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Monday, March 3, 2003

  • Staff told of UW's 'unique nature'
  • City nears vote on housing policy
  • Calendar ready in time for course choice
  • Fellowship for biology prof, and more
  • Big blooming buzzing confusion
Chris Redmond

Today, the Lysistrata Project

Staff told of UW's 'unique nature'

An "orientation" session for staff members, scheduled for Wednesday afternoon, isn't just a one-shot event -- it's part of an effort to help staff understand what goes on across the university and help them feel more involved.

Wednesday's "exciting and informative" 90-minute session "would be of interest to all regular staff, no matter how long they have been at UW", says David Dietrich, assistant director in UW's human resources department.

"Any regular staff are welcome to obtain approval from the department head to attend."

The orientation program is sponsored by the staff relations committee. It starts at 3:00 Wednesday in the Laurel Room, South Campus Hall, and noontime today is the deadline for RSVPs (phone ext. 2078).

Individual invitations have gone to all staff who came to UW since January 2002, but others are welcome too, Dietrich repeats, noting that "Department heads know about and support this new orientation program."

UW president David Johnston and provost Amit Chakma will speak at Wednesday's event, which will also feature staff association president Steve Breen, Federation of Students president Brenda Koprowski, and the director of undergraduate student recruitment, Tina Roberts. "The session will introduce new staff members to some of the special aspects of work at UW," says Dietrich, "tell a little of our history, and unravel some of the mysteries of university language, references and organizational structures." The afternoon winds up with social time so newer (and older) staff can get to know each other.

"One of our primary goals for the next few years," says Dietrich in a memo to department heads, "is to attract and maintain high quality staff to the University of Waterloo. Part of the retention challenge is to introduce new staff members to the special aspects of work at UW and to make sure that they understand the unique nature of our University and its accomplishments."

The memo adds that staff "will be encouraged to attend Convocation or at least part of it in order to celebrate their participation in the education of our students. We hope that you will be able to spare some time in June for this and that you will encourage the other members of your staff to attend as well."

City nears vote on housing policy

Waterloo city council is expected to vote tonight on a proposed one-year "moratorium" on turning homes into student housing -- a move being urged by some neighbourhood associations of permanent residents, but opposed by student leaders.

"We encourage students to attend the meeting," the Federation of Students web site is saying. It's scheduled for 6:30 p.m. at City Hall, on the northwest corner of Regina and William Streets.

Coverage from Imprint . . . from 'uwstudent.org'
The possible moratorium is a result of ideas put forward in a "Height and Density Study" done by city staff. Its scope is much broader than just student housing, as the study is supposed to be about development plans for the city as a whole. "The purpose," a summary says, "is to determine options for more height and density and identify appropriate locations as a means of using land more intensively and extending the land supply." But student housing is clearly a flash-point -- particularly the more than 1,000 licensed "lodging houses" already in operation in this city of 100,000 people.

Last week's council meeting, where the density study was discussed, heard from some 20 delegations, most of them representing residents' associations who don't want more student housing in family neighbourhoods. Opposition is particularly strong from the affluent Beechwood area west of campus. After hearing the delegations, council voted 3-2 against imposing a one-year moratorium immediately.

The study suggests more high-rise or high-density development near UW and Wilfrid Laurier University -- the areas where students most want to live. But it advises the city to keep the existing bylaw that forbids lodging houses closer to each other than 75 metres. That means that, at most, about every fifth house can be rented to a crowd of students. The bylaw is meant to prevent the growth of "student ghetto" neighbourhoods like the famous one around Queen's University in central Kingston.

Chris Edey, president-elect of UW's Federation (and this year's government affairs commissioner), is not impressed, and was one of the speakers at city council last week. "While we endorse the proposed model of increasing high-density developments near the universities as a long-term solution to enable more students to live close to their campus, the study nevertheless recommends that the 75-metre restriction be maintained, which we cannot support," Edey says in a Federation news release.

A key issue, he says: "We have serious concerns over the number of illegal lodging houses operating outside of the city's inspection regime, and for the welfare of the students who must live in these houses because of a lack of quality housing close to the universities. . . .

"There seems to be a growing problem with some landlords who fail to maintain their properties up to a legal standard." Estimates are that as many as 1,000 unlicensed lodging houses are in operation in Waterloo.

He says a moratorium on new licences is "nonsense", especially in the double-cohort year when housing demand is expected to be high.

Calendar ready in time for course choice

Copies of the 2003-04 undergraduate calendar hit campus on Friday, just in time for a busy week of course planning.

It's "pick your plan week" for the fall term, the registrar's office says: "Undergraduate students who need to select or change a major, or add a major or option, will need to complete a Plan Modification/Application for Internal Transfer."

At the same time, online "appointments" for class enrolment through the Quest system begin today, and continue through March 29. (Open enrolment starts March 31, and, as usual, "students who miss their enrolment appointments will have to wait until open enrolment to select or make changes to their classes.")

It's the new calendar that lists those courses, options and majors. The electronic version of the calendar is at a new, simpler URL this year -- www.ucalendar.uwaterloo.ca. Paper copies are stacked in the registrar's office on the second floor of Needles Hall, available one-to-a-customer for registered students. Additional copies are for sale at the bookstore in South Campus Hall.

One other administrative note: a reminder that the winter term final examination schedule is now available on the web.

Fellowship for biology prof, and more

The Canada Council announced Friday that Marilyn Griffith of UW's biology department has won a Killam Research Fellowship for the coming year. Across Canada there are 10 new Killam winners (and 18 of last year's winners who will be funded for a second year). Griffith is a specialist in low-temperature plant growth; like other Killam winners, she'll be able to devote full-time effort to her research.

The school of computer science has a new director, as of March 1. He's Johnny Wong, who has headed the Computer Communications Networks Group and UW's Bell University Labs project, and who was associate provost (information systems and technology) 1989-94. Wong takes over the director's chair from Frank Tompa.

There's a new web site at UW that may be of special interest to staff members: one created by the staff association social committee, which has been remarkably busy (and high profile) this year. The latest information on their events can now be found on-line at watserv1.uwaterloo.ca/~saevents.

The career services department (which has just given its web site a thorough facelift, speaking of web sites) is looking for students to fill a variety of volunteer positions in the coming year. Says a memo: "Depending on the position you will gain valuable job search, marketing, and/or career-related skills by either promoting events and services or by helping other students in their career planning and job search. Open to regular and co-op students who are creative and possess strong interpersonal and communication skills. Applications available in Career Services, CEC 1214, or from our web page. Deadline: March 20."

The executive committee of UW's senate will meet today at 3:30 in Needles Hall room 3004. Among the agenda items that it'll be sifting for the meeting of the full senate on March 17 is a proposal to reduce the number of "entry points" for science students. Someone applying for admission to science currently has to choose among 12 different programs and variations; the faculty (and the senate undergraduate council, which has reviewed the plan) thinks six are enough, with students making more detailed choices after they get here. "Life Sciences", for example, could lead to biology, biochemistry, environmental science, pre-optometry and pre-health, and BSc psychology.

And this note for co-op students who don't yet have jobs for the spring term: "Hand in one copy of your resumé package along with completed Continuous Phase Registration form to paging desk, ground level, CEC, by 4 p.m."

Big blooming buzzing confusion

I can hardly believe how much is happening at Waterloo these days. Here's a rundown of some of the major events in the current week, and in every case I wish I had room to say more.

Today: The opening (at 12 noon) of a "Hong Kong Expo" that will be in the great hall of the Student Life Centre through Thursday. The touring exhibit is brought to campus by the Chinese Students Association.

Tuesday: At 1 p.m., St. Jerome's University presents a speech by Russell Smith, author of two novels and various other works. As a journalist, he writes about topics as diverse as men's fashion, music, and contemporary morals and manners. Location: St. Jerome's common room.

Wednesday: "Iraq and Hope: Stories, Photos and Reflections" by Matthew Bailey-Dick, a recent graduate who's back from a visit to Iraq with Christian Peacemaker Teams, and will speak at 12 noon at Conrad Grebel University College.

Then in the afternoon, the irrepressible Hazel McCallion brings her "Ontario Smart Growth" team to Waterloo. "The panel wants to hear your thoughts on ideas for dealing with traffic gridlock, managing waste and curbing urban sprawl," an ad says. The panel will be in the new CECS building from 3:00 to 8:30 p.m., with a presentation at 7 p.m.

And from 4 to 8 p.m., as I was saying on Friday, the contact lens clinic holds an open house in the Optometry building.

Also on Friday: Two for Blue Day, a fund-raiser in support of juvenile arthritis research. "Dress casual, wear blue and pay a toonie," suggests one of the organizers, Michelle Banic in institutional analysis and planning. I'll say more about this project in a day or two.
Wednesday through Saturday: "The Laramie Project", drama about the 1998 Matthew Shepard murder, 8 p.m. in the Theatre of the Arts.

Thursday: Jewish studies public lecture, "Germans and Jews: A Strange, Productive and Tragic Relationship", by Stephen Berk of Union College, 7:30 p.m., Siegfried Hall.

Thursday and Friday: Mennonite author Rudy Wiebe speaks at 7 p.m. at Conrad Grebel University College.

Friday and Saturday: One of UW's oldest traditions with up-to-the minute entertainment: the annual Black Forest Coffee House at St. Paul's United College.


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