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Wednesday, June 2, 1999

  • The day before the election
  • What the three parties are saying
  • Feds welcome visitors today
  • Interest in Linux operating system
  • 7,000 scholars in one place

The day before the election

Ontario voters will go to the polls tomorrow to make choices among Mike Harris's Progressive Conservatives, Dalton McGuinty's Liberals, Howard Hampton's New Democrats, and a host of minor parties. Professional polls are predicting a return to power for Harris, but UW student Milton Chan isn't so sure. His "Riding by Riding Prediction" web page has the Tories taking 44 seats, the Liberals 43 and the NDP 11, with 5 seats still "too close to call" -- an outcome that would be suspenseful to say the least.

Positions available

This week's list of staff positions available can be seen on the human resources web site, and printed copies have been sent to department offices. It's a long list this week:

§ Admissions/records assistant, registrar's office, grade USG 3-4.

§ Graduate secretary, English, USG 4.

§ Department secretary/administrative assistant, pure mathematics, USG 6.

§ Fine arts visual resources curator, fine arts, USG 6.

§ Bell Canada University Labs administrator, Institute for Computer Research, USG 14.

§ Project co-ordinator, health studies and gerontology, USG 7-8.

§ Receptionist/secretary, Engineering undergraduate office, USG 3.

§ Systems administrator, Management of Technology program, management sciences, USG 9.

§ Financial administrative assistant, physics, USG 6.

§ Lab technician, physics, temporary position.

§ Development and alumni affairs officer, Renison College, temporary position.

§ Custodian, Renison College, temporary position.

Human resources at ext. 2524 can provide more information.

Whatever one's preference, "it is incredibly important that you remember to vote," says Jennifer Cote of the Federation of Students, where the emphasis has been on helping students get on the voters' list under the new registration system. Cote notes that there are four ways to be entitled to vote:

1) Vote at your home riding at the Advance Poll (Monday, May 24) or on Voting day, (June 3rd).

2) You may have someone in your home riding vote by proxy for you. You may pick up an Application for Proxy at the Electoral Office, which is located at 258 King St. North (Corner of King and University, next to the 7-11 Convenience Store). This form is then sent back to your designated person in your home riding (e.g. parents, siblings) and they bring it to the election polls in your home riding.

3) You may obtain a Certificate to Vote from the Electoral Office at 258 King St. North. You will be required to show identification: (a) One with your name, local address and signature; or (b) Two documents, one with your name and signature and one with your name and address. Some examples would be utility bill, telephone bill, or any piece of mail that you have received at your current address. If you do not have a piece of mail with your address on it, let us know and we will send you a piece of mail.

4) You may vote in the riding where you are studying even if you are not registered on the voting list by showing up to the polls on voting day (June 3) with the identification as listed above. To find out where you should vote, call Elections Ontario 1-800-677-8683.

"Together," she says, "we will make sure that the student voice is heard!"

To help spread the word a little more loudly, a free concert and party called "Rock the Vote" is being held outside the Student Life Centre at noontime today.

Also a factor in local ridings will be the votes of faculty and staff members. Fred McCourt, president of the faculty association, reports that he sent a questionnaire to the major party candidates in Kitchener-Waterloo, Kitchener Centre, Waterloo-Wellington, and Cambridge. Some candidates responded and some didn't; the answers received have been posted on the faculty association web site.

Under Ontario law, employers must provide their employees with time off if necessary to make sure they have three consecutive hours to vote during polling hours (9 a.m. to 8 p.m.). "This should not affect many people at UW," says Neil Murray in the human resources department -- but if anyone is working a shift tomorrow that's so odd he or she doesn't have three hours free to vote, "arrangements should be made with their supervisors."

What the three parties are saying

Post-secondary education is not exactly the central issue of the election campaign, which has centred on health services and personalities, but the three major parties do have platform planks about college and university policies, particularly tuition fees.

Both the Liberals and the New Democrats say they will cut fees by 10 per cent, representing more or less one year's worth of the recent fee increases. Says the Liberal Party "Immediately cut tuition fees by 10 per cent. Re-regulate tuition fees for professional programs. Restore student aid for part-time students cut off by the Harris government. Allow working students to earn up to $1,800 during the school year without having their student aid deducted."

The Liberals add that "last place is not good enough for Ontario. We will increase our investment in post-secondary education to meet the national average within five years. New college and university funding will be targeted at programs that will prepare Ontario for the social and economic challenges of the next 20 years." The party is also calling for "report cards on college and university programs" with public information about such matters as class size.

The New Democratic Party says it would cut fees by 10 per cent "after re-regulating and rolling back the tuition fees the Harris Conservatives allowed to be deregulated. University students will save an average of $340 yearly. College students will save $170. Make this part of an immediate $180 million down payment toward bringing Ontario's spending on post-secondary education up to the national average."

On the other hand, the Progressive Conservative Party, reporting on what it's done since taking power in 1995, says tuition fees are "an important part of the way we fund a healthy post-secondary education system. . . . Traditionally, tuition provided about one-third the actual costs of providing university and college courses, but previous governments allowed that to drop to less than 20% by 1992. The result was that post-secondary institutions were short-changed by millions of dollars. To restore the balance in funding for colleges and universities, we brought tuition fees back to the reasonable and affordable 35% level."

It says the Harris government has done "more to help students than any previous Ontario government", including increases in student loan funding and creation of the Ontario Student Opportunities Trust Fund, "which has raised more than $600 million and will aid 185,000 students over the next 10 years". The PC government has also "doubled post-secondary spaces for computer and engineering students" and provided new funds for research, the platform says.

"We are requiring colleges and universities to use money from higher tuition fees to improve access to students in need, as well as to improve the quality of the education they offer." The platform promises more scholarships for "the top 10,000 students in Ontario who require financial assistance. . . . We commit that every willing and qualified Ontario student will continue to be able to attend college or university."

The PC platform also says: "Learning for its own sake is an admirable goal, but we must also ensure that our graduating post-secondary students have the skills and knowledge to get a job and improve their lives. Too often, students are being trained for careers where there is not enough opportunity, or are getting education that doesn't relate to today's job market."

Feds welcome visitors today

Also today

Preregistration for winter term undergraduate courses runs today through Friday.

Brian Hendley, who will finish his term as dean of arts on June 30, will be guest of honour this evening at a reception (4:00) and dinner (6:00) in South Campus Hall.

James Downey, who ended his six-year term as president of UW on May 31, will receive an honorary degree from McMaster University today "in recognition of many distinctive contributions to higher education".

"We would love to have anybody and everybody," says Christine Cheng, president of the Federation of Students, making it known that the Feds will hold open house in their offices in the Student Life Centre today from 10 to 2. "Come meet the volunteers, staff and executive," the invitation says. "Light refreshments and snacks will be served."

And tomorrow

Training in the Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System program will be offered tomorrow, in the form of a video and brief quiz lasting altogether about an hour. The session will start at 10 a.m. in Davis Centre room 1304. UW employees and graduate students who need WHMIS training should plan to attend this session, or similar sessions scheduled for June 10 (2 p.m.) and June 22 (10 a.m.).
Cheng and the rest of her executive took office May 1 and hit the ground running, what with the provincial election, the introduction of UW's first "differential" tuition fees, a review of how space in the Student Life Centre is used, and plenty of other issues.

"The biggest bash of the summer" will be Summerfest this Friday, the Feds' new newsletter declares. "It looks like over 30 clubs will be active this summer! . . . The Legal Resource Office assists students with landlord/tenant disputes by informing them of their rights. . . ." And so on.

And I understand that Scoops, the Federation-run ice cream stand in the SLC, is now open for business.

Interest in Linux operating system

Two things are happening at UW today that have to do with Linux, a computer operating system that has been described as "a quixotic challenge to Windows".

First, a meeting is to be held at 2:00 (Davis Centre library conference room) "to form and organize a Linux interest group among UW computing support staff who are using or contemplating using Linux on campus". (Anyone who's interested but can't attend should get in touch with Chris Gray in the library systems department, cpgray@library.)

Second, a group based in the Computer Science Club, calling itself the Linux at UW Team, is offering a CD-ROM for sale with "easy-to-install Linux packages" for those who understand that sort of thing. The CD-ROM is available for $4 at the Mathematics Society office.

Says the Team: "The goal of the Linux at UW project is to promote the use of Linux at Waterloo by making available an easy-to-install distribution of the software required for course work in various CS courses, as well as other utilities relevant specifically to UW users."

Linux is not just a computer operating system (which looks much like Unix, although the underlying code is different) but a social phenomenon. Originally written by a Finnish graduate student, Linus Torvalds, almost a decade ago, it has been circulated through the computing world as freeware, with hundreds of programmers making improvements and spreading the good news. Linux now runs on thousands of computers around the world as an alternative to commercial operating systems.

7,000 scholars in one place

Academics from across Canada are descending today on two little universities in Québec's Eastern Townships, for the annual Congress of the Social Sciences and Humanities (formerly "the Learned Societies"). More than 90 associations will hold conferences, generally two or three days long, between now and June 12.

Held every year since the 1930s, the Congress is now described as North America's largest interdisciplinary gathering of scholars in fields from social work to Irish studies. Says Pierre Reid, president of the Université de Sherbrooke, one of the two host institutions: "The Congress will help to sensitize politicians and the wider public to the vitality of humanities and social sciences research in Canada, especially at a time when universities need broadly based support to meet their mandate."

Janyne Hodder, principal of Bishop's University, the other host institution, observes that "The scenic beauty, cultural vitality, and bilingual character of the Eastern Townships provide an exceptionally rich setting for scholars and citizens to engage in thoughtful discussion across professional, linguistic, and cultural barriers."

A special "Colloquium on Globalization and the Nation State" is a feature of the Congress, "to provide government with the insights of independent Canadian researchers into this rapidly evolving policy area". Also planned are special sessions on the topics of Space and Place, Heritage and Identities, and Education and Social Cohesion; "the largest annual book fair in our field, with more than 150 presses represented and with activities that celebrate scholarly publishing"; and a "fête populaire" throughout the Congress that will bring delegates together with local artists and community members for musical performances, exhibitions and readings.


Editor of the Daily Bulletin: Chris Redmond
Information and Public Affairs, University of Waterloo
credmond@uwaterloo.ca | (519) 888-4567 ext. 3004
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