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Monday, May 5, 2003

  • Fed president stresses city issues
  • 'What is the University doing about SARS?'
  • Universities say there's room
  • Major medal for UW optometrist
  • Other notes on the first day of classes
Chris Redmond

Would you know what to do?

Poli sci professor is mourned

John Wilson, officially retired but still active in research in UW's department of political science, was killed Friday in a highway crash near Cobourg, Ontario. He was 70.

A faculty member from 1964 to his retirement in 2001, Wilson served as chair of his department and one of the most active members of the faculty association, holding many positions including president.

Plans for a memorial service are to be announced.

Fed president stresses city issues

Chris Edey, the new president of the Federation of Students, makes a startling comparison as he talks about the influence students could have on housing issues in Waterloo.

"There are more students in this city," he says, "than there are people who voted in the last municipal election."

No surprise, then, that he's talking about a "mobilization" of students to take an interest -- and vote -- when Waterloo elects a mayor and city council members this November 10. Edey said last week that he'll soon be meeting with Dan Herman, president of the Wilfrid Laurier University Students' Union, to "map out a common strategy on municipal issues" in advance of the election.

Edey made it clear that issues involving city government are going to dominate his attention and enthusiasm during his year as Fed president, which began May 1. "Municipal government does have a very big impact on our lives," he stressed, pointing to "the link between 'I can't find a house' and 'there's a municipal election coming up'."

Student housing issues have simmered in Waterloo for years, and are at the forefront just now with the city's creation of a task force on housing issues - particularly, the controversial bylaw about "lodging houses", which imposes a minimum distance between any two student rental houses.

The intent is to prevent student ghettos. The unintended consequence: to put pressure on far-flung residential areas to make room for student houses. Residents of pricy Beechwood are particularly indignant about the prospect of student housing there. And yet, as Edey points out, students don't really want to live in Beechwood. They want to be near campus, on bus routes, and close to stores and where the action is.

His solution is a change to the bylaw, and a greater concentration of student housing in selected areas, particularly down University Avenue "uptown", where the city is already keen to see greater density.

Edey says students are being taken more seriously than they used to be -- "we are considered stakeholders now" -- as evidenced by the student seats on the task force that's being organized. Still, he says, there's a lot to do, and in particular he'd like to "counter the stereotyping" that says all students dump garbage on their lawns and make their cars go vroom-vroom late at night. He insists that students contribute greatly to a city like Waterloo, and not only by spending big bucks. There are huge advantages, he says, to "having so many young and active people in the community", virtually guaranteeing varied and interesting arts and entertainment in town, for example.

"Waterloo will never be Toronto," he concedes, "but there are a lot of interesting things." He says it's a pity some students -- eager to hop the bus for Toronto every Friday night -- never get to experience the culture, the countryside and the other attractions of Waterloo and Kitchener. "With the nature of co-op," he comments, "it's an additional challenge to building a community."

CECS building opens today

Everyone is invited to the official opening (and naming) of the Co-op Education and Career Services building, today at 2:00, in the lobby of the new, landmark building. "There will be speeches by dignitaries, unveiling of donor recognition plaques, an announcement with the name of the new building, a ribbon cutting, and self-guided tours of the building. Light refreshments will be served.

Key donors to the $10.8 million building will be celebrated at the event, including the Ontario government's SuperBuild infrastructure program. The provincial funding is matched by funds from the university, a $25-a-term fee from students, and money from private donors. The 45,500-square-foot building is the home of the CECS department and caters to career-related activities such as employment interviews, career development workshops and vocational research.

'What is the University doing about SARS?'

Health services posted a summary on Friday of UW's reaction to the public health crisis of SARS, or Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, which is still serious in southeast Asia, although the worst seems to be past in Toronto.

Here's some of what the statement says:

"With the spring term set to begin in early May, Health Services staff and University of Waterloo administrators have a plan for maintaining safe, healthy conditions for the students, staff and faculty as well as our neighbours in Kitchener-Waterloo.

"Our plan includes close monitoring of SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) developments by UW's professional medical staff. In addition all mandated health guidelines issued by regional and provincial health officials are implemented at Health Services and the University of Waterloo Optometry clinic. . . .

"All 1,200 incoming students who will be residing in UW's residences for the Spring Term will be screened by UW Health Services staff and given directions to monitor their health. Anyone who has symptoms described by Public Health officials, namely a combination of fever and respiratory symptoms will be immediately redirected for appropriate medical care.

"On campus media provides current information about SARS and university procedures to all other faculty, staff and students returning from work terms or exchanges in an endemic area and residing off campus. The Federal Government has jurisdiction over the screening of incoming and outgoing travelers at airports and other ports of entry. These people are encouraged to monitor their own health and seek medical attention immediately if necessary.

"Students who have contracted for university residences and are arriving from endemic areas (about 20 in total) have been contacted. Any student from an endemic area with less than 10 days from departure date to admission to residence is required to reside at Columbia Lake Townhouses. This action is undertaken in order to reduce the number of household contacts, a known transmission setting for SARS. The students' health will be monitored daily by UW's Health Services. During this time, students will be encouraged to participate in all aspects of university life, including classes. Once they have fulfilled this time period and remain healthy, the students will go into regular contracted residence places. . . .

"Co-op students preparing for work terms in areas designated by Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade (DFAIT) in Asia have been advised to cancel those employment arrangements. Co-operative Education and Career Services will assist as much as possible to find employment elsewhere. No academic credits will be jeopardized by the loss of such work terms.

"Any staff, faculty or students planning to travel to areas designated by Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade (DFAIT) in Asia are advised to defer travel until the health warnings have been lifted. . . .

"UW community members with academic or business activity in Toronto are being advised they can go, but to follow the Public Health advisories.

"UW continues to remind students, staff and faculty, just as Public Health officials continue to remind everyone to practice basic common-sense hygiene procedures. Frequent washing of the hands, thoroughly with soap and warm water, is the single most important method to protect against any infection.

"UW's Health Services is reinforcing the advice from the Ontario Ministry of Health. If you are ill, but have no links to possible SARS exposure, stay home from work, school or other gatherings. It is generally prudent for people who have symptoms of fever and cough to stay home until the symptoms resolve. This will reduce the spread to others. People should seek further medical assessment if symptoms worsen and shortness of breath develops."

Universities say there's room

The Council of Ontario Universities issued a news release Friday assuring the province "that plans are in place to accommodate 70,000 Ontario high school graduates at Ontario's universities this coming September. . . .

"The Government is ensuring that the resources are available to continue to accommodate all willing and qualified students. The province's universities, in turn, are delivering the increased spaces. . . .

"Applications for admission to Ontario universities for fall 2003 have increased by approximately 46 percent over the same time in the previous year, in large part due to secondary school reform, which finds university-bound students from the former curriculum and the new curriculum seeking admission at the same time. Approximately 102,000 Ontario secondary students have applied for admission to an Ontario university this fall. If the historical proportion of applicants to registrants is maintained, about 68 percent of these applicants will end up registering at an Ontario university, resulting in an incoming class of almost 70,000 students. . . .

"The Government's significant investments have enhanced the universities' capacity to accommodate additional students and provide them with the quality education they deserve."

Major medal for UW optometrist -- from the UW media relations office

UW optometry professor Jacob Sivak has been named this year's winner of the prestigious Proctor Medal from the Association for Research in Vision and Opthalmology. The medal, which recognizes "outstanding research of senior scientists in the basic or clinical sciences," will be presented at the U.S.-based association's annual meeting this week in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

[Sivak] Sivak (right), who holds the NSERC Bausch & Lomb Industrial Research Chair in In-Vitro Ophthalmic Toxicology at UW, said he is "very honoured" to receive this award from the largest of the international eye research organizations.

He is being recognized for "major contributions to comparative optics, developmental refractive changes and environment effects on eye development and lens refractive state." As well, Sivak will give a lecture at the conference today about his research, called "Through the Lens Clearly: Development and Phylogeny". The UW school of optometry will host a reception to honour Sivak at the event.

Sivak left his post as UW's dean of graduate studies last summer to continue with his research into more humane ways to test products safely without the use of live animals. His research is looking at developing a method to help to replace the Draize eye irritancy test where large numbers of rabbits are often subjected to discomfort.

He has worked for a number of years on tests based on bovine lenses acquired from dead animals at abattoirs. There has been some confirmation that, at least in some cases, the proposed bovine lens test is a more accurate reflection of the toxicological effect on the human eye than is the Draize test.

It is only the second time a Canadian has won the medal since it was first awarded in 1949. The other recipient was David Regan of the psychology department at York University.

Other notes on the first day of classes

The executive committee of UW's senate will meet today at 3:30 (Needles Hall room 3004) to set the agenda for this month's meeting of the full senate. Among the items under discussion is a proposal to create the titles of "University Professor" and "University Research Chair" to honour some of UW's top faculty members.

There's an information meeting this afternoon for people who might be interested in a Weight Watchers group on campus this term. "In January we started an At Work Meeting at St. Jerome's," writes organizer Melissa Latour, who's both a student and a staff member at St. Jerome's University. "It was a great success. There were 20 people in the meeting, and in three months they lost over 200 pounds!" She's looking for similar success this term. Anybody interested can come to today's meeting -- 4:30, St. Jerome's room 2011 -- and today is a good day to pay the fee for the term, $155 (with a discount for students).

Works by Master of Fine Arts student Marla Botterill go on display today in one of the galleries in East Campus Hall. The show, titled "BBQ's and Birthday Cakes", continues for just a week; there will be a closing reception on Saturday starting at 4 p.m.

Floor repairs in the Doug Wright Engineering Building, which were to start a couple of weeks ago, are now expected to start today, says Peter Fulcher of the plant operations department. "The corridor across from the Engineering II office wing will be closed for a short time. The grinding of the concrete will take place during the night. Use caution in this area."

The welfare of wooded areas in Canadian cities is the focus of a one-day workshop, "Achieving Our Goals for Urban Woodlands", today in the Ron Eydt Village conference centre. The event is sponsored by UW's school of planning and the International Society of Arboriculture Canadian Research Trust.

"Welcome Week" for new graduate students is beginning -- today is "Info Day" at the Graduate House, and tomorrow there's free breakfast from 10 to 11 a.m.


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