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Tuesday, April 25, 2000

  • Family preferences not allowed
  • Moving policy is under revision
  • New provincial scholarship program
  • The talk of the campus

Family preferences not allowed

Two different law firms have advised UW that the university has no right to give married students and families priority for apartments in the UW Place complex, formerly the Married Student Apartments.

That's the word from Bud Walker, UW's director of business operations, who says the university asked for legal advice about how the Ontario human rights code affects the apartment complex on University Avenue just east of the main campus.

[UWP map] The two towers and four low-rise "courts" were built in 1970 for "married students" -- at one time the housing office wouldn't even let unwed couples apply for leases there. But times have changed, to the point that in recent years many of the one-bedroom and two-bedroom apartments have been rented by groups of single students.

Then last year it was announced that much of the complex would be turned from apartments into single rooms. Construction of suites in place of apartments in the East Tower (now called Beck Hall) is supposed to be finished for September 2000. Then come the North Court of the complex, in September 2001, and the West Tower, in September 2002. That leaves three of the low-rise "courts" with apartment-style space.

Says Walker in a statement this week: "A few years ago we changed the name of Married Students' Apartments to UW Apartments and then later to UW Place. . . . The name change was more representative of the student population that resides in this residence and of course complies with Human Rights Legislation.

"Until recent years there has been little difficulty in guaranteeing accommodation at UWP to specific groups, such as students with families, because there were always available apartments. Demand has evolved to the point where there are often waiting lists for places at UWP. Applicants include students from virtually all student groups. Because of this, Housing obtained legal advice concerning our practice of giving priority to students with children, students with families, married students and students in conjugal relationships. We were advised that the Human Rights code does not allow us to discriminate on the basis of age, marital, family status etc.

"Based upon this opinion and Housing's need to operate within the legislation, we issued a letter to residents at UW Place advising them we were no longer able to give priority to the groups I mentioned above. If we receive more applications than spaces available, then a random selection is done. However, the assignment of units is not done randomly. For example, if a student with a family is offered an apartment, we would assign them to one of our residence buildings that is suitable for family accommodation.

"Housing received a second legal opinion from a firm the University uses for human rights and labour law advice. They confirmed the understanding of the Human Rights code I referred to above. They also confirmed that we could continue to give priority to the following groups (our current practice): first-year U/G, Graduate students, students with scholarships, students with physical disabilities, out of province students and exchange students."

There's been some unhappiness among residents of the complex. Said a report by Susan Bubak in Imprint last month: "Tenants fear that an increase in the single student population at UW Place will have a negative impact on the family-friendly environment. Married students and students with children like the calm atmosphere at UW Place because most of their neighbours are also married and/or have children."

Walker noted that he, along with staff from the housing office, "met with representatives of the UWP residents with families last week, got their views and covered the situation and our thoughts on solutions. As we work through some options over the next few weeks there will be on-going dialogue with various senior administrators, student leaders, and the group of students we met with."

Moving policy is under revision

Proposed changes to UW's Policy 28 are "on view" this week after work by the staff relations committee.

Number 28 isn't exactly one of UW's best-known policies, though it does have one of the longest titles: "Payment of Moving Expenses and Travel Allowances to Newly-Appointed Faculty and Staff Members". It's not the same policy that deals with routine travel expenses for people who already work here -- that would be #31.

A memo from Dianne Scheifele of the university secretariat summarizes the proposed changes to Policy 28:

A copy of the proposed revision of Policy 28 can be found on the web, and printed copies are available upon request (call ext. 2749).

Comments on the proposed changes should be sent to Scheifele in the university secretariat, Needles Hall, by Friday, May 5. She can be reached at ext. 3183, e-mail dscheif@secretariat.

New provincial scholarship program

The Ontario government has announced a new scholarship program "designed to recognize students with top marks", more than 10,000 of them each year.

Said a news release from Dianne Cunningham, minister of training, colleges and universities:

Aiming for the Top Tuition Scholarships . . . will be awarded at high schools in Ontario to students who have achieved the best marks and are going on to college or university. "I am delighted to recognize these hard working students for their outstanding achievement," said Cunningham. "Aiming for the Top Scholarships are part of our Government's commitment to help every willing and motivated student obtain a postsecondary education."

Winners may receive a tuition scholarship worth up to a maximum of $3,500 per year, depending upon their financial need and the amount of their tuition. Students who maintain an 80 per cent average can receive the award for up to four years.

The Ontario Government's initial investment will total more than $8 million. When fully implemented in 2003, the annual investment will be $35 million in scholarships for more than 10,000 students each year. . . .

Students with merit-based scholarships will be able to earn up to $3,500 in scholarships before their Ontario Student Assistance Program (OSAP) loan is affected, ensuring they receive the full benefit of their scholarships. Currently, students have the first $600 of income exempted plus 20 per cent of the balance.

Applications for Aiming for the Top scholarships should be made using the 2000-2001 OSAP application for full-time students. This application is available through the financial aid office at a university or college of applied arts and technology, through high school guidance offices, or on-line. Applications must be made by June 16, 2000.

Christine Cheng, president of UW's Federation of Students, says it appears the scholarships are being funded from part of Ontario's share of the federal Millennium Scholarship funds. Says Cheng: "Since the Millennium Scholarship money will be displacing roughly $77 million worth of current grant money that is already in the system, they have taken $35 million and turned it into Aiming for the Top Scholarships. The question is, what is happening to the other $32 million?"

The new scholarships also sound very much like the Ontario Merit Scholarships that were announced in February 1997 and quietly cancelled in mid-1998.

Still, scholarship money is welcome, as a news release from the Council of Ontario Universities makes clear:

Dr. Paul Davenport, Chair, Council of Ontario Universities (COU), and President of The University of Western Ontario said: "This program is excellent, because it offers students the best of both worlds. It rewards academic excellence while ensuring that the financial needs of a student are also taken into account."

Dr. Davenport also noted the changes that the Government has instituted to allow students to earn more income through scholarships before their Ontario Student Assistance Program loan is affected. "That change in policy just makes good sense. The Government is ensuring that the student is receiving the full benefit of the scholarship," said Dr. Davenport.

Where you can eat

In the week between winter term and spring term, many food services outlets on campus are closed, but here's the word on those that are open for business:
  • Brubaker's in the Student Life Centre, 8:00 to 3:30
  • Pastry Plus in Needles Hall, 8:00 to 3:30
  • Double U's in South Campus Hall, 8:00 to 4:30
  • Tim Horton's in the Davis Centre, 8:00 to 4:00
  • Tim Horton's in Modern Languages, 8:00 to 1:30
And there's one more option: the Right Angle Café, otherwise known as the Math Society coffee and doughnut stand, is open this week from 7:30 to 4:30.

The talk of the campus

Here's a reminder that -- as noted in yesterday's Bulletin -- talk will be interrupted in various UW buildings some time today or tomorrow by the sounding of the fire alarm. Scheduled for this morning: PAS, HH, ML, ES I and II, NH, and BMH. This afternoon: E2, E3, CPH, DWE, SCH, SLC and OPT.

Among the few scheduled events today is a morning-long session on "Making Your Educational Fair Work", led by a consultant brought in by the associate vice-president (academic). Staff, students and others who sometimes represent UW at booths and fairs have been invited to take part.

David Wang of the electrical and computer engineering finds time to play in a local rock band, "Critical Mass", and notes that one of its songs "is zooming up the mp3.com charts. As of Saturday, the song 'I'll Be Fine' is no. 3 on the Spiritual Rock Charts." Band members along with Wang include four UW alumni: Matt Devine (English), Tim Devine (philosophy, presently a seminarian for the priesthood in Ottawa), Eric Kubica (mechanical engineering, PhD in kinesiology and E&CE) and Tom Pawelko (electrical engineering). The band, says Wang, "received honourable mentions in 1999 for Rock Album, Rock Song and Inspirational Song of the Year honours at the Canadian Gospel Music Association Covenant Awards."

From a newsletter for alumni of the faculty of applied health sciences: "1998 was a record year for Canadian tourism and 1999 looked even better. For the first time in over 10 years, more Americans visited Canada than Canadians visited the U.S. Second quarter results for 1999 showed international tourism expenditures up 10.7%. Tourism businesses also continue to create jobs; for example, employment in water transportation was up 10.5%. Stephen Smith, from UW's Recreation and Leisure Studies Department, is currently Chair of the Research Committee of the Canadian Tourism Commission (CTC), an organization working to improve the competitiveness of Canadian tourism and promoter of Canada as an international destination. . . . Canada's tourism statistics are now the best in the world. A major contributing factor has been the ability of the Research Committee to forge partnerships with agencies such as Statistics Canada, Revenue Canada, and provincial tourism ministries to support the census, surveys, and border-crossing data collection that feed into the collection of tourism statistics."

The Librarians' Association (LAUW) held a meeting the other day -- "after several years of dormancy", a report says -- and chose members of the executive for the current year: Anne Fullerton as president, Helena Calogeridis as treasurer, Linda Teather as secretary, Christine Jewell as chair of the program committee, and Amos Lakos as chair of the compensation committee. "The new executive will be meeting shortly," the report goes on, "to review the association's constitution and draft plans for the coming year."

"Looking for social work experience?" asks a note from the Volunteer Action Centre. "Family and Children's Services is looking for volunteers with good interpersonal, observation and recording skills to help with their supervised access groups. These are court-ordered visits between families and their children who live in the care of the Children's Aid Society. Orientation and training are provided; volunteers also work with staff and other volunteers. Volunteers are needed Wednesday afternoons from 3-8 p.m." For more information, the VAC can be reached at 742-8610.


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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