Friday, December 4, 2009

  • Environment students watch in Copenhagen
  • Threat of mumps swelling; shots available
  • Saturday's a weekday; end-of-term notes
  • Editor:
  • Chris Redmond
  • Communications and Public Affairs

[Four-to-one gender ratio]

KISS now stands for Knitting In Small Semicircles, or something, as well as the Knowledge Integration Student Society. Members and friends of KISS got together in the Environment I courtyard yesterday for a twelve-hour "knit-a-thon", creating wool dolls that Canadian soldiers will hand out to little kids in Afghanistan and other war-torn regions.

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Environment students watch in Copenhagen

It’s not only the likes of prime minister Stephen Harper and American president Barack Obama who will be at the United Nations Climate Change Conference opening Monday in Copenhagen. Eleven UW students — and one student-to-be — are heading to the event as well, Betty Bax of the Faculty of Environment reports.

The group left yesterday, in time to attend the spinoff “Conference of Youth” over the weekend before the main event, dubbed COP15, gets started. The ten-day conference will — or maybe won’t — take the next step towards concerted international action on reducing greenhouse gas emissions that are thought to produce “global warming”.

Among the students heading to Copenhagen from Waterloo is Elaine Ho, of second-year environment and resource studies, who says the group includes eight Environment undergraduates, one graduate students, and two students from the Faculty of Engineering. Also going along is one high school student who has applied to enter the Environment faculty next September. The group will stay in the Danish capital, living on a docked cruise ship, throughout the world conference, returning on December 21.

Several of the students are members of the UW Sustainability Project, a student-organized group working on environmental and energy projects, and several, including Ho, are members of Switch (Solar, Wind Initiatives Toward Change). Some of them have already been interviewed for their home town newspapers in Toronto, Woodstock and Simcoe.

They’re among the thousands of non-government representatives who have received United Nations accreditation to be at the conference — and in the students’ case at COY, an event for youth from round the world. The event has been the focus of worldwide discussion and preliminary technical conferences, including an event in New York last month at which Sue Horton, UW associate provost (graduate studies) and food researcher, was a speaker.

Ho says the Danish organizers are using funds that might otherwise have gone to “delegate gifts” to provide "COP15 Climate Scholarships" for attending students. The COY will provide two days of background information how the main conference works, before the government leaders and their delegations settle in next week.

Ho listed the objectives her group is taking to Copenhagen: “Learn how to affect change through policy, gain a better understanding of the issues, see how issues are presented and agreements are made, bring back agreements made at the conference to figure out what actions can be done here, observe what happens at the UN level, understand how to pressure Canada to participate and take a role.”

They’ll meet regularly during the conference to prepare proposals that they can bring home, and they will also be creating a short video about (student) international experiences for use in the Faculty of Environment.

Ho said the students want to offset the carbon load from their flight and food by planting trees when they return. They have calculated that they need to plant about 20 trees per person, a project in which they hope to involve community members and the media.

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Threat of mumps swelling; shots available

Mumps, popularly known as a childhood disease but also an unpleasant threat to adults, has surfaced on campus. “At the end of last week,” writes Barbara Schumacher, director of health services, “we identified that we are seeing a cluster of students who we think have mumps. I notified public health authorities and we have met to discuss the situation with our colleagues from WLU and public health.”

She’s issuing a warning to campus, “to alert people with symptoms that they must isolate themselves for nine days from the onset of symptoms and that vulnerable people can be vaccinated to stop transmission of this contagious illness.”

The key symptom of mumps is swelling of the parotid glands, on either side of the face just in front of and below the ears. Other symptoms can include headache and joint pain, fatigue, and fever. In men, mumps can lead to swelling and pain in the testicles.

"A cluster of students with mumps has been identified within the past few weeks at the universities in Waterloo," her announcement yesterday said. "Public health informs us that there is a recent increase in mumps cases in the province."

She said a warning about mumps is “especially important” for

  • anyone who has had a friend, classmate, roommate or someone they may casually know who has had mumps in this last school term
  • people born after 1970 and before 1992, because this cohort may have missed the second dose to complete immunization against mumps
  • people immunized outside of Canada who may have received the first dose of mumps vaccination before the age of 12 months or vaccine which was not properly refrigerated.

The Ontario health ministry provides information about mumps and vaccine recommendations. Health Services has mumps vaccine available and will offer it to anyone who has never been immunized or who needs a second dose of vaccine. “If you are unsure, please contact your family physician or the public health department where you attended high school for your immunization records.

“The clinic welcomes all students, faculty, staff and union members for mumps immunization between the hours of 9:30 and 11:00 and 2:00 to 4:00 Monday to Friday.”

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Saturday's a weekday; end-of-term notes

Today is Friday, the end of the work week for some of us — but not, this week, for students and instructors, since tomorrow is officially a class day, the last instructional day of the fall term. Classes that will meet on Saturday are the ones normally scheduled for a Monday, as the institution makes up for the loss of Thanksgiving Day from the teaching schedule. For the most part, offices and services won't be open tomorrow (food services, for example, says it'll be a regular Saturday; and no, there will be no Daily Bulletin). Andrea Chappell, who heads the Instructional Technologies and Multimedia Services group in IST, says ITMS "supports the e-classrooms, but not typically on the weekend. For this Saturday, our capable co-op student, working with us for her second term, will be available if help is needed. As usual, instructors can call ext. 33233, the number posted on all podiums in centrally scheduled rooms.” Monday and Tuesday are study days, and the English Language Proficiency Exam, for those who need it, is scheduled for four sessions on Tuesday. Then fall term exams take place December 9 through 22, with the exams for distance and online courses scheduled on the 11th and 12th.

[Rose and candle] Sunday will be the 20th anniversary of the so-called "Montréal Massacre", a nation-shocking event in which a gunman entered a classroom at the École Polytechnique and shot dead 14 engineering students, apparently because they were women. He then turned the gun on himself. The occurrence has been the focus for remembrance and reflection ever since, both about gender-based violence and about the representation of women and men in technical fields of study and work. Commemorations continue: UW's Engineering Society plans to have a booth in operation today, from 9 a.m. to noon, in the concourse of Carl Pollock Hall. "The booth, '14 Not Forgotten', will include information about that tragic event and what it means to students today," says Robin Jardin of the Faculty of Engineering. "White ribbons will be available for students (and faculty and staff) to wear, and 14 candles will be lit in remembrance of the 14 women killed."

The Peace Society, based at Conrad Grebel University College, has something special happening tomorrow. Says Karsten Cheng, one of the organizers: “The name of the event is the Make-a-Difference Market. We invite local organizations to come in and sell their products. Most of our vendors are fair trade certified and have an interest in helping out locally to affect the world globally. As such, a portion of our proceeds on this day will go towards Mennonite Central Committee's Christmas Giving [Artery gallery in the streetscape]Project. The event takes place from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Grebel's Upper Atrium. There will be live music, food and lots of vendors including Ten Thousand Villages, Seven Shores Trading Company and Nharo. We are really excited about the market and hope to have a great turnout.”

The student-run Artery Gallery (left), on King Street in downtown Kitchener, is the venue for a silent art auction and gift sale that will run today through Sunday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. “This is a fundraiser for University of Waterloo fine arts students who are in their fourth and final year,” says one of the organizers, Laura Renwick. “All proceeds will be going toward their end-of-year show in April. This is a chance to own original artwork, without busting your budget. Great for gifts!”

As events to celebrate the holiday season get underway, UW groups and departments are bound to be holding social events, and officials are concerned about the risks that can be involved. “Whether the festivity is large or small,” says a note from Neil Murray, director of staff and labour relations, “it remains as important as ever that steps are taken to ensure the health and safety of those who attend office parties or other celebrations.” He points to a memo that was issued in 2005 about UW's alcohol rules, Policy 21, and says it’s as valid now as it was then: “Apart from specific venues listed in the policy such as the Graduate House, only UW Catering is allowed to serve alcohol on campus. An event such as a wine and cheese reception not served by UW Catering is contrary to policy. If a civil action arose from such an event, the organizer and/or department head could be found personally liable." The memo also pointed out that an event in somebody's home, such as a reception for UW co-workers, is a private event. "As a private host, you assume personal responsibility for such events. Managing the service of alcohol at a private event that involves fellow employees, subordinates or students can sometimes present difficulties. UW Catering staff are trained in these matters and you may want to retain them for such occasions."

“We are trying to recruit for a new network created around qualitative research,” says Robert Ballard, of UW’s department of drama and speech communication. “The University of Waterloo Network for the Advancement of Qualitative Inquiry and Innovation (NAQII) is seeking members to be a part of its network of sharing, collaboration and conversation about qualitative inquiry and approaches on the UW campus. Interdisciplinary and inter-faculty in nature, the Network provides a sharing and supportive community for researchers engaged in qualitative research and employing a wide range of epistemological and methodological frameworks. Members with specialities in arts-based inquiry, performance-based approaches, social justice, narrative inquiry, critical methodologies, ethnographic methods, reflexive based approaches, feminist and/or queer based studies, as well as other novel and innovative methodologies and approaches are more than welcome to join. The Network engages in sharing, exchange and collaboration in ways that build connections and generates support for the advancement of qualitative ways of knowing and inquiry. The Network encourages the innovative spirit that permeates Waterloo's campus through community change and a commitment to social justice. The Network is linked to the International Institute of Qualitative Inquiry, a broader, networked community devoted to advancing qualitative research around the world. Faculty or graduate students from any faculty on campus can be a part of the network.” More information: e-mail dcparry@

Finally . . . I shouldn't write too much about myself, but let me just mention that there will be a small launch event in Toronto Saturday night for my new book, a second edition of Sherlock Holmes Handbook, published by Dundurn. This book (conveniently timed just before a big-budget movie is released this month starring Robert Downey, Jr., as the great detective) is a reference book about Sherlock Holmes: the characters and themes, the author (Sir Arthur Conan Doyle), the publishers and readers, Victorian London, radio actors and cartoonists, the fans who cling to Holmes's reality and the literary scholars who tease out motifs from the 56 short stories and four novels. Writing about matters Sherlockian has been a big part of my life, and this time I've filled 336 pages.


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Link of the day


When and where

Philosophy colloquium: Edouard Machery, University of Pittsburgh, “Three Neuroscientific Objections Against the Massive Modularity Hypothesis” 3:30, Humanities room 373.

Lessons and carols service with Chapel Choir, 5:30 p.m., Conrad Grebel UC chapel.

General Services Complex and Commissary building: electrical power shut down Saturday 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Health Services building: hot and cold water shut down Saturday 8 a.m. to noon.

Warrior sports this weekend: Women’s volleyball tournament, Icefield gym, Saturday-Sunday. • Men’s hockey vs. Windsor, Saturday 7:30, Icefield. • Women’s hockey at Queen’s Saturday, at UOIT Sunday.

National Day of Remembrance and Action: 20th anniversary of École Polytechnique shootings, memorial lunch sponsored by Canadian Federation of University Women, Sunday, 12:00, Holiday Inn, Kitchener, tickets $50, information 519-740-5249.

Kinesiology Lab Days for visiting high school students, December 7-11 and 14-16, Matthews Hall, information carchiba@

‘Commercialization Model for Life/Health and Environmental Sciences in Waterloo Region’ presentation organized by Canada’s Technology Triangle, Monday 9:00 a.m., Pharmacy building room 1008.

Applied Complexity and Innovation seminar: J. Doyne Farmer, Santa Fe Institute, “Laws of Technological Progress” Monday 12:00, Tatham Center room 2218, information ext. 84490.

Interdisciplinary Centre on Climate Change seminar: Abel El-Shaarawi, McMaster University, “Monitoring Toxic Contaminants in Large Ecosystems: PCBs in the Great Lakes” Monday 12:00, Environment I room 350.

Institute for Computer Research presents Michael Lee (Rogers) and Cul Lee (Thoora), “Accelerating Canada’s Technology Innovation” Monday 2:30, Davis Centre room 1302.

Senate executive committee Monday 3:30, Needles Hall room 3004.

The Change Agents Series: George Roter, Engineers Without Borders, speaks Monday 5:00, Accelerator Centre, 295 Hagey Boulevard. Reservations.

WatITis one-day conference for information technology staff, Tuesday. Details.

Carol sing led by UW Choir, Chamber Choir and Chapel Choir, Tuesday 12:00, Davis Centre great hall, cancelled.

Faculty Association of UW fall general meeting Tuesday 2 p.m., Math and Computer room 4020.

Canadian Federation of University Women monthly meeting: Michelle Hur, Enermodal Engineering, “Buildings for a Greener World” Tuesday 7:30 p.m., First United Church, King and William Streets.

Grand River Transit initial sign-up for staff and faculty bus passes through payroll deduction, Wednesday 11:00 to 2:00, Davis Centre room 1302. Details.

Federation of Students town hall forum on “diversity at UW” Wednesday 12:00 noon, Student Life Centre great hall.

Department of history celebration of faculty achievements, with remarks by six professors about their recent books, Wednesday 2:00 to 4:00, UW bookstore, South Campus Hall.

Centre for Teaching Excellence instructional skills workshop December 11, 14 and 16, Flex Lab, Dana Porter Library. Details.

Ontario Research Funding celebration of grant recipients at UW and Wilfrid Laurier University, December 11, 10:00 a.m., Chemistry II room 064, by invitation, information ext. 33580.

Fee payment deadline for winter term, December 17 (promissory note), December 29 (bank transfer). Details.

Eddie Goodwin, UW central stores, reception to mark retirement after 42 years at UW, December 17, 2:00 to 5:00, Davis Centre lounge, RSVP cjaray@

Society of Waterloo Architecture Graduates holiday soiree (“fancy clothes, live music and hors d’oeuvres”) December 17, 8:00 p.m., Lily Ruth Restaurant, Cambridge, tickets $10 from swagcouncil@

Payday for faculty and monthly-paid staff Wednesday, December 23; for biweekly-paid staff, December 18 and 31.

One click away

Moving out of residence at term's end
'Help us establish the Centre for Student Innovation'
Canadian Digital Media Network has a web site
Faculty of Environment has a Facebook fan page
Former UW dean promoting research as Windsor VP
Review of new book BlackBerry Planet
Researchers: 'why we can't remember who we've told what'
For spinoff Polar Mobile, US is next, then the world
Not enough seats at Canadian medical schools
Economic development through 'innovation cluster theory'
Medical school will share space with UW in Huntsville
Refugee talk at UW draws national publicity
Poll gives universities 'good marks' for quality. . . and calls them a 'must-have' for success

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