Imprint Online » Opinion University of Waterloo's official student newspaper Tue, 03 Apr 2012 04:22:46 +0000 en hourly 1 Out of Left Field: New budget won’t help new university graduates Fri, 30 Mar 2012 10:09:45 +0000 Brent Golem The proposed Ontario budget was released this past week, leaving post-secondary institutions happy and collective student groups underwhelmed.

“With this budget, our universities will continue to operate with the least per-student funding and highest tuition fees of any province, while teaching quality and student success remain pressing issues,” said Sean Madden, president of the Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance (OUSA). “While post-secondary education has been spared from more harmful cuts, we feel like this was a missed opportunity to begin investing in these important issues.”

The budget will help open up the educational system, as overall post-secondary education funding — which includes education, training, and student assistance — will increase annually by 1.9 per cent over the next three years; however, it lacks job creation, which I argue is just as important. After all, who cares about education when the piece of paper at the end of the road isn’t guaranteeing a job?

The in-debt budget, set to overspend by $15.2 billion and increase the province’s $237.6 billion debt, has very little focus on job creation. The budget is set to maintain the $3.5 billion the government spends on business tax incentives, grants and training, in order to make the province more competitive.

Still, the budget reports that “employment is forecast to increase by 0.9 per cent in 2012, or 59,000 net new jobs.” That figure is down from 1.7 per cent in 2010 and 1.8 in 2011, meaning there will be less job creation this coming year than in the past two.

Meanwhile, OUSA remains focused on issues that affect universities directly — access to education, tuition cost and debt, educational quality, mental health, food costs, etc; but who is advocating for the recent graduates who are having a tough time finding work? I would have no problem paying more for a better education and racking up more debt in the process, if it meant that I would get a job that would help pay down that debt — which is, on average, around $27,000 per student loanee. In fact, a report says that is what many students are currently doing.

As a TD economics report, aptly titled “The plight of the young workers,” pointed out: Current poor job prospects are forcing many students to return to school or earn another degree, racking up more debt in the process or else they face less earning power in the future.

“Several studies have shown that those who graduate during a recession take a substantial hit to their initial income that does not close for many years. Unemployment immediately post-graduation erodes a graduate’s skills and competitive edge,” the TD report said.

Stats Canada released their labour force survey earlier in March, and the results are not enthralling. It might be one of the worst times to graduate from university in Ontario. While the overall unemployment rate has dropped to 7.4 per cent, unemployment among 15 to 24 year olds is still at a dismal 14.7 per cent unemployment rate and has not improved. Employment was down 2.8 per cent — equivalent to 69,000 jobs — from a year ago.

One in five students will give up on school and not graduate; likewise, the unemployment rate is actually lowered because people have given up searching for work and are not counted for among the labour force. Even still, high unemployment affects everyone in the demographic seeking work as our labour is being undervalued.

“It has been estimated that a one percentage point increase in the unemployment rate equates to an initial wage loss of six to seven per cent, and that it can take anywhere from 10 to more than 15 years to close that gap,” the TD report said.

For the majority of university graduates, it seems to be a crap-shot whether they will find meaningful full-time employment in their field. Not only do we have to compete amongst ourselves for job prospects, which are being impacted as older workers delay retirement, but we also face competition from older workers reentering the job market. Going back to school isn’t always the best option as becoming more specialized doesn’t suddenly improve the job market.

Things might not be completely grim, as there are still jobs being created out there, but students face significant challenges going forward in the world outside the classroom. There are lots of groups pushing for better post-secondary experiences, but there are no groups advocating for the graduates now entering the job market.


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Observations on the Rice visit Fri, 30 Mar 2012 10:09:45 +0000 Joseph A. Novak, Associate Professor, Department of Philosophy Imprint’s extended coverage of Dr. Rice’s visit as the Pascal Lecturer (2012) still left many significant issues untouched.

The first issue is a terminological one.  Frequently, one hears and sees such terms as “homphobia”, “homophobe”, and  “homophobic” used or mentioned in connection with the issues associated with Dr. Rice’s visit and with discussions impinging in one way or another on homosexuality.  It is important to note that a “phobia” is considered to be a psychological disease.  Hence, if one claims that a person has homophobia or is a homophobe, then that one is claiming that such a person is diseased.  This is quite a serious charge to level against someone who is simply stating an opinion or engaging in a debate on homosexuality.  Indeed, it could even be considered slander.  If one were to call someone an “agoraphobe”, one would be making a statement about that person’s inability to abide the public square.  It would imply that such a person would be terrified of the marketplace and that such a one might even grow faint or tremble or pass out if found in such a space.  On the other hand, it would be totally false to apply such a term to persons who engage in a quiet protest against rampant consumerism by staying in their homes and refusing to buy goods on a designated protest day. Such persons should be free to say or do as they please without called “agoraphobes”.  However, persons could perhaps be justifiably called  “homphobes” if, for instance, they would tremble or have a seizure anytime they approached or walked down Church Street in Toronto (the gay district).  I should qualify this usage by saying the terms themselves are really badly cast.  Etymologically, a “homophobe” is a person who fears things that are the same.  In other words, someone who fears two earrings, two cookies, two shoes, two books, etc. – in short, someone fearing any things that are the same – would be a “homophobe”.  The life of such a person would be truly agonizing, especially since people normally have two eyes, two ears, etc. Actually, a better attempt at accuracy in this regard would be the term “homosexophobia” (and the appropriate derivatives).

In contrast one might call the support of gays, “homophilia” and the persons who give such support “homophiliacs.”  A “philia”, though it can carry negative connotations, e.g., paedophilia (although a group like NAMBLA considers this a positive tendency or choice of behaviour), necrophilia, etc., does not intrinsically carry that negativity.  However, it seems best to avoid all this labelling, on both sides.

The second point associated with the Rice visit that seems to have emerged in the discussion is an inordinate focus on the historic religious opposition to the support of homosexuality.  Homosexuality has been opposed from antiquity even in some pagan traditions. Philosophers such as Plato and Aristotle expressed opposition to it – indeed it’s hard to find any great philosopher who supported it.  In the modern period, Kant calls it a “crime of the flesh against nature.”  He writes that by it ‘the person is set aside, the self is degraded below the level of animals, and humanity is dishonored.” (Lectures on Ethics)  Even Bentham, who does not want it to be a criminalized activity, nonetheless speaks of it in disparaging terms, categorizing it as an “abomination,” as one the “irregularites of the venereal appetites.” Bentham, in his Offences against One’s Self, after shooting down a whole bundle of reasons people had brought forward in his times to justify the criminalization of homosexuality, seems to think that exclusive homosexual relations in one’s life would really exist only for a short period:  “Were a man’s taste even so far corrupted as to make him prefer the embraces of a person of his own sex to those of a female, a connection of that preposterous kind would therefore be far enough from answering to him the purposes of a marriage. A connection with a woman may by accident be followed with disgust, but a connection of the other kind, a man must know, will for certain come in time to be followed by disgust.”  Such a person, he adds, would have “a depraved taste.”  Note the type of the language used in these statements.  Current language of “disorder” seems quite tame by comparison.

Now, of course, it is true that opposition to homosexuality has been constant in all the religions that have affected the West, i.e., Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.  Even much of the Buddhist tradition opposes it.  The current Dalai Lama has spoken of it as inconsistent with the principles of his tradition:  “It’s part of what we Buddhists call bad sexual conduct. Sexual organs were created for reproduction between the male element and the female element — and everything that deviates from that is not acceptable from a Buddhist point of view” and ‘the Dalai Lama has repeatedly said to LGBT groups that he can’t rewrite the texts.” (Quotes from the all-authoritative Wikipedia).  Of course one can note here that had Dr. Rice spoken in the Modern Languages Building about this matter he would have said the same thing, since he noted in advance that his positions were simply those of the magisterium of the Roman Church. Quite as an aside, I do hope that the protest groups will be willing and ready to protest any visit, real or possible, by the Dalai Lama to our campus.

Third, the consideration of homosexuality as an instance of a violation of natural law does not thereby mean that discussion of natural law itself will focus on this issue.  It seems never to have been the intention of Dr. Rice to speak about homosexuality at all.  He intended to speak, and in the end did speak, about the role of natural law vs. positive law.  Natural law has enjoyed a resurgence of interest which has been prompted, in large part, by the rise of globalization, rule of various dictatorships in foreign lands, attempts to draft human rights legislation, etc.  As Dr. Rice pointed out, natural law can function as a saving buffer against totalitarian government.  Not every law passed by a government should be considered sacrosanct; positive, civil, laws need some higher court, some higher criterion, of adjudication.    It was sad that some on campus presumed to know in advance what the talk would be about and decided in advance that it should be protested.  There are many aspects of natural law theory about which I, personally, have many questions and reservations.  Even within the religious traditions there is considerable legitimate disagreement about it.  For instance, the Protestant tradition is critical of its use in understanding and adjudicating modes of behaviour; its criticism of the Catholic reading of Paul’s Letter to the Romans has much to recommend it. (One needs to keep in mind that there is no concept for Nature in the Hebrew Scriptures).

The fourth point that needs to be considered, one in connection with the protesters, is the status of some of the groups in the protests.  What standing do the groups, putatively representing the LGBT community, have?  Whom do they really represent?  On some of the items touching on the presumed gay issues of Dr. Rice’s lecture and visit there is considerable division in the gay community.  Even casual reading of such popular gay publications as Xtra, Fab, Outllooks, Advocate, etc. reveal stark divisions in the gay community.  By accounts in these publications, many gays opposed the whole drive for gay marriage, precisely because they wanted to maintain an “alternative” lifestyle.  They did not want monogamy, they did not want a stereotyped one-on-one relationship for themselves.  Moreover, some gays even seem to delight in the nomenclature of “perversity,” “unnatural,” etc. and hardly would seem dismayed by a term like “disordered.” Websites testifying to these attitudes are easily found.

The fifth point is the failure of the university to deal properly with this matter. The talk was allowed to proceed as scheduled.  This is quite a mark in favour of Waterloo, especially in light of the despicable events surrounding the Christie Blatchford cancellation.  Moreover, when one thinks of the role that the gross stupidity on the part of Francois A. Houlé, the Academic Vice-President at Ottawa, played in preventing Ann Coulter to speak there last March, the administration at UW came out not badly.

However, it was precisely the lack of an enthusiastic support of academic freedom that was disappointing.  One can easily recall the bizarre visit of the President of Iran, Ahmadinejad (affectionately referred to frequently as “Ach! What the nut job!”) to Columbia University.  Once the university president realized that he never should have been invited, he decided that he himself would introduce Ahmadinejad to the assembled crowd and then proceeded to insult him by repeated questioning that, by everyone’s account, was indeed insulting.  Now, of course, inviting someone who is effectively a tyrant seems to be a mistake from the start (never put one past Columbia!), but once you do actually have him there, you do not treat him rudely.  In my opinion, someone who is, or has been involved in unrepentant criminal activity should never be invited to speak at a university, e.g., someone like Bill Ayers.  (Of course, why would one think that Ahmadinejad was involved in criminal activity?  Iran is a sovereign country – they simply have different laws.  However, maybe the laws are unjust.  How would one know that?  Would one not need a higher law to know that?  Perhaps the natural law…).  I do not think that university officials should feel themselves obliged to take stances for or against given speakers.   Nor should they feel that standing on a podium with a guest entails that they adopt all or even any of the opinions endorsed by that guest.  However, if they do decide to appear with some speakers, it seems as though they should be committed to appear with all others in comparable settings.

Allow me to elaborate.  In January, I was invited to attend a Turkish dinner given at the Delta Inn in Kitchener.  The event was sponsored by the Intercultural Dialog Institute and the invitation noted that its aim was “to contribute to global peace through cultivating mutual understanding between different cultures.”  The two keynote speakers were President Hamdullahpur of UW and Vice President Carol Beynon of UWO.   I thought at first it was a UW sponsored event but upon inquiry it turned out not to be.  Well, I decided to go; it seemed interesting and had a free dinner to boot.  As it turned out, it had an underlying religious overtone.   I was greeted by a young woman in what appeared to be a hijab and scattered on every table was information about Fehtullah Gülen, who is a dominant thinker from Turkey but also a devout Muslim.  There was a choir named Inshallah (= “God willing”) from WLU which claims to be interfaith and it provided some of the entertainment that evening.  Had I known of the strong religious connections I would have avoided the evening.   I personally have little use for “ecumenism” – generally it tends to boil down to “isn’t it really wonderful how we all really believe the same thing and we can all really get along and….” Of course, we all really don’t believe the same things, there are fundamental and unbridgeable gaps, and one should just be honest enough to admit it.

In the course of the evening President Hamdullahpur gave his address which, in my opinion, was quite a good one.  He extolled the role of UW in the community and its benefits to the region.  He made no mention of Gülen or any religious or political matters bearing on Turkey.  However, the same cannot be said of the VP from UWO.  She explicitly praised Gülen and his ideas several times in her presentation.  Of course, one of the things that might seem troubling about Gülen, apart from the fact that he was once tried by the Turkish government, that he now lives in the USA (in exile?), and that he seems to support the rise of a new Caliphate, is that, in addition to ideas on polygamy and some other ideas that many feminists find offensive, he says some things about homosexuality that might displease a large number of those protesting Dr. Rice.  “Islam takes humanity’s natural instincts and needs into consideration….Men are inclined toward women and women are inclined toward men.” (February, 2006)  ‘those who advertise themselves as free and liberated condone such practices as incest, homosexuality, and polyandry.  One can only wonder how such relationships affect the children of such unions.  Such critics have only one motive: to drag Muslims into the moral confusion and viciousness in which they themselves are trapped.” (February 21, 2006).

While one might, with some justification, question Beynon’s support of Gülen, it is hardly appropriate to criticize President Hamdullahpur who made no allusion to him.  University officials should be free to appear in any venue without being obliged to endorse everything an author has written and said.  Otherwise they will end up appearing nowhere.  (Of course if I were an administrator I would delight in such absences; my heavy administrative workload would be considerably alleviated).  Since the Pascal lecture series had normally enjoyed more involvement from UW officials, their absence this year was noticeable.

I have prolonged this point because it is central to the events around the Rice lecture.  Fundamentally the basic issue at stake in this controversy is one of academic freedom.  If the universities are not sincere and avid supporters of academic freedom, then free speech in the society as a whole is doomed.  Academics often support free speech with their mouths but their practice is an entirely different matter.  The Canadian Association of University Teachers is all in a dither about possible violations of academic freedom from research institutes such as the Balsillie School and is ready to censure UW on account of it, yet when it comes to supporting the broader issues of freedom on many sensitive topics they are slow or reluctant to respond.  In fairness, however, one should note the faculty are just as much to blame.  Yale University Press recently published a book on the Islamic cartoons but refused to put in the pictures of the cartoons themselves.  What kind of historical document does that make the book to be?  Response: a grossly inadequate one.  Unless it somehow escaped me, I saw no faculty drawing up petitions, writing to Yale Press, threatening to withhold submissions to it, etc. Where were the faculty?  Response: Hiding under their desks in fear.  Yet, when some politically correct position is contested, out come the protests, up with the signs, epithets on the speaker, etc.   Rather than simply having one voice (actually the name of a new academic movement in the States is “One Voice”), there should always be many voices at the university.  If there should be diversity promoted anywhere, it should be at the university.

What has always amazed me is that academics strive to be “politically correct.”  Why would one ever want to be that?  Socrates, the inspiring figure behind all of Western intellectualism, saw himself as the gadfly that kept the sluggish Athenian horse in motion.  He would be shocked to see people who claim that they are free inquirers shackled to what the “polis” (city-state) thinks is “correct.”  In defense of the widespread attitude the reasoning often proffered is, “Well, we don’t want to offend the students.”  Well, why not offend?  Students who come to university should expect to be offended.  Otherwise they will never emerge from the cocoons into which they have been coddled, cocoons filled with the monoxide of false self-esteem that has been pumped into them by overweening parents and teachers.  If first year students are not offended at least once a week by something that is said at university, they should ask for their money back.  If upper year students are offended by something that is said, the university should give them their money back and send them home.  Of course, professors cannot focus their attention on just one or two issues – they need to strive to be equal opportunity offenders (to use Mark Steyn’s phrase).

My final point has to deal with some of the religious remarks made in connection with the Rice visit.  One often hears from people claiming certain religious affiliations that they are good, practicing Catholics, Anglicans, (or X) etc. but cannot at all agree with the official positions of their institutions.  Some people believe that membership in such institutions is determined by what I call the “grandmother clause”, i.e., my grandmother was Catholic (or X), my mother was Catholic, therefore I am Catholic, Anglican, etc.  Really?  The reasoning continues: now if I want to hold to a given proposition, that proposition becomes Catholic (or X).   Besides, (as the reasoning continues) many of my other Catholic (or X) friends think so too.

Religious belief is not determined by a statistical poll.  That is just a shabby sociological approach to religious membership.  Membership in those institutions is determined by creeds, canons, and synods.  If persons find themselves in disagreement with those standards, they should simply pack up and leave the institution.  A New York Times ad of a week ago got it right on this.  Nor do the post-modern “narrative” versions of truth work  — my story is just as good as your story.  Anyone who thinks that such a criterion works is simply and completely ignorant of the nature of religious membership.

Joseph A. Novak
Associate Professor
Department of Philosophy

University of Waterloo
x. 32963

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Talking about Science Fri, 30 Mar 2012 10:09:45 +0000 Stefan De Young, 4B Physics On March 27, the faculty of science put on a talk about risk management in energy generation. At least, that’s what the title of the talk seemed to suggest.

Unfortunately, I found that the talk felt more like a PR campaign than a science lecture. Much was made of how energy issues are misrepresented in the media, and that idea dominated the talk to the extent that I felt the supposed subject of the talk “what are the risks inherent in various forms of energy”  was not given appropriate discussion.

The audience shared some of my frustrations. One question berated the presenters for speaking more to technical risks such as the seismic stability at Fukushima and somewhat ignoring the social risks of energy generation.

Another audience member, as any scientist would, asked about the presenters’ sources. The response she received was somewhat underwhelming: a royal commission study of the Alberta oil sands and a report on fracking by the Society for Petroleum Engineers of Canada.

While these are worthwhile sources, no particular journals were mentioned, nor any science journalism that the audience could rely on for scientific coverage of future developments in this topic.

The population of the University of Waterloo is, on average, scientifically literate. That’s why we’re here. Given this, the faculty of science should have invited a talk about the science of risk management, and the talk should have focused on the question at hand rather than repeatedly expressing frustrations on the “polarization of the debate.”

In a recent Physics 10 lecture on critical thinking, Prof. Tim Kenyon spoke about how the university is really the only stage where data is king. At a university lecture, politely pointing out a flaw in an argument or asking for sources is not regarded as a challenge, but as a favour.

Professors Dusseault and Evans are experts in their fields, and I thank them for taking the time to speak to the Faculty on this important topic. However, what a science audience wants from a science lecture is science, not politics. Show us the data!


Stefan De Young

4B Physics


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Editorial Cartoon: March 30, 2012 Fri, 30 Mar 2012 10:09:45 +0000 Krystin Li

Concept Brent Golem/Graphic Krystin Li

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Copyright Modernization — enhancing education and job creation Fri, 30 Mar 2012 10:09:45 +0000 Peter Braid, MP Kitchener-Waterloo With the passage of the Copyright Modernization Act (Bill C-11), Canada’s copyright laws will move into the 21st century with a framework that is forward-looking and flexible, bringing Canada in line with technological advancements and ensuring our continued leadership in the global digital economy.

Bill C-11 establishes an environment that promotes innovation, attracts investment, and creates jobs.  It ensures that creators of artistic works and intellectual property can protect their investments and realize an income for their work.

At the same time, it recognizes the rights of consumers, permitting the use of legitimately acquired material for user-generated content and allowing activities such as time-shifting, format-shifting, and backup copying.

This legislation was drafted following extensive consultations among stakeholders, where we heard a wide range of concerns and suggestions.  Bill C-11 is a uniquely Canadian compromise that achieves a delicate balance of competing interests.

The educational community has a significant stake in the future of copyright law because universities are environments where creativity and innovation thrive.  Furthermore, students and educators are consumers of a variety of media and benefit from the sharing and dissemination of information and ideas.

In recognition of education’s significant benefits to society, the Copyright Modernization Act has expanded the fair dealing provisions to include education.  This means that copyrighted material can be used to enhance educational opportunities, incorporating the latest technologies in a manner that respects the interests of the copyright owner.

For example, this bill legitimizes the use of copyrighted material in online courses, permits the digital delivery of course materials, and allows for the copying of materials that are freely available over the Internet.  In addition, it allows libraries to digitize print material and provide it electronically through an interlibrary loan. And because the bill is technologically neutral, it will be adaptable to future developments.

As a member of the legislative committee that studied the bill, and an MP whose riding is home to two universities, I was in a unique position to evaluate the changes to copyright legislation with a view to ensuring that all the interests of the educational community were taken into consideration.

I heard directly from representatives of student organizations, college and university communities, school boards, education ministers, and creators and publishers of educational material. I believe the Copyright Modernization Act successfully balances all these interests and will increase innovative learning opportunities for all Canadians.

At the same time, it provides critical protection for intellectual property and gives creators the option of using technological protection measures (TPMs) as a business model to optimize profitability.  As the most innovative community in Canada, Waterloo has a stake in ensuring that creators can benefit from their ingenuity.

One illustration of this is the use of TPMs to protect the investments of Canada’s growing video game industry that employs approximately 16,000 people and generates $1.7 billion in economic activity. Stronger protection measures will ensure that this industry can attract investment and compete internationally, while creating high quality knowledge jobs in communities like ours.

At the same time, the free flow of ideas generates further discovery and innovation. To recognize this, Bill C-11 allows the circumvention of TPMs for legitimate purposes including reverse engineering, encryption research, and security testing.

Ultimately, a balanced and robust copyright regime will spur innovation, enhance competition and productivity, and ensure our place at the forefront of the digital economy.


Peter Braid

Member of Parliament for Kitchener-Waterloo


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Innovative Education: It’s time for a flip Fri, 30 Mar 2012 10:09:45 +0000 Matt Rae Over the last couple of weeks, I have presented the pros and cons of moving to an educational system structured around online education. Though technology is making significant steps forward, it is still not in a position to replace classic formal higher education.

Currently, technology is viewed primarily as a supplement to traditional lectures, excluding of course online distance education courses and the odd online course or degree.

What I mean by supplemental is that the main focus is still on “the lecture.” Technology is simply used to post lecture material, grades, and some additional material thought to “assist the learning” of the enrolled students.

What is happening with this set-up is that the perceived value of in-person lecture times is decreasing. Prior to PowerPoint, or even overhead projections and other technologies, a lecture consisted of an audience listening to one or two people present material on a given topic.

In this scenario, it was advantageous for the audience to be engaged with the presenter, as he or she was the only route to absorbing the information being presented.

Now, a growing number of students find that professors simply post a PowerPoint presentation online, and in class proceed to read that information directly from the slide, sometimes adding in mindless tangents, potentially unrelated to the topic.

So the question should present itself: where is the added value? How is this an efficient process?

When asked how this is an effective way of teaching, many professors will state that students should read the slides ahead of time. That way, if there are any questions on the material they can be raised in class.

The frustrating part is that some courses offer participation marks to show up for these “question periods” of regurgitated material. Meaning students are required to show up, even if they are comfortable with the material.

What education needs is a flip. Instead of using technology as the assistance, we need to have lectures and technology switch roles to maximize the effectiveness and play to the strengths of each platform.

Here is how it will happen: First, we need to move lecture material online, in the form of video, or audio, or even simply PowerPoint presentations with suggested readings, and allow students to self-direct their study throughout the term. If a student feels they may have issues with discipline, instructors can provide “study schedules” to help guide the study.

This will allow one professor to look after a larger group of students, or multiple professors to moderate a single course, providing greater consistency, and lower cost per student.

To accommodate the students who may require assistance with material, those lecture times can now become non-mandatory tutorials, where teaching assistants and professors will provide guidance on course content and answer any of the questions students may have.

Concerns may rise about the decrease in student community that forms within individual programs. There is nothing saying that students cannot still live in residence and be involved in campus programs.

These are some of the most important elements involved in the university experience and a great tool for life learning.

However, a greater focus on residential “learning groups” should be established to encourage interaction between students studying the same topics.

Money that becomes surplus from shifting lectures online should be placed into faculty endowment funds to encourage student associations to organize guest speakers and mini student events related to the topics of study.

The faculty student organizations have a tremendous ability to promote the student learning community under this model. It should be used to build up group study and discussion, both in person and online, and provide realistic application of the knowledge being learned online.

Flipping education around so that technology is the key distribution channel has many benefits. It makes use of the pros of online education, access, mobility, and time efficiency, while at the same time utilizing university resources in a more effective way, and reducing the cash burden for students.

It also mobilizes resources for developing more laboratory and hands- on opportunities for students to develop practical knowledge. That is why we need a flip.


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Love the love Fri, 30 Mar 2012 10:08:39 +0000 Yevgeny Chertov, 1B Computer Science As the first signs of spring set in, and the fields burst into vibrant colours, we see an issue rise above all others on campus. PDA, public displays of affection. Many people disapprove of this.

I on the other hand disapprove of their disapproval and approve of the PDA.

I feel that the naysayers can be put into two categories. People who are single and not liking it, and people who don’t like to see people exchange saliva.

To the first group, don’t worry. By complaining about PDA to a lucky someone, perhaps you would bond, and no longer be single. At that point you can pull a 180 and add to the fields of colour yourself.

To the second group, don’t worry, all you have to do is stop looking. Simple as that.

Seeing people happy fills my heart with buckets of joy. To add, the new hopes and dreams of these relationships lay the seeds for the next generation to follow.

As such, we should celebrate the blossoming of these seeds. I would be as bold as to propose a new PDA holiday. So show the love and spread the love because I love the love.

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Politically Correct: Wildrose’s hard-right conservatism is good for democracy Fri, 30 Mar 2012 08:28:32 +0000 Sam Nabi, Politically Correct The Wildrose Party — Alberta’s upstart right-wing alternative — pulled in $1.7 million in grassroots fundraising in 2010. The 2011 numbers won’t be available until after Alberta’s election in April, but that’s still more than double the revenues of the NDP ($728,000) and more than triple that of the Liberals ($537,000). Not bad for a fourth-place party.

While some of these contributions are the result of corporate donations, 66 per cent of the support for Wildrose has come in small amounts from individual supporters. Compare that to the governing Progressive Conservatives, who only rely on regular citizens for 30 per cent of their fundraising.

Wildrose is winning favour in much of rural Alberta, where the appeal of a hands-off government holds strong. As the province gears into election mode, the Wildrose Party poses a real threat to the long-established Progressive Conservatives.

Wildrose’s attention to grassroots commitment will prove to be decisive this election. If the same dedicated core of individuals that gave the party record amounts of donations are willing to help out by knocking on doors and putting up election signs, Wildrose will have a definite leg up. On-the-ground volunteer support isn’t something that large corporate donors can provide.

If Wildrose keeps a meticulous database of their supporters and are able to mobilize them, like the Federal Conservatives do, we’ll be seeing a much different Legislature in Alberta after April 23.

A major factor in the Progressive Conservative’s landslide 2008 victory was voter apathy. Less than 40 per cent of the electorate came out to vote, and it’s hard to blame them. For decades, provincial politics in Alberta has been a foregone conclusion as the governing PCs handily outperformed their disorganized Liberal and NDP counterparts.

After building and rebranding the Wildrose Party over the last two years, Danielle Smith is proving to be a real conservative alternative, not just for right-wing voters displeased with the stale PC party, but also for three MLAs two Tories, one Independent who have crossed the floor to the Wildrose Party. The combination of social conservatism and libertarianism is a hard line to walk for a party that needs broad support to form government, but if there’s any place in Canada this could work, it’s Alberta.

As the election campaign gears up, it’s clear that Wildrose is taking more than a few pages from Stephen Harper’s playbook (which, if your focus is gaining seats, isn’t a bad place to start). Wildrose campaign staff with ties to the Prime Minister have been working on the kinds of attack ads that featured prominently in the last federal election, targeting PC leader Alison Redford.

Whatever you think of its policies, the surging support of the Wildrose Party is good for democracy in Canada. Alberta is the only province with more than one conservative-minded party in the Legislature.

If Wildrose can use this election to become a major contender and possibly even form government, it will open up the playing field for more choice in right-wing politics across the country.

Alison Redford is banking on the inertia of four decades in power to bring another PC majority. But the winds of change have begun to stir, and Albertan voters have caught the scent of freedom in the Wildrose Party. For the first time in generations, conservative-minded voters will actually have to make a real choice at the ballot box.

Having multiple parties on both ends of the political spectrum recognizes the diversity of public opinion and respects voters’ intelligence. It focuses the debate on specific policy issues and leadership capabilities, rather than a vague notion of right versus left.

Most importantly, this state of affairs promotes cross-party cooperation. Having many contenders in an election may not deliver a decisive majority; but when has public opinion ever been black and white? It is better for MLAs of different stripes to work out their differences in the Legislature than for parties to erect such huge tents that they collapse under their own weight.

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Out of Left Field: Thoughts from my pulpit Fri, 23 Mar 2012 09:38:31 +0000 Brent Golem S

pring officially began Tuesday, March 20, but it sure feels like it skipped a whole season and sprung right into summer. With this beautiful weather it is difficult to stay inside, and even in a single vein of thought, so please allow me to pick your brain about a variety of topics this week.

The queer community was admirable in protesting the words Pascal lecturer Charles Rice has spoken in the past and views he still holds. Rice even said so himself, stating he respects the protestors, protests, and admires their tenacity and fervours. Although the protestors vehemently disagree with what Rice believes, they were by no means angry or violent. He should have had the gall to face the detractors if he had a real respect for them.

ML is by no means a beautiful building, and it is sad that a “prestigious speaker” had to essentially be smuggled in and out of the building instead of arriving and leaving out the front doors with pride.

Rice said he was surprised by the objection to his presence. Rice  also said he adheres and pleads guilty to the Catholic church. I find it sad that  the most influential church of our time is still unable to get with the times and allows many inane arguments like gay rights to carry on — how are condoms only appropriate for prostitutes again?

As Waterloo computer science Prof. Jeffrey Shallit pointed out on his blog, typically the University of Waterloo’s administration, either president or VP provost, will welcome and introduce the speaker. Neither were there, and Charles Rice was introduced by David B. Perrin, president of St. Jerome’s University. This essentially meant that the main administration did not support the choice of Rice as speaker.

It cannot be said that the protest against the Pascal Lectures had little effect. Although I haven’t heard other times he has spoken, but people remarked that Charles Rice was rather plainspoken in his lecture and evaded points that have made him controversial. So why did we pay for him to speak on our campus? I’m surprised they weren’t able to get someone as renowned without all the baggage, such as newly appointed Archbishop Thomas Collins, who made his return to Guelph on Thursday, March 22.

This year seemed like a waste for those who donated money toward the Pascal Lecture series. Not to worry though, there are other causes to donate to, just not an important one: A student building.

The administration solicits donations for the new Health Services expansion because “Health Services provide exceptional on-campus medical care to our 34,000 students despite having to do so in a 44-year-old building that was designed to serve a student population of just 9,000.” The Student Life Centre is just as old as the Health Services building, having opened in 1968, and with more academic buildings built every year, the student population will only rise.

Another money wasting issue at hand is the funding UW LipDub. LipDub organizers released a statement on FaceBook this week stating that it is up to the university administration to release the video and that they are rallying hard to make it happen. On the other hand, Bud Walker, the liaison for the administration on the project, says that isn’t the case. He says that the students are not being held back by the administration to release information about the project and its impending release.

At least it’s only $10,000 which is a drop in the bucket for the administration. LipDub won’t release a budget, so it’s difficult to tell if getting the rights to all 11 songs used figured into their budget. There are rumours that LipDub was given cease and desist order for their “teaser” video because of copyright issues, but I am told that is inaccurate. The administration asked for it to be taken down, which seems accurate considering the video is not removed from YouTube, but simply made private.

The main issue at hand here is that there is a lack of communication between the organizers, the administration, and everyone else involved. No matter who is at fault, there are hundreds of volunteers who helped out with LipDub who deserve to know why their efforts are going to waste.

I know David Johnston is working with Prime Minister Harper in Ottawa, but does our administration’s offices have to be run like Harper’s, with such a lack of transparency? It’s rather frustrating when all the budgets are released online, but you can’t see the specifics on such things as food services or athletics, and are unable to determine if the Fed Hall lease is being revoked until six months after you start hearing whispers around campus.

Feds may have lost out on getting anything for Fed Hall, but a new increase in student fee will get them more staff. It’s great they are creating more jobs, but do all of them have to be full-time positions? It is well documented that having part-time clubs and services managers mean one month of training and one month of doing nothing during exams, effectively negating half of their working ability; however, it seems some positions could be filled with co-op placements. Hiring two IT assistants from co-op instead of one full-time person will give students job experience.

After all, improving the lives of its shareholders is the number one priority of Feds. Helping them get meaningful work goes a long way to achieve that.


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Politically Correct: Canada could learn from Australia’s mining tax Fri, 23 Mar 2012 09:38:31 +0000 Sam Nabi L

ike Canada, Australia has long been an exporter of natural resources. A mining boom, fueled by skyrocketing demand for raw materials in China, has helped to strengthen the country’s dollar. Until recently, we and our Commonwealth cousins were headed along parallel trajectories, but now Australia has decided to change course in a big way.

Our government has greased the palms of oil executives with generous corporate tax cuts. It has greased the wheels of regulation by neutering environmental assessments and vowing not to let public consultation get in the way of the northern gateway pipeline.

On Monday, the Australian senate passed the Minerals Resource Rent Tax – which, by the way, has a beautiful name. The notion that mineral resources are “rented” from the Australian people, rather than owned by private companies to do with as they please, is an important ideological framework. It solidifies the attitude that natural heritage is a collective asset, and that the Australian people as a whole should gain some benefit from their exploitation.

The new tax will raise billions of dollars for the Australian government to spread around to other sectors by skimming off 30 per cent of the profits made by a handful of large mining companies. It’s a smart move that will help Australia diversify its economy. Prime Minister Julia Gillard made her intentions clear in a public statement: “I don’t want to emerge from this boom as one trick pony.”

One would think that the environmental argument would figure more prominently in the Australian debate around this issue. After all, a huge proportion of the country’s mineral exports feed China’s insatiable appetite for coal. In the context of the unprecedented droughts and floods Australia has suffered in recent years, I would have thought that proponents of the tax would be highlighting its ability to transition to a low-carbon economy.

Evidently, a simple Robin Hood narrative was enough to get the requisite support for the tax. Perhaps it’s the lingering spirit of the Occupy movement that has allowed this large-scale redistribution to occur largely unopposed. The main critics of the new tax are the usual suspects – mining industry associations; chambers of commerce; and Gina Rinehart, Australia’s richest woman, who happens to be the heiress to an iron ore corporation.

Mining, oil, and gas companies are used to getting kickbacks from governments the world over. They cry wolf about potential lost jobs if they don’t get their subsidies. They threaten to leave for countries with lower taxes. It’s good to see Australia finally calling their bluff.

In an era of fiscal restraint, why does the Canadian government continue to fork over $500 million in subsidies every year to mining, oil, and gas companies? These are some of the most profitable corporations in the world. They’re certainly not short of cash, and Canadian taxpayers shouldn’t be footing the bill for these unnecessary gifts.

The Canadian government seems unfazed by the volatility of our petro-dollar. As our manufacturing and fishing industries languish in the shadow of Big Oil, it’s clear that the subsidies to the oil and gas industry are irresponsible and short-sighted. Canada is encouraging the private sector to put more and more eggs into fewer baskets.

Canada and Australia are similar in many ways – our populations are both packed into a few port cities. We are both former British colonies. We are  both economically intertwined with a major global superpower. But it’s the Australians who will come out ahead because they’ve actually started planning for the day when the resources run dry.

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