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Thursday, March 24, 2011

  • Students take refugee rights onstage
  • Disaster class's gift to Japan; more notes
  • Editor:
  • Chris Redmond
  • Communications and Public Affairs

[Makahnouk in green hard hat]

Back on the job as president of the Graduate Student Association, it's Mike Makahnouk, who has been elected to lead the GSA for a year that begins May 1. He headed a field of three presidential candidates, the GSA has announced. Makahnouk was also the association's president in 2005-06, when he was a master's student in chemistry; he's now working on a PhD in earth and environmental sciences. "I am truly blessed to be joined by an executive that has tremendous potential," he said this week. They include Mahdi Safa of civil and environmental engineering, elected vice-president (internal); Joshua J. Armstrong of health studies and gerontology, elected VP (communications); Krista-Lee Mathias, also of HS&G, acclaimed VP (student advocacy); and Hassan Nasir, the 2010-11 president, acclaimed as VP (external).

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Students take refugee rights onstage

a news release from Conrad Grebel University College

For five senior Peace and Conflict Studies students, learning about refugee claimants in Canada is a journey that is leading them from the classroom to the theatre as they prepare to perform their culminating project, “Open? A Story of Refugee Claimants in Canada”, on stage at the Conrad Centre for the Performing Arts on April 1.

Katie Cowie, Jessica Reesor Rempel, Michelle Van Rassel, and Kimberlee Walker originally developed the play in the fall of 2010 as part of a third-year PACS course. In January, the group decided to expand and develop the performance as their final thesis for their Peace and Conflict Studies degrees, and asked fellow student Rebecca Steiner to come on board as director.

To extend the impact of their work even further, the group offered to perform the play as a fundraiser for the Mennonite Coalition for Refugee Support, the only organization in Waterloo Region dedicated to serving refugee claimants. To support the event, the use of the Conrad Centre was donated by the KW Symphony.

Reesor Rempel and Walker regularly volunteer with MCRS, and have built relationships with a number of refugee claimants living in the community. “We want our refugee claimant friends to know that we have heard their stories and we are trying hard to understand what they may be thinking, feeling and struggling with as they go through the claimant process,” says Walker.

Reesor Rempel agrees. “Normally, when I am working on a school project, I want to do well so I will earn a certain grade. Here the stakes are so much higher. We want to present this issue in the most accurate and authentic way we can because we feel accountable to our refugee claimant friends.” As Cowie explains it, the play “puts a human face to political debates, and really challenges people to reflect on how their attitudes, and the policies of Canada actually affect individual lives.”

A panel discussion following the performance involves the group’s academic supervisor, immigration history professor Marlene Epp, as well as Kitchener-based refugee lawyer Stephen Schmidt and MCRS executive director Eunice Valenzuela.

The number to call for tickets or information is (519) 571-1912. All proceeds support the work of MCRS.

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Disaster class's gift to Japan; more notes

[Presentation to Red Cross]Days after the fourth largest earthquake in recorded history struck Japan, triggering a devastating tsunami, students in the “Human Dimensions of Natural Hazards” (Geography 206) class have raised a total of $818.70 for Red Cross relief there. Students in the class, which focuses on how humans can increase or decrease their exposure to hazards and disasters, learned that while Japan is a country with sophisticated earthquake and tsunami detection and warning systems, and a population that is highly aware of hazards, the scale of the tsunami simply overwhelmed preparedness efforts. Tsunami wave heights of up to fifteen metres overtopped protective seawalls, and some evacuation centres, built to provide protection for tsunamis of up to five metres, were inundated. Back-up generators designed to provide emergency cooling for the nuclear power plant reactors were located on the ground and therefore damaged by the tsunami, causing the ongoing cooling crisis. Much of the damage was in low-lying coastal areas, where thousands of people had settled prior to Japan’s modern awareness of tsunami risk. On Tuesday, Lynn Kergan of the Waterloo-Wellington Canadian Red Cross office delivered a guest presentation to the class, after which instructor Brent Doberstein presented the donation (left).

[Multicoloured paper cranes]Meanwhile, members of the Konnichiwa Japan Club will be in "vendor alley" of the Student Life Centre for a second day today, collecting donations for the same cause. "We will be folding origami cranes (right) and distributing pins created by Let Us Volunteer for everyone who has donated," says Mamiko Noguchi, one of the organizers. The club has raised more than $1,000 already, she said. Meanwhile, Ed Chrzanowski of the Computer Science Computing Facility says he's also been involved in an effort to support the Red Cross's work in Japan: "I have been cutting out Japanese cranes from aromatic cedar, basically since I still need more practice folding cranes from paper, and giving them to people who make donations."

Michelle Burlock of the marketing and undergraduate recruitment office is in the air today, en route from Colombia to Ecuador as part of a two-week Latin American tour for people from 17 Canadian universities. “We will be visiting five countries,” she says, mentioning the other three as Costa Rica, Peru and Brazil. “The tour involves individual school visits, college fairs, counsellor workshops and Embassy networking events.” Burlock also sends an update on the "Skills Identification and Resumé Building" workshop that recruitment staff tried out last month in the Caribbean. “We facilitated the 90 minute workshop at one high school in Trinidad and at two high schools in Barbados,” she says. “The response was very positive from both the students and the school administrators. Many of the students commented on their feedback form that they thought that the workshop should be longer, which I always see as a good thing.”

[Yes Yes Yes graphic]

Yes, that's the title of the year-end show of work by fourth-year fine arts students, opening tonight in the East Campus Hall art gallery. The reception runs from 5 to 8 p.m.; the exhibition continues through April 9. "Selected by Ivan Jurakic," the fine arts department says, "the artworks in the exhibition represent a broad spectrum of themes, materials and media representing the range and diversity of work produced by students completing the fine arts undergraduate program."

Chemistry and biochemistry students from across Ontario will gather at Waterloo's campus on Saturday for the Southern Ontario Undergraduate Student Chemistry Conference. "This annual event brings 150 students from different universities together to discuss their fourth-year research projects," says Amanda Bongers, president of Chem Club and one of the organizers for SOUSCC 2011. The day begins at 9 a.m. with opening remarks from Terry McMahon, dean of science, and John Honek, chair of the chemistry department. The students will then spend much of the day presenting their projects to adjudicators who will be judging their work. Adjudicators include faculty members, chemistry alumni, and representatives from industry. The conference will be followed by a banquet at the University Club with remarks by chemistry professor Jean Duhamel and awards for exceptional presentations. “The Canadian Society of Chemistry has generously provided monetary awards for some of our prize winners," says Bongers. "Each winner will also receive a certificate that includes an image of an element from the Chem13 News Periodic Table Project in celebration of the International Year of Chemistry.”

Earth Day is coming in late April, as it always does, but the university’s food services is getting a head start. “In support of Earth Day,” writes marketing coordinator Heather Kelly, “we are running a promotion in all our outlets to encourage everyone on campus to use a ‘lug-a-mug’ for their hot beverages. From March 21 to April 21, lug your mug to any Food Services outlet on campus for an extra 5-cent discount — add that to the usual discount of 10 cents for a total of 15 cents off your favourite hot beverage. This is an easy way to reduce waste in our landfills and show that our campus cares about sustainable practices. Additionally, we are randomly giving away our branded lug-a-mugs during this time to show our support of re-usable mug use and to encourage more people to take advantage of the discount after this promotion is over!”

And finally a word from Joshua Joseph, who heads theActive and Community Transportation” arm of the student-run University of Waterloo Sustainability Project: "A current student-led initiative, interesting in bringing a bicycle share system to the University of Waterloo, has already received attention from City of Waterloo mayor Brenda Halloran, The Record, and over 600 students, faculty, and staff. The aim is simple: to educate people about the many benefits of cycling, and to call for the university to explore the feasibility of implementing a bicycle share system, while collaborating with other stakeholders who might have an interest in this project. There are a variety of ways you can support this initiative. As a student, please consider signing their petition (faculty, staff, and the general public can sign too). As a UW staff or faculty member, please consider expressing your support in a formal letter. As Canada’s most innovative university, it is crucial that Waterloo provides sustainable transportation choices to students, staff, and faculty while setting a precedent for sustainability across the globe.”


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Library readies exam hours

With the winter term exam season approaching, the library has announced its extended hours, in effect March 27 through April 21. The Davis Centre library will be open 24 hours a day, except closed Sundays 2 to 8 a.m. The Dana Porter Library will be open 8 a.m. to 2 a.m. every day. Service desks will close at the usual time (11 p.m. in Porter, midnight in Davis) but attendants will be present in both libraries for security purposes.

Link of the day

World TB Day

When and where

Architecture student co-op job rankings open Thursday-Friday, match results Tuesday.

Accelerator Centre “graduation” celebration for two firms, ClevrU and Tangam Systems, 9:30 a.m., Communitech Hub, Kitchener.

First Robotics Canada competition for high school students, Physical Activities Complex: practice rounds Thursday 10 to 5; seeding matches Friday 9:30 to 4:30 and Saturday morning; finals Saturday 1 to 4. Details.

Pink Day coffee break fund-raiser for breast cancer research, 10:00, Needles Hall room 1021, with raffle on gift basket.

Career workshops: “Interview Skills, Selling Your Skills” 10:30, Tatham Centre room 1208; “Thinking About Law” 12:30, Tatham room 112; “Preparing for the LSAT” 1:30, Tatham 1112; “Getting a US Work Permit” 4:30, Tatham 1208. Details.

Centre for Teaching Excellence workshop:”Documenting Your Teaching for Tenure and Promotion” 11:45, Flex Lab, Dana Porter Library. Details.

Recitals by music students today and Monday-Wednesday, 12:30 p.m., Conrad Grebel UC chapel, free admission.

Water Institute seminar: Steve Hrudey, University of Alberta, “The Environmental and Health Impacts of Canada’s Oil Sands” 1:30, Rod Coutts Hall room 112.

Religious studies lecture: Jacob Wright, Emory University, “Heroic Death in the Ancient Near East and the Hebrew Bible” 2:00, PAS building room 2438.

Novelist Nino Ricci, winner of Governor General’s Award, lectures in Italian Studies 292, 2:30, St. Jerome’s University room 2017.

School of Computer Science Distinguished Lecture: Joe Marks, Disney Research, “Research at the Walt Disney Company” 4:15, Theatre of the Arts.

German Research Today: Magda Stroinska, McMaster University, “The Second Displacement: L2 Attrition and Loss in Aging Immigrants” 5:00, Tatham Centre room 2218.

‘Exploring the Cosmos from the Moon’ Faculty of Science lecture by Jack Burns, Dark Ages Radio Explorer telescope project, 6:30, Optometry room 1129.

Cooking Show event with David Evans, executive chef at Gordon Food Service, sponsored by food services, 7:00, Student Life Centre great hall, registration through dons.

Fine Arts Film Society showing of “The Tit and the Moon” (Spain, 1994) 7:00, East Campus Hall room 1220.

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

‘Gasland’ free film screening 7:30, Princess Café, Waterloo, sponsored by WPIRG’s Cinema Politica.

FeFe Dobson at the Bombshelter pub, Student Life Centre, doors open 8 p.m., advance tickets at Federation of Students office.

Centre for Family Business, based at Conrad Grebel UC , breakfast seminar, “THe Story of Cox Creek Cellars and Kamil Juices” Friday 7 a.m., Bingemans Conference Centre.

Information systems and technology professional development seminar: “Drupalcon Highlights” Friday 9:00, IST seminar room.

Engineering Design Symposium Week: nanotechnology engineering and software engineering, Friday 9:30 to 6:00; systems design engineering, Monday 10:30 to 5:00, Davis Centre.

Student Conference on International Development: “Taking More than Pictures: Conversations About Volunteerism” Friday 10:00 to 4:00, St. Paul’s U College. Register.

Premier Dalton McGuinty speaks on “Ontario’s Plan for Jobs and Growth” at luncheon sponsored by Stratford and District Chamber of Commerce and Waterloo Stratford campus, Friday 11:30, Festival Inn, Stratford, tickets 519-273-5250.

Knowledge Integration seminar: Darren Meister, University of Western Ontario, “How Integrative Thinking Gets You in Trouble and Valued” Friday 2:30, Environment 2 room 2002.

Philosophy colloquium: Monique Deveaux, University of Guelph, “When Is Sufficiency Not Enough?” Friday 3:30, Humanities room 373.

A cappella end-of-term concerts featuring AcaBellas, Unaccompanied Minors, Water Boys, UW Ensemble, Friday and Saturday 7:30, Theatre of the Arts, tickets $5 at Federation of Students office or at the door.

Earth Hour “turn it off” observations Saturday 6 to 10 p.m., Student Life Centre, sponsored by UW Sustainability Project; performances, bake sale, crafts, movies; lights off 8:30 to 9:30.

PhD oral defences

Computer science. Martin Talbot, “Spatial Auditory Maps for Blind Travelers.” Supervisors, Bill Cowan and Richard Mann. On display in the faculty of mathematics, MC 5090. Oral defence Thursday, April 7, 1:30 p.m., Davis Centre room 1331.

Civil and environmental engineering. Tianjin Cheng, “Stochastic Renewal Process Models for Maintenance Cost Analysis.” Supervisors, Mahesh Pandey and Wei-Chau Xie. On display in the faculty of engineering, PHY 3004. Oral defence Thursday, April 7, 2:30 p.m., Engineering 2 room 1307G.

Electrical and computer engineering. Mohamed Mohamed Elsalih Abdelsalam Mahmoud, “Efficient Packet-Drop Thwarting and User-Privacy Preserving Protocols for Multi-Hop Wireless Networks.” Supervisor, Sherman X. Shen. On display in the faculty of engineering, PHY 3004. Oral defence Friday, April 8, 10:00 a.m., CEIT building room 3142.

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