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Monday, April 23, 2001

  • Departments trim their budgets
  • Record reveals RCMP surveillance
  • Fire drills across campus tomorrow
  • A day to celebrate books
  • The week that's an interlude

[Jaws close around man and tree]
Trees are getting a new leaf on life: What appears to be an arboreal assault is actually a transplant job, as this tree is relocated to make way for the construction of the Centre for Environmental and Information Technologies. A handful of trees on the site around parking lot B1 are slated for new trunk routes.

Departments trim their budgets

Across the campus, deans and department heads are looking for ways to cut several million dollars from UW's spending in the new fiscal year that starts May 1. The first way of saving money in most budgets will be to leave positions unfilled as staff and faculty members leave or retire.

Provost Alan George is still calling for a temporary "clawback" from this year's operating budget, to deal with a deficit of more than $5 million that would otherwise unbalance the $219 million budget. After earlier speaking of a 3 per cent cut, he said last week that he's now asking administrators to make it 3.5 per cent of most budgets, for total savings of $5,360,000.

And George said on Friday that he has told them "they should also be at least thinking about what they might do if the number turned out later to be 4 or 4.5 per cent."

That's because there are big uncertainties on the income side of the budget. The Ontario government, which provides about half the total income through its operating grants to universities, has not yet said how much the grants will be for 2001-02.

That news is expected to come in the provincial budget May 9 -- although the government did note in last Thursday's throne speech that "Details of the government's commitment to children, education and training will be announced April 26."

Also from the throne speech

"Proposed amendments to the Audit Act would empower the Provincial Auditor to ensure that institutions funded by Ontario taxpayers use that money prudently, effectively and as intended. . . .

"Running deficits is not sustainable and not acceptable. Your government, municipalities and school boards are now prohibited from running deficits. The budget will introduce measures that would require the entire public sector, including hospitals, to act in a fiscally responsible manner. . . .

"While economies of scale and common accountability standards promote excellence and efficiency, so do innovation, competition, flexibility and choice. All must coexist. Provincial standards should not eliminate local responsibility. Queen's Park can lead without centralized micromanagement and control. . . .

"To address skills shortages -- including among the trades -- and ensure that Ontario boasts the skilled workforce necessary to attract investment and jobs . . . the government intends to establish an innovative new post-secondary institution that would link education and skills training with the needs of the marketplace. Details will be announced in the budget."

The throne speech also promised that "The government will continue to ensure that every willing and qualified Ontario student secures a place in a post-secondary education program." University leaders will be reading that assurance in the context of the expected "double cohort" of students graduating from Ontario high schools two years from now.

George has said that he's calling for a one-time "clawback", rather than permanent budget cuts, because of the expectation that the government will soon make a funding commitment to help institutions cope with the enrolment growth that the double cohort will bring them in 2003 and 2004.

On the expense side, major factors include $6.3 million in May 1 salary increases; $1.6 million in higher spending for benefits; a boost of $1.7 million in utility bills, mostly for natural gas; and $1.1 million more in pension fund contributions.

Record reveals RCMP surveillance

A big feature article in Saturday's Record newspaper details surveillance of people on the UW campus (and elsewhere) by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police between 1967 and 1983. The newspaper credits the information to "more than 2,000 pages of once-secret documents obtained by The Record under the federal Access to Information Act".

Organizations targeted by the RCMP, the Record says, included the Waterloo Public Interest Research Group, Project Ploughshares, the forerunner of Gays and Lesbians of Waterloo, the student newspaper The Chevron, and the Radical Student Movement, which agitated the campus in the late 1960s. Interestingly, there's no mention of the Anti-Imperialist Alliance, the Marxist-Leninist faction that gave UW some of its liveliest moments in the mid-1970s.

"When students opposed the demolition of the old Kitchener city hall," Terry Pender of the Record writes, "supported striking workers or worked at a co-operative printing shop, RCMP snoops kept tabs on them. They watched students hold sit-ins, help draft dodgers flee the Vietnam War and produce a community newspaper called On the Line. And they watched the collective organize unions and a conference on Marxism. By the early 1970s, the RCMP was tracking members of the Radical Student movement as they moved off campus and into the community."

The article includes comments from several of the students who were under surveillance a generation ago -- people who now work as professors, librarians and lawyers. One of them is Brian Iler, president of the Federation of Students in 1968, who says he has trouble taking the Mounties' concerns of those days -- such as a possible "violent attempt to physically take over the university" -- seriously. "It's such garbage," he told the Record. "It's taking their fantasies and stating them as fact."

CAUT's latest concern about the RCMP
Of course it's not the first time anyone has suggested there was RCMP surveillance on campus. In January 1978 -- in the middle of the period studied by the Record -- Burt Matthews, then president of UW, issued a public letter on the subject at the request of the Canadian Association of University Teachers. "I can assure you without equivocation," he wrote then, "that the University of Waterloo does not condone, directly or indirectly, general surveillance practices or electronic eavesdropping on campus by the security forces."

Fire drills across campus tomorrow

Fire drills will be held in most of UW's buildings tomorrow, "as required by the Fire Code", says the university's director of safety, Kevin Stewart.

"The drills are scheduled for one day rather than last year's two days," he said. "Various groups assisting with the fire alarm drills include Plant Operations, UW Police, Safety Office, Waterloo Fire Department, Faculty/Building Evacuation Co-ordinators, Fire Wardens and each building's faculty, staff and students."

Buildings with fire drills tomorrow morning (between 8:30 and noon) will be Health Services, Physical Activities Complex, Student Life Centre, Humanities, Modern Languages, PAS, Dana Porter Library, Needles Hall, both Environmental Studies buildings, General Services Complex, Commissary, and the Village I central complex.

In the afternoon (1 to 4 p.m.): Matthews Hall, Engineering II and III, Carl Pollock Hall, Doug Wright Engineering, South Campus Hall, Physics, ESC, Biology I and II, Chemistry II, Math and Computer, East Campus Hall, B. F. Goodrich, and the Davis Centre.

Any alarms that are postponed from tomorrow "due to weather or other alarm delays" will be held at the same scheduled time of the day on Wednesday.

A day to celebrate books

Today is Canada Book Day -- and, indeed, World Book and Copyright Day -- and the UW-based literary magazine The New Quarterly will sponsor a celebration tonight.

On the program: a labour leader, a musician, a painter, a university president, a knitwear designer, the artistic director of a theatre company, and a sports editor. All are readers, and they'll each talk about a book they've loved and about the important role reading has played in their lives.

The event, co-sponsored by the Waterloo Regional Arts Council, will be held at the Registry Theatre, Kitchener's newest venue for the performing arts. The evening will showcase literary reflections from a diverse and dynamic group of readers along with the music of local singer-songwriter Matt Osborne, including a song commissioned for the occasion. It starts at 7 p.m. and concludes with a reception at 10:00. Tickets are $10 and include a chance to win inscribed copies of some of the books discussed. Proceeds will go towards The Literacy Group's efforts to bring the joy of reading to adult learners.

The one participant from UW is Michael Higgins, president of St. Jerome's University. Others taking part are Karlo Berkovich, sports editor of the Record; Peter Cook, president of the Labour Council and of local 80 of the United Steelworkers of America; Sally Melville, founder of the Kitchener-Waterloo Knitters Guild; Deborah Rothwell, a painter and founder and executive director of KOR Gallery and Studios, an artists' cooperative; Stuart Scadron-Wattles, founder and producing artistic director of Theatre & Company; and Glenn Soulis of the Beirdo Brothers and the K-W Symphony Orchestra.

More information and tickets are available from the New Quarterly office, phone ext. 5090.

The week that's an interlude

"You're one of the few at work," somebody said to me on Friday afternoon, and the place will be quiet for the next few days too -- students gone for the winter term and not yet here for spring, faculty hunkered down marking exams, staff either catching up on paperwork or getting in a few days of spring vacation. Still, there are special events and milestones to note. . . .







UW's libraries will be open 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday to Friday this week, with circulation services in both Dana Porter and the Davis Centre available 8:30 to 5:00. The libraries will be closed Saturday and Sunday, April 28 and 29.


Editor of the Daily Bulletin: Chris Redmond
Information and Public Affairs, University of Waterloo
credmond@uwaterloo.ca | (519) 888-4567 ext. 3004
http://www.bulletin.uwaterloo.ca | Friday's Bulletin
Copyright © 2001 University of Waterloo