Updates outline changes to Winter, Spring terms
University administrators sent several messages to students, faculty and staff yesterday clarifying important issues as the Winter term comes to a close, with the Spring term closing in.
Credit where credit is due
On Monday, the Senate approved two motions intended to support students’ learning experience at Waterloo and to ensure that the University provides equitable opportunities for students to progress in their academic studies.
Course instructors can elect to use "CR" or "NCR" in place of numeric grades for the Winter term, and students will have the option to ask to convert numeric grades to CR or NCR for a specific period after the end of the Winter term, according to memos sent by Vice-President, Academic & Provost Jim Rush.
CR stands for "credit granted," with NCR standing for "no credit granted." The practical effect of the motions Senate passed via electronic vote on Monday is that instructors now have some flexibility to judge that they don’t have enough evidence to assign numeric grades for their Winter Term courses, and students can now avoid the usual need to appeal their numeric grades after the end of the Winter Term.
"We know that changes due to COVID-19 are difficult for many students – and instructors – to face," the provost writes. "The changes we have made have the potential to leave some instructors with limited information about the degree to which students have shown mastery of course objectives. We also know these changes could have a negative effect on some students’ likelihood of success."
"The first motion is intended to allow instructors who feel that circumstances mean that they have insufficient information to provide a numerical grade to nevertheless allow students to complete their courses and progress towards completion of their academic programs," the provost's memo continues. "We are still encouraging instructors to use numeric grading schemes when possible, but are introducing this as an option in the cases identified. The second motion intends to provide some agency to students as to how the Winter 2020 term may be represented on their academic record."
"Thank you for your continued flexibility and understanding as we all seek to make changes to ensure students continue to enjoy a quality University of Waterloo learning experience."
Add/drop dates Spring forward; Registrar advises on online instruction
The date has been extended for any changes to Spring course offerings, according to a memo circulated by University Registrar Catherine Newell-Kelly. They are now due to the Registrar's Office on Monday, March 30.
"We will not have a traditional schedule for courses for Spring 2020 with the possible exception of some CLIN and PRA courses," the registrar writes. "With students living around the world and coping with different life circumstances, the concept of a schedule does not make much sense. Time zone differences alone make a schedule untenable. The RO will be removing all time slots and room bookings from our student Schedule of Classes and adding “online” to all but some CLIN and PRA courses."
CLIN is an abbreviation for clinic courses, with PRA standing for practicum.
"Thinking about learning delivered online means we need to think differently about schedules," Newell-Kelly writes. "Teaching remotely and, most importantly, asynchronously gives students far more agency over use of their time on a day to day, even week to week basis. The biggest change from the normal way of thinking about course schedules is a move away from big chunks of time spent together in class. Mainly, it means we need to abandon familiar ideas around three hours per week, 12 weeks per term, culminating in a high-stakes final exam."
"Instructors should focus on:
- what the key outcomes of the course are,
- how students can achieve and demonstrate those outcomes, and
- how to deliver in consumable – short, flexible – chunks."
Food Services donates to Waterloo Regional Food Bank
A message from UW Food Services.
Wednesday, March 18 should have been a regular day at the University of Waterloo. But this year, the campus was bare, in-person classes cancelled, staff advised to work from home and all 20 on-campus eateries and cafes were closed.
It happened swiftly, as on Monday UW Food Services locations were in full operation and by Tuesday all the doors were shut. There was no time to deplete product or slow ordering in anticipation. Food Services sat with full fridges and too much food for the few hundred students left in residence. “This was not our typical closure,” Executive Chef Javier Alarco said, “but, it was an easy decision to donate this food to those in need, rather than holding on it to it in hopes that we will open again soon.”
UW Food Services commits to minimal waste and realizing there was too much food for just the three residence eateries, the team had to act quickly. Director Lee Elkas notes, “we use fresh and local produce in our units, it was important for us to get our donation organized swiftly. The Food Bank of Waterloo Region was very receptive, picking up the donation within 24 hours.”
The Food Bank of Waterloo Region services the tri-cities area, providing food for over 34,550 people in the region, including students, families and individuals close to the university. They prioritize giving access to the food insecure by providing a variety of food options, including a variety of fresh, frozen and non-perishable items.
The Food Bank of Waterloo Region backed their refrigerated truck in the Village 1 loading dock, and UW Food Services loaded over 120 litres of dairy (milk, yogurt, cream), 51 KG of sandwich meat, over 1000 eggs (whole and liquid form) and approximately 150 KG of fresh fruit and vegetables.
"Knowing there are many in need, we felt that now is the opportune moment to give back with the help of Food Bank of Waterloo Region. We are proud members of the Waterloo community. We will absolutely be in a collaborative relationship and eager to reconnect should there be other opportunities with the Food Bank," says Alarco.
Elkas added, “We look forward to serving our University community when the time comes for staff, faculty and students to safely return to campus. For now, we were happy to serve our greater Waterloo community.”
“We appreciate UW Food Services and the other local food industry partners that have reached out during this unprecedented health crisis to support people in need,” said Wendi Campbell, CEO, The Food Bank of Waterloo Region. “The donation from the university will be distributed throughout the Community Food Assistance Network – a system of community programs and agency partners – working together to ensure no one goes hungry, now and all year long.”
The Waterloo Centre for German Studies' Grimm Lecture 2020 “Thinking Itself Is Dangerous: Reading Hannah Arendt Now” featuring Dr. Samantha Rose Hill was scheduled to be held on 19 March 2020. "Due to a state of emergency in Ontario to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic, the public lecture had to be cancelled in order to protect the health of the community," says a note from the WCGS. "We at the Waterloo Centre for German Studies, however, are not easily deterred, and with the help of Davian Hart from Sherwood Systems, an event production company in Kitchener-Waterloo, we were able to arrange for the Grimm Lecture to go ahead via livestream. Over 400 people popped into the stream, and the lecture had over 200 persistent viewers. Dr. Hill adapted her lecture to address the current situation—how could she not?—and discussed how Arendt's approach to thinking could even deepen our understanding of the present, unsettling situation."
The recording of the Grimm 2020 lecture is available on YouTube.
Please note the following campus service modifications:
Food Services has updated its hours of operation as follows:
- The Market at Claudette Millar Hall (UWP): Closed until further notice as of Tuesday, March 24
- Mudie’s at Village 1: open daily from 8:30 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.
The Student Success Office (SSO) has announced that online Peer Success Coaching appointments are available from Monday, March 23 to Friday, April 3. Book your appointment online. In-person Peer Success Coaching appointments are not available until further notice.
The Registrar's Office and Marketing and Undergraduate Recruitment have announced that You @ Waterloo Day, originally scheduled for Saturday, May 23, has been cancelled.
In light of these developments, the Visitors Centre will close for the Spring term.
"This decision was made in consultation with university leadership in order to best protect our guests and the many staff and volunteers who support this event, tours, and the operation of the Visitors Centre," says a note from the Registrar's Office. "Together with campus partners, MUR is currently working on a plan to replace information students would have received at March Break Open House, and we aim to evolve that plan to include You @ Waterloo Day as well. We continue to work on the plan in collaboration with campus partners, and will share additional recommendations shortly. For those who offer tours and training for our student ambassador team, we will be in touch with what spring training will look like."