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Wednesday, January 22, 2003

  • Director 'pleased' by application figures
  • Liquor board 'concerned' about pubs
  • Design projects on display today
  • Other notes and events today
Chris Redmond

Today is Ukrainian Day

[Two with hats, one with robe]

A panel spoke on "Science and Religion" last week at the University of Guelph, at an event sponsored by the Ahmadiyya Muslim Students Association. A similar event is to be held at UW today, on the topic "Competing Views of Absolute Justice". Islamic scholars and guest speakers will give their views, and there will be time for audience questions, organizers say. The event starts at 6:30 p.m. in Arts Lecture Hall room 116.

Director 'pleased' by application figures

More than 31,000 Ontario high school students have applied for admission to UW in September 2003, the university is announcing this morning. "We are very pleased," said Peter Burroughs, director of admissions, looking at an increase of 22.2 per cent in the number of first-choice applications to UW.

This year 7,524 students from Ontario schools picked a Waterloo program as their first choice, compared to 6,158 last year. Altogether, UW is looking at 31,574 applications, compared to 19,968 a year ago -- a 58.1 per cent jump.

The increase is largely the result of the "double cohort" of students, as 19-year-olds from the traditional five-year high school program and 18-year-olds from the new four-year curriculum are graduating together. Province-wide, a record 101,668 students have applied for university admission, compared to 69,305 last year.

It's no surprise that Waterloo has a smaller increase in applications this year than some other universities across Ontario, Burroughs says. "Self-selection is at work," he explained. Competition is tough, and students who didn't feel they had a good shot at being accepted at Waterloo probably chose to apply to other universities instead, especially the ones that will be expanding the most in the face of the double cohort. "With our double cohort web site, people knew where they stood," says Tina Roberts, director of undergraduate student recruitment.

Waterloo expects to admit 4,589 Ontario high school students over the coming months. They'll make up most of a first-year class that is currently expected to total 5,359 (including some students from outside Ontario and some who aren't coming directly from high school). That figure could still change, Bob Truman, director of institutional analysis and planning, warned yesterday.

Enrolment at UW has been growing each year since 1998, and about 600 more students will be accepted in 2003 than in 2002.

Burroughs also pointed out that Waterloo ranks second among Ontario universities in the percentage of its applications that are the student's first choice. That's considered a measure of how serious applicants are about choosing Waterloo and how likely they are to come to UW if admitted.

There hasn't been time to look at the students' high school records yet, but Burroughs said he thinks Waterloo will be getting top students as usual. "Our reputation and historic high standards may have persuaded a number of applicants to apply to universities where there may be a better chance for acceptance," he suggested. Unlike some other schools that guaranteed admission to applicants with an average of 70 or 80 per cent, UW did not offer any admission guarantees.

In fact, Burroughs said, he's relieved that the application figures aren't higher. "It's good news for students and parents," he suggested: even in the double-cohort, high-demand year, typical admission averages to UW's most competitive programs may not be much higher than they were last year. Average marks for incoming students in 2002 were 94.1 in software engineering, 90.8 in engineering, 88.2 in math, 82.8 in science, 82.0 in applied health sciences, 81.5 in environmental studies and 79.3 in arts.

The number of applications to Waterloo has gone up in all fields of study, but the increase is the smallest in the most competitive programs -- software engineering, math and engineering -- where very high averages have typically been needed for admission.

Some decisions on applications may be ready as early as mid-March, but most students will find out in late April and May whether they're being admitted to start at Waterloo in September.

Liquor board 'concerned' about pubs

A top UW official said late yesterday that the university's moves to be more involved in the running of the on-campus student pubs were related to concerns expressed by the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario, which regulates liquor service in the province.

Bud Walker, UW's director of business operations, met with two key members of the campus media (me, and Ryan Chen-Wing of 'uwstudent.org' and Imprint) to hand over a written statement and answer questions. Walker, who holds the campus liquor licence, said UW authorities have been working with the Federation of Students "on improving management procedures at Federation Hall and the Bombshelter" for about the past year.

The liquor rules and the agreement between UW and the Federation over pub management -- which dates back to 1976 -- makes clear that the Federation is an "agent" of the university as far as the liquor licence is concerned, Walker said. "As long as the agent is prepared to act on the issues, and the liquor licence holder has confidence that the agent is diligent, then you're fine."

Walker said there had been various problems at Fed Hall in particular -- over-capacity crowds, advertising that contravenes the alcohol regulations, sloppy sign-in procedures and poor handling of incidents such as fights.

[Colour photo above headline]

Coverage of the pub controversy in this morning's Record. There's also a story in the Globe and Mail today.

And then came a crisis:

Following the events of New Year's Eve, it is clear that established policies and management procedures were not followed. This, coupled with incidents of non-compliance with aspects of the Liquor Licence Act, led us to consult the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario about our responsibilities as the licence holder for the two pubs.

The Alcohol and Gaming Commission has confirmed our understanding that as the licence holder, the University of Waterloo bears all liability, and that there needs to be direct accountability by the management of the bar operations to the licence holder. . . .

Essentially, the Alcohol and Gaming Commission has confirmed the requirement that the management of these two campus bar operations must be directly accountable to the licence holder.

In the first week of January, the university put an "interim manager" from UW bar services in charge of the Bombshelter and Fed Hall.

Walker also said . . .

  • UW is not interested in taking a share of the revenue from student pubs, whatever the management arrangement is.

  • The Federation is welcome to open the Bombshelter to serve food if it wishes, but not alcohol. As for concerts -- such as the big show by Kardinal Offishall scheduled for Saturday night at Fed Hall -- "we haven't talked about that yet."
  • "Unfortunately," says Walker's statement, "the Federation of Students finds the interim management structure and joint oversight unacceptable. Their refusal to operate under this proposal left the University with the choice between operating in contravention of the Liquor Licence Act, or to suspend the serving of alcohol. We have temporarily suspended the serving of alcohol."

    Walker said the student pubs are "an extremely good thing to have on campus" and he said he'd like to see them open again. He added that university officials are very willing to get back to talking with the Federation's leaders -- but "they want to have complete control of the pubs without our involvement, before we talk, and our view is that that just can't be."

    The Alcohol and Gaming Commission, said Walker, is "very concerned about student-run pubs", wants UW as the liquor licence holder to take a direct role, and would not be enthusiastic about issuing a separate licence direct to the Feds, as some people have suggested.

    The great hall of the Student Life Centre was filled yesterday afternoon for a rally starring Bombshelter and Fed Hall staff members, as well as Federation of Students leaders. There was cheering and chanting, and speakers urged students to call or write to university administrators in protest against the closing of the pubs.

    Mike Kerrigan, vice-president (internal) of the Federation, spoke at length, telling the crowd that "the university process" of dealing with the issue has been designed to push Fed leaders into making a quick decision.

    He said the Federation will not negotiate about the management of the two pubs, and would rather keep them closed than accept either of the "two untenable options" or "extortion" being offered by the university.

    He also said charges by UW officials that the pubs have been managed poorly or unsafely are "libelous". He said the Federation may take action to recover lost revenues from the university if the pubs stay closed.

    The rally also heard from Feds VP (administration and finance) Chris DiLullo. Things wound up with a "photo opportunity" for more than 50 out-of-work bar staff.

    Design projects on display today

    More than 225 students graduating from the electrical and computer engineering program this spring are exhibiting their group design projects in the Davis Centre today and tomorrow.

    At the "Fourth Year Design Project Symposium", students will present their projects in seminar format to guests from industry and the academic community. They will also publicly display design project posters and will be available to discuss their projects during breaks.

    As well, local area high school and public school students, along with their parents, have been invited to an open house tonight from 6:00 to 9:00 to visit the displays and talk with the student designers.

    The symposium presentations will cover many leading-edge technology developments. Among the design project topics:

    "This an exceptional opportunity for interested parties to see these exciting projects first-hand," said Jim Barby, E&CE professor and fourth-year design project coordinator. "The symposium also represents the culmination of one of the newest and most important academic aspects of the E&CE program at UW."

    This year's symposium includes the third set of graduates to complete the intensive fourth-year design project course sequence, which challenges students in their final year of study to work in groups to identify and address a specific design problem. The symposium gives these students the opportunity to showcase their projects in poster and prototype format and to present them as seminars to external audiences.

    Barby said students will be graded on their presentations. "Being able to present your ideas to an investor or a client or a boss is essential in our field. These seminars and poster presentations -- in front of an external audience -- help our students develop the skills they'll need to do that successfully." A detailed symposium schedule, including abstracts of each project, is available on the web.

    Other notes and events today

    A demonstration of Microsoft's Tablet PC is scheduled for 2:30 today in Math and Computer room 2066. . . . The career development workshop series continues with sessions on "Interview Skills, the Basics" at 4:30 and "Preparing for Questions" at 5:30 (registration is online). . . . Students for Exploration and Development of Space holds a meeting at 5:00 today (Physics room 145), followed by a presentation at 5:30 on the work of the Mars Desert Research Station in Utah. . . . UW alumni in Calgary gather for a reception tonight and will hear from UW president David Johnston as well as Howard Armitage, director of the new Centre for Business, Entrepreneurship and Technology. . . .

    At 7:30 tonight in the Theatre of the Arts, writer-in-residence Rob Reid interviews film director and writer Terrance Odette as part of a "Portrait of the Artist" conversation series. Odette is the winner of the Vancouver International Film Festival's 1999 awards for Best Emerging Western Canadian Feature Director and Best Western Canadian Screenplay for his film "Heater"; his new film "Saint Monica" will be screened at Waterloo's Princess Cinema this weekend.

    The Waterloo Public Interest Research Group sponsors "Videoactive 2003" tonight at 7:00 in the multipurpose room of the Student Life Centre. It's "an evening of activist video" with footage of protests all the way from Ecuador to Sudbury, not to mention a Toronto march against the possible war in Iraq. Organizers promise "two hours of documentaries, music videos, animation, even Super 8 experimental films, all of which work together to convey one message: resist!"

    The young Finnish architects Casagrande and Rintala -- they don't appear to have first names -- will speak at 7:00 tonight in room 286 of the Environmental Studies II building. "The firm has produced powerful site-specific installations in many locations," writes Rick Haldenby, director of the UW school of architecture. "They are currently on a transcontinental drive from Halifax to Anchorage over a 10-day period collecting artifacts, interviews, video and sound samples that will be assembled as an environmental art installation."

    The suspense is nearly at an end: fall term marks will be available tomorrow on the Quest computer system. . . . Tours of the new Co-op Education and Career Services building will be offered at 12 noon and 12:30 tomorrow, Friday, Monday, Tuesday, and a number of dates in February and March. . . . The staff association still has tickets available for a Chinese new year lunch on January 31 and for "The Caverners" at the Black Forest Inn on February 1. . . .


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