Fall 2004 in Review

By Gauntlet Staff


I’ll have some privatization with that

Food services at the University of Calgary could soon be private.

In early August, Student Academic Services held a series of student focus group sessions to obtain the input of student experiences with the quality of Campus Food Services. This survey included their experiences at Smash Hit Subs, the Dining Center and Beny’s.

U of C Associate Vice-President of Student Affairs Peggy Patterson stated that “the results will be used for companies that are going to bid and by Food Services.”

Despite this move, Patterson has made it clear that the privatization of food services is not yet final.

Bidding ended in September but there has been no formal declaration that Food Services will privatize.

Companies bidding include Aamark, which operates at the University of Alberta, Sodhexo, which operates at Mount Royal College, and Chart Wells. The U of C Student’s Union considered bidding for Food Services.

“There are parts of Food Services where, if the opportunity was available to us, we would be interested,” said SU President Bryan West.

The choice to make Food Services private has created some turmoil, specifically with the unionized workers in Food Services.

If Food Services became private, it is unclear what would happen to the workers represented by the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees.

Quality seems to be the central issue with food services and the university believes that by privatizing food services, quality will go up.

No move to a private vendor will occur until May 2005.


Smoke still rising from the U of C

On Tue., Sept. 14, the SU passed a smoking policy.

Great step forward? Not really, just a hop in the same spot.

The policy states that the SU is committed to taking a leadership role in reducing smoking on campus and working with the city to hasten the city-wide smoking ban. However, there will be no changes in the way cigarettes are sold or where they can be consumed on campus.

Basically, the SU’s policy is “Don’t smoke where there are “no smoking” signs, and–until the City of Calgary rules otherwise–the Den will not become smoke-free.”

Currently, the SU makes about a 20 per cent profit on its tobacco sales–about $65,000 annually.

The Den has emerged as the hot spot for the smoking policy.

“The Den will be still be non-smoking by 2008 [when the city passes their own non-smoking bylaws].” said SU VP Operations and Finance Greg Clayton.

This hasn’t sat well with Smoke-Free U of C who want a complete smoking ban on campus.

“We identified some key steps [the university should take],” said Joan McDonald from SFUC. “Prohibiting smoking on campus is one, another is to prohibit sales and marketing.”

Both sides agree that smoking should be banned on campus, but they want different time frames for when it will actually happen.

Markin gives $18 million gift

In his first speech to the community, this school year, U of C President Harvey Weingarten was thrilled to announce an $18 million gift from Allan Markin, Chairman of Canadian Natural Resources Limited on Sept. 19.

This was the largest single contribution in history of the U of C.

The donation will be used to launch an innovative public health institute as well as funding six new research chairs for the institute.

The Markin Institute for Public Health will focus on research and education in health promotion and wellness, not disease treatment.

The institute will incorporate researchers from varied disciplines, including medicine, kinesiology, philosophy and urban design.

Markin’s donation is the latest in a series of contributions he has made to the university including research grants, awards, scholarships and research chairs, such as the Markin-Flanagan Distinguished Writers endowment. Markin and his ex-wife Jackie Flanagan were jointly honored in 2002 with the Recognition Award by the U of C Faculty Association for their extensive contributions to the school.


Budget slashed

When budget cuts were announced across the entire university, you had to expect that it would not go over well.

Between $60-80 million will be slashed from the budget over the next four years.

Each department will have to cut five per cent from their current budget so that the money can go into a “Re-allocation Pool” where it will be split between paying off the university’s $8-12 million budget deficit and funding selected priorites.

“The rate of growth of the U of C’s expenses in any given year outstrips the growth of our revenues,” said U of C VP Finance and Services Mike McAdam.

The cuts would not occur across the board and so certain faculties could find themselves with more money than they gave away.

According to numbers provided by McAdam about 60-80 per cent of the total amount of money in the Re-allocation Pool will be used directly to pay the university’s deficit, with only 20-40 per cent slated for actual reallocation.

Certain departments like Fine Arts and Biology will suffer the most because they may simply not have enough money to continue.

“The core of the university is being starved to death,” said David Reid, Department Head of Biological Sciences. “One way to stop this, which would not make [President Harvey Weingarten] very happy, would be to stop all these fancy new schemes they’re thinking up.”

Alberta Learning spokesperson Josepha Vanderstoop defended the 58 per cent increase in government funding to post-secondary education since 1996, although this figure falls short of the inflating costs of post secondary.

“Because funding has increased, there is every indication that trend will continue,” said Vanderstoop.

In response to the cuts, forty-two department heads and unit directors from across campus collaborated to write a forceful letter to The University Budget Committee calling attention to the unrealistic goals of the current plan. This letter was sent on Oct. 28.

“The average undergraduate is being screwed,” said Reid.

The reallocation process gives rise to fears that faculties will be asked to compete for funds, but administration denied this.

“We have done ‘more with less’ for many years,” wrote the letter. “We cannot do so any longer.”

NUTV and SU take shots as Allen resigns

On October 3, 2004, the NUTV Board of Director received a letter from the Students’ Union that dealt with the role of NUTV on campus.

This letter renewed conflict between the SU and NUTV which contributed to the resignation of NUTV’s Executive Director Kevin Allen.

Allen had been in his position for five years and his term will end at the end of this calendar year.

“The letter and its contents are not the main reason for my departure,” said Allen. “Perhaps someone can bring new passion and ideas.”

Greg Clayton, the VP Operations and Finance of the SU, who wants to see “NUTV great”, sent the letter. Clayton was also at the meeting where Allen’s future at NUTV was determined.

Clayton received numerous letters from upset NUTV members.

NUTV receives $200,000 from students per year and Clayton feels they should become more focused on television for students in residence instead of the surrounding community, and should appeal to a wider range of students than just those in the arts.

Downtown to provide new frontier

On October 8, 2004, Calgary Mayor Dave Bronconnier discussed in a speech the U of C’s downtown campus as part of Calgary’s future.

Eyeing the spine of 4 St. S.E., the university is now one step closer to obtaining the land in that area as part of the city’s project to clean up the eastern portion of the downtown.

“The downtown campus is the next step,” confirmed Roman Cooney, the VP External Relations for the U of C. “The University is going to be expanding.”

The new campus in the downtown core will coincide with the campus space that holds the EVDS on 134-11 Ave S.E. and is over 4,400 sq. ft.

The first steps toward the downtown campus are still a ways away. In 2005, the U of C will hold a two-stage international design competition to find potential designs for the downtown campus.

“The downtown campus will be in no way the main campus in miniature, it will be complimentary. Any given faculty could have uses that would be most appropriately situated in downtown,” explained Brian Sinclair, the Dean of the Faculty of Environmental Design.


Getting comfy in the bottom

Once again, the U of C has razzled and dazzled its way in the bottom of Maclean’s magazine on both surveys for 2004.

Only 43 per cent of graduates rated their experiences as very good and that landed us in last place out of 46 universities across Canada.

Additionally, in the category of medical doctoral universities, we ranked 14th out of 15 universities.

The Maclean’s ranking is based on several categories: student body, classes, faculty, finances, library and reputation. Also, recent graduates are surveyed for their opinion about their experience as an undergrad.

“The main reason we are near the bottom of the list is chronic under-funding from the province,” said the U of C Faculty Association President Anton Colijn. “The provincial grant hasn’t gone up for a long time even though tuition continues to increase.”

The constant low ratings from Maclean’s have taken a huge toll on U of C’s reputation.

“The brute fact is that we don’t have enough money to run the programs we would like,” said Colijn.

“It doesn’t let us off the hook in terms of undergraduate experience,” he said, adding that this is a signal to administration and the provincial government that it is time for change.

Political Action Week gets the paw of approval

With the Nov. 22 election getting ready to sweep Alberta, the Students’ Union decided to stand up and get student voices heard.

During the week before the election, the Students’ Union put on event after event and promotion after promotion to raise student political awareness, which included two highly successful debates for the Mountain View and Varsity ridings.

Despite the fact Klein and the PCïž´S swept Alberta, there were many significant gains that the SU can look back at and pat themselves on the back for.

“I think it was [successful]. I think it really, really was,” beamed SU VP Events Alex Vyskocil, “I think that more students went to vote because of it.”

Vyskocil pointed out that PAW served to raise political awareness on campus, citing the high turnouts for the political film festival and the candidate forums.

Along with the forums, the SU sold shirts saying “Rich Province, Poor Student” and held sumo mock wrestling bouts. On top of all this they had commercials aired on CFCN.

One of the results of PAW was the election of Liberal candidate and U of C professor Dr. David Swann in Calgary Mountainview.


Leave a comment