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Monday, March 21, 2011

  • Grad students to mark World Water Day
  • Rules put limits on unpaid work terms
  • Other notes on a mild March Monday
  • Editor:
  • Chris Redmond
  • Communications and Public Affairs

[Sign notes agencies supported by five-day demonstration]

By Friday afternoon the five students living temporarily under the science overpass — Sudhershi Kularatnam, Ameesha Isaac, Thivaher Paramsothy, Arjun Dhingra and Arwin Dhingra — had raised $675 for two local shelters. Their goal: $1,000 by the time the short-term experience of homelessness finished on the weekend. “One thing that’s been incredible to see is the generosity of the community,” Paramsothy told an Imprint interviewer as the week went on. Photo by Paul Agotici.

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Grad students to mark World Water Day

a release from the media relations office

Graduate students at Wilfrid Laurier University and the University of Waterloo will mark World Water Day tomorrow with a day-long celebration that includes talks on water science, technology and policy.

In 1992, the United Nations declared March 22 as World Water Day, an international day of observance for the importance of freshwater resources. "Our World Water Day event will highlight university water research and raise awareness about local and global water issues," said James Craig, communications chair of Waterloo’s Water Institute and a professor of civil and environmental engineering.

The day begins at 10:30 a.m. in the Centre for Environmental and Information Technology with networking and opening ceremonies led by David Rudolph, executive director of the Water Institute. Thomas Homer-Dixon, environment professor and chair of global systems at the Balsillie School of International Affairs, will give a keynote address entitled Water, Climate and Energy: Addressing Global Challenges with Local Resilience.

Following lunch, a graduate student research fair will be held featuring research seminars and poster presentations. There will also be more than 25 exhibitors attending the event, including local government, community groups and industry.

"Given that Canada has nine per cent of global freshwater resources, hosting collaborative events like World Water Day is an important step towards the sustainable management of water," said graduate student organizer Jana Tondu.

The day will end with closing ceremonies at 4 p.m., followed by food and refreshments at the Grad House at 5:00 p.m. The event is sponsored and organized by the Water Institute, Students of the Water Institute Graduate Section (SWIGS), Laurier Institute for Water Science and Laurier Cold Regions Research Centre.

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Rules put limits on unpaid work terms

New guidelines about unpaid work terms for co-op students were issued "earlier this term" to students who needed to know about them, a memo from the co-operative education department announces.

"As a rule," the memo points out, "Waterloo co-op students must receive some substantive remuneration in order to be granted credit for their co-op work terms. This is inherent in the University’s accreditation through the Canadian Association for Co-operative Education. The concept of paid co-op work has actually defined Waterloo’s program since the founding of the University." (For example, according to figures for the calendar year 2010, the average weekly pay for a co-op student in his or her third work term was $505 in applied health sciences, $693 in engineering and $724 in mathematics.)

Says the memo from co-op: "However, rare or unusual circumstances may warrant a decision to approve an unpaid co-op job for credit that does not strictly adhere to the guidelines."

Rocco Fondacaro, the department's director of student and faculty relations, says that “we had been experiencing an increase in the number of situations involving unpaid employment, which exposed inconsistencies and differential treatment of students by employers.” For example, there were cases where for-profit employers had students working unpaid on one term, but paid during the term before and after. Other cases had unpaid students working side by side with students who were paid.

"To combat the problem, new, more comprehensive guidelines for unpaid jobs were created." The department notes that "many stakeholders", including Federation of Students representatives and faculty members, "contributed to and reviewed the guidelines," which are in effect for off-campus jobs beginning with the spring 2011 term and for on-campus jobs beginning with the fall term. 

The guidelines allow unpaid work terms in certain situations for "humanitarian, NGO or charitable organizations" and "pre-identified clinical, medical and research settings where it is not the practice to pay students". In addition, "Verifiable jobs in international locations where not paying students is the prevailing market and/or cultural norm will be approved. . . . On a one-time basis, start-ups, new ventures, or financially struggling employers may request in advance of posting to substitute traditional pay by an alternate form of remuneration." In addition, "Students will receive credit without pay when they are engaged in their own entrepreneurial ventures under the auspices of a uWaterloo initiative or program."

There are strict conditions on all those exceptions, and unpaid work terms have to be approved by the co-op department. The guidelines emphasize that "it is not acceptable for a student to forego remuneration in exchange for 'the value of the experience'."

Says the memo: “Our hope is that these will help to maintain a healthy and strong respect for our co-op students and the work they do.”

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Other notes on a mild March Monday

The Centre for Teaching Excellence has put out a call for faculty and staff to submit research proposals to the 2010-11 Learning Initiatives Fund (LIF) and Program Initiatives Fund (PIF). Nicola Simmons of CTE explains that LIF grants support “projects that study instructional initiatives and/or the creation of new learning resources at the course level”, while PIF grants fund “projects about program development or renewal. In each case, the focus is on enhancement of student learning.” There will be three levels of project funding: up to $5,000, up to $10,000, and up to $15,000. Both faculty and staff are encouraged to submit proposals, either individually or in teams. Proposals are due May 30. Funding from these grants in past years, Simmons says, “has supported improvements to teaching and learning at the University of Waterloo. Descriptions of some of these have appeared in numerous publications and presentations, including at our Opportunities and New Directions conference and its corresponding publication, Opportunities and New Directions: Canadian Scholarship of Teaching and Learning. Anyone interested in collecting evidence on how instructional or curriculum initiatives enhance student learning is encouraged to apply!” For more information, she’s at ext. 32940. Formal information about applications is online, along with news of workshops and question-and-answer sessions that applicants are encouraged to attend.

Here's something that doesn't happen every year: a chance for staff members to elect one of their representatives to the university's board of governors. (There are two staff seats on the board; representatives serve for three-year terms.) Says a memo from the university secretariat: "As of April 30, 2011 Drew Knight (Office of Research) will complete his term as staff representative to the Board of Governors. Nominations are requested for one member of the full-time staff to be elected by/from the full-time staff members of the university, term May 1, 2011 to April 30, 2014. Nomination forms are available from the Secretariat (ext. 36125) and from the Secretariat webpage. At least five nominators are required in each case. Nominations should be sent to the Secretariat, Needles Hall, Room 3060, no later than 3:00 p.m., Friday, April 8, 2011. An election will follow if necessary."

The news from Japan continues grim — nuclear reactors still out of control, even as cleanup from the earthquake and tsunami continues, with estimates of the dead well into five figures. As part of worldwide support for those affected by the disasters, the Konnichiwa Japan Club has announced a donation drive that's expected to start this week. Club members will be in the Student Life Centre both Wednesday and Thursday accepting contributions. "We will be folding paper cranes for those who donate," writes club member Tian Lei, "as it is a symbol of hope for those affected by the quake." Meanwhile, more Waterloo connections with Japan are being identified. The Centre for Extended Learning says there are three students living in Japan who take online courses from Waterloo. At last report, staff had made direct contact with two of them and learned that they're fine.

The top ten proposals in the "i3 Challenge", which invites students to suggest ways of improving the University Avenue entrance to campus, have been posted online for public viewing and feedback. "This forum will stay open until the end of the month," writes Steve Krysak of the environment faculty, who's helping to manage the project, "at which point teams will make their second submission and be culled down to the final four. Right now the proposals are being reviewed by our technical committee who are providing valuable feedback to the teams. We'd love to hear what the Waterloo community hears as well."

The annual Ontario University Students Chinese Proficiency Competition was held at McMaster University on March 11, and Waterloo student Anushervon Saidmuradov came home the
champion. He'll participate in the final round competition in China this summer on behalf of Canada. Two other Waterloo students, Kirill Erokhin and Jocob Marchel, also won prizes in the Ontario event, making it the fourth time in the past five years that Waterloo students have taken such honours, Yan Li of Renison University College reports.

And . . . "Do you have opinions about changes to your community?" asks Samantha Daniel, project manager for the Propel Centre for Population Health Impact. She says a research team headed by David Hammond of health studies and gerontology "needs your help for a one-hour study about city planning and healthy lifestyles in the Waterloo Region. You will be asked to read materials and answer a few short questionnaires. All information will be kept confidential. Volunteers will receive a free meal during the study, as well as $20 for participation. Participants must be at least 18 years of age and must be able to read and speak English. This study has received clearance through the Office of Research Ethics." Enquiries: phone ext. 36525.


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Link of the day

Spring equinoxNowruz

When and where

Architecture student co-op job interviews in Cambridge March 21-23. Rankings open March 24-25, match results March 29.

Free tax clinic for students and others, run by trained students from School of Accounting and Finance, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., Student Life Centre multipurpose room, no appointment necessary. Details.

Career workshop: “Careers Beyond Academia” 12:00, Tatham Centre room 2218. Details.

Engineering Design Symposium Week: mechatronics engineering projects, Monday 1:00 to 5:00; electrical and computer engineering, Wednesday 9:30 to 8:00; nanotechnology engineering and software engineering, Friday 9:30 to 6:00; systems design engineering, March 28, 10:30 to 5:00, Davis Centre.

Library workshop: “Journal Impact Factor, H-Index and More” 1:30, Flex Lab, Dana Porter Library. Details.

Spoken word artist  Carlos Andrés Gómez, marking UN Day for Elimination of Racial Discrimination: workshop 2:00, great hall, Student Life Centre; performance 8:00, Hawk’s Nest, Wilfrid Laurier University, tickets $5.

Health Informatics Club networking event, “Careers in Health Informatics and eHealth” 4:00, Communitech Hub, Kitchener. Register.

Croatian author Slavenka Drakulic reads from her most recent work, 8:00, CEIT building room 1015, reception and book signing to follow.

Waterloo Centre for Advancement of Cooperative Education research seminar: Justin Friesen, department of psychology, “Do Co-op Job Ads Include Gender Stereotyped Language?” Tuesday 12:30, Tatham Centre room 2218.

‘Racism on Campus’ panel discussion sponsored by Federation of Students, Tuesday 3:00 to 5:00, Student Life Centre multipurpose room.

Institute of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology seminar: Robert Dawson, University of Guelph, “Variants of Cardiac Action in Heart Disease” Tuesday 3:30, Chemistry 2 room 361.

Health services and other departments present David Wright, psychiatrist on staff, “Impact of Trauma: PTSD and Other Consequences” Wednesday 8:30 a.m., Math and Computer room 4061, RSVP ext. 36274.

Federation of Students annual general meeting Wednesday 12:00, Student Life Centre great hall. Details.

Co-op Students of the Year Award ceremony Wednesday 1:00, Tatham Centre room 2218.

First Robotics Canada competition for high school students, Thursday-Saturday, Physical Activities Complex. Details.

Jewish Studies lecture: Jacob Wright, Emory University, and David Novak, University of Toronto, “Must a Jew Be a Zionist to Be a Good Jew?” Thursday 7:30 p.m., Siegfried Hall, St. Jerome’s University.

PhD oral defences

Planning. Catherine Anne McAllister, “Where Have All the Children Gone? Community, Nature and the Child Friendly City.” Supervisor, Stephen Murphy. On display in the faculty of environment, EV1 335. Oral defence Friday, April 1, 1:30 p.m., Environment 2 room 2006.

Electrical and computer engineering. Patrick Longa, “High-Speed Elliptic Curve and Pairing-Based Cryptography.” Supervisor, Catherine H. Gebotys. On display in the faculty of engineering, PHY 3004. Oral defence Tuesday, April 5, 9:00 a.m., Engineering 2 room 1307G.

Systems design engineering. Thomas Uchida, “Real-Time Dynamic Simulation of Constrained Multibody Systems Using Symbolic Computation.” Supervisor, John McPhee. On display in the faculty of engineering, PHY 3004. Oral defence Tuesday, April 5, 2:00 p.m., Engineering 5 room 6006.

Health studies and gerontology. Sarah Viehbeck, “Interaction and Linkage in the Canadian Tobacco Control Community: Implications for the Research Process.” Supervisor, Paul McDonald. On display in the faculty of applied health sciences, BMH 3110. Oral defence Wednesday, April 6, 1:00 p.m., Matthews Hall room 3119.

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