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Wednesday, October 27, 2004

  • Elmasry case goes to science dean
  • Study of communication by immigrants
  • Just a few other notes today
Chris Redmond

Total eclipse of the moon tonight

  • Photos from fall convocation and other recent events
  • Clubs concerned about cost of UW police (Imprint)
  • TVO's 'Big Ideas' looking for Ontario's best lecturers
  • US 'electoral vote predictor'
  • New stadium planned at York U
  • PeopleSoft staves off Oracle takeover
  • Proposal to reorganize Russian science (Pravda)
  • Concordia head says universities upgrading their security
  • Ward system in Waterloo said to discriminate against students
  • Elmasry case goes to science dean

    As controversy over remarks by a UW professor became a national issue yesterday, the university's president announced that the matter will go to "a decanal review" -- the first step in the process when discipline of a faculty member has been suggested.

    President David Johnston spoke about the affair briefly at the beginning of yesterday's board of governors meetings, using the phrase "most regrettable and unfortunate" to describe comments on a TV talk show last week by Mohamed I. Elmasry, who is both an electrical and computer engineering professor at UW and the president of the Canadian Islamic Congress.

    He said during a panel discussion on "The Michael Coren Show" that all adult Israelis -- because in principle they have a military obligation -- are legitimate targets for fighters in the Palestinian resistance. There has been a chorus of objection to that viewpoint, including several speeches in the House of Commons yesterday.

    Discussion on 'uwstudent.org'

    Follow-up by Coren in Tuesday's Sun

    From the Jewish Students Association

    Elmasry said in a statement over the weekend that he "was presenting not his own views -- but those of a significant segment of Palestinians under occupation", and that he "did not, does not, and will not condone the widely-held Palestinian view that any form of armed resistance against civilians that includes suicide bombing constitutes a legitimate military operation against the Israeli occupation, and not a terrorist activity".

    A newspaper report this morning says that the Halton Regional Police are investigating whether Elmasry's remarks (which were taped in Burlington) amount to a criminal offence.

    Back at UW, while TV cameras rolled yesterday, Johnston told the board that officials had launched the investigation process, which comes from the legally binding Memorandum of Agreement between UW and the faculty association. The Memorandum says that if it appears that "a situation warranting disciplinary measures may exist", an "investigation" by the dean is the first step.

    Those measures can include dismissal as the result of "a serious breach of criminal law; violent behaviour or threats of violence against a member of the University community; a serious breach of ethical behaviour; violations of ethics in respect of scholarship, teaching, or collegiality". The document adds that "Disciplinary processes are not to be used to inhibit free inquiry, discussion, exercise of judgement, or honest criticism within or without the University."

    In Elmasry's case, the dean involved would normally be Adel Sedra, dean of engineering. However, Johnston told the board last night that Sedra had told him there was "at least a perceived, and perhaps a real, conflict of interest", partly because Sedra and Elmasry have worked in closely related academic fields and known each other for a long time. Sedra has stepped aside and the review will be done instead by George Dixon, dean of the faculty of science, Johnston said.

    "The process will start immediately," the president said, noting that tapes of the Coren show are now available for review. (And the program's web site says the "terrorism" episode will be broadcast again tonight.)

    "We have been helped by external counsel," who will continue to give advice, the president said. He added: "I do not expect it will be a matter of a few days," but a decision will be made public eventually.


    For 13 months Fred McCourt is back in the chair's office in the department of chemistry. Chair for a time in the 1990s, and a past president of the UW faculty association, McCourt became interim chair of the department August 1. He'll serve until Terry McMahon, who finished a term as chair this summer, takes the job again in September 2005.

    Study of communication by immigrants -- by Barbara Elve

    Dessy Marinova's own struggles with communication when she immigrated to Canada as an adult have, in part, inspired the direction of her psychology research.

    Even though she studied English in Bulgaria, her initial attempts to be understood in her new country were not always successful. Four years later, Marinova is a PhD student at UW, where she is working with her supervisor, psychology professor Hildy Ross, on a research project: "Negotiation Strategies of East Asian, East European and Canadian Families".

    "Hildy Ross is an expert in family relations, particularly in conflict resolution," says Marinova of her supervisor. However, up to now, little work has been done in this country on "how parents and children communicate in the early stages of adaptation," that is, in their first five years in Canada.

    When immigrants come to Canada, the children are quickly immersed in the new culture through the school system, Marinova explains in a newsletter outlining her research. At the same time, parents tend to adhere to the cultural norms and traditions of their native country. "With this study, we would like to track what in the new culture is integrated into the communication styles of immigrant children and adults."

    The multicultural study is exploring "how parents and children negotiate and solve differences that arise in daily life. It's about the small things." Among the questions they hope to answer: How do parents and children adapt? Do they adapt differently? How are the old and new lifestyles integrated in parent-child communication?

    Marinova is looking for families in the Kitchener-Waterloo and Toronto areas to participate in the study. She's interested in recruiting families from China, Taiwan, Serbia, Croatia, Bulgaria, Russia or Macedonia. These countries have been selected partly because of Marinova's familiarity with Eastern European languages and cultures, and because she has found that family relations are similar among Eastern European and East Asian cultures. "Both are collectivist cultures that foster interdependence and mutual support," she says. She's looking for children aged 7 to 10 because it's "a relatively calm period of development" for the children, one in which they gain increasing independence, but have no major developmental changes or crises.

    She'd also like to find Canadian families who have children in the same age range to participate in the study as a control group.

    "There are a lot of things we don't know about parent-child communication in recent immigrant families," she says, "and we haven't found a single study that explores the perspectives of immigrant children and parents from East Asia and Eastern Europe, looking, as well, at negotiation strategies and outcomes used in disputes. Because the study is the first of its kind, it will give us an idea of what we'll do in the future."

    With more than 225,000 new immigrants arriving in Canada each year -- some 20 per cent of them children -- Marinova believes the study "will provide insights into what factors in parent-child communication facilitate adaptation to their new country." She envisions information gleaned from the study being used, for example, in a brochure that would help future immigrant families adjust to life in Canada.

    Blood donor clinic today and Thursday 10 to 4, Friday 10 to 3, Monday 10 to 4, Student Life Centre.

    Career workshops: "Interview Skills, the Basics" 10:30, "Preparing for Questions" 11:30, Tatham Centre room 1208.

    Briefing sessions for co-op students going to work in the United States, details online.

    K-W Software Quality Association 11:30, Davis Centre room 1304.

    Centre for Business, Entrepreneurship and Technology presents Tim Jackson, Tech Capital Partners, "Securing Capital for the Early Stage Technology Business", 12 noon, Rod Coutts Hall room 105.

    Classical Indian music by Anwar Khurshid, scheduled for noon hour today, postponed to November 3.

    'Disabilities and the Workplace' conference at Renison College, 1:30, details online.

    Café-rencontre, département d'études françaises, Hélène Trépanier, McMaster University, "Se déshabiller: le sens de la nudité chez un mystique jésuite du XVIIe siècle, Jean-Joseph Surin", 14h30, Tatham Centre salle 2218.

    Smarter Health seminar: Edward Brown, Sunnybrook and Women's College Hospital, "NORTH Network and the Future of Telemedicine", 3:00, Davis Centre room 1302, more information online.

    Federation of Students annual general meeting 4:30 p.m., Student Life Centre.

    First work term students information meetings 4:30, details online.

    Sport psychology lecture: David Yukelson, Penn State University, "Performance Excellence in Sport and in Life", 7:30, Wilfrid Laurier University science building room N1044.

    Career night for drama and speech communication students ("Fast Forward"), Thursday 7 to 10, Festival Room, South Campus Hall.

    St. Jerome's lecture: theologian Sallie McFague, "Christians, Economics and Planetary Living", Friday 7:30, Siegfried Hall, St. Jerome's University.

    You @ Waterloo Day for future students and their families, Saturday 9 to 3, details online.

    On this week's list from the human resources department:

  • Registrarial assistant, registrar's office, USG 3
  • Co-ordinator, Arts Computer Experience, arts special programs, USG 6
  • Graduate studies application administrator, graduate studies office, USG 5

    Longer descriptions are available on the HR web site.

  • Just a few other notes today

    [Needle] Flu shots for "high-risk people" are now available at health services. Students, staff and faculty in that group can visit the clinic any time between 9 and 6:30 Monday to Thursday, 9 to 4 Fridays, to get their shots. Who's high-risk? Those over 65; UW police, other emergency service workers, and optometry students currently doing clinic work; hospital and nursing home volunteers; anyone with "diabetes or other metabolic disease, cancer, kidney disease or blood disorder or anyone whose immune system is weakened"; people who live with someone "at increased risk of the flu's more serious effects". For staff, students and faculty not in the high-risk group, a full-scale flu shot clinic will be held in the Student Life Centre November 9 through 12.

    The board of governors gave approval last night to building a $5,275,000 addition to the Optometry building just north of Columbia Street. The firm of Rounthwaite, Dick and Hadley -- who designed the building in 1974 and an addition in 1995 -- will design this addition as well. The price includes furnishings and equipment, and the addition is being made "to accommodate planned enrolment increases", the board was told. Last night's board of governors meeting was a busy one; I'll report over the next couple of days on other actions taken and reports delivered.

    Tomorrow will bring "Bridging the Gap", the third annual Adaptive Technology Fair, which is jointly sponsored by the office for persons with disabilities and the information systems and technology department. The fair will include displays all day (9:30 to 4:30) in the Davis Centre lounge, plus talks on web accessibility, vision loss, "creating an inclusive classroom", the use of tablet computers, and technical devices for students with hearing loss. Details are on the web. The event is free for students, faculty and staff, unless they're planning to stay all day and have lunch, in which case there's a $25 registration fee.

    Visitor parking lot H is closed today for repair work on the kiosk. . . . Aboriginal leaders Dan and Mary-Lou Smoke will be on campus tomorrow (at St. Paul's United College) as part of the Aboriginal Visiting Elders Program. . . . It's Leather Jacket Day (15 per cent discounts) at the UW Shop in South Campus Hall. . . . Students in the accounting program get their winter term co-op job match on JobMine today. . . .


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