The UW Chevron

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Month: October, 2014

SLC Kiosks Not Worth the Cost

By Amy Rose Gofton

Photo Taken By Amy Rose

Photo Taken By Amy Rose

I’ve been lost in the SLC a time or two, searching hard for obscure room numbers, but I’ve always found my way by consulting a map on the wall or flagging down a friendly face. In first year, I discovered what services were available in the SLC by visiting the university website and wandering the floors to familiarize myself with the space. Just as I’ve learned to know my way around the PAS and Hagey Hall, I have also learned the layout of the SLC.

Feds has a plan—in the form of three MappedIn Kiosks—to end the confusion and wandering of students and help people find their way around the SLC, but only the SLC. Ben Balfour, Feds VP of Operations & Finance responded to an email from the Chevron: “The University is working with MappedIn to install similar kiosks in the future” for other parts of campus Balfour said, but he could not confirm whether Feds would “integrate the map layouts” of all the future kiosks on campus. Balfour said he is “hopeful that there will be that possibility.” For now, Feds’ $44,183 investment ($13,400 from the Student Life Endowment Fund and $30,783 from Feds itself) will only be of use to students when they are in the SLC.

MappedIn, the company providing the kiosks, is local. Founded by former UW students, they specialize in “wayfinding.” According to the company website, they create custom software and 3D maps which are accessible from their kiosks as well as computer browsers and phones. Oddly, the website does not contain any pictures of the kiosks. A twitter search revealed a “kiosk” which resembled an over-sized tablet on a base that was installed at the Velocity Foundry in September.

Although the list price for the kiosks is $14,500 each, Ben Balfour said that Feds, by “moving quickly and combining with another larger order” was “able to secure them at a cost of $10,900 each.” Feds also signed a three year agreement with MappedIn, ensuring that fees for “all management panel access, system support, maintenance, and licensing have been waived.” Without this agreement, Feds would spend approximately $18,000 a year on maintenance and other costs for the system.

Balfour said he is unsure what the cost to continue using the system after the three year deal will be. “If the project is deemed valuable for students,” Feds will renegotiate.

From an idealistic point of view, Feds’ MappedIn plan sounds like a great idea. The system is modern; it’s technology for a tech-savvy university. However, can we really justify the cost? More than $44,000 for a computer system that will help us find our way around only one building on campus? Personally, I can think of a better use for part of that $44,183; for instance, the women’s washroom on the SLC main floor is rundown, poorly lit and often disgusting.

 

Relevant Reading For Interested Students:

http://www.mappedin.com/products/

http://www.mappedin.com/products/

https://twitter.com/mappedin

Here’s how easy it is to learn about SLC services now:

https://uwaterloo.ca/student-life-centre/inside-student-life-centre

https://uwaterloo.ca/student-life-centre/inside-student-life-centre/student-life-centre-maps

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What’s the idea?

The University of Waterloo Entrepreneurship Society hosted the: “What’s Your Idea Week!” in the final days of September this year. Ideas were abound and students eagerly absorbed tried and tested methods from both, amateur and veteran entrepreneurs alike. Pretty much, a lot of hand shaking, back patting and an all-around feel good atmosphere. Whereas an entrepreneur could have spent those precious hours towards his project, a lot of time was wasted pandering in the SLC to the already inflated egos of startup wannabes.

The toxic “young genius” persona lingered in the air for several days after. I’m sure several busybodies were left with a taste of self-importance in their mouth and had a rejuvenating experience to dedicate the next few days to some productive outlet. However short lasted it was, good for them; the real talent can be seen in the long haul of dedication towards a calling. Those set vividly apart from the quick burst workers who constantly require praise and applause. Put on a suit, host a site, engage, maintain a presence, sell, sell, sell.

Canada’s next Silicon Valley doesn’t lack in flashy suits and arrogant gaits. It lacks in cooperation, team work and community centered business. Are you creating a social media platform that is way cool and totally revolutionary? Good for you. Do you have the next big idea in alternative energy? Fantastic. Have you figured out why kids love the taste of Cinnamon Toast Crunch? That’s actually pretty impressive. You should go on national television with that one. The point is: create something meaningful, don’t let yourself be fooled; don’t surround yourself with those unwilling to say words like, “no and you suck, you have a bad hair-cut, I don’t like the way you smell frankly”. It builds character, it builds integrity and sometimes you need to be brought back to earth.

Regardless, if you spend your time postulating your imminent wealth with others, rather than contributing some form of effort towards the greater good of innovation and scientific discovery then reevaluate your motivations. Money is a fantastic thing; it’s multi-coloured and has astronauts on it — the $20 bill at least. It’s an abundant resource unlike honesty and passion.

If you’re passionate about something, if you dearly wish to change the world, then you will be willing to dedicate your life towards it. If you’re just looking to make money, than you know what, an idea week is probably all you need if you’re smart. People have gotten wealthy in less time than that. If there’s passion in UW and if there’s any chance of some revolutionary discovery at this institution, it very likely won’t be found in Entrepreneurship studies.

Where is it safe to eat?

The Region of Waterloo performed health inspections on many restaurants in the UW Plaza this summer and the results are publicly available. But who really knows about these reports and do they really matter?

The inspections evaluate restaurants, bars, and even grocery stores (such as Farah’s Foods) on categories such as the presence of a certified food handler (usually an owner, manager, or supervisor, who has received training on the sanitary handling of foodstuffs), the separation of raw and cooked food (especially meat), and general cleanliness. For example, in 2012, the Pita Factory franchise in the Plaza was found to not be keeping cooked or re-heated food at a high enough temperature to ensure food safety, though this was corrected during the inspection.

Problems exposed by these inspections can be serious and lead to potential cases of food poisoning due to improperly handled or stored food, or a poorly-cleaned kitchen or restaurant area.

Luckily for those who wantto be informed about where they eat, inspections going back two years are published online by the Region of Waterloo. This gives some interesting insights. For example, infractions were much more common going back one or two years; in the earliest reports from 2012, a majority of restaurants had multiple infractions, some critical infractions (which represent problems or situations where food-borne illness is likely to arise).

In contrast, the reports from the summer of 2014 show few critical infractions in the Plaza, and many restaurants (including the Pita Factory franchise mentioned earlier) had no infractions whatsoever. This does not imply that there were no critical infractions — in fact, the Waterloo Sogo Restaurant had two: improper separation of raw and ready-to-eat or already-prepared foods in storage and storage of potentially hazardous food at too high of a temperature (that is, improper refrigeration or freezing of food). Critical infractions were additionally reported for Nuri Village, Al-Madina Restaurant, Lotus Barbecue House, Waterloo Star, Meet Point Restaurant, and Go Eat Chinese Restaurant, all for similar improper separation of raw and ready-to-eat or prepared food.

This information shows that while the fast food served at some plaza restaurants may be unhealthy, myths of food poisoning from certain notorious restaurants may be unfounded. However, if you believe that you have been made sick by food from a certain restaurant or if you believe that a restaurant or other food-related plaza business is operating under unsanitary conditions, you should report it to Region of Waterloo Public Health.

Public health inspection reports can be viewed at http://checkit.regionofwaterloo.ca/portal/Facility.

Colonialism panel discussion

by Amy Rose Gofton

On Thursday, October 2nd at 7 pm, around 150 people gathered in RCH 301 for the panel discussion, “They Came in Ships: Settler Colonialism from Turtle Island to Palestine”. The event, hosted by the Palestine Solidarity Action Group (PSAG), Grand River Indigenous Solidarity (GRIS) and the Waterloo Public Interest Research Group (WPIRG), focused on settler colonialism in both North America and Israel/Palestine. The panel was well received by students, who applauded and listened intently throughout the presentation.

The event began with a brief reminder that students were at UW, on occupied Six Nations Land. Then, each member of the panel was asked to give a brief presentation. The three person panel featured Gabriel Piterberg, a professor of history at the University of California, Dalee Sambo Dorough, an associate professor at the University of Alaska and chair of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Peoples, and Sara Matthews, an associate Professor of Global Studies at Wilfred Laurier and a member of QAIA (Queers Against Israeli Apartheid), a group dedicated to encouraging the queer community to become politically involved.
Dalee Sambro Dorough spoke first, focusing on the role law plays in colonialism. “Indigenous peoples have been largely subjugated and dominated through the use of law,” she explained. Although “indigenous peoples across the globe have all the attributes of . . . nation state[s],” including language, culture, forms of government, social control, protocol and rules of membership, foreign law is still used to legitimize control over indigenous peoples. Despite attempts to “pry open the doors” of international law, it has been difficult. She cited the 2007 UN document,

“The Universal Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous People,” as a victory, but lamented Canada’s failure to step whole-heartedly behind the document, which lays out a number of basic rights for indigenous peoples. Gabriel Piterberg spoke after Dorough, switching the focus towards Israel/Palestine. He described the Palestinians not as simply an oppressed population, but as an indigenous group subjected to settler colonialism. Piterberg differentiated between settler and metropole colonialism. Metropole colonialism, he said, is more like “Ulysses” — the colonizers arrive and then leave — while settler colonialism is more like the Aeneid, where the colonizers arrive and intend never to leave. Israel has created a “pure settlement colony,” Piterberg said; they want the land, but they do not want the indigenous labour. However, he expressed optimism, noting that unlike the majority of disposed indigenous peoples, the Palestinians maintain a significant and internationally legitimate claim to sovereignty. Sara Matthews bridged the gap between Piterberg and Dorough, by speaking about her own efforts with QAIA. Matthews described the opposition QAIA faces from Toronto politicians who believe that politics have no place in the Toronto Pride Parade. She chalked this opposition up to neoliberalism. Matthews also used the term “Pinkwashing,” a phrase she and QAIA use to describe Israel’s attempts to market itself as a liberal and tolerant state, hospitable to the LGBTQ community. Just as Greenwashing distracts from environmental harms, Pinkwashing is a tactic used to distract the international community from addressing the occupation.

After a spokesperson for the event posed a couple of questions to the panel, an audience Q&A session began. Many of the questions from students were directed towards Gabriel Piterberg and involved Israel/Palestine. In response to one question, Piterberg suggested that “the solution” in Israel/Palestine “is to take everyone that is already there and create something,” rather than to try and dismantle the colonial settlement.

The event concluded around 9:30 pm. A social gathering was held at the Graduate House afterwards for those who wished to talk directly with the panel members or discuss the event.

Feds GM Tomorrow

By the Editorial Collective

Tomorrow will be the Fall term Federation of Students General Meeting. This meeting is where any and all ordinary undergraduate students may vote on important goings-on within Feds, and in fact the meeting carries a higher authority than the Feds Student Council. The meeting will begin at 3:00 pm tomorrow in the Great Hall of the Student Life Centre (SLC).

In the past year, Feds GMs, which were once largely ignored by the student body, have begun to draw attention due to the unprecedented number of students in attendance and the affairs being discussed, such as the creation of a Clubs Library in the SLC and a motion to initiate a referendum that would consult the student body on the idea of a Fall Reading Break (a referendum which is slated to happen this November). This meeting seems likely to command a similar level of attention and controversy, surrounding three member-added motions.

The first is a motion to make the SLC more physically accessible (in particular, the entrance facing the PAC parking lot), added by Amy Yang (3N Environmental Engineering). This would make it easier for persons with physical disabilities to use the SLC.

The second is a motion to ban for-profit banks and other financial service companies from soliciting students to sign up for credit cards in the SLC (excluding the current CIBC branch in the SLC basement), put forward by Shifa Abbas (4A Biology). This would block these companies from using both physical space (such as tables in Vendors Alley) and advertising space for this purpose, though they could still use those spaces to advertise for other purposes. The main vendor affected would be the Bank of Montreal (BMO), which currently uses Vendors Alley to advertise these services and solicit students to use them.

The final motion was submitted by Andrew Reeves (3A Mathematical Physics) to reopen Feds Board of Directors meetings, which despite Feds President Danielle Burt’s stated commitment to transparency, remain closed to the Federation’s own members, UW undergraduates. An enigma, Reeves has not participated in any interviews with the press and has so far only made one public comment (in response to the Imprint): “It’s a bit sad this motion is necessary at all.”. The Chevron agrees with this statement. We believe that for the Feds Board of Directors to be accountable to students, its meetings will need to be open so that students can ensure that Board members are acting in their best interest.

We encourage all interested students to go to the meeting. Feds is responsible, through levy fees, for managing millions of dollars in our money and it is our responsibility to hold Feds accountable and to make sure it is being managed according to the interests and desires of students, because nobody else will hold Feds accountable.