The UW Chevron

online version of uwaterloo's independent press

Month: February, 2014


The Editorial Collective

Like a mushroom, the Chevron seems to have grown overnight. Our readership has grown too, with over a thousand views on our site directly after the previous issue. This isn’’t, however, a time for us to sit back and enjoy our small successes. We still sincerely wish to expand our paper and to publish thought-provoking articles.

A letter sent to us asked why we did not simply write for the Imprint. While our response is on the reverse of the page, we think there is an important addition to make: that all that we have seen so far is proof that there is a need and a desire for the Chevron on campus. With our new, larger format, we hope to allow even more space for discussions which need to happen on campus. See you in Issue 4!

Privilege in Admissions

Author: Aidan Coward

It is often said that the education system is a meritocracy. Unfortunately, this merit has a cost that not all are able to pay.

When applying for university, one is judged by high school marks and extracurriculars. One must devote a lot of time to achieve high marks. This becomes more difficult if students do not have access to tutors or if their parents cannot help them with school. If the students need a job to be able to afford to go to university, they have less time to study. This severely disadvantages low-income students in university admissions. For competitive programs, schools rely on extracurriculars to evaluate the students. If someone barely has time to get the marks and money required for school, extracurriculars aren’’t accessible and these students are blocked from many programs. The situation persists during university.

Another matter entirely is being able to afford higher education. Attempts to fix this situation include government student loans and many scholarships and bursaries. Government loans merely delay the shackles of debt on anyone who relies on loans to go to school. Scholarships are primarily based on grades and volunteer experience (towards those who can afford to work for free). Bursaries exist, but often have limitations which exclude international and inter-provincial students.

Space battles

Author: Cosmin Dzsurdzsa

The Waterloo Science Fiction and Fantasy Club (WatSFiC) is a lovable nerf-gun toting bunch that hosts the apocalyptic campus-wide Humans vs. Zombies (HvZ) event. Apart from dodging Styrofoam bullets and flying socks, WatSFiC promotes short story contests, movie nights and book clubs. The club is one of the few remaining “”grandfather”” clubs, predating the existence of Feds and is an integral member of the student club scene at the University of Waterloo.

Such a rich and substantial student community that attracts new members each term should be held in high esteem by students and faculty alike. One would guess that Feds would dutifully promote and encourage club initiatives that bring students together. A short discussion with former club supreme chancellor Brook Jensen proved otherwise.

A lover of books himself and writer on the side, Brook helped to manage a shared club library during his second term as supreme chancellor. A humble library on the lower floor of the SLC, it hosted a variety of club materials (books, DVDs, board games, etc.) and served as a meeting space for members of any club. What an awesome idea, but where is this library today? Replaced by dreary offices and paid staffers, that’’s where.

Stored away in dusty storage bins and rickety metal-grated lockers, the materials remain untouched and out of reach, even from their own member’s’ hands. It is a tale of bureaucracy and space disputes not so uncommon in UW’’s history, a tale that begins with an email. A hastily written email and a declaration of dominance on Feds’ behalf; “”we need the library room for an office, let’’s meet for relocation”” was the gist of it.

Feds had received a huge blow at the time. With the onset of hiring new employees and increasing its influence, they had lost Federation Hall, their lair and operational HQ. Feds was hungry for space, particularly a space for a communications director/manager/person that was desperate for an office where a lot of communication would take place. Rather than the negotiation it was passed as being, it was an ultimatum.

The 8–-10 month period that followed was one filled with pleas and botched compromise. The democratic process had prevailed and Feds was “”moving forward with hiring employees and had nowhere else to put them”” how else could you communicate without an office? To the dismay of the various clubs interested in the library (Muslim Student’s’ Association, CTRL-A, Space Club, WatSFiC, and others), their efforts ultimately fell on deaf ears.

Feds’ position was the usual: that there is a lack of space in the SLC. As well, they argued that WatSFiC alone had too small of a membership to merit a space within the SLC.
The time was up and negotiations had failed, an eviction notice was posted and boxes were being filled. The clubs library was no more; it was to be dismantled and the desks were to be moved in. The materials were scattered to basements, boiler rooms, lockers and the trash, almost impossible to easily acquire. Yet Feds had its desks, communications, staffers, and wages.

Today, there still remains a need for a clubs library. Hopefully, the Federation and SLC management will see that not only is study space important to students, but social and club space is as well.

Tenure? I hardly know her !

Author: Agnes Macphail

Deeply buried behind walls of bureaucratese, far into performance evaluations, way back on page 80 of the university’s annual performance report, there is a simple graph presenting the dirtiest little secret of the university: Faculty Appointments by gender: Male, 74%; Female, 26%. 26% of all faculty at UW are female, the lowest in the U15, a group of top Canadian universities the school likes to compare itself to. Dalhousie comes first, with 40% of its faculty being female.

On a faculty level the unbalance is even clearer. Environment hired no women in 2011. Only 16% of all Engineering professors are women -— and only 19% in Math.

Drilling down further, the numbers get worse. Only 16% Full Professors, the highest level an academic can reach, are women. Associate Professors, the rank below, are only 27% women —- and Associates are not guaranteed promotion. But surely that’’s just due to lag in the system?

Wrong. Only 33% of new hires in 2013 were women. And that was a good year. In 2010 only 22% of new hires were women. The average for the past five years has been just less than 30%. Women will be a minority voice in the faculty club for many years to come.

This matters because tenured Professors are intellectual leaders, researchers and teachers who influence and impact present perspectives, and shape it for whole generations of students. Tenured Professors approve research funding, decide which topics graduate students pursue, and determine which ideas undergraduates are taught. They have a stage in which they can expound their perspective, their theories, their world views.

The problem lies in the fact that men, by virtue of being men and having lived a male experience, will teach from the male perspective. Their life experience will shape their world view, the ideas they find interesting, the projects they approve and the ideas they teach.
This is not is not inherently bad —- the problem lies in the lack of counter experience. A university is a place of learning, research, debate and critical thinking. Shouldn’’t our university enjoy and explore more than one perspective?

Further, what type of message does it send that the only Mathematics faculty in the country, one of the best math faculties in world, has only 19% female faculty?

No girls allowed in this tree house, it says to me. And we wonder why women don’’t show interest in computers.

Students can help. Give your female professors rave reviews. If she is coming up for tenure review, make it clear you appreciate and value her perspective. Write letters to her department head or the tenure board talking about her value as a researcher and educator.

Call your male professors out on their bullshit. Does he always use gendered pronouns for ‘’engineer’’ or ‘’scientist’’ or ‘’programmer’’? Does he wisecrack about the mental skills of the different genders? Complain to the department head. Approach him after class and say ““this is not acceptable””.

Because the low level of acceptance of women by our faculty is not acceptable. If Waterloo is to ever become the top-notch university it pretends to be, it had better stop ignoring half of the population.

Female full-time faculty:

AHS 36%
Arts 39%
Engineering 16%
Environment 34%
Mathematics 19%
Science 24%

Figures are from the University of Waterloo, ““Annual Performance Indicators”, 2012”, and may not indicate current numbers.

Note: Agnes Macphail was the first woman elected to the Canadian House of Commons, and one of the first two women elected on the Ontario Legislature. A tireless activist, she fought for social justice throughout her career as a parliamentarian and journalist. She is currently in 3B Combinatorics and Optimization.

Learning without suffering

Author: Vismit Joshi

Have you ever asked yourself “”Why do most students abhor university?”” or “”Does university, especially at the post-secondary level, really teach anything to students?”” or” “What is the whole purpose of real learning and are today’’s schools fulfilling that purpose?”” In this complicated world that we call home, a world filled with dark pasts, politics, rigid norms, and corruption, the answers to these questions are simple but at the same time difficult to understand for some people.

Lectures … do you secretly feel that they are an unproductive way to learn? Or that in today’’s fast-paced and rigid curriculum you can’’t truly learn something or remember it once exams are over? Or that you wish school was a bit more satisfying and joyful? Or that you had more to your school memories than just movies, hanging out, and complaining about school? No one really talks about these things because we have all come to accept the education system as the norm, just as we undeniably accept life and death.

Do you realize how much of an impact the education system has on our world? It determines the quality of engineers, doctors, psychologists, scientists, artists, teachers, and even politicians that we will get in the future. It is that fundamental. Realize that everything starts with education.
The truth is that the education model we use today has long expired. What we consider the modern model of education was created about 150 for a world that had a smaller population, lower dependence on advanced knowledge, and different priorities. Back then, the goal was to teach children to read and write so that they could become factory workers, farmers, or sometimes academics – —who would go on to learn further if they chose. I define academics as people whose sincere passion is to study, research, and draft reports of their discoveries so that the world can use their knowledge. And these academics went to university. And it was perfect. University was the perfect place for academics, and the rest of the system worked as well.

But today, our world has transformed significantly. Our priorities as humans have changed. However, nothing about the way we teach our children has changed. No matter how much technological bling we add to our classrooms, students still find themselves copying text from a 2-D surface and superficially demonstrating their skills by filling out an exam paper. What’’s worse is that most students go to university or college in order to become artists, athletes, businesspeople, doctors, engineers, and manual workers. But we just determined that universities are only meant for academics, not for people who want to do practical things in the world. I am not conveying that learning in general is not meant for practical people. I want to let you know that we have had the wrong image of what a university is, all along! Students must learn what is necessary to pursue their dream, but that place may not be university for most people because the purpose of a university is something different.

There are many problems with today’’s teaching and learning methods. I will not state all problems because you have most likely experienced them as a student. I can say from my experience that today’’s school educate students inefficiently. Knowledge has grown, but the timeframe in which we teach our children using this inefficient approach has not. Also, there exists very less actual learning and a lot of institutional torture and policy politics in a student’s daily life. For instance, no person ever becomes truly successful by doing what today’’s education system asks you to do: attend class and score high marks on exams. One has to join extra-curricular activities, practice their passion at home, participate in conferences, and take a lot of initiative. Most of the time, successful people— – namely Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, and Mark Zuckerberg – —have had to “”hack”” the education system in order to do what they really wanted. Now we are starting to see how the whole structure starts to crumble.

Our students need a temple (no dramatic effect intended) of skill-development which does not exist today. We need it badly because yes, this is an emergency. It is an emergency because students feel trapped and frustrated, happiness is not a priority in today’’s learning, and education is seen as an industrial process rather than an organic one, and you know this if you’’ve ever been a student. So let us begin to look at learning in a new, more correct perspective and tell ourselves that learning is beautiful and that students’ lives – —especially of those who study engineering —must – not be hindered and crippled by the gross view our policy-makers have of excellence and success.

The Senate: Pay attention

Author: Amy Rose Gofton

Recently, I sent away for a stack of the ““Senate Hall of Shame”” collector’s’ cards the New Democratic Party (NDP) has been giving away. Each card features a slightly grainy and unflattering image of a Conservative or Liberal Senator, with a quick bio outlining their “”wrongs”.” Also included on each card is a massive monetary figure, in each case, exceeding $1 million; this is what, according to the NDP, each Senator will cost taxpayers over the course of their careers.
Putting aside the cards’’ obvious propagandism (we are having an eating contest next year), they do provide Canadians and those residing in Canada, with some things to think about. The Senate, whose members are appointed for life, is funded by taxpayer money. If, indeed, taxpayer money is being wasted, shouldn’’t the taxpayers demand action? Who are the taxpayers?
If you’re like me and you hold a job to pay for schooling, then you’’re probably a taxpayer. If, like many students, you’’re not working, then you’’ll be a taxpayer a couple years from now. We as students, make up a significant portion of taxpayers and future taxpayers, yet most of us are paying little to no attention to the scandals and skirmishes occurring in Ottawa.
As of late, both the media and the major Federal parties have told us that the Senate is broken and must be fixed or abolished. If, as the NDP collector’s’ cards suggest, millions of our tax dollars are being wasted through an inefficient legislative process, shouldn’’t we take a closer look? Shouldn’’t we, as students, inquire as to what is being done? Should we not, find some outlet to express our distaste of inefficient government? After all, they are our tax dollars and future tax dollars that will be wasted.

Every dollar lost through inefficiency now and in the future is one that could have been used to fund something else. As students, as a solidaristic group – —a part of a generation— – who will one day inherit both the power and the problems of Canada, we have to wonder what kind of weight is going to rest on our shoulders if we don’’t engage in issues – — like the current debates over the Senate – —early on in our lives.
Pushing political issues like the Senate to the back of our minds and assuming that the government will iron out the problems, or that they will fix things to our satisfaction, if we simply ignore the issues, is ignorant. With the coming of the 2015 eating contest, senate reform may very well get filed under unfinished business as a wave of new issues stumble across the desks and minds of our politicians. A problem ignored is still a problem. The first step to engaging in politics is to pay attention.

Letter to the Editors


As much as I do like reading your articles I must question why you don’t just join Imprint in writing these articles. You’d reach a greater audience. I wouldn’t think censorship to be a problem as the people at Imprint seem like open-minded people.



The Chevron exists as an independent alternative to the Imprint. Our newspaper is focused on criticism of campus politics and institutions rather than general news and interest. We intend the Chevron to provide an accessible place for public criticism of university and student affairs.

Harper and Israel

To whom it may concern,

I am writing this letter in regards to Prime Minister Harper’s planned visit to state of Israel. As a proud Canadian citizen I do not wish our country and its elected representatives to be associated with a state that enforces and executes oppressive, racist and terrorism-based laws onto its residents and surrounding countries. As such, I believe that visiting Israel implies our complicity with its acts and policies.

Its main policies of interest are based on the fact that it is meant to be a Jewish state despite being founded in an area that is comprised that is largely Muslims and Christians. Since 1948, the borders of Israel have increased from 20% of Palestinian land to approximately 70% of Palestine. This process is similar to Hitler’s policies [Editor’s note: lebensraum] of founding a Greater Germany before the Second World War. Similarly, this has included the removal and internal displacement of millions of Palestinians from their homes and the murder of countless thousands. Even today, Israel continues to build settlements in designated Palestinian territories illustrating their complete lack of desire for a peaceful solution. Second, its oppressive policies are acted out on Palestinians living in Gaza and the West Bank through the siege of Gaza and the apartheid wall. The combination of these two has prevented many families from accessing a livelihood, thereby forcing them into abject poverty. Furthermore, countless preventable deaths have occurred both at the checkpoints and because of the inability to access basic necessary healthcare – healthcare which is inaccessible in Gaza due to the complete standstill caused by the siege. Finally, the prosecution and harassment of any non-Jewish residents within the borders of Israel (including Ethiopians, Christian Arabs, and Muslim Arabs) and its support from leading Israeli politicians only goes further to illustrate the racist and bigoted nature of the state.

This, of course, does not take into account the daily murders, violence, and assault that the Palestinians must endure at the hands of both settlers and the Israeli Defense Forces. I urge you to speak out against the planned trip to Israel and our government’s support of the terrorist entity that is Israel.

A concerned Canadian citizen.

Bus Pass Referendum

Author: Aidan Coward

As part of the coming Feds elections, a referendum regarding the continuation of the university-wide bus pass through Grand River Transit (GRT) will be in progress. It was prompted by an increase in the cost of the bus pass, already significantly less expensive for students than if bought individually and even cheaper than if standard fares were paid. By cancelling the contract, GRT will not have the resources to justify the current coverage around the university and would likely provide lower-quality service to the student community, an obvious disadvantage. If the bus pass is cancelled, either students will have to pay more for less service from the GRT, or arrange their own transportation to and from campus. Currently, the bus pass is an excellent service and should not be taken lightly.

Academics Against Mass Surveillance

Author: Cosmin Dzsurdzsa

Recent leaks by whistleblower Edward Snowden implicated the Canadian government in questionable surveillance methods and NSA co-operation, both during the G8 and G20 summits. These classified documents reveal an appeasing attitude towards NSA operations and “close co-ordination with Canadian partners”, more particularly the Communication Security Establishment Canada (the same CSEC who has access to CSIS, which has a history of recruiting on this campus). Now, one might think that such revelations would spark public outcry or protest, yet the crickets keep chirping and the government remains silent.

It seems as though no local or national measures have been taken to show opposition to privacy infringement or questionable information gathering. Yet such surveillance methods are not only a danger to us, or North America as a whole, but they pose a significant threat to the larger international community.

Academics Against Mass Surveillance is an international petition formed by four individuals from the Institute for Information Law at the University of Amsterdam. Although petitions are often scoffed at, a declaration of opposition is a necessary component for any push towards a change in policy. At the time of writing this article, the petition had hundreds of signatories from academic institutions all over the world: Germany (81), Netherlands (70), the U.K. (55) and the U.S. (30). Canada wass shamed in comparison, with only 9 signatories (including two of our own, Associate Dean of Arts Robert W. Park and Professor Ian Goldberg).

As a person who values his privacy, I was interested in any efforts our own community at Waterloo might be putting forward to maintain security while browsing the net. Interestingly enough, the Computer Science Club is known to host a number of computer security and privacy events. While the petition is now closed due to having reached a certain number of participants, students can still always take the important step of building their own security with the help of workshops like these. Security should start at home.