Impr int The university of Waterloo’s official student newspaper
Friday, March 27, 2009
vol 31, no 32
imprint . uwaterloo . ca
Festival NAme — celebrate the beauty of culture on page 16
P e a c e th r o u g h p a p er
Yume Peace Project — more photos on page 17
Trouble at St J’s prompts vote St. Jerome’s University Academic Staff Association to push for unionization Adrienne Raw staff reporter
he faculty of St. Jerome’s University (SJU) took a vote of no confidence in university president Dr. David Perrin on January 29. Of the 27 ballots cast, 20 were in favour of a “no confidence” motion, two were opposed, and four abstained. The final ballot was spoiled and thus not counted. The vote sparked a flurry of responses from the community, including several articles and opinion pieces in The Record. But the vote is only a small piece of the story, one event in a long chain that has led to the current drive of SJU’s faculty association: unionization. Before the arrival of new president David Perrin in August 2007, tension already existed between the Board of Governors and the faculty, and between the Dean and the faculty. “There were some serious issues,” said Dr. David Seljak, president of the university’s faculty association, “but they could have been worked
out, and the new president, we thought, would help work them out. So we were very enthusiastic when he arrived, looking forward to working out these problems.” What we’re seeing at SJU, said Seljak, is “a real crash in morale.” “This crisis in morale,” he said, “preceded David Perrin’s arrival, but he hasn’t done enough to address it. In fact he’s made it worse.” A recent campus climate survey aimed at determining the trust faculty and staff had in senior decision-makers revealed startling results with regards to staff morale. “The results were very bad,” said Prof. Steven Furino, a former professor at SJU who is currently teaching math at UW. Some of these numbers included the 80 per cent of all SJU employees who felt the senior administrators didn’t act transparently and the 50 per cent of employees who said they would leave the university if they could find suitable positions at another institution. Only 20 per cent of respondents thought SJU was living up to its ideals as an institution.
“Those are astonishingly poor results,” said Seljak. When questioned about the results, the president and dean, Furino said, “simply did not answer when asked direct questions. And for the president you will find that a recurring theme. He does not answer questions.” After the results of the survey were published, several SJU staff and faculty attended a private meeting held after hours and off school grounds. “My understanding,” said Furino, “is that all of the staff members who had attended that meeting have either been dismissed or have left under duress.” Furino added that, “In my judgment, there is no legitimate reason to pursue dissidents at a university. That’s large fraction of the function of a university: critical thinking. Dissidents happen all the time.” Imprint has not been able to confirm whether this private meeting had any bearing on dismissals or departures from SJU. Since Perrin’s arrival at SJU, eight staff or faculty have retired, resigned, or been
dismissed. This number represents a huge turnover rate in an institution where employees traditionally been employed for long periods. In the past, Seljak said, SJU was a “very stable work environment” with one staff departure maybe every 18 months to two years. “People had better opportunities,” said Seljak, “but they stayed because it was a nice place to work.” However since Perrin’s arrival, that environment has changed, resulting in numerous departures. Of the eight departing staff, four were directors. Furino was one of the departures that occurred after Perrin’s arrival. “Given the breakdown in trust, breakdown in collegiality, and the dysfunction both on the academic side and on the church side, I certainly started to look [for a new position]. I had a meeting with the president that I could only describe as surreal and that convinced me that it was time to go. So I left.” See NO, page 3
Imprint, Friday, March 27, 2009 email@example.com
Academic freedom also means the ability to criticize the institution itself, to criticize the administration of your own university. — David Seljak President, SJU faculty association
Disputes were not limited to the faculty. The Catholic community that worshipped at St. Jerome’s University, and the university’s chaplaincy team, also clashed with Perrin. A major conflict was the allocation of the $200,000 surplus accumulated through Sunday worship. The worshipping community believed the money should go to services “for the purposes of the chaplaincy,” said Furino, while Perrin argued that the money belonged to the university to be used for whatever purpose the institution deemed necessary, including areas such as maintenance. The issue was resolved in favour of the worshipping community after a year of public debate. Seljak told Imprint he felt Perrin’s management style also put him in conflict with the university’s three-person chaplaincy team: Father Jim Link, Melinda Szilva, and Carol Persin. This conflict resulted in the resignation of all three of these individuals within the same week. Two took early retirement and one resigned. Perrin, questioned at College Council (composed of all SJU employees acting as an advisory for the president) about the resignations, said that he knew only that the chaplaincy team had resigned or retired for personal reasons. The council, seeking to know why the team had resigned, sought to create a committee to interview the three former employees. These interviews, according to a January 28 memo from Seljak to the Executive Committee of the Board of Governors, were “intended to discover the truth about an event that has serious consequences for the SJU community.” The interviews themselves became a source of friction, as the College Council was told by the executive of the board not to conduct the interviews because, according to a July 24 memo to the steering committee of the College Council, the “decision reflects a clear encroachment beyond College
“That’s when the faculty association has to draw the line,” said Seljak. “The president doesn’t have the right to tell us what questions we are entitled or not entitled to ask. This College Council is an advisory body to the president and we have to base our advice on facts, and so we have the right to ask questions.” The faculty was concerned with what they saw as an attempt to suppress the facts. “We can’t operate in the realm of these kinds of misrepresentations of truth,” Seljak said. It was at this point that the faculty decided to take a vote of non-confidence. Votes of non-confidence, such as the one undertaken by the faculty at SJU, are not a frequent occurrence, nor are they an event to be taken lightly. The faculty association had three main reasons for holding the vote of non-confidence. The first and foremost of these reasons, said Seljak is that “the president does not respect sufficiently academic freedom and the principle of collegial governance.” Collegial governance, an idea many in the academic world live by, is an administration model where the president “considers himself to be a colleague of the people that work for him,” said Seljak. While legally the decision-making power is in the hands of the president, “the president usually does not make decisions unilaterally,” Seljak said, arguing that a president instead often takes the advice of his colleagues, who act as an advisory board. “[Collegiality] also means the president requires the confidence of his colleagues,” said Seljak. “We feel that David Perrin doesn’t understand or accept the principle of collegial governance,” said Seljak, and claimed Perrin made unilateral decisions without consulting the faculty. According to former staff, one of Perrin’s first decisions as president was to change the salary policy for staff. “Changing competition packages is always a big thing,” said Steven Furino, a former
If St. Jerome’s faculty successfully form a union, they will be leaving UW’s Faculty Association to form their own unionized association. Council’s mandate[.]” With this decision, Seljak said the executive violated policy established by the board of governors and, more seriously, “violated the academic freedom, we felt, of the staff members and the faculty members of St. Jerome’s University.” Academic freedom, Seljak clarified, is not just the right to research and write about what you want: “Academic freedom also means the ability to criticize the institution itself, to criticize the administration of your own university,” Seljak said. The refusal to allow the College Council to investigate the departures of the chaplaincy team was followed by a memo from the Board of Governors saying that it had instructed the president and the dean not to attend College Council. The official reason was that the council was undertaking actions that were beyond its authority. Seljak also stated that the issue of entitlement to ask questions arose in this context, though Perrin could not be reached for comment to confirm.
Continued from cover
professor at SJU currently working at UW. “There is a policy at the University of Waterloo […] about how changes in salary are to be done and he did not abide by that policy.” According to Furino, there was no negotiation with regards to these changes, and they “were never subjected to third party verification.” “[Perrin is] trying to impose a structure on St. Jerome’s that would institutionalize that kind of business management model,” said Seljak. “Now, there’s nothing wrong with business management if it makes things more efficient and effective, but to impose a business management model that makes things less effective and efficient, that’s a problem.” Perrin’s management model, Seljak said, has made things less effective and efficient because his unilateral decisions have eroded his faculty support. And if the faculty doesn’t support the president’s leadership, they won’t go to any great lengths to ensure his projects are successful. “We’re all very busy,” said
NO: Academic staff at odds with St. J’s college president Seljak. “We all have hundreds of things to do. We’ll just do something else.” Additional reasons for the vote of nonconfidence were an evasive style of communication that left individuals feeling as though they were not getting straight answers, and a failure of leadership in addressing the crisis in morale at St. Jerome’s. In light of the overwhelming results of the non-confidence vote and the ongoing tensions at SJU, the university’s faculty association is currently in the processing of unionizing. The move to pursue certification was also based on the fact that any memorandum of agreement between the faculty association and the administration would be a type of “gentleman’s agreement,” and the faculty and staff would have no legal recourse in the face of violations of the agreement by the Board or the administration. “In the past,” said Seljak, “a high level of trust between faculty, the administration and the board has meant that such questions never arose.” Recent events, however, have changed relations between the faculty and the board. The new St. Jerome’s University Academic Staff Association, created by the faculty on March 3, has several stated objectives, including to “promote the welfare of the academic staff of the University, keeping in mind the good of the University as a whole.” The association will, according to Seljak, “devote itself to becoming the sole bargaining agent for a bargaining unit,” in this case 30 full-time professors and the university’s librarian. The association has already collected more than the minimum 40 per cent of the bargaining unit needed to apply for a vote of unionization, and this information was presented to the Ontario Labour Relations Board. That vote, Seljak said, will likely occur on March 31. “If you win a majority of that vote,” he said, “you become a union and the administration is forced to negotiate a collective agreement with that union.” The SJU faculty is currently represented by the Faculty Association at the University of Waterloo (FAUW), which is not a union. If they successfully form a union, they will be leaving UW’s Faculty Association to form their own unionized association. Seljak is confident that a unionized faculty association will be well supported by faculty and staff. He said, however, that, “This is perhaps the most reluctant union organization in Canadian labour history.” “We have been pushed into certification by an administration that refuses to listen, acts unilaterally, and, frankly, acts unfairly,” said Seljak. He adds that the union’s only desire is to “defend the principle of academic freedom and collegial governance,”
and that the union is not planning to make any demands for higher salary or better benefits. While the original motivations are forming a certified faculty association were linked with the current situation at SJU, Seljak said that, ”many faculty — myself included — have come to believe that unionization is in fact a better way to go in the long run. Many feel that a unionized faculty would provide some guarantee of collegial participation in the decision-making process around terms of employment. Of course, we do not expect to dictate the terms of employment, but we do expect to have a voice.” “The goal, essentially, is to come to some kind of new relationship with St. Jerome’s University that will help the university better serve its students and its community,” said Seljak. He later added that, “We really seek cooperation and reconciliation, but in order to have that co-operation and reconciliation you have to have clear boundaries and that’s basically what we’re trying to create.” Certification, he said, will clarify the relationship between the faculty association and the administration, something that has, up to this point, not been clearly defined. When asked whether he felt St. Jerome’s would continue to function well with Perrin as its president, Furino’s reply was immediate: “Absolutely not.” Though says he enjoyed working at SJU for the people — whom he said were “fabulous to work with” — and the close-knit relationship with students, he said that “more than the president would have to go” before he would consider returning. When asked to provide his perspective on the events at St. Jerome’s University, Perrin replied: “It is not appropriate for me to comment on the symbolic no-confidence vote while we are looking forward to our external consultant’s report that was contracted by our board of governors in relationship to internal events at St. Jerome’s University.” In a brief statement released to Imprint on February 19, Sebastien Kundra, in his capacity as president of the St. Jerome’s Students’ Union, said, “St. Jerome’s Students’ Union continues to express full confidence in the president. Currently this situation is not affecting student learning and student life in any capacity. St. Jerome’s Students’ Union is hopeful that this situation will be resolved in the near future.” Despite repeated attempts, Imprint was unable to get comment from Perrin, or a representative of the St. Jerome’s University Board of Governors for comment. firstname.lastname@example.org
Look to the final Imprint of Winter 2009 (April 3) for follow-up on the Tuesday, March 31 unionization vote, and other developments in this issue as they arise.
Imprint, Friday, March 27, 2009
Perimeter expanding Top physics institution needs more space
Ryan Webb assistant news editor
British MP Galloway banned from entering Canada, speaking at Canadian university
The Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics has outgrown its space. Waterloo City Council approved a proposal March 23 that would allow PI to double the size of its research institution by 2011. Ryan Webb assistant news editor
he Perimeter Institute of Theoretical Physics continues to build on its international reputation. On March 23, Waterloo City Council approved an updated lease agreement with the UW-affiliated research institute that allows it to proceed with an ambitious plan to nearly “double the size” of its Waterloo facility. The agreement also leases 31 city-owned parking spots in order to meet the increased need. Dr. Neil Turok, PI’s executive director and the chair of mathematical physics at Cambridge University, represented the institute in the motion filed in Council. The newly amended agreement is the first step in a process that
will rely on the gambit of federal, provincial and private funding to add an additional 55,000 square feet to the existing 65,000 square foot building. Following council’s consent, Turok released a statement through PI that said the expansion puts it, “in a position to assemble a research community of unequalled strength and synergy, consisting of worldleading theorists in a wide range of complementary disciplines.” In the January 9, 2009 issue of Imprint we reported that one of these researchers visiting scholars, A Brief History of Time author Stephen Hawking, will begin his first extended stay in Waterloo this June as Distinguished Research Chair. Hawking and Turok are close associates from their work together on cosmic inflation at Cambridge University, which resulted in the Hawking-Turok instanton.
PI stressed a commitment to maintaining its current environmental footprint. A primary focus was the integrity of walking trails and Waterloo Park, onto which PI fronts. The lease agreement stipulates that the site plan requires approval from the Grand River Conservation Authority to proceed. The agreement stipulates that the conservation authority’s approval, along with access to necessary capital and planning be finalized by July 31, 2009. A building permit will be granted on October 31, 2009 and allows two years for construction. PI was founded in 1999 to gather internationally recognized physicists to “push the limits of our understanding of space, time, matter and information, as well as share their work with the general public.”
The controversial British Member of Parliament George Galloway has been declared persona non grata in Canada, a Canadian immigration spokesperson declared March 20, less than two weeks before he was set to visit this country on a speaking tour. Among the venues he was expected to speak at was the University of Toronto in Mississauga. Galloway, an MP from the leftwing Respect party, is known for his outspoken views on Israeli, American, and British foreign policy. He has also been critical of Canada’s role in the Afghanistan mission. On his website, in response to the barring, Galloway wrote that, “Young Canadian soldiers are dying in significant numbers on Afghanistan’s plains. Their families are entitled to know how many of us believe this adventure to be similarly doomed and that genuine support for troops - British, Canadian and other - means bringing them home and changing course.” On March 9, following the cessation of immediate hostilities between Israel and Hamas, Galloway and hundreds of volunteers arrived in the Gaza Strip as part of a large convoy, dubbed Viva Palestina with over $1.5 million-worth of aid supplies for the Hamas-led government. This support has resulted in rebukes for the MP from many quarters. Amongst those taking notice was Conservative Immigration Minister Jason Kenney. A spokesperson for Kenney told AFP that the CBSA had made their decision because Galloway had “given cash and vehicles” to Hamas, a “banned terrorist group.” Kenney has the ultimate legislative authority for deciding whether or not to allow visitors into this country. Kenney has declared he “would not be interested” in overturning the decision. — With files from the National Post, The Varsity, and AFP
UofG president denies threatening unionized employees with school closure
The president of the University of Guelph is denying accusations that he threatened employees with the university’s closure if they did not open negotiations on their collective bargaining agreements. In an interview with the Guelph Mercury on March 24, Alastair Summerlee insisted that he was “absolutely puzzled” and that he had not and would not make “such a threat.” He said it “wouldn’t be appropriate” for him to ask employees to re-open their contracts for discussion. The Canadian Union of Public Employees Ontario, the organization that represents UofG’s unionized employees, had accused the administration of doing just that. In a statement Sid Ryan, the president of CUPE Ontario, said, “It seems the University of Guelph is taking a page out of the Chrysler play-book by blackmailing employees and threatening closure if they don’t open up collective agreements and give concessions.” The accusations stem from a March 10 announcement that Summerlee gave to interest groups. However, Summerlee himself claims that the initiatives he proposed had a “four-year plan associated with it.” Summerlee is not denying that UofG is facing difficult economic times. As is the trend amongst post-secondary institutions, endowment payments and the value of the university’s investments have declined due to the global economic downturn. The school is currently running a $16 million operating deficit and is looking to “remove close to $48 million out of the university.” 122 staff and 68 faculty took advantage of a voluntary departure program that is expected to save $20 million per year. CUPE represents unionized employees such as lecturers, teaching assistant and clerical and maintenance workers. — With files from Guelph Mercury and National Post email@example.com
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China proposes a new reserve currency Katrina Massey reporter
Ryan Webb assistant news editor
China raises prospect of a “world monetary union”
The head of the People’s Bank of China, Zhou Xiaochuan, has proposed a shift away from the United States dollar as the world’s reserve currency in an essay posted March 23, on the central bank’s website. Xiaochuan proposed wider use of Special Drawing Rights (SDRs), a unit of account that is currently based on a ratio of the dollar, the euro, the yen and the pound sterling, and is set by the International Monetary Fund. The following day, in response to a query at a gathering of the Council on Foreign Relations, President Obama’s top financial advisor, Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner, said that the administration “is open” to that idea. However, Geithner, eased away from categorizing wider use of SDRs as a precursor to a world currency and suggested instead that it should be regarded as an “evolutionary” step in free trade. Currency markets reacted immediately to Geithner’s surprise statement, and the dollar lost 1.3 per cent against the euro. The session’s moderator, the former U.S. deputy Treasury secretary Roger Altman, realized Geithner’s gaff and returned to the question minutes later. Geithner responded by retreating from his earlier statement and assert that, “I think the dollar remains the world’s dominant reserve currency.” The dollar proceeded to recoup most of its losses. These developments come as the U.S. government has passed a budget with record deficit spending, arguing that government expenditures are vital for remedying the current economic crisis. Deficit spending could also potentially deflate the value of the USD, and, as the country’s outstanding debt continues to grow, it becomes less attractive for creditors to continue feeding its economy with loans. The USD has remained the dominant reserve currency in the postWorld War II era. As China’s economy has grown, it has become the largest sovereign holder of U.S. debt and treasuries. Economists postulate that, because of its holdings, any move by
China to reduce its reliance on the USD would necessarily result in a reduction of its value in currency markets. “The [global economic] crisis does raise a lot of fundamental issues about the architecture of the global financial system, and the reserve currency is one of them,” the Financial Times quoted Morris Goldstein, a fellow at the Petersen Institute. — With files from the Financial Times Hague Court sentences Rwandan to 20 years for killing Tutsis in 1994
THE HAGUE, Netherlands Forty-year-old Hutu Joseph Mpambara was convicted on March 23 of multiple murders which occurred during the 1994 Rwandan genocide. He was subsequently sentenced to 20 years in prison by the Hague Criminal Court. “The crimes this man committed are among the most serious ever to come before a Dutch court,” the judges reportedly said. Mpambara was convicted of several crimes related to torture. He was found guilty in the killing of at least two Tutsi women and four of their children. He had ordered them out of an ambulance they had been using to flee Rwanda, and had then hacked them to death using clubs and machetes. He was also found guilty of torture relating to mental anguish when he threatened the lives of German doctor Dr. Wolfgang Blam, his Tutsi wife, and son. Mpambara detained them at a roadblock as they tried to flee, and apparently asked the woman which of three villages she would like to be killed in, constituting psychological torture. Mpambara was however acquitted of several other charges. One involved the murder of Tutsis at a shelter in Rwanda, which had inconsistent testimonies. The other involved the rape of four women and the slaying of another in a separate incident, which was cleared because only one witness was able to allege this, which is not sufficient grounds for Dutch courts. He was not tried for genocide because he was not a member of the government militia which orchestrated
the massacre that resulted in the deaths of 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus in a span of 100 days. Allegations against Mpambara were first brought to light when he applied for asylum in The Netherlands in 1998.
odays’s world puts a bounty on green ideas. Environmental student Bianca Sayan and AFM student Megan Chan were awarded a $25,000 prize on Monday for their proposal, “My Green Neighbour.” Their document outlined the feasibility for individual investors to lend money to homeowners for “green” renovations. The idea is that the homeowner can use the money saved by reducing energy costs to repay their loans, and will continue to reap the benefits once the loan is paid. The prize, awarded by the TD Bank’s “Friends of the Environment” Foundation, will be split evenly between the students and the Faculty of Environment. Sayan and Chan were one of 4 winning groups, chosen from 182 entries representing 52 schools.
The duo highlighted the interdisciplinary nature of their team. Sayan stressed the importance of interdisciplinary problem solving, saying, “We won’t continue operating in disciplinary silos. This is going to be the case especially in sustainability because you can’t just solve an engineering problem or a city planning problem. Each problem relates intricately to several areas; for instance, sustainable transportation requires engineering, city planning, behavioural psychology, and cultural anthropology. You can’t solve the problem only looking at one of these aspects.” This is the second year that UW students have won the prize. Last April, UW graduate students Jeremy Finkleman, Matthew Lee, and Ben Clare also won $25,000 for their bicycle-sharing proposal. That year, the Faculty of Environment put their half of the reward towards their Transportation Research Group fund.
— With files from BBC and Reuters
— With files from AP, BBC, and Radio Netherlands Worldwide
Global community turns back on Madacasgar’s military regime
Mexico offers US$2 million reward for arrest of drug lords
Current Madagascar President Andre Rajoelina, who was inaugurated on March 21, has drawn critical glares from the international community after he overthrew former President Marc Ravalomanana with military backing last week. The former mayor of the country’s capital, Antananarivo, claimed that his rise to power was the popular will of the Malagasy but refused to hold a snap poll, instead claiming that an election would be held in two years. Reportedly, Rajoelina’s popularity outside of Antananarivo has not been tested. “The United States condemns the process through which Marc Ravalomanana was forced to resign
CIUDAD JUAREZ, Mexico In an attempt to tackle Mexico’s dramatic increase in drug violence this past year, the country will be offering rewards of up to $2 million US for those who provide information leading to the arrest of 24 individuals listed as Mexico’s most-wanted drug gang chiefs, their attorney general said on March 23. Among those on the list is the head of the Sinaloa cartel, Joaquin ‘el Chapo’ Guzman, one of the world’s billionaires. Others suspected of being heads of cartels are also listed, while some such as Guzman and Ismael Zambada already had a $5 million bounty on them provided by the United States government. This effort is Mexico’s first that offers rewards for all most-wanted cartel members at once. Their government, along with that of the United States, are combining forces to tackle Mexico’s rise in border drug violence that had on occasion spilled over into the US. President Barack Obama is due to visit the country in a month to discuss issues related to these drug battles. Mexico has experienced some successes since their president ordered 7,500 troops and 2,500 federal police to the border city of Ciudad Juarez in early March, an area notorious for drug violence. “The number of violent deaths linked to organized crime in Ciudad Juarez has fallen by more than 70 per cent,” said Public Security Minister Genaro Garcia Luna. At the start of the year, up to 15 drug-related murders were occurring each day in the city. Currently, these numbers are at two a day. Mexico presently has 45,000 troops placed in locations all over the country that are battling their six main cartels.
Show me the green Michael L. Davenport incoming editor-in-chief
However, while drug violence has decreased in Ciudad Juarez, it is reportedly on the rise in the states of Michoacan and Durango.
TD Bank’s “Friends of the Environment” initiative is part of the growing effort on the part of banks to be more environmentally conscious. On March 7, the Bank of Montreal re-opened a Toronto branch, stating that it was now powered by “emission-free” electricity. Also, late last year, the Royal Bank of Canada switched all office paper to “sustainably sourced” stocks. firstname.lastname@example.org
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as president of the Republic of Madagascar,” said Robert Wood, spokesman for the United States State Department. The United States, along with Norway, has already frozen aid to the country in protest. Madagascar is heavily dependent on donor funding and the United States is one of its biggest donors. In Madagascar as much as 70 per cent of government funds come from foreign donors and different aid organisations... If these donors decide to stop all aid for Madagascar, the country could face a big social and economic problem,” said Fanja Ratsimbazafy, Secretary-General of the Malagasy Red Cross. In addition to this withdrawal of aid, the African Union suspended Madagascar from their organisation on March 20, calling the government handover “unacceptable and illegal.” The South African Development Community also refuses to recognize Rajoelina’s presidency and has threatened to impose sanctions on the country. — With files from CNN and IRIN email@example.com
Student social justice and environmental action since 1973!
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WPIRG’s ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING and 35th Anniversary Bash! At this year’s AGM, YOU can elect 5 new board members! Find out about the year’s highlights and financial report, appoint an auditor, change bylaws and give your input! Join us for dinner and dessert to celebrate 35 years of student action and appreciate WPIRG’s amazing volunteers! Meet other students who are passionate about social justice and environmental issues Please RSVP for dinner at firstname.lastname@example.org. All UW students and community members are invited! For more info on the AGM and election visit: UW SLC 2139, http://wpirg.org, or call 888-4882.
April 2, 2009 5:00-7:00 MC 4021
5 New board members will be elected at this year’s AGM See their profiles at wpirg.org or in our bulletin board in the SLC
Board of Directors email@example.com President, Sherif Soliman firstname.lastname@example.org Vice-president, Vacant email@example.com Treasurer, Lu Jiang firstname.lastname@example.org Secretary, Vanessa Pinelli email@example.com Staff liaison, Peter Trinh firstname.lastname@example.org
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A newspaper needs to be accountable to someone. I have, however, always strenuously argued that Imprint is: it’s accountable to you.
Editor-in-chief, Maggie Clark email@example.com Incoming EIC, Michael L. Davenport firstname.lastname@example.org Advertising & Production Manager, Laurie Tigert-Dumas email@example.com General Manager, Catherine Bolger firstname.lastname@example.org Ad Assistant, vacant Sales Assisstant, vacant Systems Admin. Dan Agar Distribution, Garrett Saunders Distribution, Sherif Soliman Interns, Julia Gelfand, Brandon Rampelt Volunteer co-ordinator, Dinh Nguyen
s my time at Imprint draws to a close, I find many misconceptions about Imprint’s operating structure still rampant in the UW community. So this week, as our incoming editor-in-chief (EIC), Michael L. Davenport, introduces himself formally to the Opinion section, I’d like to address some of those concerns. First and foremost, it’s important to remember just what Imprint is. Imprint has a mission statement somewhat unique among student newspapers in Canada: our objective is both to produce a publication that engages and informs the student body, and to provide a learning environment for journalism on UW’s campus. This last is crucial, and often overlooked or misunderstood. Let me be clear, then: there is no journalism program on UW’s campus — and university being what it is, many students will find in the course of their studies that they need a change. But for an electrical engineer, say, who wants a chance to explore journalism — just explore! — there is nowhere else to go here. As such, the goal of maintaining a journalistic learning space for interested students is just as important to Imprint as the production of its weekly paper. Often this will lead to fairly evident lapses in the final product. Content that could have been stronger, or layouts that could have been more engaging, are occasionally left in intentionally, because many an editor or writer won’t grasp the relevant lessons if someone corrects all their mistakes for them. Sometimes having the piece or page in question torn apart during our weekly editorial-board (ed-board) meetings, or general staff meetings (Monday at 12:30 p.m., and open to the public), is the only way to educate — not just the editor or writer in question, but the whole of the office as well.
This is, however, not the only reason errors get through. One of the toughest for me, personally, has been learning to accept a smaller set of errors as the consequence of spending more time fixing a really big crisis elsewhere in the paper. So if there’s a typo on cover, or a missing photo credit, or a truly egregious headline for a stand-alone photo... chances are I was putting out a much more dramatic fire somewhere else. Then there are simple miscommunications: however full the proofreading table is on any given production night, if editors aren’t inputting the changes, all that work is for naught. And this is hard to monitor from the big desk, especially as proofreaders might themselves not be right all the time: the best solution is still to empower editors and proofreaders to recognize opportunities for self-improvement, and further integration. And then, of course, there are institution-specific issues: Most student newspapers have a managing or layout editor, who splits the editor-in-chief ’s work by tackling all design. Imprint does not have either position, meaning all section editors lay out their own content (thus maximizing their ability to learn the full breadth of print journalism during their time here), and it falls to the editor-in-chief to standardize style choices throughout the paper. This is easier said than done, especially because the style guide is itself, by the dictates of our policies and procedures, a living document to be changed when necessary by the EIC and the whole of the editorial board. As such, there is an implicit agreement at work that allows section editors to try out new things (usually small; usually within the context of the existing layout) and present their experiments at ed-board or the general staff meeting for general adoption or dismissal. So there will always be some measure of variance, for better or for worse, in keeping with our two-part mission statement. It especially bears mentioning, though, that this balance between EIC and staff-atlarge is seen all across the paper: Since the mid-eighties, the EIC has never had a vote — not in the election of section editors, not in the promotion of general volunteers to staff status, not in the inclusion of column or comic submissions. The voting body of Imprint is instead the volunteer staff themselves: they decide what content they want to see in Imprint on a weekly basis, and who
they want on masthead positions. What the EIC does have control over is the publication of individual articles — which is why I might pull a column one week, for reasons of inappropriate or inadequate content — and the removal of staff from ed-board positions if they fail to fulfill their duties. Some past EICs have likened their role to that of a “facilitator,” and I agree that, with regard to the decision-making process of Imprint, this is an apt description.
Our objective is both to produce a publication that engages and informs the student body, and to provide a learning environment for journalism on UW’s campus.
It is not, however, the whole description, because of course the EIC is also the voice of Imprint — its public presence externally, and its dominant teaching influence internally. As much as I may want to give my volunteers room to grow on and through these pages, I am still responsible for the content that gets published, meaning I have to balance the line between educating my volunteer staff and maximizing Imprint’s positive influence in the community at large. This is especially true because Imprint is a very privileged publication: not only do we have a large, vibrant, and engaging office environment, we also have autonomy. This means we are not tied to any one faculty, and we are certainly not beholden to the university administration. The Federation of Students may administer our student fee, but they too have absolutely no editorial control over us. This autonomy was hard-won: again in the mideighties, a rather power-hungry Feds president once sought to control Imprint; he wanted a mandatory Feds column in the paper, a seat on our board of directors, and veto power over the editorial content in these pages. See TRANSITION, page 9
Student Life Centre, Room 1116 University of Waterloo Waterloo, Ontario N2L 3G1 P: 519.888.4048 F: 519.884.7800 http://imprint.uwaterloo.ca
Production Staff Bogdan Petrescu, Katrina Massey, Alicia Mah, Shane Taylor, Andew Dodds, Paul Collier, Susie Roma
Transition of power Clarifying misconceptions about Imprint and the role of the EIC
Friday, March 27, 2009 Vol. 31, No. 32
Editorial Staff Assistant Editor, Dinh Nguyen Head Reporter, Vacant Lead Proofreader, Alicia Boers Cover Editor, Veronika Zaretsky News Editor, Vacant News Assistant, Ryan Webb Opinion Editor, Adrienne Raw Opinion Assistant, Christine Nanteza Features Editor, Vacant Features Assistant, Mark Zammit Arts & Entertainment Editor, Tina Ironstone Arts & Entertainment Assistant, Vacant Science & Tech Editor, Rajul Saleh Science & Tech Assistant, Vacant Sports & Living Editor, Caitlin McIntyre Sports & Living Assistant, Vacant Photo Editor, Amy LeBlanc Photo Assistant, Shannon Purves Graphics Editor, Armel Chesnais Graphics Assistant, Paul Collier Web Administrator, Arianna Villa Systems Administrator, Mohammad Jangda
Imprint, Friday, March 27, 2009 email@example.com
Imprint, Friday, March 27, 2009
The challenge of choice ecently, I was faced with a difficult choice. When afforded the opportunity to become Imprint’s next editorin-chief, I already had the next six months of my life planned out. Accidents of fate caused two job application processes to overlap, and I had already accepted an offer to spend the summer with Engineering Science Quest (ESQ), a prospect I found exciting in its own right. In the meantime, I was playing a key role in staffing a local Subway — my sudden disappearance from that place would adversely affect the operations of the store. Should I rearrange my life on a dime, quit my sandwich making job in an instant, and renege on a job offer I already accepted? Or should I continue on the careful plan I had drafted in advance? You’re reading these words, so you obviously know which choice I made. I realize how ridiculous it is to complain about one fantastic opportunity, let alone two, but at the instant I was presented with my choice, I was distraught — I cursed the series of events that
brought me to this difficult decision. This is a human weakness. People sometimes gravitate away from making choices. Here’s an example from my recent experience as a Sandwich Artist: customers would walk into my store, and ask me what the best sandwich is. Or they’d walk in, and be upset that we didn’t have the daily specials — not because they wanted to save money per se, but because they wanted the choice to be made for them. The only conclusion I can draw is that people don’t like making choices. And that’s bad. This phenomenon — an aversion to making choices — is more applicable to students than one might immediately think. How many of us know someone in an unloving, dead-end relationship, because that state is the default? How many of us have a friend in a program not because they made a choice, but because their parents wanted it so? The choices we make (or refuse to make) aren’t always so explicit. How many of us made a conscious decision to go out last weekend, to check our favourite
webcomics last night, or go get lunch at Bomber? How many of us were merely using those things as vehicles of procrastination, or just doing them because they’re what we’ve always done? The thing I realized in the short time I had to make my decision was the necessity of becoming adept at making choices — difficult choices, at that. Not just for me, in my role of upholding the editorial standards of a newspaper, but for everybody. The chief financial officer who has to cut 10 per cent out of next year’s budget; the professor who has to design a curriculum that must fit into 11 weeks; the young couple deciding on whether to have or adopt children — anybody who plans on being somebody needs to become good at making choices. Local celebrity and Research in Motion (RIM) founder Mike Lazaridis and world-famous Microsoft founder Bill Gates have something in common: they both left university to start their own business (neglecting to graduate in the process). They both could have
stayed in school and finished their degrees, but they were presented with opportunity which others in their position could have ignored. They made a choice.
This phenomenon — an aversion to making choices — is more applicable to students than one might immediately think.
This is my editorial. This will be my voice for the coming year, and while I do not plan on turning it into an advice column, advice will nonetheless sometimes spill out. So, here is the first piece of advice I’ll give you: examine your routine. Reconsider your assumptions. Go out into the world. Put yourself in a position where you must make choices. Make a decision today, and own it.
Community Editorial So long Waterloo... The end could not come any sooner Sunny Ng former iron warrrior eic
s I’m approaching the end of my undergraduate career, I can’t help but notice that the longer I’ve been here, the more bitter I have become. However, I have met some really wonderful people in the last few years here and they’re probably the only reason why I don’t think Waterloo is entirely awful. Unfortunately, the bad definitely outweighs the good. First of all, there’s the student culture on campus. I’m really irked by the fact that the majority of the student population here does not care about… well, anything. You would think that an academic institution that is supposedly full of intellects would be aware and passionate about what’s around them. But, every time an election is called, whether student societies or Feds, I shake my head at the pathetic turnouts and the low number of individuals running for office. Yet, at the same time every student should care about services they pay for every term. The most controversial issue I have seen in the last few years amongst the student body was the Universal Bus Pass (U-Pass), but even then only around 34 per cent of the student population cared enough to have a say on this issue by voting. This lack of caring is very disappointing to say the least. It has led to the administration screwing students in every way possible and there are not enough students that care to
do anything about it. For example: introduction of PDEng/other PD programs, the end of what was known as the tradition of IRS (Iron Ring Stag; where fourth year engineers were allowed to dress-up and disrupt other engineering classes for a day), the removal of the B2 Green, human rights concerns in the new United Arab Emirates (UAE) campus, and most recently the proposal of a shortened Frosh Week. Even worse, speaking out is discouraged. Publishing an opinion piece in a faculty’s student newspaper like this was blocked by its Advisory Board. Yet there’s no problem in publishing messages from the Dean, messages praising PDEng, or other opinions that paints the administration in a positive light. Ever year in Engineering, part of the small traditions we had are taken away from us and the administration is fine with that. Students are left to defend themselves on their own such as during the Gradcomm Slave Auctions fiasco because somebody suddenly decides to be oversensitive and connecting dots that come from nowhere. I’m sure they were very constructive when they were ostracizing us too. Perhaps I was wrong to assume the above, and maybe I should consider that Waterloo is a school where education is of the utmost importance; at least that would explain the lack of common social etiquette and skills from students, and the arrogance of students that arise once they step into the workplace.
I wish at least that part was true, so there would be something to show for in spite of the above. Sometimes I wonder if not having a real IRS is a good thing because it used to be a time for students to say thanks to their professors. Frankly speaking, the number of professors outside my few non-engineering elective courses that I liked and found to be exceptional can be counted on one hand. But then I realize: no, I still want to be able to dick around during my last year of school as an engineering student, like those who graduated before us... so I want my IRS back please. It really baffles me how Waterloo manages to gets its high ranking in Maclean’s year after year. Most of the time I end up cramming myself with course content which I could regurgitate at my final exam and totally forget right after. It’s not because I’m lazy, but the lack of teaching quality does not motivate me to learn or think critically here. I find it is often ironic when professors complain about students skipping their classes, when students are the ones who should be complaining about the profs’ lack of engagement and teaching abilities. If students are able to perform well academically by not attending a single lecture, then it’s not the students’ problem. With all that being said, I’ve been asked many times during the last few months, “If I knew this was what I was getting into, would I pick the same path?” Sadly, I think I would still say yes. Because despite all that, without Waterloo’s alumni reputation, my
career options would be much more limited if I was coming out from a different school. On that final note, I would like to call out to every 2009 Engineering graduate to reconsider donating to the Plummer’s Pledge. This year’s Engineering Gradcomm chairs have chosen not to associate themselves
with it. If you are still on the fence about this, think about how the administration has fucked you. “MIT of the North?” Yeah, my ass. Editor’s Note: Do you have feedback (positive, negative, or “it’s complicated”) about your university experiences? Send them to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Imprint, Friday, March 27, 2009
You can’t always get what you want
ere’s a scenario that happens all too often in university love life. You meet the person of your dreams who is caring, funny, attractive, and smart. You connect with that person and have so many things in common. This person is insanely perfect for you, and the more you see them, the more you like them. However, there is only one problem: They are not single. So, what do you do? Steal them away? Wait patiently for a fight so you can swoop in? Wait for the perfect time to confess your love? Or do nothing? I hope that you can all imagine what my answer is, especially coming from someone in a serious relationship. The idea that someone is madly in love with my current boyfriend gives me the chills, so my answer is of course “do nothing.” Yeah, I can say I trust him to my heart’s content, but can I trust another girl? I know a couple of boyfriend-stealing girls — some are my close friends — and I can’t say it doesn’t happen. I have watched great relationships crumble at the hands of a third party who wanted someone they couldn’t have. Having to sit here and empathize with people who want things that don’t belong to them is not an easy task so I won’t do it. However, what I
can write about is why someone should back off and look for other fish once they realize that their object of desire is out of reach.
Why you should do nothing and move on First, you have to stand in the shoes of the person who is dating your crush. Imagine how it would feel if you knew someone was hoping you’d get lost, so they could move in? Imagine what it would feel like if you knew someone was making moves on your current partner while you were still dating them. Girls rip each other’s hair out over this stuff, and guys take each other outside to duke it out. Why? Because it’s wrong, and no one deserves to have their significant other taken out of their life. Secondly, if the person you like has the audacity to cheat or leave their current partner for you then they could do the same thing to you too. Why would you be so naive as to think that you have fixed someone’s cheating problem by cheating with them? Suddenly, that person doesn’t seem as great anymore, and now you are the one stuck in a relationship that was built from a lie. Why people think they can “change” a cheater
by dating them is beyond me. I don’t even know how to touch that issue without wanting to spit on something. Finally, you have to figure out why you are attracted to this person. Do you like them because they are nice? Because they are attractive? Did they give you subtle hints? The reasons you like someone may vary, but you must know why you do in order to stop yourself from liking that person. Are they really great at emotional talks? Do they have the best musical taste out of everyone you know? Although they may have some great qualities, I am willing to bet that none of those qualities add up to you having the right to ruin their relationship. It drives me crazy that people cheat, and then try to justify it. So here is a little list of warning signs that someone might want to jump your partner’s bones. If you know the signs of a developing emotional relationship, you might not be so shocked when your partner leaves you for the person who is only a “friend.”
Call me crazy or jealous, but when a girlfriend calls me up bawling her eyes out because at her boyfriend left her for a close female friend, they always wish they noticed the warning signs. If you have an open and trusting relationship you should be able to talk things over with your partner and amicably figure out how to move on. It is not easy by any means, but ignoring them will only eat away at your soul leaving
If you know the signs of a developing emotional relationship, you might not be so shocked when your partner leaves you for the person who is only a “friend.” you to wonder what’s really going on. As for those pining after someone’s significant other, you can’t always get what you want, so move on and find some other fish that are free for the taking.
Signs that your partner is being pursued by another
They have intimate conversations about failed relationships, and even discuss current ones with someone you are uncomfortable with. Yes, we all seek advice on relationships, but doing it with someone who your partner doesn’t trust is like building an emotional relationship behind their back. What comes after an emotional relationship? Feelings.
They do random nice things for each other. One bakes cookies for just the other, or will send the other a postcard from a trip. It could be sending special messages to do well on midterms, or when they reference things in your partner’s life that you don’t even know about.
Phone calls, emails, Facebook, notes, texts, and every mode of communication is used between them.
Your partner never refers to them by name, but always as a “friend” or a “classmate” or something else that is neutral. Hiding their name, is like hiding a part of their friendship and how often they are in contact.
The person who wants your partner will either tell you how amazingly lucky you are, or become your superficial friend who will never speak to you when you encounter them without your significant other by your side.
Your partner will mention something odd or something strange that happened to that person. Something that was only the other person’s problem is now something that is a problem for your partner.
Your partner always gets a hug hello and you are left hanging. Actually, you are the only one left hanging because that person hugs everyone except you. I might as well throw in lap sitting, shoulder rubbing, and hair playing while I am at it.
Your partner has suspected that this person may like them, but thought nothing of it. If your partner gets a sense that they are liked, they are probably right. If your partner tells you about it, you’re lucky because they are being honest and open with you. But if you ask your partner, and they confess to knowing all along, you might want to do some more digging as to why would they hide that from you?
Imprint, Friday, March 27, 2009
Co-op in recession CECS: What it isn’t doing for you
he month of February has seen continual decrease on Wall Street. The numbers are in and unemployment rose from 7.4 to 7.6 per cent; 40,000 to 70,000 jobs were lost in the month of February, according to Statistics Canada. Amidst the recession, our co-op jobs hang in the balance. For us co-op students, even though you had that interview, and you may have obtained that rank on JobMine, you’re still not guaranteed a job. I’ve heard so many stories about how ‘promised’ jobs were cancelled, leaving the student jobless with no time to find a new one. I know a lot of people who are still waiting for the contract to come in from the first round of interviews, and I’m guessing that those contracts will not be arriving in any time soon. Even if you’ve signed that piece of paper, the legal terms you agreed to only make your employer not expendable, while you are left with no guarantees. In other words, after you sign that paper you can’t find a better job and leave them, but they can leave you. Those contracts are reviewed by packs of lawyers—or in this economy—should I say lawyer. Simply put: co-op students are the bottom of the barrel. If a company annuls the contract, do you still get co-op credit? According to Co-operative Education and Career Services (CECS): “CECS cannot grant credit for something that you didn’t do.” You are expected to find a new job in that time. You may only have one week to find a new job in order to fulfill the 12-week minimum. So on top of not having a job, and no money, you don’t get a co-op credit which may mean you graduate late. Remember one thing, none of that is your fault, as a lot of companies are holding back on their student recruitment and CECS has moronic restrictions. However, what if you can’t even get a job in the first place? According to CECS: “If you fail to achieve enough co-op credits by the time you approach graduation, the faculty will ‘review’ your circumstances.” This can be interpreted as being held behind an extra year or term in order to make up that credit. But what if you bought one of those UW black leather jackets that say you “Class of 2011” on the shoulder, you would be doing a disservice to that jacket. Having to stay an extra year seems like wasted time without
a degree and a jacket that lies. On a side note, all the quotes were taken from an email from a CECS Public Relations (PR) representative. That’s the thing about dealing with PR reps; they never give you a straightforward answer, their language is always passive, and their answers are often filled with a lot of flutter and possibilities. On a similar topic, why do we still pay such high co-op fees? For as long as I’ve attended this school, co-op fees have increased every year, except this year. Co-op fees are just as high as they were the previous term. Hmm…while all of us take a pay cut, co-op advisors still seem to receive the same salary. This situation is equivalent to the $165 million bonus payment that is still going out to American International Group (AIG) employees this year. Agreed, CECS did find some jobs, but many of them were cancelled, and there’s still isn’t enough to go around. I’m not saying that we shouldn’t pay the co-op fees, but maybe the fees could be reduced. It’s a sort of paradox: we pay for co-op to help us get jobs, but co-op can’t find us jobs, so we don’t make money, and therefore we can’t pay for co-op. On a similar topic, it is my strong belief that if you return to your previous co-op job, you should not have to pay for your upcoming coop fee. What did co-op do this term to help you return to that job? So when I received an email from CECS halfway through my work term, telling us to see if we could return to our co-op jobs, you could see that I was irate. They want us to return to that co-op job, and continue to pay the co-op fee? To me, returning to a previous job seems to be a complete disregard for the fundamental basis of a four-month work term. If they wanted us to go back to the same jobs, why not just make the work terms eight months long? I know for a fact that other universities do that. To me, the payment structure of the CECS system is a lot like paying for health care in the United States; we all have to pool our money and those that get a job through JobMine benefit, while those that don’t still pay. However, in the States you can choose to not pay for health care. For some of us, co-op payment is not an option, like in engineering. The only other option you have is to go to another university.
Gas prices have fallen to 67 cents per litre, City Group is trading at a $3.50, and we can open those tax free savings accounts. Things are cheaper, why isn’t tuition? I only complain because we’re students; we’re suffering more than the average citizen. We don’t have a jobs, we’re paying for tuition, and we’re paying for our living expenses; food, shelter, and alcohol. Also who’s to say the economy can’t get worse. The economy isn’t going to be fixed in a matter of months. The economy could still get worse, and you might not find a job on the next school term.
The economy isn’t going to be fixed in a matter of months. The economy could still get worse, and you might not find a job on the next school term.
So in conclusion, you don’t get a co-op job, you don’t graduate on time, and you pay higher co-op fees. Does that seem right? Either you can live by the system and try to be penny-wise, or you can fight it.
Transition: Imprint 101 Continued from page 6
I hope to all heck that the potential for censorship inherent in any paper trying to write about the decisions of a group that controls it are self-evident—and it is most definitely important that Imprint have the capacity to call Feds as much to account on their handling of student issues as we do the UW administration as a whole. And yes, of course, autonomy is itself not a perfect concept: a newspaper needs to be accountable to someone. I have, however, always strenuously argued that Imprint is: it’s accountable to you. Nonetheless, students are understandably frustrated if there’s some delay getting letters to the editor published: the saddest cases of these are when students say in the letters themselves that they don’t expect the pieces to
be published, on account of the criticism they launch at Imprint. Nothing could be further from the truth. Yes, letters of an extremely personal nature, specifically attacking an individual outside the body of work they’ve published in Imprint, are sent to the person in question — not to press. But if you criticize a student volunteer in the context of their work with Imprint — that is, condemn the work, not the person — there are very few reasons why you might not see your work in print. For one, there may already be too many letters about the piece you’re responding to (in which case, we pick the greatest diversity possible); for another, your letter might be completely incoherent — although even then we try to work with the letter-writers to improve the quality of their content. And finally, there may simply not be space that week — an issue
that especially arises if we receive your letter to the editor late in our production cycle. We do, however, make every effort to get these cut pieces in the next issue — it’s the height of absurdity, just by looking at the kinds of letters we do publish, chock full of criticism as they are, to presume we’ll censor anyone on the basis of their irritation with our work. As far as we’re concerned, criticism is just another part of the learning process. Otherwise, I hope some of these points help you understand how your newspaper functions — and in turn, how you can maximize your engagement or influence in the organization. Next week will be my last with this publication; I look forward, at that point, to sharing my appreciation for the student community at large. email@example.com
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Imprint, Friday, March 27, 2009
Letters Re: â€œOn banana caps and fallibilityâ€? To the editor,
At this point he has not only managed to grossly distort the message and goals these demonized Western aid programs attempt to provide to communities in need, but also given several different, even opposing, accounts of the socio-cultural condition of the continent.
Last weekâ€™s article â€œOn banana caps and fallibilityâ€? was, in the authorâ€™s words, counterproductive at best and disingenuous at worst. Aside from a clumsy attempt to communicate credibility through unnecessary wordiness and long, confusing sentence structure, facts that I do believe matter for any a university-level journalistic publication, his views were similarly stereotyping, shallow, and righteous as those of the pope he criticized.
The author began by claiming that Africa is a socially conservative continent, where sex outside of mutual fidelity within a permanent commitment is wrong. He proceeded to complain that â€œexclusive
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â€œWhen i began looking seriously at the idea of working in government, i realized that i would need graduate-level training in public policy to pursue my career goals. the master of Public administration (mPa) program in the Johnson-shoyama school has met all of my expectations. it has given me a strong foundation in theory and a chance to hear from and connect with professionals in the public sector. the schoolâ€™s areas of focus were of particular importance to me given my interest in health and social policy. Johnsonshoyama was the right choice.â€? The Johnson-Shoyama Graduate School of Public Policy prepares practitioners and scholars for state-of-the-art policy analysis and public management. The interdisciplinary school, which offers programming on two Saskatchewan campuses, builds on existing strengths in the areas of health and social policy, science, technology and innovation, and trade and transnational regulation. For more information about the MPA program, please visit: www. schoolofpublicpolicy.sk.ca
condom educationâ€? imports a Western hook-up culture, and instead of â€œproposing condoms as a prevention method that helps accommodate human weakness [...] they end up saying to Africans â€˜here are condoms, go have an orgy.â€™â€? Before commenting on these outrageous statements, I want to further illustrate how he, later in the article, made some very different comments about sex in Africa, stating that â€œin Africa, very little sexual activity is entirely consensual; often sex is for jobs, money, school fees or the thousands (what kind of statement to make as a credible journalist?!) of other variations of sexual exploitation.â€? At this point he has not only managed to grossly distort the message and goals these demonized Western aid programs attempt to provide to communities in need, but also given several different, even opposing, accounts of the socio-cultural condition of the continent. May I just add that I wasnâ€™t aware that any area of the world that large and heavily populated, be it a continent or not, could be summarized as one or given one label. His claims regarding African attitudes toward sexuality and sex education are rampant yet speculative. The facts prove differently: extramarital sex does obviously happen in African communities, HIV/AIDS is an epidemic; along with factors as poverty, lack of healthcare, and infrastructure it has severe adverse impacts on African communities. And while re-evaluating sexual attitudes at large and considering a countryâ€™s sociocultural attitudes when searching for a best fit for programs aimed at prevention as well as damage control is well intended and surely productive, it is absolutely necessary for effective short-term help to provide condoms and educate on â€œsafer sexâ€? effectively. With that education comes increasing knowledge about the biology and physicality of sex in general, and the virus in particular. The difference between these two models of education is that aid societies are there to provide immediate relief; they are like an emergency room in that sense. Deeper societal changes, such as sociocultural independence of Western influences need to be addressed from within the country and individual communities, not by organisations trying to save lives. Furthermore, it seems ridiculous to even group together countries like South Africa and Darfur, and, to
add insult to injury, it becomes dangerous when one proceeds to prescribe value systems to both, the communities in need and the organisations providing support, de-valuing their efforts and demonizing their ideas. We no longer have the freedom to question negative influences of Western culture; the world is a global village, and if anything Western casual life-style has already implemented itself firmly and negatively, as the epidemic itself effectively demonstrates. Therefore it is outrageous and misleading to assume that these aid programs in Africa, which are there trying to save one life at time, provide condoms with the incentive to encourage a life of promiscuity and exploitation. Steffi Mathes Re: A commentary on standards To the editor, It is a typical afternoon lecture in MC that I am NOT sleeping through. In front of me, a classmate is surfing on TMZ.com, engrossed in the latest developments in the Rihanna/Chris Brown love-story-turned-nightmare-turnedwhatever saga. I kick myself to stay awake as I am reminded of how lucky we are that our education is putting us on the â€œright side of the tracks:â€? that side where women are respected, treasured and honoured. My thoughts turned to Steve, sitting across the aisle. Just last week, Steve complained bitterly about how certain male professors only award top grades to the female students that were â€œeasy on the eyes.â€? Across the room, Ryanâ€™s laughter at the instructorâ€™s humour reminds me, so jarringly, of the crass comments he jokingly made several years ago about a femaleâ€™s instructorâ€™s physical appearance as we were completing course evaluations. Sitting a few rows ahead of Ryan, Travis is engaged in a lively conversation about the course material. The confidence he shows in his discussion is not so different from the confidence he has in his theory that whenever an unattractive woman accuses a good-looking man of rape, she simply must be lying. I try to put these memories aside because I have countless more memories of Travis, Ryan, and Steveâ€™s endless wit, generosity and kindness. I have no doubt that all three of them will one day be amazing husbands and fathers living in upscale suburbia complete with the white picket fence. I am just saddened that for all the times we are reminded of how Chris Brown should be held to a lower-than-average standard in terms of treatment of women because he was the kid â€œfrom the wrong side of the tracks,â€? we never hold ourselves, as the ones on the opposite side of those tracks, to a higher-than-average standard. This June, so many of us will be taking that final step in our ascension up The Ivory Tower. By the time your turn comes, I truly hope that you will find within you an attitude toward womenâ€™s issues that proves just how different you are from the Chris Browns of the world. [Note: the names in this piece have been changed to protect privacy of the individuals mentioned] Youfei Xiao Masters of accounting, first year
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