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Wednesday, March 6, 2002

  • Co-op jobs would bring course credit
  • Slomka elected to head Federation
  • LT3 director becomes associate VP
  • Why students are hot for hotmail
  • Peace conference, other happenings
Chris Redmond

The largest-ever humanities research project in Canada

Police visit

Waterloo Regional Police are taking the lead in investigation of a death that occurred yesterday morning in Biology II building. Police vehicles, including forensics vans, were parked near the building all day yesterday, and the basement level of the building was closed off by police as the investigation went on. Police have not released any information about the death, although there were plenty of rumours on campus all day yesterday.

Co-op jobs would bring course credit -- by Barbara Elve, from today's Gazette

The idea of offering academic credits for co-op work terms is "an old chestnut, an idea that's been around for a long time." But, according to co-op and career services director Bruce Lumsden, it took "a new vice-president (academic) who's good at asking questions" -- and the unanimous support of deans -- to make it happen.

If the UW senate gives its approval on March 25, students who successfully complete a co-op work term will receive a 0.5 academic credit, starting with the spring term.

The work term credit will not replace any course requirements, explains Lumsden, just add to the number required for graduation. Using an evaluation system, the student will be rated by the employer and receive a credit for performance rated satisfactory or above. An unsatisfactory rating will result in no credit awarded.

As now, co-op students enrolled in the co-op program will be required to complete a certain number of successful work terms to graduate, and to submit work term reports that will be marked by faculty.

Lumsden doesn't anticipate the change, despite the new layer of record keeping, will require more staff to be hired, but "the initiative will put more pressure on us to ensure there are quality jobs. We will have to define expectations more clearly for the students and for employers. It integrates the idea that this is not just work, that it is integral to the academic program. It will place more onus on the student and the employer that learning takes place that is relevant to academic study."

Although employers haven't been approached formally about the change, informal discussions have been positive, he said, as have consultations with students.

Offering academic credits for work terms may also have financial benefits, says institutional analysis and planning director Bob Truman. He says the additional course credits -- making off-campus co-op students into part-time students for academic purposes -- will add to UW's enrolment increase, for which it can claim government grants.

Regardless of funding issues, says Lumsden, awarding academic credits for work terms is "a positive evolutionary step in the development of the co-op program. It's a good thing to do." The practice is followed in many schools in the United States and some in Canada.

And despite the current economic downturn, increasing enrolment and "insufficient funding from the provincial government", the co-op department has managed to maintain an employment rate of 95 per cent or above, says Lumsden. That compares with employment rates of only 82 to 83 per cent during the recession of the 1980s.

This term, 96 per cent of co-op students looking for work found jobs, with a total of 4,400 students employed and 160 without work. That was "better than anticipated", says Lumsden, who credits "wonderful support from alumni and local employers" who rallied to find jobs for students. "I'm so appreciative of employers who stay with the program through good times and bad."

Slomka elected to head Federation

The results of the Federation of Students election were announced last night after the electronic votes were tallied, and the word is that speech communication student Brenda Slomka will be president for the coming year.

She received 932 votes, with engineer Albert Nazareth coming in second at 718 votes. Turnout in the week-long election was between 12 and 13 per cent of eligible voters.

Slomka has served as a Village don and as an arts student representative on UW's senate. "I love this university," she told Imprint in a pre-election interview. "I put a lot of my heart into what I do." And on the vital issue of fee increases? "My philosophy on deregulation is, no deregulation without consultation."

And she told the Iron Warrior: "I want administration to admit that in some areas we are not prepared to handle the growth that is anticipated for the years ahead. I also want our student body to get more excited about UW and take pride in our amazing university."

Two of Slomka's running-mates on what was dubbed the "ROKS ticket" will join her on the Fed executive for the year that starts May 1: Mike Kerrigan (psychology) as vice-president (student issues), and Ryan O'Connor (political science) as vice-president (education).

Their other running-mate, Rob Robson, was defeated by Chris DiLullo (environmental studies) of the Nazareth ticket, who will become vice-president (administration and finance). The new executive members take office May 1.

LT3 director becomes associate VP

Tom Carey, director of the Centre for Learning and Teaching Through Technology, will take on a new job as of May 1: "Associate Vice-President, Learning Resources and Innovation".

In that role he'll be responsible for LT3 as well as the teaching resource office, continuing and distance education, and the audio-visual centre, said a memo yesterday from provost Amit Chakma, announcing the appointment.

[Carey] The memo said Carey (right) will serve for a four-year term, "with a mandate to enhance learning through innovations in teaching and technology". He remains director of LT3.

Carey, who came to UW from the University of Guelph (with a look in at the University of British Columbia) is a professor of management sciences. He is described as "one of the founders of the academic discipline of Human-Computer Interaction in Canada", and heads UW's HCI and telelearning laboratory. Involved in dozens of learning technology projects, and well known as a fan of initialisms, he currently chairs the board of the international MERLOT consortium that collects and distributes "learnware".

In yesterday's memo, Chakma also announced reappointments of two senior administrators:

Said the provost: "1 am personally grateful to Professors Waller, Carey and Mitchell for their commitment and dedication to UW, and their willingness to assume these responsibilities. President Johnston and I look forward to working with them, and know they will have your full cooperation and support."

Why students are hot for hotmail

I asked yesterday why many UW students use hotmail and other free e-mail providers rather than their UW electronic mail addresses. The comments quickly came flooding in -- by this morning, I'd heard from about 60 students, as well as several staff and faculty members with insights to offer. I didn't ask for permission to quote people by name, but here are some of the things that were said.

  • Continuity matters. "Most people use email before they come to university," one student said, "and because those @hotmail or @yahoo addresses are known by all of their friends etc, it's easier to use those addresses instead of letting everyone know that they have a new email address." And at the other end of one's student years, "My Yahoo account will not expire in two years when I graduate. My engmail account will." (UW does offer alumni e-mail forwarding "for life".) Said one student: "I have been using my hotmail account since 1993. I've scribbled it in more guestbooks, on more web writings and on more cocktail napkins than I could possibly tell -- so by abandoning it, I make it very hard to contact me. It also feels like I'm leaving a bit of history behind."

  • "Many people are not aware of the fact that UW e-mail can be

    How many use hotmail

    Students can change their UWdir listing to show their preferred e-mail address, and thousands have done so. Ray Butterworth of the math faculty computing facility, who understands this stuff, has kindly provided summary statistics on the number of students who list addresses in various major domains:

    5014 in student.math.uwaterloo.ca, 4650 in engmail.uwaterloo.ca, 3766 in artsmail.uwaterloo.ca, 2468 in scimail.uwaterloo.ca, 1541 in hotmail.com, 1044 in ahsmail.uwaterloo.ca, 913 in fes.uwaterloo.ca, 311 in math.uwaterloo.ca, 260 in yahoo.com, 197 in sympatico.ca, 146 in watarts.uwaterloo.ca, 76 in sciborg.uwaterloo.ca, 70 in rogers.com, and a sprinkling across nearly 600 other domains both inside and outside UW.

    What the numbers don't tell is how many students who list a UW address have their e-mail automatically forwarded to somewhere outside the university -- such as hotmail.

    And there are 3172 students who don't seem to have an e-mail address at all.

    How to change your preferred e-mail address.

    accessed through the web," a faculty member said. That's clearly true: "If Waterloo offered a web interface I would probably use it," one student said. In fact, there is a web interface, Engineering MailMan; the simplest place to find it is from a link at the bottom of the UW home page, www.uwaterloo.ca. Environmental studies recently introduced a similar interface, alias.

  • Some users are well aware of the web interface, but don't like it much. "The engmail web interface is woefully inferior to Hotmail's, Yahoo's and others," I was told. "No new e-mail motivation, no folder capability, limited attachment capability, no address list, etc., etc." Someone else mentioned "HTML editing, smilies, multiple signatures, address book, spam control, dictionary and spelling (or even grammar), virus check, etc., etc. Virus check is a big one. It is very safe to use these services." On the other hand, somebody called the hotmail interface "yucky" (and a faculty member said hotmail appears to be very unstable, judging from the amount of mail sent to students there that bounces back again).

  • A number of people mentioned other technical problems that I didn't always understand very well -- in particular, the difficulty of reading UW mail from off campus with POP mailers. "Not worth the hassle," said one student.

  • "If spam starts building up in the canada.com account, I can just create a new one and delete the old one, whereas I can't get a new student.math account."

  • A couple of people called the typical UW e-mail address "cumbersome", comparing "engmail.uwaterloo.ca" to "hotmail.com". (Just one person all day seemed to be aware that mail can be addressed to userid@uwaterloo.ca without the "artsmail" or other system name.) And the odd initials or digits in many UW usernames make them "pretty indistinctive and hard to remember for friends," one student called such addresses. "Boring," said someone else. "E-mail addresses are a way to express originality."

  • Disk quotas: "The math faculty puts a cap on the amount of hard-drive space each student is allowed (which is understandable) and my account always seems to be full."

  • The back-and-forth lives of co-op students: "I understand our accounts are supposed to remain active while we are on co-op terms; however, I have had problems with this every single term. As a result I have lost many messages each time."

  • "Lack of trust. If a student wishes to yell at a prof via e-mail, it is a happier thing to do from an account that the university does not control. In the same vein, the university cannot snoop on a non-UW e-mail account."

    Quite a number of people said they have their UW mail forwarded to a hotmail or similar off-campus address, so they won't miss things that are sent to them at ahsmail or artsmail. The big plus of uwaterloo.ca e-mail is the "prestige address", I was told. Another student reported using a UW account "only because I was e-mailing someone important such as a possible employer, or a professor".

    Peace conference, other happenings

    Today begins begins the student-organized peace conference at Conrad Grebel University College, "From Militant to Non-Violent Intervention". The star tomorrow is Jack DuVall, author and producer of the video series "A Force More Powerful", who will speak in the Grebel cafeteria at lunchtime, show the videos in the afternoon, and lecture at 7 p.m. in the great hall of the college. Thursday's event is a public debate in the Student Life Centre, starting at 7 p.m. "Come and join us," organizers say, "to share and debate your views on the status quo!":

    The ABCs of nutrition are, apparently, Apples, Beans and Carbs, and the alphabet doesn't go as far as Doughnuts. But right outside the engineering coffee-and-doughnut stand, in Carl Pollock Hall, is where nutritionist Linda Barton will be stationed today, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Her "drop-in nutrition display" is sponsored by the Engineering Society and UW's health services.

    In the Student Life Centre, as International Women's Week continues, celebrations today include "clay goddess creation" from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., a self-defence class at 5:00 and yoga at 7:00.

    The computer store's "Lunch and Learn" session today features Lexmark laser printers. The event starts at 12 noon in Davis Centre room 1302, and lunches are "provided on a first-come, first-served basis".

    The University Catholic Community will hold a Lenten Reconciliation Service at 7:00 this evening at the chapel of Resurrection College, just across Westmount Road from the church colleges.

    The weekly gays and lesbians discussion group tonight talks about "Queer Slang" (7 p.m., Humanities room 373).

    Tomorrow will bring a celebration of the "accomplishments" of UW's most recent solar car, Midnight Sun VI, and a launch of Midnight Sun VII, to be built for the next international solar races. Two grade 5 classes will visit campus in the morning and early afternoon to meet with team members and see the car, and then there's a public launch event at 3:30 p.m. in the great hall of the Student Life Centre. Speeches and cake are promised: "We hope," says Martha Foulds, communications officer in the faculty of engineering, "that the UW community will come out to celebrate all that Midnight Sun VI accomplished and what Midnight Sun VII is planning."

    Also tomorrow: the earth sciences department presents the annual Adrian Smith Lecture on Environmental Geochemistry. Crayton Yapp of Southern Methodist University will speak on "Ancient Atmospheres, Paleotemperatures, Natural Rusts, and a Modern Dilemma" at 2 p.m. in Davis Centre room 1302.

    Saturday brings the annual Bernoulli trials, a quirky mathematics competition for all undergraduates. The contest is entirely true-or-false questions, one every ten minutes, until two wrong answers have eliminated all the participants but one. (Questions from some previous Bernoulli competitions are available on the web.) There is no charge for registration, but participants are asked to register, by today, through e-mail to cgsmall@uwaterloo.ca.

    For the rest of the month, the Modern Languages art gallery is occupied by an unusual show: "an exhibition of reproductions from the Russian Embassy, Ottawa, which document the life, times and writings of celebrated Russian poet Aleksandr Sergeevich Pushkin". The show, which opened yesterday, is brought to campus by the department of Germanic and Slavic studies.

    Finally . . . big news in Canadian business today is a meeting of shareholders in Waterloo-based Clarica, formerly Mutual Life, to vote on a proposed takeover by Sun Life. It's a controversial one, with some investors saying they'll vote no and hope for a better offer. Does UW, through the pension fund, own shares in Clarica? We actually don't know, says David Dietrich of the human resources department. The pension and benefits committee leaves specific decisions up to several fund management companies, and concentrates on "measuring performance of the fund managers and not keeping track of the specific stocks held by these managers at any one point in time. However, at the regular meetings with our managers we often hear of major purchases and sales of specific stocks and their reasons for doing so." If there's Clarica stock in the portfolio, it will be up to the fund managers to decide whether to vote for or against the Sun Life bid: "Fund managers are delegated the responsibility of exercising all voting rights through the Plan's investments. Their intent in voting is to fulfill the investment objectives and policies of the Plan."



    March 6, 1969: The senate and board of governors hold a joint meeting in South Campus Hall and approve a unicameral form of government for UW. March 6, 1976: In a meet held at Waterloo, the Athena swim team wins the Canadian championship.

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