Monday, December 16, 2019

Embracing a Canadian Winter

by Hazel Kabibi and Chantal Vallis. This is the third article in the International Student Connection staff edition, a monthly series to help our University community support international students at Waterloo. It is written by staff at the Student Success Office (SSO).

International Peer Community and UWinterloo participants visit the Wonders of Winter in Waterloo Park.Winter is here and the December holiday break is quickly approaching. Many students have made plans to visit family and friends or to travel, while some students will remain on campus.

Although often an exciting time, the holidays can also be a lonely time of year for many people and especially for students studying far away from home. There are a number of initiatives in place at Waterloo to ensure international students are supported during the holidays and can successfully navigate the winter months. These include:

  • International Student Breakfast Seminar In late November, the Student Success Office (SSO) invited international students to learn about Embracing a Canadian Winter. During breakfast, representatives from the SSO, Waterloo Residences and Campus Wellness provided tips for managing the winter blues, ideas for staying active in the winter months, and details about the December International Student Stay.
  • December International Student Stay – Waterloo Residences has invited eligible international students to stay on campus over the holiday break. For a fee, students are provided a room in a suitestyle residence, the support of dons and on-call residence staff, kitchen kits, and programs and activities during their stay.
  • UWinterloo – The SSO hosts this program to help support students who may be staying in the area over the winter break. UWinterloo is an opportunity for students to connect through a private Facebook group and inperson activities. Students plan events together – like potluck dinners, or participate in activities led by International Peer Community (IPC) leaders like visiting the Wonders of Winter holiday light display in Waterloo Park. Students also receive information about how to prepare for winter, tips for staying warm, and insider information about seasonal events around town. New this year, international students in their firstyear of undergraduate or graduate studies can sign up for a free shoe tag or to be on an intramural team.

You too can support international students through the holidays and winter term by:

  • Telling students about UWinterloo and encouraging them to meet up with friends for activities in the Kitchener Waterloo region and Greater Toronto Area.
  • Reminding students to connect with their families – whether through a phone call, messaging, or video chat (WhatsApp, FaceTime, WeChat, etc.).
  • Finding out what their hobbies are and encouraging them to make time for these activities.
  • Asking students about their own holiday traditions back home to learn about their experiences.
  • Refreshing yourself on the tips from Campus Wellness about speaking with someone you think might be struggling.

Happy Holidays! For more information about the international student experience winter initiatives, please reach out to Hazel Kabibi at

And now, a word about storm closings

With the holiday break fast approaching, and a good deal of wild wintry weather already in our rearview mirror, now is a perfect opportunity to review the University's Weather Closing Guidelines before the temperature truly plummets and the streets and walkways on campus become covered in ice and snow.

According to the weather closing guidelines, the University and the affiliated and federated institutions of Waterloo will close "because of severe weather when normal operation would pose a significant danger to students and employees, or would prevent large numbers of them from coming to campus or returning safely to their homes."

The decision to close or remain open in severe weather is usually made by the Vice-President, Academic & Provost in consultation with the Director of Police Services, the Associate Vice-President, Communications, and the Director of Custodial & Grounds Services. The Provost and the team of advisors meet to consider the conditions whenever severe weather is in the forecast and the team also seeks a wealth of information in order to inform the difficult decision of whether it is safe to open campus.

The advisory team evaluates:

  • multiple sources of weather information and radar, as well as actual outside conditions;
  • the condition of campus, including pathways, roadways, and buildings - and how long it will take to make movement on campus safe; 
  • the status of local and regional roads, with input from the local city governments;
  • whether local and regional public transportation is running including GRT, GO and Greyhound; and
  • the conditions at Waterloo's satellite campuses.

The guidelines define the condition of "closed" to mean that "classes are not held; meetings and other scheduled events are cancelled; scheduled examinations are cancelled, to be rescheduled; deadlines for assignments and other submissions are postponed until the same hour on the next business day on which UW is not "closed"; staff, other than those providing "essential services," are not expected to be at work, but are paid for a normal day."

For the most part it is safe to assume that the University's default status is "open" unless messaging indicates otherwise.

Notice of the University's status will be posted on days where severe weather is forecast, normally at 6:00 a.m., to allow faculty, staff and students time to decide their course of action that day. As the guidelines indicate, "those who judge that it may be unsafe to come to campus should discuss alternate work and study arrangements with their instructor or supervisor."

In the event of severe weather that warrants a closure, all members of the University community should consult the University’s homepage and Twitter feed, consult Portal, check the WatSAFE app, tune in to a local radio station, check local media websites or call the University’s Infoline (1-866-470-0910) to learn whether or not the University has closed.

The University also maintains a dedicated weather statement page with Environment Canada weather notices for the region and safety tips that will be updated in the event of severe weather.

Staff conference proposal deadline extended to Friday

A message from Organizational and Human Development (OHD).

Organizational and Human Development has extended the deadline for the workshop proposal submissions for the 13th annual Waterloo Staff Conference taking place on April 6 and 7, 2020. The deadline is now Friday, December 20. Session proposals should be for a stimulating and/or interactive learning experience focused on professional and/or personal development of employees at the University of Waterloo.

The workshop or presentation should include discussion items, can include activities, and/or other methods of engagement, along with clear learning objectives or outcomes. If you have an idea for a workshop or presentation, we would love to hear from you!  

The event currently accepts internal proposals from UWaterloo and the Affiliated and Federated Institutions of Waterloo. 

Questions about proposals or the event? Please contact Mark Lisetto-Smith, manager, operations & marketing, Organizational and Human Development.

Upcoming office closures

Parking Services will be closed today at 2:00 p.m. 

The Plant Operations offices will be closed today as of 2:45 p.m. for a departmental event.

The Graduate Studies and Postdoctoral Affairs Office will be closed on Wednesday, December 18 from 2:00 p.m. until the end of the day for its Staff Holiday Celebration.

The Office of Research will be closed on Thursday, December 19 from 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. for a staff town hall and annual holiday lunch.

The Human Resources office will be closed on Thursday, December 19 from 12:00 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. for a full staff meeting. The HR reception desk will be closed during this time. Normal operations will resume at 1:30 p.m.

AccessAbility Services will be closed on Friday, December 20 from 11:00 a.m. until 2:30 p.m. The Exam Centre will remain open during this time.

The Safety Office will be closed on Friday, December 20 from 1:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Link of the day

40 years ago: The Jerk

When and Where

University Club Holiday Lunch Buffet, Thursday, November 28 to Monday, December 23, 11:30 a.m. to 2:00 p.m., University Club.

2019 President’s Town Hall survey, open until Friday, December 20.

Free Exam Fitness, Monday, December 2 to Friday, December 20.

Statistics and Actuarial Science Department seminar by Yixin Wang, Columbia University, "The Blessings of Multiple Causes," Monday, December 16, 10:00 a.m., M3 3127.

Workday Support, Tuesday, December 17, 9:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. to 4:00 p.m., EC1 1021. No registration required.

Pension plan information session, Tuesday, December 17, 10:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m., RCH 301.

Pension plan information session, Tuesday, December 17, 1:00 p.m. to 2:30 p.m., RCH 301.

Portfolio & Project Management Community of Practice (PPM CoP) session, "Small 'p' Project Management" Wednesday, December 18, 9:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m., East Campus 5 (EC5), 1111. 

Research Ethics drop-in session for faculty and students, Wednesday, December 18, 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m., Dana Porter Library (study booth on the main floor).

Retirement celebration for Phil Knipe, Wednesday, December 18, 3:30 p.m. to 5:00 p.m., Graduate House green room. RSVP to

Statistics and Actuarial Science Department seminar by Yuqi Gu, University of Michigan, "Uncover Hidden Fine-Grained Scientific Information: Structured Latent Attribute Models," Thursday, December 19, 10:00 a.m., M3 3127.

Co-operative work term ends, Friday, December 20.

On-campus examinations end, Saturday, December 21.

Unofficial grades begin to appear in Quest, Sunday, December 22.

University closed for the holidays, Tuesday, December 24 to Wednesday, January 1, 2020. The University re-opens on Thursday, January 2, 2020.

Classes and lectures begin, Monday, January 6, 2020.

Co-operative work term begins, Monday, January 6, 2020.

Workday Support, Tuesday, January 7, 2020, 9:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. to 4:00 p.m., EC1 1021. No registration required.

PhD oral defences

Global Governance. Michael Lawrence, "Violence, Conflict, and World Order: Rethinking War with a Complex Systems Approach." Supervisor, Thomas Homer-Dixon. On deposit in the Arts graduate office, PAS 2428. Oral defence Thursday December 19, 9:00 a.m., BSIA I-23.

Mechanical & Mechatronics Engineering. Amir Yazdanmehr, "Modeling the residual stress distribution and experimental characterization of shot peening on AZ31B rolled sheet." Supervisor, Hamidreza Jahed Motlagh. On display in the Engineering graduate office, E7 7402. Oral defence Friday December 20, 9:30 a.m., E5 2004.

Civil & Environmental Engineering. Eskedil Melese, "Full-Depth Reclamation with Hydraulic Road Binders." Supervisors, Susan Tighe and Hassan Baaj. On display in the Engineering graduate office, E7 7402. Oral defence Tuesday January 7, 1:00 p.m., E2 2350.

Civil & Environmental Engineering. Justin Breg, "Towards a comprehensive framework for foam concrete mix design." Supervisors, John Straube and Jeffrey West. On display in the Engineering graduate office, E7 7402. Oral defence Tuesday January 7, 10:00 a.m., E2 2350.