students who need them.

Manitoba Student Aid is working to get financial aid to the affected students as quickly as possible, a provincial spokesperson said in a statement to CBC News.

“Every year, each institution needs to provide their program information for the new school year,” the statement said. 

“From time to time, programming changes are made and information needs to be updated which can lead to delays. It is our understanding that Red River College is working closely with affected students on the timing of their tuition payments to avoid any penalties.”

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Finance

Despite Financial Strain, Harvard Not Considering Varsity Athletic Team Cuts | News

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Harvard Athletics has spared its personnel and 42 NCAA Division I programs from cuts as it drastically reduces operations in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, Director of Athletics Erin McDermott said in a Tuesday interview.

McDermott, who began her tenure as Harvard’s first female Athletics Director this summer, said she spent her first four months at the helm finding ways to make the department “austere in our operation.”

Harvard’s fields, courts, and pools now sit largely empty as a result of the coronavirus crisis. The Ivy League canceled the fall sports season and Harvard limited on-campus living to freshmen and a small share of upperclassmen this semester to curtail virus’s spread.

McDermott said the global health crisis has naturally circumscribed the department’s operations.

“Operations are so drastically different without having competition, you know, we’re not traveling teams, we’re not hosting competition,” she said. “With the student athletes that we have on campus, and with our recreational operations that we have ongoing for students and staff on campus, we’re operating really on an as need — and what’s really essential — kind of way.”

“There wasn’t really definitive, necessarily ‘cuts’ that were made,” McDermott added. “We’re just not doing all the same things that we would typically do.”

Still, the department has not broken even.

McDermott said two major sources of revenue the Athletics Department lost include the Harvard-Yale football game — which Harvard was scheduled to host next month — as well as the Boston Calling Music Festival, which takes place at the athletics complex every spring. As a result, McDermott said, a large part of her day-to-day job over the past four months has consisted of schmoozing potential donors virtually and soliciting their contributions.

Though McDermott did not state the extent of the department’s financial losses, the Faculty of Arts and Sciences — which oversees Harvard Athletics — netted more than $30 million in “unforeseen expenses and lost revenue” associated with the coronavirus as of April.

Despite financial pressures, Harvard Athletics has not cut any of its teams or fired its employees, according to McDermott.

While universities across the country — including peer schools such as Dartmouth and Stanford — have recently axed a handful of athletics programs to improve their balance sheets, McDermott said Harvard has not considered eliminating any of its 42 varsity teams — the most of any university in the country.

“There haven’t been conversations about cutting teams,” she said.

McDermott also said the department has been “fortunate” not to have to reduce its payroll, though it has adhered to the University-wide hiring freeze.

—Staff writer Ema R. Schumer can be reached at ema.schumer@thecrimson.com. Follow her on Twitter @emaschumer.



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Millionaires’ financial decisions are different in a few surprising ways, study finds

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The Canadian Press

Canadian cyclist Michael Woods wins Stage 7 of Spanish Vuelta

MADRID — Ottawa cyclist Michael Woods won the seventh stage of the Spanish Vuelta on Tuesday, finishing the hilly 159.7-kilometre route from Vitoria-Gasteiz to Valdegovía in three hours 48 minutes 16 seconds.
Woods, who finished second in Sunday’s sixth stage, improved to 48th overall with the win.
The EF Pro Cycling rider made his move to the front entering the final kilometre and finished four seconds in front of Spanish cyclists Omar Fraile (Astana) and Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) to take his second La Vuelta stage win.
“It was a special day,” Woods said. “I had a bit of luck, I had the legs and managed to get the win. I’m going to savour this one.”
Ecuador’s Richard Carapaz maintained the overall lead by finishing in the peloton, which crossed the line almost a minute later. The Ecuadorian kept an 18-second lead over Hugh Carthy, with Dan Martin and defending champion Primoz Roglic close behind. Roglic finished the stage in 19th place.
“I think we kept the situation under control,” Carapaz said. “We tried to stay calm and we knew things were not too dangerous with the finale. We tried to keep the breakaway under control and I think we finished with a good gap.”
Woods was the seventh different stage winner at the Vuelta this year.
“He played his cards and it worked well,” Fraile said of Woods.
Woods also won a stage in the 2018 edition of the race, when he joined Ryder Hesjedal as the only Canadians to claim a stage in the Vuelta, traditionally the third Grand Tour race on the calendar.
An emotional Woods outlasted the field in a demanding 157-kilometre Stage 17 of the 2018 Vuelta, dedicating the win to his stillborn son, who died earlier in the year when his wife was 37 weeks pregnant. They have since celebrated the birth of daughter Max (Maxine).
Hesjedal won stages in 2009 and 2014. He also won the Giro d’Italia in 2012, the only Canadian to win a Grand Tour event.
Woods has been on a good run of late. He finished third at the Fleche Wallonne one-day classic on Sept. 30.
Woods’ cycling resume also includes a victory in the 2019 Milano-Torino one-day race, a bronze medal in the road race at the 2018 world championships and a second place at the historic Liege-Bastogne-Liege one-day race in Belgium in 2018.
On Wednesday, riders will face a mountain stage of 164 kilometres (102 miles) from Logroño to the Alto de Moncalvillo.
The Vuelta is taking place amid tight health restrictions as Spain endures a surge in coronavirus cases. The race was postponed from earlier in the year because of the pandemic.
—With files from The Associated Press.
 
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 27, 2020.
 

The Canadian Press

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North Cowichan council members face financial ding for bad behaviour – Cowichan Valley Citizen

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Council members in North Cowichan will now have to pay a financial price if found guilty of contravening the municipality’s new standards of conduct policy.

In 2018, the municipality adopted the policy which set out the expectation for council members to adhere to when carrying out their duties and functions on behalf of North Cowichan.

If a council member is accused of harassment, bullying, intimidation, violence, and/or discrimination during these times, the municipality is mandated under the policy to hire a third-party investigator to determine the validity of the accusations.

The hiring of an investigator can be a significant expense, and council decided at its meeting on Oct. 21 that when a member of council has been found to have breached the policy, he or she must contribute towards the costs of the investigation.

For the first offence, council members will receive a 10 per cent pay reduction for 12 months, which is approximately $3,000 for a councillor and $8,000 for the mayor.

A second offence will result in a 15 per cent pay reduction, but if there is any overlap between the first offence and second offence, the offending council member will see a pay reduction of 25 per cent while those periods coincide.

Council members will face a 25 per cent reduction in pay for 12 months for the third and subsequent offences, and overlapping offences within those 12 months could result in reductions of 50 per cent where there are three concurrent offences, 75 per cent for four concurrent offences, or even 100 per cent if there are five or more concurrent offences.

Mayor Al Siebring said some may say that the financial penalties are overkill, but they are a good deterrent to bad behaviour of council members.

“Without this, our code of conduct would be just symbolic, but this will add some enforcement to it,” he said.

Coun. Kate Marsh said she was impressed with the repercussions council members could face when exhibiting bad behaviour.

“One of the challenging things about the code of conduct is consequences, and a cut in pay will add teeth to it,” she said.



robert.barron@cowichanvalleycitizen.com

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