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Tuesday, November 27, 2001

  • Students vote yes by 3-2 margin
  • Star credits UW with 'nation-building'
  • Cheating is up, report says
  • End-of-year Keystone Fund reminder
  • Happening on campus; other notes
Chris Redmond

Alumni gather on Parliament Hill (uwstudent.org reports)

Students vote yes by 3-2 margin

"Preliminary" results were released last night from the referendum last week in which undergraduate students voted on a proposed fee for expansion of the Student Life Centre and Columbia Icefield.

Brandon Sweet, Federation of Students staff member and chief returning officer for the referendum, announced that almost exactly 3 out of 5 students voted yes and 2 out of 5 voted no.

Students voted both on-line and at ballot boxes, between Tuesday morning and Thursday afternoon last week, on this question:

Do you support the construction of an expansion of the Student Life Centre and the North Campus Athletic facilities as detailed in the Waterloo Campaign: Student Projects document through the addition of a non-refundable, $13.80 fee to the fee statement?
Results were "sealed" on Thursday night, while Federation authorities tried to resolve a number of unidentified "complaints" about the voting process, Sweet said. He has now provided some figures: "Out of 21,646 possible votes, 2,229 were cast. Voter turnout was 10.3%."

Of the 2,229 voters, 1,348 said yes and 853 said no. There were also 28 students who formally declined to vote. That makes the result 60.48 per cent yes, 38.27 per cent no, 1.26 per cent declined.

Says Sweet: "A press release detailing the final results of the referendum will follow pending final resolution of these complaints."

Star credits UW with 'nation-building'

"Canada's Digital Scorecard" started yesterday in the Toronto Star, under the title "Is innovation slipping from reach?" Part II is scheduled for publication next Monday. The feature, by Anderson Charters, emphasizes federal Internet policy and the proposal (from a task force headed by UW's president, David Johnston) to invest heavily in broadband connections across Canada.

[Johnston takes flight on DC stairs] "Canada's business elite supports the Liberals' broadband promise," Charters writes, but he adds that Johnston and industry minister Brian Tobin were "unnerved" by criticism of the estimated cost, which could pass $4 billion.

A sidebar to yesterday's article, "Nation-building through sharing advanced knowledge", described UW, from its founding to its involvement in high-tech activity and its creator-owns policy on intellectual property. Too bad a photo caption identified the president as "Donald" Johnston.

Another, even bigger, photo with the double-page feature showed students at work in a real-time control systems lab in the computer science department, using a model train to test software.

Cheating is up, report says

Just one person -- a graduate student -- was expelled from UW last year as the result of academic dishonesty, says a report from the University Committee on Student Appeals.

The report, presented to UW's senate at its monthly meeting November 19, also shows a sharp increase in certain kinds of dishonesty, with more than twice as many cases of plagiarism in 2000-01 as there were in 1999-2000.

As with other reports on such subjects, the UCSA can only count cases of misbehaviour that were detected and handled through formal channels. There's no way of knowing how many students got away with dishonest behaviour, or were caught by an instructor but not reported to associate deans as standard procedure requires. However, the chair of UCSA, kinesiology professor Jay Thomson, is fond of saying that dishonesty does not seem to be a serious problem at UW, since only a tiny number of students among UW's tens of thousands fall foul of disciplinary committees.

His report says that 62 cases of plagiarism were reported in the past year, including 21 where material was copied from the Internet. That's up from 26 cases, including 10 involving the Internet, in the previous year. The other major category of dishonesty is cheating, and the committee reports 117 incidents in the past year, up from 105 in 1999-2000. There were also four cases of "misrepresentation", four of "harassment, discrimination, unethical behaviour", and 1 of "misuse of resources".

The one expulsion was the result of misrepresentation; a note in the report describes the case as involving an "altered, falsified transcript from another university". In the course of the year there were 13 suspensions, for periods ranging fro one term to six terms, for various kinds of cheating on exams and assignments.

Academic discipline at UW is meted out by associate deans; a student can appeal such action to a faculty appeals committee and to the UCSA. Four cases got all the way to the UCSA this year, the report says.

More from the report: "The Faculty of Arts has prepared a (draft) document re: academic offenses; it includes a good section about commonly heard but unacceptable defenses of plagiarism. The Undergraduate Operations Committee has been advised that, if this is to be an all-Faculties document, reference should be made to labs and group work, collaboration, etc. . . .

"Guidelines re: student discipline and the co-op work term have been drafted and are under consideration. . . . Normally, while suspended, a student may not participate in the co-op employment program."

Besides the discipline cases, the UCSA listened to 16 cases of grade appeals in the past year, the report notes.

News from other universities

  • U of Guelph staff vote to join Steelworkers

  • Fake professor pleads guilty in Regina, claimed to have UW PhD

  • Pension controversy continues at U of Toronto

  • Virus expert from Harvard now missing for 11 days
  • End-of-year Keystone Fund reminder

    It isn't just off-campus charities that are sending out a gentle reminder before the end-of-December deadline for 2001 tax deductions. It's also UW, where faculty and staff members will be getting a Keystone Fund mailing within the next few days.

    The Keystone Fund is the staff and faculty (and retiree) part of the university's annual fund -- soon to count as part of the multi-million-dollar Campaign Waterloo. Money is raised each year for scholarships, teaching equipment and other on-campus purposes, with the main solicitation always being issued in June and a reminder coming shortly before the tax deduction deadline.

    "As you know," says a note from Bonnie Oberle in UW's office of development, "at the end of each year we ask faculty, staff and retirees to support the Keystone Fund through the end of year appeal. The appeal is scheduled to be mailed November 30."

    For the past two years, Oberle notes, the end-of-year appeal included a desktop calendar, "and it will again this year. The Keystone Fund Calendar 2002 is designed with lots of energy and colour and provides 12 months promotion of the Keystone Fund; Campaign Waterloo; Campaign Waterloo objectives; and other useful information such as UW holidays and pay dates. The calendar also features the new Campaign Waterloo logo and, of course, a tear-off pledge card."

    Other paperwork with the appeal letter will include a listing of "priority projects" to which people can direct their pledges. "The end of year appeal," she says, "provides faculty, staff and retirees an opportunity to take advantage of tax savings for 2001 and helps get Waterloo's next campaign off to a great start -- the official Keystone Fund campaign launch in June 2002.

    "We also want faculty, staff and retirees to know that their Keystone Fund donation goes toward Campaign Waterloo and that the Keystone Fund represents the collective efforts of faculty, staff and retirees in supporting the University of Waterloo."

    Happening on campus; other notes

    Computer users in the Davis Centre have been sighing and swearing over the past few days, as there's been repeated trouble with the electronic network there. Says Bill Ince of the math faculty computing facility: "We have a rather elusive problem that's not been completely diagnosed yet. The network is currently stable, at the cost of about 20 or so network ports being disconnected. But that's today. We of course expect improvement by tomorrow." And he adds a smiley face. :-)

    People who were involved in the on-campus United Way campaign this fall will share a lasagna lunch today in the Davis Centre lounge and commend each other on a job well done. The campaign soared past its $150,000 goal and collected, at last report, $163,542 in pledges and gifts, including funds raised through special events sponsored by many of UW's departments. More money is still welcome until December 7, says Winston Cherry, statistics professor and co-chair of the campaign. "People wishing to donate after December 7 should send their contributions directly to the K-W United Way."

    The teaching resources and continuing education office holds a workshop today on "Collaborative Online Learning: Fostering Effective Discussions". It'll start at 12 noon in the "Flex" lab on the third floor of the Dana Porter Library. If room is still available, last-minute registrations can go to TRACE at ext. 3132.

    Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS) training is offered again today, in the form of a one-hour session with a video and brief quit, starting at 2 p.m. in Davis Centre room 1304.

    The fine arts department will be holding its annual "silent auction and miniature art sale" this weekend, and previews begin today -- 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. in East Campus Hall.

    The Waterloo Advisory Council, representing co-op employers and other corporate friends, will be meeting all day today, mostly in Needles Hall. A key agenda item is a briefing this morning on the "key messages" that UW would like its friends in the business world to help disseminate to government and the public. Laura Talbot-Allan, vice-president (university relations), and Jill Porter of the development office will lead that presentation.

    The International Student Association will be holding a mixer starting at 6:00 tonight in Humanities room 138. "Come and enjoy the fun with the rest of the international students," a memo urges.

    It's a mild week indeed for late November, but not exactly evidence of global warming. Still, the Waterloo Public Interest Research Group is taking no chances:

    Global climate change is threatening the stability of forests and farms, communities and ecosystems. It is the biggest environmental crisis that the world faces and requires an urgent solution before it gets out of control. Despite recommendations from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, comprised of over 600 of the world's leading climate scientists, very little action has been taken by governments or citizens to combat this problem. Many people are unaware that this crisis is a result of everyday human activities. Others are aware of the problem, but don't understand what preventative action must be taken and how to do their part.

    Guy Dauncey is co-author with Patrick Mazza of the new book Stormy Weather: 101 Solutions to Global Climate Change, which has been receiving rave reviews for the clarity and detail with which it lays out the problem and describes the solutions for every level of society from families, schools, and cities to corporations and national governments. Guy Dauncey is a powerful, incisive public speaker, who is known for his determined optimism about our ability to address these problems. He will be giving a free public presentation entitled "Climate Change: Why is it Happening? What Can We Do?"

    Dauncy's talk starts at 7:30 tonight in Davis Centre room 1304, and is sponsored by the Climate Change Action group of the Waterloo Public Interest Research Group. (He'll be back in the spotlight tomorrow morning, speaking at 9:30 a.m. in the Humanities Theatre under the title "Beyond Kyoto: How Can We Resolve the Climate Change Crisis?")

    Also tonight: the annual "economic outlook" seminar at Wilfrid Laurier University's business school, this year starring "Canada's most accurate forecaster", Lloyd Atkinson of Perigee Investment Counsel. The event begins at 7:30 in the Aird Centre at WLU; admission is $10.

    Tomorrow, the Federation of Students will host "Country Caravan" in the Student Life Centre. And at noon, there will be a public forum on "Growth at UW and the Double Cohort", in the SLC great hall.

    Memorial arrangements have been announced for Bob Cressman of the information systems and technology department, who died November 22. Visitation will take place on Friday, November 30, from 2 to 4 p.m. and 7 to 9 p.m. at the Edward R. Good Funeral Home, 171 King Street South, Waterloo. A memorial service will be held at 2 p.m. on Saturday, December 1, at St. James-Rosemount United Church on Sherwood Avenue in Kitchener.

    The Putnam math competition will be held this Saturday -- a chance for UW to dominate math students from other institutions across Canada and the United States, as has happened more than once in the past. Information about signing up for the contest is available from Christopher Small in the statistics and actuarial science department, phone ext. 5541.

    And . . . I hear there was a big crowd for last evening's "double cohort night", to brief parents about UW admissions in 2003, when twice as many high school students as usual will be graduating. People were "crammed" into the Theatre of the Arts, says someone who was there. Parents are certainly worried about the situation, but "they asked sensible, polite questions -- there was no screaming," I'm assured. The local television station, CKCO, was on hand to tape some of the proceedings.


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