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Wednesday, January 24, 2001

  • Ignatieff gives Hagey Lecture tonight
  • Checking cold air for the 2,000th time
  • Loan default figures drop again
  • What to mark on your calendar

[Gong xi fa cai!]
The year of the snake begins today, as the calendar rolls around to year 4699 in the Chinese calendar. New year celebrations extend for fifteen days, until the Lantern Festival, and there will be parties both private and public. The cafeterias in both Village I and Ron Eydt Village will be serving a New Year's dinner today. And at Bon Appetit in the Davis Centre, the feature is a Vietnam-style meal for the holiday, called "Tet" in Vietnamese. Neither place, I trust, will be offering strawberry short-snake as a holiday delicacy.

Ignatieff gives Hagey Lecture tonight

[Ignatieff, from schoolnet.ca] The history of human rights will be the topic of this year's Hagey Lecture, to be given at 8:00 tonight in the Humanities Theatre.

Author and historian Michael Ignatieff (left) will present the free lecture under the title "Human Rights and the Rights of States: Are They on a Collision Course?" The talk will be based on his recent research on the history of human rights.

Last-minute tickets may be available at the door.

Ignatieff will also give a student colloquium, "Putting Cruelty First", tomorrow at 10:30 a.m. in Mathematics and Computer room 5158 (no tickets are necessary).

The Hagey Lecture, co-sponsored by UW and the faculty association, was launched in 1970 to honour Gerry Hagey, the university's first president. Hagey lecturers have distinguished themselves in some scholarly or creative field and their work cuts across traditional disciplines and national boundaries.

Recently, Ignatieff has been serving on two independent international commissions: one on Kosovo (1999-2000), the other on Sovereignty and Intervention (2000-2001). Currently, he is spending a year at Harvard University in the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy, Kennedy School of Government.

Ignatieff is the author of nine books, which began with A Just Measure of Pain (1978) and include discussions of war, nationalism and other issues, as well as Isaiah Berlin; a Life (1997). His most recent product is The Rights Revolution, based on last year's Massey Lectures for the CBC.

He has also written extensively for books and magazines, and over the past 15 years, he has been a documentary film writer and host for BBC Television. Among his numerous works for television was the highly acclaimed series "Blood and Belonging" (1993, six 50-minute episodes) for the BBC, CBC and PBS affiliates, which dealt with ethnic nationalism in Yugoslavia, Turkey, Québec, Northern Ireland, Germany and Ukraine. More recently, he produced the series "Future War" (March 2000, three 50-minute episodes) for the BBC and CTV.

Toronto-born Ignatieff's writing and academic careers have been quite intertwined. He was a reporter for the Globe and Mail in 1964-65 while an undergraduate at the University of Toronto. As the holder of a Canada Council Fellowship, he completed doctoral studies in history at Harvard in 1975. He was an assistant professor in history at the University of British Columbia from 1976 to 1978. He then spent six years as a senior research fellow at King's College, Cambridge University, before becoming a documentary film writer, television host, and editorial columnist. His credentials range from a Governor-General's Award for non-fiction to a MacArthur Foundation grant.

Checking cold air for the 2,000th time

The UW-based Residential Energy Efficiency Project will be evaluating its 2,000th home today, as it moves toward winding up this phase of the project in April. And guess whose house it will be?

Answer: Brad Blain, development officer in UW's faculty of environmental studies, who lives in the village of Conestogo just east of Waterloo.

Media have been invited to watch this evaluation, take photos of the "blower door home air leakage test", and interview the students working on the project, the home energy advisors -- and Blain. It all helps bring more publicity to a project that has helped local residents save many thousands of dollars in heating costs since it was launched two years ago.

REEP conducts comprehensive home energy evaluations to help households reduce their energy costs, which are zooming this winter. A typical household in southwestern Ontario will pay $1,150 this year for gas heating compared with $885 last year.

Researchers say that based on REEP data, the average home in Waterloo Region could reduce its fuel consumption by 20 per cent. REEP is a community project that has been supported by the federal government's Climate Change Action Fund. Local partners include Cambridge & North Dumfries Hydro, Kitchener-Wilmot Hydro, Waterloo North Hydro, Kitchener Utilities, and the Elora Centre for Environmental Excellence.

"UW employees have been a major source of participants for this research project," says Ryan Kennedy, an intern with the project. He said publicity is being sent to some 40,000 homeowners in the Cambridge area on February 1, "and that will likely fill up our capacity until the end," but he'd like to give one more chance for UW people to sign up, regardless of where they live.

Loan default figures drop again

The number of students who don't pay back their Ontario Student Loans keeps dropping, the government has announced -- and UW's rate is the lowest of all.

Says a ministry of training news release:

The percentage of students who defaulted on their Ontario Student Assistance Program (OSAP) loans is now the lowest it has been since the Government began publicly releasing default rates in 1997, Training, Colleges and Universities Minister Dianne Cunningham announced today.

"By releasing these data, we have brought increased accountability to the system by allowing students and their parents to better plan for the cost of their postsecondary education," said Cunningham. "I am pleased to see that rates are falling and more students are paying back their loans, but we still have a way to go to meet our overall commitment to reduce OSAP default rates."

This year's default rate is 15.7 per cent, down from 18.2 per cent in 1999. This is the third consecutive annual drop in loan default rates for the province since 1997, when the overall rate was 23.5 per cent.

The decline in rates demonstrates significant progress in meeting the Government's goal, set in 1998, to reduce overall OSAP default rates to less than 10 per cent by 2003.

In fact the default rate for university students is already below 10 per cent, falling this year to 7.1 per cent from last year's 8.4 per cent. The rates in 2000 were 17.2 per cent for community colleges, 28.9 per cent for private vocational schools, and 6.4 per cent for a small number of students at "other" institutions such as Bible colleges and the Canadian Memorial Chiropractic College.

The government measures the number of students who have defaulted on loan payments three years after their last OSAP loan -- for 2000, those who had loans in 1997-98.

UW's default rate in 2000 was 3.5 per cent, down from a 4.9 per cent rate the previous year. That represents 67 loans in default from the 1,938 students who last borrowed OSAP money three years ago.

Most other universities are also showing a drop from their 1999 default rates. Wilfrid Laurier University's rate fell from 5.7 per cent last year to 5.2 per cent this year, and Toronto's from 6.9 per cent to 5.1 per cent.

What to mark on your calendar

UW's permanent art collection will receive a fresh interpretation in the display that opens today in the Modern Languages building gallery. "The exhibition," says curator Carol Podedworny, "will feature contemporary Canadian works in various media drawn from the considerable collections of UW and maintained by the UW Art Gallery." What makes the show unique is the perspective provided by its curators: the students of Fine Arts 330. As part of the course, which Podedworny is teaching, the students have selected works for the show, researched and written didactic labels for the art, and installed the exhibition. The show will run through April 4.

A blood donor clinic continues, 10:00 to 4:00, in the Student Life Centre (also tomorrow and Friday). Outside clinic hours, it's possible to make advance appointments by arrangement at the turnkey desk.

The New Berlin Chamber Ensemble will play a noontime concert today in the Conrad Grebel College chapel, starting at 12:30. On the program: works by Dave Brubeck, Georges Bizet, Kurt Weill, Kirk MacDonald, Billy Strayhorn -- I even notice several of the wonderful "Pictures at an Exhibition" by Modest Moussorgsky. Admission is free.

The InfraNet Project "Smart Community Seminar Series" today presents Ian Kyer of the law firm Fasken Martineau DuMoulin LLP, speaking on "Adapting the Law for E-Commerce". About the seminar:

Technology regularly races ahead of the law, which is forced to adopt new laws or adapt old ones to deal with the problems that the technology creates. This is certainly true as the business world goes online. As business is increasingly being done in cyberspace, lawyers are asking: whose laws govern? are online contracts enforceable? do electronic signatures satisfy legal requirements? do trademarks take precedent over domain names? what is the future of copyright? of telecom regulation? and what about personal privacy?

Mr. Kyer will look at both the challenges generated by e-commerce and the efforts being made in Canada and elsewhere to meet these challenges in a way that preserves and promotes societal values without discouraging e-commerce initiatives.

The event starts at 2:30 in Davis Centre room 1302.

The volleyball Warriors will host Guelph's Gryphons tonight in the Physical Activities Complex -- the women's game is at 6 p.m., the men's at 8:00.

Volunteers are still wanted to help make the CUTC a success, says one of the organizers, computer science student Doug Sibley. "We need people Thursday morning as guides, for bussing, and for food, and during the workshops to check nametags," he says. "Our largest shortage is Friday morning." And so on. "This is an amazing opportunity to meet and network with people from all across Canada." Anyone interested can call 746-7945 or check the web.
Tomorrow brings the start of a big event on campus, the second annual Canadian Undergraduate Technology Conference, with some big-name speakers from the high-tech world. A pre-conference networking session runs this evening, along with the opening of a "TechArt" display, open only to those who have registered for the CUTC. Tomorrow morning's keynote talk, though, by UW president David Johnston, is open to anyone interested (8:30 a.m. in the Humanities Theatre, and webcast on the CUTC site). Several other major events in the course of the three-day conference are also open to the public.

Tomorrow at 3:00, Larry Bourne, director of the University of Toronto program in planning, will speak -- "will lend his charismatic and entertaining voice", a publicity blurb says -- to the topic of municipal government. It's the first of a series of talks being held in UW's school of planning. Location: Environmental Studies I room 221. More details in tomorrow's Bulletin.

Looking ahead, the band "Critical Mass", which includes a number of UW people, will be performing Friday night at St. Jerome's University. It's the band's first concert in Kitchener-Waterloo in some two years, and certainly the first since it won the "best rock album" award in 2000 from the Canadian Gospel Music Association. Tickets for the concert are $5.

Renison College will hold its annual haircutting pub and alumni reunion -- now there's a juxtaposition! -- on Friday, February 2. It's a fund-raiser for HopeSpring Cancer Support Centre, and advance tickets are $3. "Meet old friends," the flyer says, "make new ones, and get a great haircut, all at the same time!"

And finally: no, today is not payday for faculty and monthly-paid staff, although one calendar available on campus says so. Payday this month will be the last Friday as usual -- day after 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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