Monday, February 4, 2008

  • The relative calm after the storm
  • Learning — something to cuddle with
  • Notes about three major events
  • Student peace event coming to Grebel
  • Editor:
  • Chris Redmond
  • Communications and Public Affairs

Concrete toboggan team triumphs

UW’s team has come home with a victory from the 2008 Great Northern Concrete Toboggan Race, held at week’s end at the Université de Sherbrooke in eastern Québec.

The UW entry, Waterloo911, placed first overall (out of 24 teams) in the four-day competition and won awards for best technical report, best technical exhibit, and best aesthetics — which team member Duncan Young, a fourth-year civil engineering student, explains as meaning “best uniforms on and off the hill”. The team is composed of fourth and third year civil engineering students.

Link of the day

International Networking Week

When and where

Career workshops: “Successfully Negotiating Job Offers” 3:30, “Work Search Strategies: Special Session for International Students” 4:30, both in Tatham Centre room 1208, registration online.

Engineering alumni in San Francisco reception at 2008 International Solid State Circuits conference, 5:30 to 7:30, San Francisco Marriott, details online.

Louise Fréchette, former Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations, now at Centre for International Governance Innovation, speaks 7:30 p.m., Maureen Forrester Recital Hall, Wilfrid Laurier University, admission free.

Midnight Sun solar car team featured on Discovery Channel’s “Mean Green Machines”, tonight 9:30.

Exchange opportunities for engineering students, information session Tuesday 11:30, Rod Coutts Hall room 207, details online.

Biology brown bag seminar: UW International Genetically Engineered Machines Team, Tuesday 12:30 p.m., Rod Coutts Hall room 305.

UW board of governors Tuesday 2:30, CEIT room 3142.

Laurel Centre for Social Entrepreneurship presents Charyle Rose, Canadian Alliance for Community Service-Learning, “Can University Students Change the World?” Tuesday 4:30, Arts Lecture Hall room 116.

Centre for International Governance Innovation presents Sven Biscop, Royal Institute for International Relations, Belgium, “The EU and the European Security Strategy”, Tuesday 7:00, 57 Erb Street West.

Job Fair hosted by UW and three other institutions, Wednesday 10:00 to 3:00, RIM Park, Waterloo, details online.

Perimeter Institute presents science journalist Michael Belfiore, “Rocketeers: How a Visionary Band of Business Leaders, Engineers and Pilots Is Boldly Privatizing Space” Wednesday 7:00 p.m., Waterloo Collegiate Institute, free tickets 519-883-4480.

Technical speaker competition for engineering students, sponsored by Sandford Fleming Foundation, Thursday 12:30 p.m., Doug Wright Engineering room 2534, information ext. 37554.

UW Choir auditions for soloists Thursday evening; sign up at music office, Conrad Grebel room 1302; performance of "Israel in Egypt" is Sunday, April 6.

'Differ/End: The Caledonia Project' researched and relived by UW drama department students, February 7-9 and 14-16 at 7:00, Studio 180, Humanities building, tickets $12 (students $10) at Humanities box office.

FASS 2008: "Global Warming: Kiss Your FASS Goodbye" February 7 and 9 at 8:00, February 8 at 7:00 and 10:00, Humanities Theatre, tickets $7 Thursday, $9 Friday and Saturday from Humanities box office, 519-888-4908.

Ski and snowboard trip to Blue Mountain, sponsored by Federation of Students and other groups, Friday, tickets from athletics office, Physical Activities Complex.

Class enrolment appointments for spring term undergraduate courses February 11-16; open enrolment begins February 19.

Employee Assistance Program brown-bag lunch: “Quitting Smoking, Useful Guidance for the Serious, Curious and Furious”, with Paul McDonald, health studies and gerontology, Tuesday, February 12, 12:00 noon, Davis Centre room 1302.

School of Pharmacy applications for 2009 admission due February 15 (deadline moved from January 31).

Fantastic Alumni, Faculty and Staff Day at Warrior men’s basketball game vs. Windsor Lancers, Saturday, February 16, 3:00, Physical Activities Complex, prizes, admission free with preregistration.

Master of Business, Entrepreneurship and Technology program information session for future students, Thursday, February 28, 4:00, 295 Hagey Boulevard suite 240.

The relative calm after the storm

Regrouping and rescheduling are the order of the day, following Friday's snowstorm and campus closing, with the cancellation of classes and events. There's no word yet, for example, on a new date for the Benjamin Eby Lecture by theologian James Reimer that was to be held Friday night at Conrad Grebel University College. And it will be interesting to see how many instructors decide to hold class sessions this Saturday, as they're authorized to do, to make up for Friday's lost time.

The university closed because the schools closed; an early-morning decision by the Waterloo Region District School Board to shut its schools county-wide is presumed to be based on detailed knowledge of weather and road conditions, and is a pretty good predictor of what things are going to be like in the course of a winter day. In Friday's case, the worst snow actually came at midday — and closings weren't limited to Waterloo Region, either, with the University of Guelph, McMaster University and the University of Toronto all shutting down.

As Friday's Daily Bulletin noted, a slightly amended version of UW's storm closing rules has just been approved by Executive Council and posted online by the university secretariat. Its provisions are pretty much the same as in the previous guidelines, with some new words recognizing the likelihood that weather conditions can vary from one place to another in what's now a three-campus university.

Here's the first and most important paragraph: "UW (and its Federated University and Affiliated Colleges) will 'close' because of severe weather when normal operation would pose a significant danger to students, staff and faculty, or would prevent large numbers of them from coming to campus or returning safely to their homes. Such a decision will be made by the Provost in consultation with as many of the following as can be reached: the Director of Police & Parking Services, Director of Communications & Public Affairs, Director of Custodial & Grounds Services. UW campuses in the K-W area (including Cambridge) will close automatically when the Waterloo Region District School Board closes all its schools."

"Closed", the document says, means that "classes are not held; meetings and other scheduled events are cancelled; scheduled examinations are cancelled, to be rescheduled; deadlines for assignments and other submissions are postponed until the same hour on the next business day on which UW is not 'closed'; staff, other than those providing 'essential services,' are not expected to be at work, but are paid for a normal day. . . .

"When UW does not close in inclement weather , faculty, staff and students are reminded that they are responsible for determining when weather conditions make their travel unsafe and should consider public transportation because it may well be the safest option and cleared parking spaces may be in short supply."

The deadline for Distinguished Teacher Award nominations, which was to be Friday, has been postponed to today. So has the deadline for ordering Keystone Campaign Treat-a-grams for delivery on Valentine's Day.

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Learning — something to cuddle with

As Valentine's Day approaches, there may be lovers on campus who can do without chocolates and lace, but it's hard to live the university life without the longest-lasting passion of them all: the love of learning.

"Even if you don't have that significant someone to cuddle up with," says one student, "I hope you take me seriously when I say this: at least find company in your love for the greatest pastime you'll ever know — learning." Hers was one of the messages made public when UW celebrated Loving to Learn Day on Valentine's in 2006, and this campus has so much love to give that the event is being brought back, this year on February 15.

[Loving to Learn logo]"Loving to Learn Day is an opportunity for everyone and anyone to share their reflections about their love of learning," says Mark Morton, who was with the Centre for Learning and Teaching Through Technology when the event got started, and is now with its successor, the Centre for Teaching Excellence.

First established at UW in 2006, though organizers skipped last year because of the pressure of other work, Loving to Learn Day "quickly caught on at other institutions", Morton says. The University of Manitoba was involved from the first time round, and 2008 participants will include the University of Windsor and British Columbia's Kwantlen University College.

Says the CTE web site: "The organizers of Loving to Learn Day (which occurs on February 15, the day after Valentine’s) invite you to write a paragraph describing the one thing you’ve been most glad to learn over the past year, and why. It might relate to a class you’ve taken, a book you’ve read, a kernel of wisdom you’ve acquired from a grandparent, a hard-won insight into yourself or a relationship, something you noticed or realized as you were walking down the street — anything is valid, as long as you loved to learn it, and as long as you explain why.

Your paragraph can be as short as 75 words or as long as 300. We’ll read them all, publish a bunch of them on this website on February 15, and award a book prize to the best submission in four different categories: Submissions written by members of a university or college community (that is, anyone who studies, teaches, or works at a post-secondary institution); Submissions written by anyone in the community at large (that is, any adult not currently connected with a post-secondary institution); Submissions written by high school students; Submissions written by students in elementary school or junior high.

"Email your entry by Wednesday, February 13 to . Be sure to include your full name and the category to which you belong. Prizes have been sponsored in part by the University of Waterloo Bookstore."

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Notes about three major events

Gradfest 2008 takes place today in the Student Life Centre — “a one-day expo that brings together the services on campus that you have come to know over your time here, except this time, the services have graduates in mind. Find out what your alma mater has to offer you after you’ve walked the stage and received your hard–earned degree.” Information booths from the likes of health services, career services and alumni affairs will be open from 10:00 to 4:00 in the great hall, and presentations will take place in various SLC locations, such as talks at 11:30 and 1:30 about the nitty-gritty of student loan repayment. Details are on a special web site. The day winds up with a reception for soon-to-graduate students, from 4:30 to 7:00 in the Bombshelter pub (and “Class of 2008 cake” is promised). One other note: “No, Alumni Affairs isn’t here to ask you for money. Come and hear about all of the services that exist on campus that are available to Alumni. Don’t worry, even after you’ve left UW, UW is still working for you. Come and find out about the services and benefits UW offers you after graduation.”

Therapeutic Recreation Awareness Week starts today, and of course is of special interest to students in the recreation program in UW’s faculty of applied health sciences. “During this time,” explains rec student Nicole Colacci, “professionals, faculty members, and students in the field of Therapeutic Recreation aim to increase public awareness of the many benefits therapeutic recreation has to offer.” So she and colleagues will have an information booth on campus — today in the Student Life Centre, Tuesday through Friday in the foyer of Matthews Hall, where the rec department is based. Also planned is a Tuesday evening “Mix & Mingle” event with local TR practitioners. “This year’s Therapeutic Recreation Awareness Week slogan,” a news release explains, “is ‘Believe, Belong, Become’. T.R. practitioners across the province are being encouraged to believe in the value of T.R. as a professional and for their clients; belong to their professional organization and have their clients belong in their neighbourhoods and community; become the best T.R. they can be and have their clients become the best they can be through healthy involvement in leisure. Therapeutic recreation practitioners play a valuable role in promoting well-being for individuals with physical, cognitive, emotional, and/or social limitations.”

And . . . tickets go on sale today for the third annual International Women’s Day Dinner, to be held on Thursday, March 6, from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the University Club. Tickets, $30 apiece, can be bought through the Humanities Theatre box Office (519-888-4908). The theme this year is “women mentoring women,” said Christine Tauer Martin of counselling services, the event’s chairperson. “We are hoping that people will attend the event to celebrate with a mentor, or someone they have mentored.” The event is organized by eight women volunteers from staff and faculty and is open to members of the university community. Attendees will enjoy a three-course Thai-inspired meal, have time to socialize, and hear from two special guests who will share their stories as part of the evening’s program: Emerance Baker, UW's aboriginal services coordinator, and Susan Tighe, Canada Research Chair in Pavement and Infrastructure Management and a professor of civil and environmental engineering. Committee member Linda Mackay, also of Counselling Services, will serve as MC for the evening. As has become the tradition at this celebration, chocolate is guaranteed. The University Club will also have a cash bar open during the event. Seating is limited to 100 so the committee is suggesting people get their tickets as soon as possible. The dinner is supported by Human Resources and Student Services and by the Faculty Association.

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Student peace event coming to Grebel

a news release from Conrad Grebel University College

[Two women with laptop]Leah Reesor and Kara Klassen (right) plan to save the world. The two final-year students are the organizers of the Inter-Collegiate Peace Fellowship conference to be held February 29 to March 2 on the theme “Building Bridges, Breaking Down Barriers: Religion’s Role in Reconciliation.”

More than 50 students from across Canada and the United States are already registered for the conference, which will feature keynote speakers Pastor James Wuye and Imam Muhammad Ashafa of Nigeria, as well as many noted workshop leaders. It's being held in connection with the 30th anniversary of UW's Peace and Conflict Studies program, based at Grebel.

Since 1958, the Inter-Collegiate Peace Fellowship student conference has been hosted at Mennonite and Mennonite-affiliated universities and colleges throughout the United States and Canada. The aims of the ICPF are to promote and inform students on peace issues and to provide a forum for students to build networks and create linkages with other students who share their interest in peacebuilding across North America. Reesor and Klassen have activated a website to promote the event and a Facebook networking group.

Reesor, who is taking a joint major in peace and conflict studies and political science, and who spent an internship term working in Jamaica, had been to an ICPF conference in 2005. She was excited to bring the conference to Conrad Grebel because of Grebel’s unique culture among Mennonite schools, in part because of its affiliation with the larger university and also because of its location in a diverse, multicultural community.

“An important aspect of intercultural relations is learning to deal with differences,” says Reesor. "This requires not just tolerance but understanding. Waterloo has good resources for this. There is a web of connections in the local interfaith movement in the Waterloo area.”

Klassen is a final year student in PACS and social development studies who has lived in Nigeria and Uganda. She was drawn to the theme of the conference and says it will be eye-opening both for students from Mennonite colleges and for those who take multiculturalism for granted. (Registration continues until February 15.) Her own studies of religion and peace-building introduced her to the work of Wuye and Ashafa, and their creative ways of pursuing peace.

James Wuye and Muhammad Ashafa are the co-recipients of the Tanenbaum Peacemaker Award in 2000, and the founders and co-executive directors of the Interfaith Mediation Centre and the Muslim-Christian Dialogue Forum of Kaduna, Nigeria. Former leaders of rival militia, the two men were transformed by readings of the Bible and Koran which encouraged peacemaking and solidarity.

Klassen and Reesor both believe this conference will strongly connect with their future work. Laughing, Klassen says they will “save the world,” but then she describes her plans to work cross-culturally in the field of peace-building. Reesor says she will pursue graduate work in international development.


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Friday's Daily Bulletin