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Wednesday, April 16, 2003

  • SARS update: don't go to China
  • No co-op work terms in Hong Kong
  • Survey stresses quality -- and fees
  • The first day of the rest of our lives
Chris Redmond

Passover begins at sunset

[Five on their blankets]

The thermometer hit 25.1 Celsius yesterday, enticing these Renison College students out onto the college lawn. (Caroline Woerns of the Renison staff took the picture.) It was the warmest day of the year so far, says Frank Seglenieks, coordinator of the UW weather station. "After getting close a few times (19.7 on March 28) we finally went over 20 degrees at the weather station at noon. With the cold winter we had, I guess it is not surprising that it was the latest 20 degree day in the five year history of the weather station." It's an important milestone for the 569 people who entered the station's contest, guessing the date and time the 20-degree level would first be reached. Seglenieks reports: "In first place we had Bill Allwright who guessed the exact time, second place goes to Lib Cooper and third was Philip Nash. They are currently in the process of choosing their prizes." Don't expect sunbathing opportunities today, as the mercury is heading straight downward.

SARS update: don't go to China

Co-op students are being told that they can't take spring term jobs in Hong Kong, China and several other parts of Asia, and travellers returning from those areas are being asked to get in touch with UW's health services, in the latest developments about protection against SARS.

SARS -- Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, also known as "atypical pneumonia" -- is now endemic in parts of Asia, including Hong Kong, where UW has a number of academic links and a small but growing number of co-op jobs. With the spring term about to begin, health services is issuing a bulletin today about the problem.

From health services: who's considered at risk

If you have severe tiredness or feeling unwell, muscle aches, headache (worse than usual), fever, cough or shortness of breath, AND
  • You have had unprotected contact with a person with SARS in the last 10 days or
  • You have been to a health care facility that is closed due to SARS in the last 10 days or
  • Returned from Asia, especially China, Hong Kong, Vietnam, Singapore or Taiwan in the past 10 days, or
  • You are under quarantine, or you have been contacted by public health and put in home isolation,
call either your family doctor, Public Health, Telehealth or the nearest Emergency department to discuss your concerns. Students should immediately phone Health Services at 888-4567 ext. 3544. You will be connected with a nurse who will assist you.
"It is important," it says, "that all members of our campus community have a common understanding of SARS symptoms -- fever, chest cold and shortness of breath -- that require medical advice and management."

Some advice from the health services bulletin:

"Students, staff, or faculty returning from an endemic area identified by Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade -- parts of Asia including China, Hong Kong, Vietnam, Taiwan or Singapore -- are being contacted and asked to phone Health Services (888-4567, ext. 3544) immediately so that the university can provide advice, assistance regarding SARS.

"Individuals who have contracted to reside in UW residence and are returning from an endemic area will be given individual accommodation in Columbia Lake Townhouses for 10 days from the time they left the endemic area; during this time students are expected to attend classes after which they can enter the contracted residence community. While at Columbia Townhouses, Health Services nursing staff can offer daily telephone monitoring, advice and support for the incubation period.

"Any students with co-op terms arranged for endemic parts of Asia . . . are being told they should not go; rather, they should arrange for other jobs with the help of the Co-operative Education and Career Services Department.

[Hand washing]

  • City of Toronto public health
  • Ontario ministry of health
  • Yahoo news about SARS
  • Federal government's role
  • How new viruses emerge
  • Liberty Health bulletin on UHIP coverage
  • Students returning early (Daily Bulletin, April 4)
  • "Faculty members and staff planning trips to endemic areas are being asked to defer travel until the health warnings have been lifted."

    No co-op work terms in Hong Kong -- from today's Gazette

    The co-op department is directing students with a May-to-August work term in Hong Kong, China, Singapore, Taiwan, or Vietnam to cancel arrangements.

    "UW will not grant credit for any work terms in the above locations during this work term," says the latest in a series of updated web pages on the SARS outbreak. "If you are in the above situation, please contact your co-op advisor . . . as soon as possible. You will receive further instructions and be registered for the 'continuous phase' of the co-op process since you will need another job in order to receive work term credit.

    "Whether or not you go to your work term in an affected area in Canada is up to you. CECS cannot make this decision for you. Due to the nature of the SARS situation, you are not obliged to take employment in an affected workplace. If you choose not to go, you may enter the 'continuous phase' of the co-op process, since you will need another job in order to receive work term credit.

    "You may wish to contact your employer to request a postponement of the start date until the risks subside. If your employer is unable to keep your job open, you may enter the 'continuous phase' of the co-op process.

    "Be sure to contact your CECS field coordinator before making any decisions as to what you will be doing."

    Survey stresses quality -- and fees

    When people in Ontario think "university" they think "teaching", a survey conducted by the Council of Ontario Universities has found. Some excerpts from COU's newsletter report about the survey, which was done in February:

  • "The majority of Ontarians (86%) overwhelming believe that the province's universities should be public institutions. Ontarians see a positive relationship between universities and employment, generally leaning toward the view that the focus of a university should be on advancing knowledge rather than on training. Teaching is the key factor that resonates most strongly in the minds of Ontarians when thinking about 'quality' and 'university'."

  • "Ontarians continue to be favourably disposed toward rating the quality of Ontario universities, and those who have attended an Ontario university are even more favourable in their assessment."

  • "Many of those Ontarians who are most concerned about the double cohort give a higher priority to quality than access. Quality is viewed as a very important issue, even if it means turning some qualified students away. Those Ontarians who are most concerned about the double cohort are also the most likely to feel that resources need to be allocated to areas beyond classroom spaces, and that adequate classroom space is only part of the equation in meeting the enrolment challenge."

  • "Many Ontarians are unaware of the extent of the enrolment challenge. While most are aware that enrolments have been increasing and will continue to do so over the next 10 years, less than half are aware that enrolments will continue to increase after the double cohort-related surge has passed, while many of those who feel enrolments are increasing are not aware of the double cohort. Although most Ontarians feel that access to Ontario universities has become more difficult over the past 10 years, and the vast majority have concerns about the impact of the double cohort on access, just one third also feel admission standards are too high."

  • "A strong majority believe that attending university in Ontario is becoming too expensive. With a widespread view that governments are underfunding universities and high concerns about the expense of attending university, there is broad-based support among Ontarians for increased government funding -- even if it means a tax increase or reduction of resources allocated to other areas. Few Ontarians are aware of the actual level of government funding for Ontario universities. Ontarians show strong support for a high-quality, accessible university system that is both public and well-funded by governments.

    "While most Ontarians view elementary and secondary schools as taking the highest funding priority for improvements in quality, a sizeable minority say universities should take the highest priority."

    COU's conclusion: "The study's overall findings provide strong support for COU's quality agenda. According to most Ontarians, ensuring the availability of sufficient classroom space is not enough to meet the enrolment challenge. A high-quality university system must be maintained and, in the view of the vast majority, increased public funding will be required to do so."

    The first day of the rest of our lives

    Today's the deadline, as the staff association looks for its leadership for 2003-04 and beyond. Nominations are due (at the association office in the Davis Centre) for a vice-president, a secretary, a treasurer, two directors, and a president-elect, who will then move up to be president in 2004-05. Says the yellow flyer that announced the call a few weeks ago: "UW staff, and the University as a whole, are dealing with changes in the workplace: budgetary concerns, increases in workloads, and pockets of low morale. If you are committed to making things better for your fellow staff members, and maintaining and improving the working environment of one of Canada's best universities, please consider nominating someone for one of these positions, or seek a nomination for yourself."

    This afternoon the smarter health seminar series presents a talk by Martin Sumner-Smith of Open Text Corp., speaking on -- take a big breath -- "Two Heads (and a Computer) Are Healthier Than One: Knowledge and Collaboration Tools from Drug Discovery to Patient Treatment". Location: Davis Centre room 1302.

    The senate scholarships and student aid committee will meet at 1:30 today in Needles Hall room 3004. . . . Fund-raisers collecting for Red Cross humanitarian work in Iraq, including people based at UW, will be in position at Kitchener's Fairview Park Mall again today from 2 to 9 p.m. . . . Another open meeting about the design of UW's web home page is scheduled for tomorrow (Thursday) at 9 a.m. in Davis Centre room 1302. . . .

    The staff association social committee, which seems a lot like the Energizer bunny, has announced several more events. On April 29 it's "The Lady Sings the Blues", a noon-hour event at which you can "come and relax and listen to a Staff Association member perform some of her favourite blues tunes. the first two members to e-mail noneil@uwaterloo.ca with the correct name of the singer will win a prize." Then there's "Discovering Elvis" at the Waterloo Stage Theatre on May 31 (tickets on sale until May 1). Wine tours are planned to the Niagara area on May 31 (presumably for those who don't like Elvis) and to the St. Thomas and Sparta area on June 7. And there's talk of a team in the dragon boat competition scheduled for Laurel Creek Conservation Area on July 19. Information about all these things and more is on the social committee web site.


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