The year in headlines: 2011

Wilf’s has an eventful year

Over a weekend in early January, the wooden sign from outside of Wilf’s in the Fred Nichols Campus Centre was stolen by a group of three individuals who also urinated on the hawk in the floor of the Hall of Fame. A reward was posted for the return of the sign, which had been valued at up to $5,000. Wednesday of the following week, the three were seen carrying the sign down University Ave. and confronted by a Cord photography manager at which point they posed with the sign, said they were “on a deadline” and proceeded to return the sign. The identities of the individuals, who had visible University of Waterloo lanyards in photos, were never determined.

On Nov. 29, the drainage and sewage systems in the washrooms and kitchen of the restaurant failed, causing sewage and black water to flood up through the drains, causing extensive damage and closing Wilf’s indefinitely. The renovation to the establishment continues as of the end of the semester and no definitive date for reopening has been set while events have been moved to the Turret for the time being.

Reported Jan. 19, Nov. 16.

Campus Court fire ruled arson

In the aftermath of the April 2010 fire that destroyed several businesses in the Campus Court plaza, the $3 million blaze was ruled arson in January and suspects were arrested in April and June. The true story only emerged during court in November, when it was revealed that a bouncer at the Vault (now Titanium) in Uptown Waterloo had run up a significant drug debt of $19,000 worth of cocaine to the owner of that bar, Brent Campbell. To pay off the debt, Campbell suggested he burn down rival business Tabu nightclub in the Campus Court Plaza, which led to the bouncer and an accomplice throwing Molotov cocktails through the windows at Tabu early one morning last April and starting the massive fire. The bouncer and accomplice received sentences of seven and eight years in prison respectively while the owner of the Vault/Titanium still faces charges.

Reported Jan. 12, April 28, Nov. 16

Fall reading week quashed

The issue of fall reading weeks being instituted at Canadian universities has become a common theme in the past year, with Laurier examining the possibility of creating a break, with the issue coming up before a senate meeting in mid-October. The creating of a break in the Fall semester would have changed scheduling so that classes were run during the final two days of the traditional orientation week.

Outcry emerged from this proposal and debate began whether the merits of having a break for the sake of students’ mental health outweighed the desire to leave O-Week programming as it has been, without classes. Ultimately, the motion died on the table at the meeting and the 2012 O-Week will remain untouched.

Reported Jan. 26, Oct. 19, Oct. 26

Dybenko changes positions, leaves

In January Ginny Dybenko, the dean of the School of Business and Economics (SBE) left that position, which she had held since 2006 to become the university’s first ever executive: strategic initiatives. The role involved advocacy work and fundraising initiatives connected to university development and projects like the Global Innovation Exchange building. Effective Oct. 1, Dybenko left Laurier to become the executive director of the Stratford campus of the University of Waterloo. The position of dean of SBE at Laurier has not been rehired on a permanent basis though hiring is projected to be finalized by January.

Reported Jan. 19, Sept. 14

Arab Spring

The Arab world experienced unprecedented change in 2011 as the so-called ‘Arab Spring’ and its aftermath was manifested in demonstrations and government shakeups in several nations, notably Egypt and Libya. Egyptian leader Hosni Mubarak was ousted in February and in Libya rebel forces aided by a United Nations-mandated NATO coalition deposed Moammar Gadhafi more recently. There are ongoing protests in Bahrain and Syria, where bloodshed is increasingly routine and Egypt is experiencing renewed concerns as the military-led transitional government has been called into question and elections have done little to quell outcry from Egyptian citizens.

Reported March 23

Osama bin Laden and U.S. Pakistan relations

On May 2, Osama bin Laden, the world’s most-wanted man, was shot and killed in a compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan by a team of United States Navy SEALS without the prior notification of the Pakistani government. Tensions had been high between the U.S. and Pakistan for months when, on Nov. 26, a NATO air strike killed 24 Pakistani troops within Pakistan’s borders. Pakistan promptly closed its border with Afghanistan, preventing shipments to NATO operations in that nation from getting through and questions were raised once again about the state of U.S.-Pakistan relations moving forward.

Centennial celebrations continue

The actual 100th anniversary of the opening of the Lutheran seminary on the current site of WLU took place on Oct. 30, and the statue of Sir Wilfrid Laurier — which reportedly cost approximately $100,000 — was unveiled in the quad earlier in the month. The Cord determined in November that the advertising initiatives undertaken to promote the university during the centennial totaled nearly $830,000 over the span of the campaign — including national advertising, signage on buses and web ads. A centennial scholarship gave 100 incoming students $1,000 this fall as well and various events were held throughout the year.

Reported Oct. 19, Nov. 16

The year of elections

Throughout the year 2011, Waterloo Region experienced both federal and provincial elections and the results for the most part held the status quo. On the May 2 federal election, all four regional ridings were won by Conservative party incumbents and Kitchener-Waterloo reelected Peter Braid, who had held the position of MP in the area since 2008. The federal Conservatives under Stephen Harper won their first majority after two successive minority governments. Jack Layton’s New Democrats became the official opposition after the federal Liberals lost a significant number of seats. Layton succumbed to cancer less than four months after the election and the party has been led by interim leader Nycole Turmel since late July.

The provincial elections held Oct. 6 saw the incumbents all win with the exception of Cambridge, where first time candidate Rob Leone held the seat for the Ontario PCs. In the Kitchener-Waterloo riding, PC Elizabeth Witmer, who has been the area’s MPP since 1990, was re-elected, beating out Laurier grad Eric Davis. Meanwhile, in Kitchener Centre, Liberal incumbent and minister of training, colleges and universities John Milloy won by a margin of 323 votes over former CTV weatherman Dave McDonald. Perhaps more than any other single issue, post-secondary education was prominent during the campaign, with the Liberals promising a 30-per cent tuition reduction grant to eligible students. Eventually the McGuinty Liberals won a minority government, the third term for the Liberals.

Reported May 3, Oct. 13

Arts undergoes changes, challenges

The faculty of arts began 2011 with news that nearly half of first year students had a GPA of lower than 5.0 — the necessary grade for progression in an honours program. The minimum entrance average for arts in the 2010-11 year had been 72 per cent out of high school. To encourage improvement, the faculty of arts under recently-appointed dean of arts Michael Carroll eventually boosted the entrance average for the 2012-13 incoming class to 74 per cent in October, though concerns remain that funding contingent upon the number of students enrolling in arts could be affected. Even with a 72 minimum entrance average, there was a slight drop in arts enrolment in Sept. 2011 and specialized programs like languages continue to be cut, The Cord reported in the fall.

Reported Feb. 9, Oct. 5, Nov. 16


After the city of Waterloo passed a more restrictive rental housing bylaw in May that will come into place in April 2012, many homeowners in the Northdale area immediately north of Laurier, often dubbed the ‘student ghetto,’ tried to put their homes up for sale as a group. Two full blocks of homes, 39 in total, were offered for sale in June before zoning barriers derailed the sale to a developer.

Reported May 10, June 29, Sept. 4, Sept. 21

Terrace troubles

The Terrace Food Court changed hands in June, with Aramark, the company responsible for the operations of the Dining Hall, taking on the day-to-day operations of Terrace businesses with Wilfrid Laurier University Students’ Union acting in a sense as the landlord — though retaining some say in decision making during the ten-year contract. Initially it was announced that a Subway franchise would replace the Mr. Sub, but that plan fell through. In October, The Cord printed accounts of student employees struggling with the transition to Aramark and concerns over the number of non-student employees in place. WLUSU has been discussing concerns over the course of the semester as they have arisen.

Reported June 29, Sept. 4, Oct. 13

Occupy movement

For much of the fall, the movement that began with Occupy Wall Street in mid-September and moved across the U.S. and Canada as well as to more than 80 nations across the world. The protests gathered a great deal of support along with their share of criticism through October and November, with many encampments at parks and other public spaces in many cities gradually broken up or forcibly evicted by authorities, initially in London, Ontario, followed by New York, Oakland and Toronto. There are suggestions that the movement will continue to try and bring the concerns of participants to public consciousness in the months to come, even with many of the encampments facing winter weather or eviction.

Reported Oct. 19, Nov. 23

Article updated Dec. 29, 1:06 p.m.

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