Campus – The Cord The tie that binds Wilfrid Laurier University since 1926 Tue, 04 Dec 2018 14:57:28 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Campus – The Cord 32 32 42727683 Review of the Students’ Union Board of Directors Wed, 28 Nov 2018 12:00:05 +0000

These reviews were written collaboratively by News Editor Aaron Hagey, News Editor Hayley McGoldrick, Lead Reporter Margaret Russell and Editor-in-Chief Safina Husein. They are based on observations from board meetings and interviews with directors, chair and president. 

TARIQUE PLUMMER- president & ceo

In two short semesters, President Plummer has managed to accomplish a great number of things within his position as president and CEO.

President Plummer has accomplished several points on his platform that he set out to achieve during the campaign period.

In specific, President Plummer has fulfilled over seven tasks that were outlined on his 15-point platform. A more recent accomplishment, for example, was the launch of The Perch, the President Sponsorship Program, and more.

President Plummer’s success in seeing so much of his platform come into fruition has created a sense of credibility and accountability for himself as president.

President Plummer has also strived to uphold a sense of visibility and transparency. He consistently makes an effort to work at the Brantford campus one to two times per week.

A large accomplishment that President Plummer has made on the Brantford campus has been the expansion of study spaces for students.

With a completely new lineup of directors this year, President Plummer has played an integral role in ensuring directors have the necessary resources and knowledge needed to be effective during board meetings.

President Plummer has shared guidance and advice when necessary in order to ensure that meetings run smoothly and directors have the tools they need in order to engage on the board table efficiently and effectively. However, the advice and thoughts he shares at meetings often sway some directors, as he is seen as a knowledgeable figure and the most experienced person at the board table.

As such, President Plummer is encouraged to continue to be objective when providing guidance to directors during meetings.

ADAM KOVACS- Chair of the Board

As a new member of the board table, Chair Kovacs has proved himself as an effective Chair and CGO of the Board of Directors throughout the past several months.

Coming into a role with no prior experience on the board, Chair Kovacs stepped up to the head of the table and his hard work and dedication has been demonstrated through the board’s successes.

Taking over for a board that struggled due to their lack of experience last year, Chair Kovacs’ commitment to training and and fostering a positive environment has shown clearly through the board’s ability to make productive strives forward in each meeting.

Chair Kovacs conducts himself in an organized and professional manner, both on the board table and outside of meetings.

He keeps directors on track and focused during meetings and ensures that agendas are followed closely, while fostering positive, effective discussions amongst the board. With Chair Kovacs’ guidance, board meetings have been run smoothly and have been productive, overall.

Chair Kovacs struggled to get directors to attend summer board meetings at the beginning of the term. Although the issue did persist for multiple meetings, Chair Kovacs did eventually intervene and professionally communicated the importance of attending meetings to the entire board, ultimately solving the issue of poor attendance.

Chair Kovacs is encouraged to continue being a strong leader to directors as they entire their third semester as a board.

OWEN BOURRIE- Vice Chair of the Board

Vice-Chair Bourrie has been a prominent individual on the Board of Directors throughout the past several months.

He has successfully fulfilled the role of Vice-Chair of the board through his openness and his willingness to help other board members.

Vice-Chair Bourrie has strived to be a liaison between the directors and the chair.

He has made himself available to directors who may not be comfortable expressing their thoughts or concerns directly to the chair of the board.

In his first year on the board of directors, Vice-Chair Bourrie has strived to be transparent and engaged during board meetings.

He has done a successful job fostering a positive and collaborative environment during meetings.

In addition to his position on the board, Vice-Chair Bourrie has worked on the Student Life Levy Committee, is a co-founder of Best Buddies Laurier, member of Laurier’s Moot Court Club and works at the Athletic Centre.

Vice-Chair Bourrie is easily considered one of the strongest members on the board table.

His enthusiasm, positivity and work to create genuine relationships with the other directors, capabilities and strengths, both on the board table and outside of meetings, as well as his service to the board, was noted and commended by multiple directors.

Board of Directors


Starting his term as a member of the Board of Directors, Director Beck was determined to create an inclusive board team and create a more engaged relationship with the student community.

Director Beck is encouraged to make more of a presence at meetings, both physically and vocally, to demonstrate a greater commitment to the board.

Although Director Beck has regretfully been unable to attend a board meeting at the Brantford campus this semester and was unable to attend a board meeting in Waterloo, he was adamant about being present through conference or video call.

Director Beck recognized a learning curve amongst the directors of the board due to lack of experience, but notes everyone makes the regular effort to improve.

When not a member of the board, Director Beck is the co-president of the Association of Political Science Students, as well as co-vice president of events for Laurier’s Pre-Law Society. Director Beck maintains friendly and professional relationships with his fellow board members.


Though Director Spourdalakis, like the others, is a first-time director, he is looked at by his peers as one of the strongest members of the Board of Directors.

Although working a full-time job in Toronto for co-op may seem like a hurdle for some, Director Spourdalakis continues to put forth an effort that goes above and beyond for the board.

Director Spourdalakis is known to always question the decisions made by the board: not to challenge them, but rather in an inquisitive way that ensures each decision made is what is best for the board and the student body as a whole.

Some may say he is the ideal director, as he is always prepared for the meetings and isn’t afraid to ask questions.

He has also been involved with many committees even while in co-op; including being part of the Student Life Levy committee, Get Out and Vote committee, the finance committee and was even a delegate at the general assembly for OUSA.


As a first-time member of the Board of Directors, Director Jerome has consistently come to board meetings well-prepared and ensures that his points and arguments are always well-punctuated with facts or supportive reasoning.

Making a commitment to be vocal about the issues he is passionate about, Director Jerome has executed his desire to show the other board members what he is capable of, as well as promoting what is in the best interests of the student body.

He has accomplished his campaign’s platform approach advocating for a multi-campus awareness, bringing Brantford more consistently into the board’s discussions.

Director Jerome is encouraged to keep conversations in meetings relevant to the topic being discussed, as there has been a noted tendency for issues to become repetitive at times, which he steps back from.

Director Jerome is currently involved in Student Life levy at Brantford, Hiring & Recruitment and one of the inspector committees.

He has missed one meeting, but it has not impacted his relationship with the rest of the board. They have maintained cohesion and strong personal connections without compromising their professionalism.


Director Toameh is a first-time member of the Board of Directors this year. Director Toameh has been present at almost every meeting and has been to Brantford once this term.

She is a part of Best Buddies Laurier, is a Residence Life Don, Chemistry IA and is vice-president of Finance for the Eye-to-Eye club.

Director Toameh has also demonstrated her commitment to fostering a positive relationship with other directors both on the board table and outside of meetings.

Along with many of the other inexperienced directors, Director Toameh struggled to gain confidence and become comfortable voicing her thoughts on the board table towards the beginning of her tenure. As such, Director Toameh has struggled to contribute consistently and frequently. As her term has continued, Director Toameh has become more comfortable speaking during meetings and continues to improve.

As such, Director Toameh is encouraged to continue to ask more questions and voice her thoughts more frequently during meetings.


Actively seeking out roles to get involved while on the Board of Directors, Director Vigneswaran is an asset to the board, as he is an outgoing member who understands the line between formal and friendly on the board.

Being part of the finance committee, monitoring auditing of the finances and involvement in DECA means that first-time Director Vigneswaran has a busy schedule, but he still fulfils his duties as a director and brings many valid questions to the table when making decisions on the board.

His attendance at meetings has been adequate, as he has missed a few and only one in Brantford.

Knowing that the board still has much to work on is one of Director Vigneswaran’s concerns, as many times it seems the board goes over on meeting minutes, though productive. He knows that they need to stick to the schedule more often, but with help from the executive director, the board has been seeing improvements.


The first term for Director Alwi has been a lot to adjust to, being a first-time member of the Board of Directors. Despite being shy and more reserved, Director Alwi has grown in his position over the term, voicing his opinions and beliefs and asking questions as he has begun to break out of his shell and comfort zone.

There are still opportunities for growth for the director in the new year, as his shyness manifested itself in being unable to get his point across at board meetings as effectively, as well as more communication outside of board meetings.

One of his major campaign platforms has been to bring more recognition to the Laurier Brantford campus. Moving into the next semester, this will be a fundamental goal that he wishes to see accomplished.

Though Director Alwi’s relationship with his fellow Brantford Director Hussain has been very effective, it brings with it the tendency to vote in unison: an issue that been identified as needing improvement.

Director Alwi’s various involvements: working with the Foot Patrol, the Hawk Team, the criminology students’ association in Brantford, Hiring & Recruitment, the Student Life Levy Brantford and more. These responsibilities have not compromised his involvement in board meetings, as he has only missed one.


As both a first-time member of the Board of Directors and first-year student, Director Hussain has made it his mission during his first term as a board member to bring a greater general sense of awareness and recognition to the Brantford campus, alongside Director Alwi.

Director Hussain has been credited for providing good questions and feedback during meetings, as well as facilitating critical and forward-thinking during discussions.

Director Hussain was contacted by The Cord to conduct his midterm review but did not respond to the interview inquiry.


Although being new to the Board of Directors this term, Director Shah has been recognized as a strong member of the board and always voices his opinion strongly.

He joined the board without a concrete platform, but was mainly focused on making the students’ voices heard.

Director Shah has maintained healthy and positive relationships with his fellow board members and remarked upon the professional nature of the meetings.

Director Shah has missed two board meetings in Waterloo and attended one meeting in Brantford this term, but strives to improve attendance in the future.

Director Shah notes that sometimes the board meetings’ communications have gone in circles amongst directors, but attributes this to the importance of making sure everyone is on the same page.

Outside of the board, Director Shah is part of the senate, vice-president of operations at SURO, is a RAC referee and works part-time at the Merchant of Tennis.


Director Elliott can be described as one of the more realistic members of the Board of Directors and his performance this term has reflected that.

Though a number of points from his campaign, including involving more international and first-year students and improvements to the wi-fi, have gone unfulfilled, that comes with it the understanding that his personal agenda may not always fit into the larger scheme of the Students’ Union.

As one of the more broadly-involved directors, being involved with the first year project, playing basketball and RIC for intramural basketball, Director Elliott reflects the diversity and passion that he wants to see mirrored in the student body, as well as the needs of the broadest spectrum of groups.

Director Elliott has not missed any meetings, but has not yet been to Brantford and as such is an opportunity for growth next semester.

Director Elliott has created and nurtured relationships with some board members, such as his working relationship with Director Jerome.

However, it has been noted that a focus for next semester should be building upon other relationships with board members that go beyond the professional.


Even in his first year as a director, Director Donnelly has made an impact on the Board of Directors, as he always has a strong but educated opinion when it comes to making decisions on the board.

He maintains a friendly relationship with other directors outside of the board, but knows that on the table he must act in a professional manner and his questions to the board follow accordingly.

Director Donnelly has made an impact on fellow directors: he fits seamlessly into the board despite not having previous experience and is not afraid to ask the tough questions that some other directors may fear will rock the boat.

On top of his director duties, Director Donnelly is a residence life don, as well as a member of the Association of Political Science Students, the History Students’ Association and the North American Studies Students’ Association. It keeps him constantly busy as he tries to improve the student experience for many faculties and make an impression on his first-year students.

]]> 0 52985
You’ll never walk alone: Foot Patrol celebrates it’s 26th birthday Wed, 21 Nov 2018 12:00:44 +0000

Photo by Yitian Cai

Foot Patrol, the volunteer operated service on campus where teams of two are sent out to help safely walk students home, turned 26 this year and held a celebration in the concourse to not only celebrate the success and legacy of the program, but also to inform students and recruit.

“I’m a general volunteer, so I both walk people home once or twice a week, and then I also dispatch, so I answer the phones, direct people and tell them where to go,” said Shaw Langston, one of Foot Patrol’s many volunteers.

Foot Patrol is run fully by volunteers under the Students’ Union and is operated under the Students’ Union vice president of programming & services as well as a coordinator who is hired strictly for Foot Patrol.

Foot Patrol operates on both the Waterloo and Brantford campuses, as safety is a priority at Laurier and many students who have class or co-curricular activities late do not feel safe walking home alone.

“It’s an awesome service, it makes the community feel a whole lot safer, and it serves a lot of auxiliary functions like, for example, whenever anybody is lost, they usually come to us, and we direct them or walk them where they need to go,” Langston said. “Our van program helps commuting students get home safer, so we help people feel safer and therefore enjoy school life more.”

Though any student can apply to be on Foot Patrol, at least one student on duty at all times is first aid trained and they are always equipped with a first aid kit and radio, as they usually are walking people home until around two in the morning and even though they could be found in an unsafe situation themselves, as they selflessly help other students get home.

“I’ve been on Foot Patrol since my first week of first year, so I’ve been on it for two years now. Personally, as a member of the team, it really brings you together, I’m really close friends with the people I work with but it also builds key leadership qualities,” she said.

“I walk students home once a week as well as drive students home in our van service, so students who live more than two kilometres away from campus within Kitchener-Waterloo we drive home from 11 p.m. to two in the morning which is great,” Victoria Bothwell, another Foot Patrol volunteer said.

“I’m also on the Foot Patrol promo team, so I work towards recruiting students and informing first-year as well as upper-year students as to what Foot Patrol is and how they can get home and how they can get involved.”

During the event, Foot Patrol had cupcakes and snacks as well as games to celebrate its birthday, and also had many volunteers at the booth informing students of all the services available like walking or driving home late at night, as well as information on how to get involved.

“I’ve been on Foot Patrol since my first week of first year, so I’ve been on it for two years now. Personally, as a member of the team, it really brings you together, I’m really close friends with the people I work with but it also builds key leadership qualities,” she said.

“You have to be able to talk to the people you’re walking and make them feel safe, as well as helping people build key skills like verbal skills and working with other people so those teamwork skills, and it teaches you to be responsible for other people.”

]]> 0 52743
The Land We Are event aims to educate about Indigenous peoples in Waterloo Region Wed, 14 Nov 2018 11:59:32 +0000

Photo by Eva Ou

On Thursday, Nov. 7 from 1 p.m. to 4:30 p.m., Wilfrid Laurier University’s Office of Indigenous Initiatives teamed up with the library and the history departments from both Laurier and the University of Waterloo to create the event The Land We Are.
The event took place in the library and consisted of different speakers from different departments and throughout the region like Susan Neylan, an associate professor in history at Laurier, speaking on land acknowledgments and Phil Monture of the Six Nations of the Grand River.
Another speaker at the event was Gary Warrick, an associate professor in Indigenous studies and Indigenous archaeology at Laurier. He began his speech by recounting a time in the 1970’s when he was a young archaeology student and excavated Indigenous burials.
“The site dated to about 1300 give or take, and it was a pit filled with buried people who were disarticulate, which means they weren’t in the anatomical position, but I was a student, and I was tasked with taking those bodies out carefully and recording everything,” Warrick said.
“I was saying things have really changed since then, that was 1976, and Indigenous peoples are wanting more control over their ancestors and their ancestral belonging, or artifacts as we call them. I felt bad, and I still feel bad about that.”
The bones Warrick found are, to this day, found at McMaster University, but they are trying to take them back to Six Nations and have Six Nations re-bury them, and Warrick is going to be present as he has one of the most personal experience when it comes to these particular bones.
Warrick is also a professor of a first-year Indigenous studies course at Laurier, and realizes the difference that educating students on what Indigenous peoples have gone through in Canadian history that often gets bypassed can have a tremendous impact.
“The school system does a terrible job of educating people on that Indigenous past, and that is such a big part of Canada. We need more education, just having one event and saying ‘Ok, we’ve done our part’, and I know the university isn’t thinking that way, but we need more and more events like this and aimed at different sectors of the population,” Warrick said.
“I think once Canadians are educated about that history, they’re going to treat one another differently and they’re going to treat the land differently from that Indigenous perspective and see how things should have gone in Canada and how they did not go that way.”
One of the main organizers of the event, Jean Becker, is the senior advisor for the Office of Indigenous Initiatives, and advocates not only for the education of Canadians on Indigenous history, but the history of Indigenous peoples who had previously lived right here in Waterloo region.
“Phil Monture from Six Nations, who worked for the land and resource office at Six Nations for many years, he spoke about the Haldimand tract, the period from 1784 when the British awarded that land to the Haudenosaunee people, and he talked about the way the land disappeared from the control of the Six Nations,” Becker said.
“One of the things that he really emphasized is that Six Nations is in a lawsuit with the Canadian government and has been for 23 years, and the facts of the case are not in dispute, they have proven that the land was sold and the compensation was never made to the Six Nations, they have traced where the money ended up.”
The Haldimand tract runs 10 kilometres wide on either side of the Grand River, and stretches all the way through to Orangeville, and is territory that was not properly paid for as the Six Nations received no income from it.
One of the key reasons that The Land We Are was created is to educate students and members of the community about the injustices that have and continue to exist in Indigenous communities and is one of the main reasons Becker believes students need to come out and hear these speakers.
“Indigenous peoples couldn’t vote until 1961. Up until 1951 First Nations people weren’t allowed to hire a lawyer, it was illegal, they would go to jail. This is in Canada, and in 2018 the Indian Act controls the lives of First Nations people, it’s still in existence and it’s a law that applies only to First Nations people. Canadians don’t know anything about this,” Becker said.
“A few months ago, the schools on Phil’s reserve got clean water for the first time, and lots of houses don’t have it. People think this is going on somewhere else, somewhere up north — it’s not. It’s happening right with your neighbours; and they are your neighbours, they have just as much right as any other Canadian to healthcare and education and they don’t have it, and Canadians don’t know this.”
The Land We Are was not only an eye-opener for those who may know little about Indigenous peoples in Canada, but those who reside in our own backyard that are underprivileged and overlooked due to false stereotypes.
“There’s so many things that you learn when you go these events that you might not have ever known if you didn’t bother to go,” Becker said.

]]> 0 52604
Enactus’ strikes gold with their ethically made Hawk Honey Wed, 14 Nov 2018 11:59:04 +0000

Photo by Eva Ou

This past Friday, Nov. 10, students from the Laurier campus club, Enactus, set up a booth to sell locally made honey and “PolliNation kits.”

These PolliNation kits were made by the students of Enactus in the Science Maker Lab and the honey came from on-campus hives, at Laurier’s Northdale location in Waterloo.

The purpose of these kits are to aid in preventing the local bees from extinction. According to enterprise manager of PolliNation at Enactus, David Townshend, the kits are geared towards mason bees.

Mason bees are a solitary bee species — they are non-stinging, native to Ontario and pollinate a lot more than honey bees do. The issue Townshend brings up is that they do not live in colonies or build hives — leaving them far more at risk due to urbanization.

“They rely on nature as their homes. Obviously with urbanization we’re tearing down a lot of trees, building cities and taking away homes for them — and they’re at risk of going extinct,” Townshend said.

“The sustainability office saw our enterprise and how it is lined up with their work preserving the bee population. So they partnered with us, supplied us with a bunch of this honey and that is why we’re here today,” Townshend said.

These PolliNation kits are birdhouse-like structures, with many small wooden tubes throughout.

“That’s where we come in as a enterprise; we have these kits that give them a little replication of their ideal living space, because they like living in tube and circular areas,” Townshend said.

The PolliNation kits also come with packets of native wildflower seeds and information pamphlets.

To use these kits, Townshend lays out the simple instructions.

“You plant the seeds in your garden … put the kit nearby and they attract mason bees and other pollinator species,” Townshend said.

The price of Enactus’ pollination kits are thirty-five dollars and the jars of honey are ten, or sold together for forty dollars. The money earned from these sales will go to the upkeep of the apiary at Northdale.

Hawk Honey is sourced from the campus apiary started by Tyler Plante, the outreach and program coordinator for Laurier’s Sustainability Office, and James Emary, manager of grounds services. The Sustainability Office reached out to Enactus to help market the honey and spread the word about their endeavours.

“The sustainability office saw our enterprise and how it is lined up with their work preserving the bee population. So they partnered with us, supplied us with a bunch of this honey and that is why we’re here today,” Townshend said.

To get further involved, Townshend and Madeleine Wilson, another Enactus member, direct students to look at their Facebook and Instagram pages, as well as their website.

]]> 0 52602
Laurier Student Poll results: Federal legalization of marijuana Tue, 06 Nov 2018 23:23:31 +0000

Laurier Student Poll conducted a survey over the past two weeks asking Laurier students about their thoughts on the recent federal legalization of marijuana in Canada. The survey was conducted online and received 163 responses from students in first, second, third, fourth, and fifth year along with graduate students across all the different educational faculties at Wilfrid Laurier University.  

68 out of the 163 respondents (41.7%) said that they are more likely to consume marijuana now that it is legal.  

Out of the 163 respondents, 47 students (28.8%) said that they have not consumed marijuana in the past. 23 of those 47 students (48.9%) said that were in favour of marijuana legalization. Out of the 115 students that said they have consumed marijuana in the past, 12 (10.4%) responded with no when asked if they were in favor of the legalization.

43 out of the 163 respondents (26.4%) said that they considered themselves avid marijuana consumers. Unsurprisingly, 39 out of those 43 students (90.7%) are in favour of the marijuana legalization.  

The survey received responses for students of all educational faculties at Laurier. The breakdown was as follows: 75 students from the Faculty of Arts, 51 students in the Lazaridis SBE, 33 students from the Faculty of Science, and three respondents from the Faculty of Music. 

10 Arts students (13.3%), 12 Lazaridis SBE students (23.5%), two out of three Music students (66.7%) and 12 Science students (36.3%) responded not in favour of the marijuana legalization. 

The survey also asked Laurier students if the federal legalization of marijuana in Canada would affect how and who they voted for in the future. 89 students (54.6%) said that marijuana legalization won’t affect their vote in the future, while the remaining 74 students said that it would. 

Overall, perhaps the most important result of the survey was 127 students (77.9%) responding in favour of the legalization, showing that this decision by the government is strongly supported by Laurier students.

]]> 0 52421
Parts 2 & 3 – Back to the drawing board: reflecting on the 2017-18 directors Wed, 26 Sep 2018 10:59:31 +0000

Photo by Sadman Sakib Rahman

The Cord’s Editor-In-Chief, Safina Husein, conducted an investigation of the Students’ Union’s 2017-18 board of directors, following up with allegations of sexism and various other dysfunctions which were disclosed to The Cord by various board members during  their final board reviews conducted in April, which consist of confidential, anonymous interviews. This story is part two and three of a four-part series released by The Cord. The first-part can be found here. Part four will be released by The Cord at a later date.

Part 2: Inconsistencies within meeting minutes

For the board of directors, as a unit which makes significant decisions for students and on behalf of students, maintaining transparency is a trait the Students’ Union and board of directors commonly discusses and strives towards.

Students’ Union’s Facebook live videos, live Twitter updates, as well as meeting minutes, are all examples of avenues which students can use to stay informed and hold the board accountable.

However, this past year, this accountability seemed to lack with regards to the board’s meeting minutes.

In particular, some meetings minutes this past year were left incomplete for months at a time and, according to various directors, were inconsistent in terms of their accuracy and attention to detail.

Ian Muller, director of policy, research and advocacy at the Students’ Union, explained that each meeting’s minutes is to be completed by the secretary, who is hired and employed by the board.

Although the secretary is an employee of the collective board, the chair — as representative of the board — works closely with the secretary, monitoring the responsibilities of the secretary.

According to Plummer, the inconsistency surrounding meeting minutes first stemmed from the secretary’s resignation last summer.

“This is the first time in a long time that we’ve had a board secretary who had resigned. When that board secretary resigned there was a back log of minutes that were supposed to be passed but were never passed,” Plummer said.

Plummer noted that the backlog of minutes was from two of the board’s longest meetings which took place over the summer of the 2017-18 year — one of which was five hours and the other which was four hours in length.

As a result, the new secretary that was hired in September had a difficult time keeping up with ongoing meetings while catching up on the significant amount of minutes that were still left from the summer months.

However, much of this backlog was still left incomplete in December 2017. In fact, the Aug. 11 meeting minutes weren’t released until second  semester of the 2017-18 board’s tenure.“The Students’ Union Constitution outlines that minutes of board meetings have to be approved by the board of directors at a subsequent board meeting … not necessarily at the very next meeting, just at a subsequent meeting,” Muller said.

Although the release of the minutes followed policies and guidelines, being that they were still approved at a subsequent meeting, Rezkalla and Wojtanowski pointed out that it is difficult to spot discrepancies or errors in minutes from a meeting that took place over five months ago.

“I can’t go back and correct [minutes] if I think something’s wrong because my memory doesn’t serve me back to seven months ago to a meeting we had,” Wojtanowski said.

“Not having meeting minutes — how can we continuously hold the president and CEO accountable if we can’t hold ourselves accountable. That’s hypocritical.”

However, in February, Rezkalla and Wojtanowski began to observe another issue with regards to meeting minutes; this time, surrounding the accuracy and attention to detail within the completed minutes.

“I started noticing in the minutes that there were a lot of ‘inaudible comments,’” Rezkalla said. “I get here and there, maybe two, but I kept seeing them as I was going through.”

According to Plummer, the use of “inaudible comments” in meeting minutes occurs when the secretary is unable to decipher what a director has said.

“It doesn’t essentially mean a sentence or paragraph that’s missing. It essentially means a word or two, because individuals have different accents and individuals pronounce things differently,” Plummer said.

However, Rezkalla noted that she counted approximately 50 ‘inaudible comments’ within two different meeting minutes.

“I decided I would bring up a few examples and hopefully that would sway the board to wait on approving the minutes and look back and fix it [sic],” Rezkalla said.

According to Rezkalla, when the issue was brought to the board table, the discussion on the matter was tabled until the next meeting.

However, when the next meeting’s agenda package was released, along with the meeting minutes in question, the ‘inaudible comments’ within the minutes from the previous meetings had been deleted.

To this matter, Plummer stated that the secretary went back and had a second look at the minutes in question in-between the two meetings.

“The board secretary went back, listened to the recordings, watched the videos and saw if they could find or to figure out or decipher what word could be placed there,” he said.

According to Rezkalla and Wojtanowski, the places where “inaudible comment” had been used in the minutes may have been replaced with new words in some instances, however, in other instances where it was used, the inaudible comments may have been simply deleted from the record completely — potentially leaving responses altered or left out.

“It could be a complete oversight, but from my standpoint, there were responses omitted and it’s completely against our constitution and student rights,” Rezkalla said.

From Plummer’s standpoint, he believed the number of inaudible comments present in the minutes in question would “not have made a significant difference at all” to the overall quality of the minutes.

Indeed, despite Rezkalla and Wojtanowski’s concerns, the board approved the minutes.

“Some of the defences that some of the board members had voiced is that they don’t have to be perfect: they can be missing a few things here and there. Sure – and in my opinion a few things is a few words … next to nothing is, in my opinion, what that would mean,” Wojtanowski said.

Plummer explained that the main purpose of meeting minutes is to document the decisions and motions made at the board table.

“When it comes to any additional comments that were said by anyone, is essentially a luxury we have to look at that,” he said.

“The main focus is essentially on what the motions were, did the motion pass, how much did it pass by, do we know what we have to do for next time … perfect, that’s what binds the board there. Not necessarily each individual word.”

As the board decided to approve the minutes, no other board member, besides Wojtanowski and Rezkalla spoke in defence of investigating the deletion of inaudible comments.

Part 3: Misuse of private messaging during meetings

Meeting minutes, however, were not the only instance in which it seemed that many directors stayed silent during a situation in which discussion and thoroughness was essential.

The silence and lack of cohesive, productive conversation at board meetings was often attributed to the influence of private messaging on social media platforms.

“Typically, we encourage [directors] to use their devices to access policies … this is the first year where we had a situation where there was too much communication on devices and not enough over the table,” Plummer said.

Indeed, many former directors noted that communication on social media and use of devices during meetings surpassed accessing policies and board resources

“When you’re at the board table, there are lines of communication like let’s say through iMessage on your laptop. Even I do it … but not to tell someone how to vote,” Rezkalla said.

“There are things that I do point out strategically,” Rezkalla said. “When one person continuously talks, people stop listening. You have to create a sort of support system [within the board].”

As pointed out by Rezkalla, private communication during meetings can be useful such as professionally discussing policies and topics to discuss during meetings. However, this was not always the case for some individuals on the board.

“I’ve seen … messages with other board members and they’re either commenting on what someone said, or telling each other how to vote. It’s not productive conversation,” Rezkalla said.

“It’s more like let’s talk about what this person said, why is she repeating herself or why is he saying that … I don’t have definitive details or responses on those messages, but I have seen them and the only reason I haven’t fully seen them is because [directors] try to hide them.”

Various former board members reiterated that these private messages often hindered the board’s ability to take part in open, honest conversations during meetings.

“People were definitely messaging on social media personally. That was apparent even when we were voting on chair and vice-chair last February. You could see that there were certain questions that were composed before they were asked,” Hakim said.

In this sense, some board members alluded to the idea that their fellow directors were using avenues of private communication in order to plan out and discuss how they would vote for certain motions, instead of speaking publicly in the meeting about what they believed.

“[Klaudia  and I] would talk outright to them, and they would keep their agendas to themselves, and then vote. We’re open to listening … you shouldn’t go into meetings with your list of things that you want to get done,” Rezkalla said.

In sum, a common critique which surfaced during The Cord’s anonymous board reviews with the 2017-18 directors was their inability to put aside personal agendas and differenced in order to accomplish productive work at the board table.

The apparent misuse of private messaging at the board table reiterates this shortcoming and indicates that the directors were limited by their inability to communicate open and honestly with one another.

]]> 0 51620
Run, Hide, Repeat by Pauline Dakin receives the 2018 Edna Staebler award Wed, 26 Sep 2018 10:59:19 +0000

Photo by Eva Ou

The Edna Staebler Award for Creative Non-Fiction has been announced, and the winner is Pauline Dakin’s Run, Hide, Repeat. A memoir of her childhood, Dakin recalls a time in her life she had not yet come to terms with in this novel.

“It recounts my childhood and young adulthood, when there were some odd things going on with the family, and so it was my attempt to come to terms with a lot of those things as an adult, after most of the main characters in the story were gone,” said Dakin.

An assistant professor at the University of King’s College School of Journalism in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Dakin has written journalist pieces for many years.

She works in broadcasting for CBC Nova Scotia and her first lengthy piece, this novel, had been shortlisted for four different awards, winning the Edna Staebler, and was also one of the Globe and Mail’s Top 100 Books of 2017.

“I started off trying to make sense of what had happened. I tried to forget about it for a long time, but you get to a certain age and you feel more of a need to try and make sense of things that have happened in your life, so that’s what I was doing.” said Dakin. The recipient of the award receives $10,000, and as the award is nationally recognized, it is a very prestigious honour in Canadian literature.

“That’s a bit of scoop actually, it hasn’t officially been announced, but it is official. I will be a producer on that project, so I’m still working around the same material here, so I haven’t got a whole ton of time for my new projects, but I will come back to them.”

Dakin’s book is based on her real-life experiences, and though the book is a creative piece, she still wanted to ensure the book was unapologetically herself.

“I really love that this award is the Canadian award that recognizes creative non-fiction because it’s the genre, obviously the genre I chose to write in, a lot of people said to me ‘Why don’t you write it in fiction?’ but it was important to me that it be rooted in real life, and real stories, but I also love to try and write lyrically and use all of the tools that fiction writers have in terms of setting scenes, dialogue and character development,” she said.

Dakin is not only excited to be receiving the award, but also the exposure of her choice storytelling medium and the similarities between Edna Staebler and herself.

“It thrills me that those works are honoured and recognized in terms of, as they say true stories well told.”

”Also, Edna Staebler found her success when she was a little bit further along in life,” she said.

“I’m in my 50’s now so here I am also finding some success later in life, so I like that symmetry,” Dakin said.

The life of Run, Hide, Repeat does not end with this award however, as the novel will continue to grow into other projects.

Yet new ideas are still in the back of Dakin’s mind.

“I have a couple of other little projects underway, but I’m not completely finished with Run, Hide, Repeat yet. It’s going to be developed into a limited television series,” Dakin said.

“That’s a bit of scoop actually, it hasn’t officially been announced, but it is official. I will be a producer on that project, so I’m still working around the same material here, so I haven’t got a whole ton of time for my new projects, but I will come back to them.”

Dakin will be at Laurier on Thursday, Nov. 8 from 3:30-5:00 p.m. as the Edna Stabler award will be presented to her.

She will also be conducting a book reading, taking place in the Robert Langen Art Gallery and the library.

]]> 0 51618
Evaluating the updates and upgrade to the Laurier Waterloo campus Wed, 12 Sep 2018 10:59:37 +0000

Photo by Jackie Vang

In the past year, the Laurier Waterloo campus has experienced some significant progress in the ongoing construction and improvements to the university, including its overall efficiency, both in terms of energy and accessibility, as well as its aesthetic appeal.

The construction has taken place both in and outside of the Frank C. Peters Building, the Turret, Veritas Cafe, 202 Regina Street North and Martin Luther University College, formerly the Waterloo Lutheran Seminary. A new building is also in the process of completion.

According to a WLU news release from April 2016, this project is part of a greater “sustainable energy management initiative,” which began April of that year.

The goal, in cooperation with the provincial government, has been to “provide an innovative financing solution to confront the substantial impacts of energy consumption, both in financial and environmental terms,” said Claire Bennett, manager of Laurier’s Sustainability Office.

“This issue is more relevant than ever considering recent carbon pricing legislation and the decline of energy security from changing weather patterns, resource availability and associated utility pricing.”

Mark Dettweiler, director of planning, design and construction at Laurier, provided some commentary on the changes that have happened since the Winter 2018 term, and have been delayed.

There are a number of things with regard to the Laurier Energy Efficiency Project that are ongoing, soon to be completed projects. One of the most immediately noticeable is a new building that can be found on and around the Clara Conrad Hall, the co-ed residence building near the Athletic Complex.

“Outside of the Clara Conrad [Hall] there’s a new building, which is a battery storage unit,” Dettweiler said.

“We’ve also added a lot of solar panels to the roof of Clara Conrad, the roof of the Athletic Centre … We’re essentially becoming more self-sustainable when it comes to electrical power, so that way we can control our costs a little more.”

Dettweiler explained that these changes are a result of changes to the Ontario system of utilities, where hydro costs have shifted to a time-of-use, on versus off peak hours of electricity consumption.

“Essentially hydro is cheap at night, expensive during the day,” Dettweiler said.

“So the idea is you charge batteries when the electricity is cheap, draw when it’s expensive, save yourself a pile of money and you are able to shed your peak loads, which is something the provincial utilities are encouraging.”

A portion of the campus construction has been prompted by this idea of increasing energy efficiency and sustainability for the university, moving forward.

“We will see solar panels here and there and we’re also doing a lot of the lighting replacements, upgrading the LEDs to reduce energy usage. It’s a multi-year project — same with water fixtures,” Dettweiler said.

The Peters building has seen the largest percentage of the construction budget and will be continuing into the new semester — but is hopefully concluding soon.

“The Peter’s building had a budget of $13.7 million, that involved a complete gut of all the interiors and all of the building systems — totally new mechanical, electrical systems, air handling,” Dettweiler said.

“Really we’re looking at a 40 per cent increase in energy efficiency there, a much better air quality and heat and cooling as well. Plus I think we made the building function a little bit better.”

Photo by Jackie Vang

It used to be like a rabbit’s warren, now it’s a little easier to navigate and know where you are — it’s more open and attractive,” he said.

Like all construction, unfortunately, the Peters Building ran into some delays that have pushed completion beyond the estimated goal of April 30, 2018.

“We had to put some new equipment and electrical rooms, where the only area we had to do that was to drop it in through the courtyard, and that complicated things a little bit,” Dettweiler said.

“I was hoping we would have that done, but we missed it by that much. So we have another couple of weeks of inconvenience on the outside, but we’re getting there.”

This construction has coincided with a plethora of reorganization and movement of other departments and spaces.

“We’ve moved archaeology, women and gender studies and philosophy, languages and literature to the third floor; all of the student’s services, the centre for students success and CTIRE on the second floor; and the first floor is common areas and [it] will have a new food service outlet there in a month or so,” Dettweiler said.

The Turret and Veritas Cafe have also undergone significant renovations, using contributions from the Student Life Levy and Graduate Enhancement Fund to enhance the experiences of undergraduate students at Laurier.

According to a letter from the former President of the Students’ Union, Kanwar Brar, the Turret project has been undergoing a rebranding to make it a more inclusive and attractive space for students, to become both user friendly and multi-use.

This project, with a cost of $2.2 million, was funded by the Student Life Levy and is expected to be available for use by the end of September.

“Our goal is that the complete transformation of the Turret will encourage more comprehensive usage by creating a location functional as both a social venue and an independent or group study space,” said Brar in the statement.

“Accessible to students throughout the day, we will be adding approximately 260 study spaces to the current venue, including approximately 75 group study spots.”

With the summer closure of Veritas Cafe coming to a hasty conclusion, Ellen Menage, executive director of WLU Graduate Students’ Association, provided some information on the goal behind their renovations as well.

The Graduate Enhancement Fund, separate from the Student Life Levy, seeks to support projects that improve the quality of graduate student experiences that couldn’t happen otherwise. The Veritas project in particular has totalled $265,350, and is expected to open Monday, Sept. 17.

The goal of this renovation was twofold: to improve seating capacity, as it will be nearly double the size, as well as improving storage space to focus on local suppliers, fixing an issue that had occurred previously.

As well, the GSA office has moved from beside Veritas and into the Peters Building, in room P111.

The final stage of this construction rests at the 202 Regina St. building, where a series of internal renovations are taking place. The offices currently residing at 255 King St. N., including the Administration, Planning, Design and Construction and Sustainability Office, are going to be moving into that building once renovations are complete.

“It’s been kind of a domino project where Schlegel moved people, Peters, 202 Regina, so basically the last thing is we move out of here and we give up this leased space. All that was put into motion when we started Lazaridis Hall. [We’re moving] within the next six months for sure,” Dettweiler said.

Martin Luther University College has also seen some rather important internal overhauls.

“Essentially a new entrance was put on the Albert St. side, [as well as] a completely new mechanical [system] — they had a very old boiler and no air conditioning, now they have much more efficient heating and air conditioning,” Dettweiler said.

“The interior is completely redone and [so is] the courtyard — so go over and have a look, the courtyard looks great, it’s a very nice, open, public space there.”

As far as future projects are concerned, there is only uncertainty and questions for now.

“We certainly have ideas for the music building, we’re hoping those things come forward,” Dettweiler said.

“[But] at this point they’re not confirmed as going ahead.”

]]> 0 51086
Dividere Stainless, Laurier start-up, promotes innovative and discrete dual chambered flask Wed, 12 Sep 2018 10:59:22 +0000

Contributed Image

One of many interesting opportunities available to Laurier students is the entrepreneurship option, which offers utilities run by the Schlegel Centre like the Launchpad program — a service through the Communitech Hub, The Accelerator Centre and the Community Innovation Hub that allows Laurier students and alumni to use a workspace at no cost, to help accelerate their start-up businesses.

Two recent Laurier grads who have taken advantage of their resources are Tanner Walters and Erik Daroczi, with their company Dividere Stainless.

Walters and Daroczi met during frosh week at Laurier, but are not typical BBA grads who know the ins and outs of business and just happened to have an idea; in fact, Daroczi graduated with a Bachelor’s of Science in Biology in 2017.

“Tanner’s first idea was actually an app to track busses, but it kind of failed and now Google tracks buses so that wouldn’t have worked.” Daroczi said.

“We used to go out a lot and we would take flasks everywhere we went, but I would carry chase plus my liquor, so the idea was to combine them both into one classy item we could sneak into clubs like Phil’s.”

Dividere is still in the starting phases of their product, and as of Sept. 8 have surpassed their fundraising goal to create the Dividere Dual Chambered Flask.

The flask differs from others on the market for a variety of reasons: the dual-chambered flask was made not only to be able to store two products at once, but because they “enhance the sharability and versatility” according to their website.

The fundraising goal was $15,000, but the Kickstarter campaign currently sits at $16,620.

“We have a lot of other plans, but we really have to laser focus on this one thing so we can finish it and actually build it. We have to now, we passed our goal.”

What separates Dividere is also their approach to connect with their customers; each of their members has written several blog posts that tie into the theme of who they are; young adults who enjoy creating and some occasional liquor.

Blogs that have been released range from titles like “Top 5 Hidden Bars in Toronto” to “Whiskey Basics,” not only trying to reach their audience from a marketing perspective helping them learn more about spirits, but also the nightlife aspect of what their product is all about.

The whole concept of becoming a businessman while a science student came from Erik taking the course SC 200, Entrepreneurship in Science.

“Zach Weston was advertising to science classes something called Entrepreneurship in Science. I had business interests but I never had business class, like I was in science, right? I took his offer to join his class, and then after that I went on to Laurier Launchpad with the business idea. We used the flask idea in Launchpad.”

Since Erik was still in science and had to write his thesis, the business took a break while he was in his fourth year, but the business still blossomed with the help of Launchpad when they continued again in 2017.

“I had all these ideas, and I feel like a lot of other science students are in this position where they have a lot of ideas and ways they think they can change things, but the point is you don’t figure out how to execute. It’s the opposite in business — they teach you how to run a business and there is a little bit of less creativity there,” said Daroczi.

“When you come into Launchpad, they teach you how to validate it, how to make sure there’s a market for it. By the end of Laurier Launchpad, you should know if your product is marketable or not.”

Dividere’s Kickstarter campaign is now in its last 10 days, and now the execution of the product is going to be Tanner and Erik’s main focus.

“We have a lot of other plans, but we really have to laser focus on this one thing so we can finish it and actually build it. We have to now, we passed our goal,” Daroczi said.

]]> 0 51082
Reflecting on the successes of Orientation Week 2018 Wed, 12 Sep 2018 10:59:11 +0000

Photo by Manraj Rai

Wilfrid Laurier University’s 2018 Orientation Week and Shinerama festivities were a raging success, as Laurier’s Waterloo campus greeted incoming first-years and welcomed back returning upper-years with a fair, carnival and performances by many talented guests.

Additionally, the Shinerama campaign raised money and awareness for cystic fibrosis with a barbecue and car wash.

O-Week, beginning with opening ceremonies on both first-year move-in days, is traditionally packed with various interactive events that allow for incoming students to feel welcomed by their Laurier community.

Among such events are those a part of Shinerama, a long-standing Laurier fundraiser for Cystic Fibrosis research.

Shinerama originated at Laurier’s Waterloo campus in 1961. Back then, they were raising money for cystic fibrosis research by shining shoes.

Looking back on this year’s event is a true representation of how large the fundraiser has become, with the prospect of continuing success in years to come looking optimistic.   

Adriana Marich, this year’s Shinerama Coordinator, and third-year Shinerama committee member discussed the extent of their success with pride.

“Some of the major things we always do is barbecues and food-type events,” Marich said. “This year we did walking tacos to mix it up … we were also selling baked goods, as well as selling things that were kind of necessary at the time. So [for example], at the O-Week concert we were selling bottled water and candy.”

“All together we raised $110,272.68,” Marich said.

A-Team Laurier hosted hip-hop recording artist Nav who performed for Laurier students on Tuesday night, O-Week carnival took place on Wednesday and Laurier’s headphone disco had a great turn-out at the quad on Thursday.

“Not only do I think that [success] is measured by the amount of money we raised, but how the volunteers feel at the end of the week and the experiences they’ve had.”

This amount represents what was raised at the Waterloo campus apart from the Brantford campus, which held a Shinerama — that runs separately.

Last year comparatively, Shinerama raised over $126,000 with nearly 56 per cent of that total being raised on Shine Day alone.

Shinerama’s largest event is always Shine Day, which took place on the final day of O-Week, involved students going into the community to participate in car washes.

Shinerama’s Shine Time on Wednesday invited guest speakers to talk about Shinerama, the significance it has at Laurier and how they have been affected individually by Cystic Fibrosis, inspiring students to support the cause.

“When [the] speakers came, I felt tremendous success just by students being inspired,” Marich added.

First-years who participated in O-Week were placed into four teams that followed the theme, ‘where your legend begins.’

The Gold Astros, Blue Chargers, Green Guardians and Red Riddlers all fought for the title of champions.

While all teams were beaming with enthusiasm and spirit, the title was awarded to the Gold Astros during closing ceremonies.

A-Team Laurier hosted hip-hop recording artist Nav who performed for Laurier students on Tuesday night, O-Week carnival took place on Wednesday and Laurier’s headphone disco had a great turn-out at the quad on Thursday.

The Students’ Union introduced Drake night this year, inciting excitement and an OVO-themed atmosphere and fandom as students danced to their favourite sounds from the 6ix.

]]> 0 51094