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Daily Bulletin

University of Waterloo | Waterloo, Ontario, Canada

Thursday, April 30, 1998

  • No plan for a pop partnership
  • About hiring 'casual' staff
  • A Boston Marathon correction
  • Voice mail's back, but UW is quiet
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No plan for a pop partnership

[Coke poster] Some people think UW should sign a big-money "exclusive agreement" with a soft drink company, but there are good reasons not to, says Bud Walker, director of business operations.

"Many think we should get one of those deals," said Walker in an interview for next week's Gazette. The University of British Columbia signed an exclusive agreement with Coke giving the school $1 million per year for ten years. The University of Alberta and McMaster University have followed in its footsteps.

Although widely viewed as philanthropic, the agreements are really just business arrangements, said Walker. As a result of its promise to sell only the products of one soft drink manufacturer, a university must increase revenues through higher prices, bigger drink sizes, and more vending machines. The company enjoying exclusive privileges takes over the business from all other suppliers -- for example, the Coke product contract includes Sprite, Fresca, Canada Dry, C-Plus, A&W, Fruitopia, Five Alive, Minute Maid, Nestea, Volvic bottled water, and Powerade. "That's every cold beverage except milk, even bottled water."

In turn, the beverage company commits a certain portion of the increased sales to the university. "But Coke doesn't hand out $1 million per year to everyone," explained Walker. "Payouts are based on sales targets being met, and some of those targets are pretty aggressive."

And the extra income translates to an additional drain on students' pocketbooks, often in the form of price increases in a range of food and beverage operations. Since the beverage company increases the wholesale price the university pays for the product, and since the retail price must remain relatively competitive with off-campus sources, "the food operations' gross margin -- the difference between the retail and wholesale price -- shrinks," said Walker. "They have to make up the difference by increasing food and beverage prices. In my view, you're really just charging a hidden fee to students."

He said UW officials looked at the arrangement two years ago, "and decided complete exclusivity was not a good thing".

Food services does have an exclusive five-year carbonated beverage agreement with Coke at the moment, but "it's up to us what we charge," he said. "We're not willing to give up more control than that."

About hiring 'casual' staff

"We have recently reviewed the procedures for paying casual employees," says a memo from Sandie Hurlburt in the human resources department -- and I hasten to explain that "casual" refers not to anybody's work ethic, but to the status of people who work on a one-time or intermittent basis and get paid by the hour.

"We are receiving forms which are incomplete and this may delay payment of employees," says Hurlburt's memo, which was sent to all department heads and administrative assistants. It goes on to explain how the Casual Earnings Form is supposed to be filled out, with tough questions like address, Social Insurance Number and the number of hours worked. ("These details must all be completed to comply with Employment Insurance regulations.")

The casual payroll is run every other Friday, and cheques can be picked up Friday afternoons at the payroll office or mailed to the individual's home address.

"Please note," the memo adds, "that if your department receives an invoice for services rendered," there may be two ways to pay it: through the casual payroll if the invoice doesn't include Goods and Services Tax, through a "request for payment" or "request for cheque" form if GST is included.

A Boston Marathon correction

I said in this Bulletin the other day that applied math student Jeff Irwin had run the Boston Marathon on April 20, and I also said his finishing time was 3 hours 4 minutes 44 seconds. Stephen Drew of the UW cross-country running team, who has a natural interest in these things, writes to correct me gently: "I checked the database and found that the time you posted was actually Jeff's 40K split, not his finishing time, although I'm sure he won't mind!" The length of a marathon, it says here, is actually 42.2 kilometres.

Drew writes further: "His true finishing time (which I believe is classed as the time elapsed from the firing of the start gun to the moment when the athlete crosses the finish line) was 3:16:11, whereas his net time was 3:15:33 (I think this is the time from the start line to finish line -- the difference exists because of the 11,000 participants at the start).

"Incidentally, Jeff placed 2,504th overall, 2,343rd among male competitors, and 1,523rd within his age group. As for his placing among fellow Canadians, the database is unwilling to divulge that information for the time being."

Voice mail's back, but UW is quiet

One of my colleagues went out for lunch yesterday and came back marvelling at how the campus was a ghost town. The lull won't last long -- the crowds are on their way back, as the spring term starts Monday (classes in all faculties, registration in Needles Hall, cafeterias reopening).

At least the telephones are getting back to normal. The voice mail system crashed Tuesday night, in the middle of what was supposed to be minor upgrading work, and technicians are still repairing things. "The mailboxes are being put back as fast as possible," says Ginny Polai of telephone services. Memo to voice mail users: if your mailbox is there but doesn't recognize your password, the password has been reset to be the same as your extension number (and you should change it right away to something more private).

The phone outage affected not just voice mailboxes, but the "automated attendant" that answers calls to UW at 888-4567. Calls to that number were transferred to the live switchboard number, 885-1211, which made for a busy Wednesday at the console with hundreds of extra calls to handle. Bell Canada technicians got 888-4567 back in operation about 7:00 last night.

New URL for Bulletin

You can now find this Daily Bulletin with a shorter, simpler URL -- that's Uniform Resource Locator. The old URL will continue to work, but from now on the URL we'll be listing is
Even with the phones ringing, today should be another quiet day on campus, with people in many departments locking the doors to get on with end-of-year inventory. The graphics copy centres will close from noon on, with some of them reopening at 4:40 p.m. In the "main graphics" area in the General Services Complex, customer service will be open all day, but all other areas will close as of 11 a.m. The bookstore and other retail services outlets are open today, but closed Friday and Saturday.

The Student Services Network Group will meet this afternoon -- from 1:30 to 4:00 -- in Environmental Studies I room 221. On the program: updates from many of UW's student service areas, a roundtable discussion and "year-end wrap-up", and maybe a little socializing.

The InfraNet Project today presents Malcolm Roberts and two colleagues from the "distributed learning and performance support" unit at the Bank of Montreal, speaking on "Trends in Technology-Based Learning -- Experiences at the Bank of Montreal". "This presentation examines the ever-increasing pace of knowledge growth and provides the context for the 'nano-second' development environment," a notice says. The talk starts at 2:30 in Davis Centre room 1302, and all are welcome, but registering in advance is recommended (ext. 5611).

Time is running out for art-lovers to see the MFA thesis exhibitions by two of UW's fine arts graduate students, Sonesay Bouphasiry and Christopher Stones. Their exhibitions, both in East Campus Hall, will close tomorrow.


Editor of the Daily Bulletin: Chris Redmond
Information and Public Affairs, University of Waterloo
credmond@uwaterloo.ca | (519) 888-4567 ext. 3004
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