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Friday, May 14, 1999

  • Union members urged: target Harris
  • The figures on UW's outputs
  • Discount price for Johnston talk
  • Meetings, trails, films

Union members urged: target Harris

A letter from Neil Stewart, president of the one labour union on campus, is urging the "sisters and brothers" of Canadian Union of Public Employees local 793 to make university funding an issue in the June 3 Ontario election.

"We must educate ourselves and prepare ourselves for the upcoming election," he says in a letter to CUPE members, "to ensure Mike Harris and the Conservatives do not get re-elected."

Says Stewart's letter: "Never before has there been such labour unrest in the Province of Ontario as under Mike Harris's Conservative Government. He has created a 'Crisis in Education' through restructuring, amalgamation of school boards and funding cuts. He has closed hospitals resulting in layoffs and longer waiting lists, not to mention the funding cuts. We all can see first hand what this government has done to our post-secondary education sector. The funding cuts, skyrocketing tuition fees, increases in workloads and changes in workers compensation for injured workers. This is what Mike Harris is all about."

He's urging CUPE members to have a word with political candidates when they come door-to-door. "Ask your candidate," says a flyer, "to sign the pledge below." The pledge is endorsed by CUPE at the Ontario level and by the Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations, the Confederation of Ontario University Staff Associations, and student organizations. Here's what it says:

Ontario needs a strong, properly funded and affordable public university system to take us into the 21st century. I therefore promise to raise the operating grants per person for Ontario universities to the national average during my party's next term in government.
Stewart says he's been hearing "99 per cent" support from members of CUPE local 793 for the anti-Harris stand he's taking -- though he admits there are some union members who have criticized him and favour Harris and the Progressive Conservatives.

His most important message for union members at UW? "I want them to vote -- but prior to voting, I want them to educate themselves." More flyers produced by CUPE Ontario will be going out before election day to help do that, he said.

The figures on UW's outputs

This university's "overall graduation rate" is 77.4 per cent, compared with an Ontario average of 70.8 per cent, according to figures made public today on the orders of the provincial government.

UW and other universities were told to post figures on graduation rate (how many of the students who started in 1990 had received degrees by 1997), employment rate of graduates after six months and after two years, and rate of default on student loan payments. In each case the figures are broken down by broad categories of academic program.

"The overall employment rate for UW graduates is 90.9% after six months and 96.4% after two years," says the summary of figures, posted on the web by the office of institutional analysis and planning. The employment rate is based on 1996 graduates who responded to a survey.

UW says 100 per cent of its optometry graduates who were looking for jobs had them; 93.7 per cent of engineers were employed six months after graduation and 97.1 per cent two years after graduation; and 89.3 per cent of humanities graduates six months after graduation, rising to 95.9 two years after graduation.

The graduation rate -- the percentage of students who started in 1990 and had received a UW degree seven years later -- ranges from 59.4 per cent in the physical sciences to 90.4 per cent in "business and commerce" and 95 per cent in optometry. ("Business and commerce" is a government-mandated category, which in UW's case means the accounting program. "Humanities" includes 12 fields of study, all part of UW's faculty of arts.)

The rates are "somewhat understated", a note with the table says. "Students who study for one or two years at UW then transfer to a program at another university, say medicine, which UW does not offer, are computed as not receiving a degree at UW."

Default rates on loans from the Ontario Student Assistance Program are based on students "who last received Ontario Student Loans in the 1995-96 academic year and who defaulted on their repayment obligations approximately two years after graduation". The UW rate is 7.1 per cent, "he lowest overall default rate in the Ontario post-secondary sector". The average for Ontario's universities is 12.3 per cent. Default rates for UW students were 2.1 per cent from architecture, 4.7 per cent from mathematics and 14.3 per cent from fine arts (which the government defines to include drama and music).

Discount price for Johnston talk

[David Johnston] Thirteen days before he takes office as UW's president, David Johnston will give a major talk on campus on the topic that has been at the heart of his recent academic and public service work: "smart communities".

The talk is scheduled for next Wednesday, May 19, at lunchtime in Federation Hall. It's sponsored by UW's Infranet Project and the Communitech organization of local high-technology industries. Tickets are $25 until Monday noon, $40 at the door. (Ticket orders go to Communitech at 888-9944, e-mail chris@communitech.org.)

Johnston, currently of McGill University, will become UW's president on June 1. A well-known scholar in law and public affairs, and lately also in the affairs of cyberspace, Johnston has done scholarship in fields from computing and information technology to securities regulation and intellectual property law. He chaired the federal Information Highway Advisory Council before moving on to the Smart Communities Blue Ribbon Panel in 1998.

Smart Communities was the eventual title of a report done for Industry Canada by that panel. Said that report, released in February:

We, the Panel on Smart Communities, believe the six pillars of the Connectedness Agenda as announced in the 1998 Federal Budget -- Canada On-line, Smart Communities, Canadian Content On-line, Electronic Commerce, Canadian Governments On-line, and Connecting Canada to the World -- will provide new opportunities for learning, interacting, transacting business, and developing social and economic potential in communities across Canada. . . .

Smart Communities are towns and cities that use information and communication technologies in new and innovative ways to empower their residents, institutions, and region as a whole. Smart Communities make the most of the opportunities that new technologies can afford -- for example, in the areas of better health care delivery, better education and training, and growing businesses -- to help them more effectively compete in the future economy. Canada needs these communities to drive the use of technology for the benefit of all.

At next week's event, Johnston is expected to highlight the recommendations of the "Smart Communities" panel and say something about networks, connectivity and services as they relate to Canadian communities.

Meetings, trails, films

The senate graduate council will meet at 9:30 this morning in Needles Hall room 3004.

The official dedication of something called the Walter Bean Grand River Community Trail, which will stretch more than 70 kilometres along the Grand, is to be held Saturday starting at 11:00 in Victoria Street Park, where highway 7 meets the river on the east side of Kitchener. It's a major project involving many people in the community -- including a group of students at St. Jerome's University who have created the trail's web site.

CTRL-A, the Club That Really Likes Anime, holds its first Japanese animation show of the term, today and Saturday. They'll be repeating some of the titles from last term, including the science-fiction "Cowboy Bebop" and the samurai drama "Rurouni Kenshin", as well as starting some new titles and showing all of the classic "Giant Robo". The fun takes place in Arts Lecture Hall room 116, starting today at 4:30 p.m. and continuing tomorrow at noon.

Co-op students who are looking ahead to fall term jobs should hand in a copy of their resume package to the co-op department dropoff slots in Needles Hall by 8:00 this evening. Meanwhile, posting #2 of fall jobs will go up on the bulletin boards at noon.

A total of 6,388 students in 427 high schools were expected to write the Chem 13 News examination yesterday. The 75-minute exam is meant for students who "have completed, or who are nearing completion of, about 200 hours of Chemistry instruction prior to university entry", and covers such branches of chemistry as organic, equilibria, kinetics, oxidation-reduction, bonding, structure, reactions, solutions and gases. It's the 29th annual writing of that exam. Then next Thursday, students at a lower level in high school can write the Avogadro Exam, and 427 schools have ordered a total of 8,001 copies of that exam, says Kathy Jackson in the chemistry department.

Update: The power shutdown tomorrow will affect not just the Davis Centre but also the Physics building, Engineering Lecture, and the Doug Wright Building (Engineering I), from 7 a.m. to noon.
Electrical power, heating, cooling and ventilation will be turned off in the CIM wing of the Davis Centre tomorrow from 7 a.m. to noon, to let the plant operations department do maintenance on 15,000-volt substation equipment.

"Ballet on the Grand" has the Humanities Theatre rented for setup today and spring recitals tomorrow morning, afternoon and evening.


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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