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Thursday, April 6, 2000

  • Sweatshop campaign low-key at UW
  • Continuing education spring fare
  • Adios to Taco Bell, and more

Sweatshop campaign low-key at UW

Students Against Sweatshops (SAS) has gained notoriety with its clashes against university administrations across North America, including a sit-in at the University of Toronto last month.

What most people don't know is that SAS-Waterloo is just as active on the UW campus -- working in cooperation the administration.

Formed here last fall, the group has conducted a number of ad hoc actions, including holding anti-sweatshop fashion shows, and making a model sweatshop for Buy Nothing Day, as well as hosting a national conference of Students Against Sweatshops Canada in March.

But much of the SAS-Waterloo work has involved low-profile, behind-the-scenes discussions with UW administration to ensure that items sold on campus are manufactured in conditions that at least meet internationally recognized minimum labour standards.

Heather Fraser, one of the core SAS-Waterloo members, says the group is focusing on having universities adopt a code of conduct regulating the corporations with which they do business. Such an approach is more constructive than boycotts, she adds, which tend to hurt the workers.

A draft code was developed at the March SAS-Canada conference, dealing with such issues as wages and benefits, regular working hours, overtime, piece rates, child labour, forced labour, health and safety, non-discrimination, harassment or abuse, freedom of association and environmental standards.

When Fraser approached UWShop manager Judy Waldeck and UW retail services director May Yan about the concerns of SAS-Waterloo, she found a sympathetic audience. Not only did they listen to her ideas, Yan invited Fraser and another SAS-Waterloo member, Suresh Naidu, to speak at a conference of the Eastern Association of College Stores in February.

"May showed quite a lot of leadership in doing that," says Fraser. The result was "quite a positive response" from other member organizations.

From Yan's perspective, the "proposed code of conduct is what we already try to do in our business practices at the UWShop. Our business practice and philosophy is to buy from Canadian suppliers which include manufacturers, wholesalers or distributors. Ninety per cent of the UWShop apparel is made in Canada, and 10 per cent is from overseas.

"We agree with these principles," she adds. "I cannot speak for other university businesses and it is not up to me to sign the Code of Conduct for the university. However, the UWShop could endorse the code. I don't think anyone on this campus would advocate child labour or abuses in the work place."

Yan credits the group's success, in part, to the "professional style" with which Fraser and other members approached UW officials and stated their case at the EACS conference. "The Waterloo SAS are responsible students, and we should listen to what they have to say." With Yan's support, SAS-Waterloo plans to ask the board of governors to adopt the code of conduct as UW policy.

Issues have yet to be resolved, admits Fraser, especially the challenges of monitoring compliance with the code. "In the beginning, international monitoring will be difficult; Canadian companies are more easily monitored." But Fraser expects the university will be able to work with other universities and with independent international monitoring agencies. "As more and more schools sign on, it will be easier."

Continuing education spring fare

The continuing education spring 2000 calendar is out, complete with a fresh new crop of courses -- both on campus and online -- as well as perennially popular offerings in the areas of personal and professional development, business communication, computing skills, professional programs, and "just for kids".

New on-campus courses this spring include:

Some on-campus courses begin this week -- Introduction to Mathcad 8 Professional, Reducing Conflict Through Community Conferencing, and Understanding Personal and Relationship Stress (section one) -- while start-up dates for others are staggered through April, May, June and July.

First-time courses offered online for spring:

Online courses offered in cooperation with Education to Go run for six weeks beginning April 12, May 10, June 14, July 12 and August 9.

Just for Kids courses -- from fossils and Web pages to storytelling -- earn raves from their young fans. "This course was awesome," said one after completing the Internet and Web Page Basics course. "I hope I can come back next year," said another in response to the Create Your Own Storybook sessions.

As well as courses for individuals, continuing education offers private, in-house training courses tailored to the time and the needs of an organization.

Tuition discounts for many courses (except online) are offered for seniors, multiple registrations, companies, and for full-time UW staff, faculty and students.

Continuing education offers five easy ways to register, by mail, by phone, by fax, in person, or on the Website. Students are advised to enrol at least one week prior to the start of the course, although the best advice is to "register early and avoid disappointment."

Adios to Taco Bell, and more

From the registrar's office, a reminder that schedules and fee statements for undergraduate students who have pre-registered for the spring term will be mailed out to students' home addresses starting on April 12. Fee payments must be received by the cashiers' office by May 1. Late fees begin May 2. These are the new, revised, up-to-date dates from the registrar's office. Payments are accepted by mail or by dropping off in one of the four express payment boxes located in Needles Hall.

"As computers make collecting and analyzing data possible in greater volumes than ever, analysts from very different areas find themselves facing problems with large datasets. These common problems are forming the basis for a new cross-disciplinary field known as Data Mining." With this explanation, the department of statistics and actuarial science and the Institute for Improvement, Quality and Productivity announces a talk today on "A Comparative Study of Classification Methods on Problems from Chemistry, Chemical Engineering and Banking." Koji Muteki, of the Mitsubishi Chemical Corporation in Japan and McMaster University in Hamilton, will speak at 3:30 p.m. in Math and Computer room 5158.

Also at 3:30 today, Laura Johnson, Jeff Lederer and Emily Head of the school of urban and regional planning will present a talk on Using the CATI Lab: The 'Healthy Communities' Survey. Sponsored by the survey research centre, the seminar will be held in PAS room 2030.

And alas, for Taco Bell fans, the cart in Brubakers will be wheeled away tomorrow, never to return. "After nine years with the Taco Bell Cart program, we feel that this venue is no longer effective for us," says food services marketing manager Joanne Buchholzer. In its place in the Student Life Centre, food services is opening a new pita and wrap counter with hot and cold choices made-to-order. A daily special will be featured on the WAT's Cooking, Campus Eats weekly menu, and a grand opening is planned for early next term.

Barbara Elve

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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