Over the Fall 2009 term, the groundbreakings for several new buildings took place, a FEDS referendum occurred, Engineering Society B held executive elections, and first year attendance to EngSoc events was higher than anyone could remember. In addition, it was announced that Orientation Week would not be shortened, and the PDEng Independent Review was released. You may have noticed that campus is just a little different from how it was when you left for work term four months ago.
Some of the more visible changes on campus are the two new holes in the ground; in the places where the Math 3 and the Engineering 6 (E6) buildings will soon stand. In late September the groundbreaking for E6 took place. E6 will be located just east of Engineering 5 (E5) in parking lot B. Most of the space in E6 will be dedicated to the Chemical Engineering Department in order to allow students to have access to up-to-date lab facilities, as many of the chemical engineering labs that are presently located in the Douglas Wright Engineering Building (DWE) are aging.
The Faculty of Mathematics will also soon have a new building, as the groundbreaking for Math 3 took place in mid October. Math 3 will be the new home to the Department of Statistics and Actuarial Science. Both buildings are partially funded by the federal government’s Knowledge Infrastructure program.
Waterloo can expect a little more construction in the future as a result of the FEDS undergraduate referendum that took place last term. The Health Services building is set to undergo expansion as students voted in favour of a $10.00 increase to the Student Coordinated Plan fee to fund the expansion.
The Health Services expansion was one of the three referendum questions posed to students in the Fall term. Students were also asked if they supported the addition of $49.50 to the Student Coordinated Plan fee to contribute to the proposed Student Services Complex, to which the majority of voters voted “No”. The $49.50 fee would have contributed to the construction of the proposed Student Services Complex which would have housed various student services, provided students with social space, study space, and space for various graduate student services.
The majority of voters also voted against a refundable increase of $2.50 to the Federation of Students Administered Fees to support UW’s campus radio station 100.3 SoundFM. The referendum results were close as 2005 voters voted “Yes” to funding SoundFM, while 2460 voters voted “No”. The SoundFM “Yes” committee website indicated that the station would likely cease to operate if the fee referendum did not pass. However, a plan was devised that would allow SoundFM to continue to broadcast from a new home in the upper level of Maxwell’s Music house on King Street.
The overall voter turnout for the Fall 2009 referendum was about 17%, compared to 13% in the 2008 CKMS and World University Service of Canada Student Refugee Program fee referendum and 34% in the 2007 Universal Bus Pass referendum.
Voter turnout was at an all time high for the Engineering Society B (B-Soc) elections. Approximately 34% of eligible voters voted in the election, with 41% of the total votes coming from first year students. B-Soc’s new executive consists of Scott Rankin as President, Alex Hogeveen Rutter as VP Education, Kevin Ling as VP External, Mina Labib and Jon Warren as VP Finance, and Peter Kelly as VP Internal.
The enthusiasm of first year students went well beyond voter turnout. At the Beginning of Term (BOT) Party held in P.O.E.T.S., first year turnout was so large that P.O.E.T.S. hit capacity, resulting in many being turned away at the door. As a result subsequent Of Term parties were held in Bomber to accommodate the large turnout. Likewise EngSoc meeting attendance was such that the meetings needed to be moved to the large RCH 101 lecture hall so that everyone could have a seat.
Hopefully frosh enthusiasm will continue to grow, as frosh week will indeed be full week this year, as opposed to the shortened week proposed by the Registrar’s Office. When we left campus for the work term, there was still much uncertainty as to the length of frosh week, because the Registrar’s Office proposed a shortened orientation period as a means to ensure that students receive the 60 required teaching days in the semester. Semester length is an issue because of the late Labour Day holiday in 2010. The other option to achieve the 60 teaching days involved holding a day of Saturday classes. In a November Senate meeting, senators voted on the issue, with the vote resulting in a tie. In late November, after student senators spoke with the Provost it was announced that Orientation Week would run as a full week event.
While all of this was taking place on campus, it was likely that you were performing the work term Tuesday night tradition of completing PDEng assignments. Changes to the PDEng programme are more than likely in the near future as a result of the long awaited release of the PDEng Independent Review in October. The review addressed six aspects of the programme: programme objective, curriculum content, programme delivery, programme administration, relationship to the other aspects of the Engineering curriculum, and additional opportunities that can be realized through the PDEng Programme. Based on these programme aspects, the reviewers made six recommendations. Students were then able to provide feedback on these recommendations using a feedback tool on the EngSoc website. Following the release of the review, Dean Adel Sedra created a small task force, with the intention of having a complete renewal plan completed by April 30, 2010.
The last four months have been fairly eventful. Hopefully we’ll see the new buildings get taller, continued first year enthusiasm and the renewal plan from the PDEng task force in the upcoming term.