Monday, November 23, 2020

Waterloo will hold remembrance ceremony online

A woman's face in silhouette with the setting sun behind.

Canada changed forever on December 6, 1989 when 14 young women were murdered in a gender-based act of violence at l'École Polytechnique de Montréal.

This year we will come together as a community, virtually, and honour the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women. This day is not only an opportunity to reflect and honour the lost lives of 14 young women, but to also consider and take action against violence that people who identify as women in our communities face to this day.

The University of Waterloo, in partnership with the Canadian Federation of University Women Kitchener-Waterloo, is hosting a special ceremony of remembrance.

Speaking at the event will be:

  • Feridun Hamdullahpur, President and Vice-Chancellor;
  • Jean Becker, Interim Associate Vice-President, Human Rights, Equity & Inclusion;
  • Mary Wells, Dean of Engineering;
  • The Honourable Bardish Chagger, MP Waterloo;
  • Catherine Fife, MPP Kitchener-Waterloo
  • Anita Davis, President, Canadian Federation of University Women, KW; and
  • Sara Casselman, Executive Director, Sexual Assault Support Centre of Waterloo.

There will be a virtual candlelight vigil, where candles are lit and student participants will share information about each of the women who lost their lives. There will also be a moment of silence.

The event takes place on Friday, December 4 from 10:30 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. on YouTube Live. Register with ticketfi.

How to make cheating at Hogwarts magically disappear

A steam train travels over a stone bridge.

By Melanie Misanchuk, PhD, Centre for Extended Learning.

Even before the pandemic pushed most university instruction online, there were concerns about academic integrity across all disciplines. Students’ sharing of assignments and the availability of pre-written essays and contract cheating mean that instructors are fighting a constant battle when it comes to ensuring academic integrity and requiring students to complete original work.

This is a battle that Professor Jennifer Harris of English Language and Literature had been engaged in long before the pandemic, and even before she worked with the Centre for Extended Learning to create an online version of ENGL 108P: Popular Potter.

“Many students sign up for this course thinking it’ll be a breeze; they figure they can watch the movies and get a passing grade. This couldn’t be further from the truth,” says Professor Harris.

Even students who have read the books multiple times are required to re-read them during the 12-week course, which amounts to almost 3500 pages (depending on the edition), or an average of over 290 pages per week. Due to this heavy weekly reading load, the rest of the course material is comparatively light: each week has about 10 pages of material, including illustrations and audio clips. Every week, students also participate in extensive discussions and reflective activities, to help understand and integrate the material. All through it, Professor Harris is an active participant, summarizing the main themes of the discussions and gently guiding and supporting students.

Even for die-hard Harry Potter fans, this course can be difficult: if not in the sheer quantity of work, perhaps in challenging their assumptions about the books and the characters. “One of the first things that some students need to learn is that characters are devices to move the story forward. Readers are not used to thinking about beloved characters in this way; they want to see them as real people.” And the course material itself can also be challenging for students: there are many dark themes explored in the Harry Potter series and some students are forced to confront their favourite books as more than just entertaining stories.

But because the books are so popular, there is much written about them and it might be tough to craft assignments that students couldn’t just Google. It is here where Dr Harris’s thoughtful assessment design really shines, in two assignments that students simply must just do on their own.

Assignment One: Building on Discussions does exactly that: it requires students to revisit the discussions they’ve been having online in small groups, find a comment by a classmate that they have responded to, and then “analyze the original comment in relation to the novels and the literary theory covered in the course, as well as two relevant, scholarly books and/or peer-reviewed journal articles.” By localizing the source material in the current version of the course, Dr. Harris has ensured that students can’t use a friend’s assignment, or an essay they found online. The assessment starts internal to the course, with the classmate’s ideas about the material, but then the student externalizes it by referencing outside, scholarly works. Whereas the source material is an answer to an online discussion question, the deliverable is an academic essay, which includes a Works Cited page.

Assignment Two: Reflect, Connect, Assess ensures academic integrity in a different way, by time-limiting the essay topic: “You will do a Google News search for a topical reference to Harry Potter in the past six months in a reputable news source (not a blog or a campus newspaper). Bringing together knowledge from readings and lectures, while also utilizing relevant academic sources, you will analyze that reference in the context of the books and the critical theory discussed in the course. You will stage an academic assessment of this deployment in popular culture in formal academic language.” Again, the emphasis is on a scholarly analysis of the topic, but the topic is bounded such that students can’t use essays from previous years or other universities. This assignment also contains a peer review component, so that students are exposed to the ideas, and receive critiques from, 2-3 of their classmates.

Dr Harris has designed thought-provoking, challenging assessments that require students to engage deeply with the course material and each other while at the same time encouraging academic integrity. However, this approach isn’t unique to popular literature, or even to English courses…how could professors in other subject areas implement a similar assignment? Feel free to reach out.

Photo credit: Harry Potter train in Scotland: wanderluster/E+/Getty Images.

Staff association announces election results; other notes

"We are excited to welcome new additions to the UWSA Board of Directors as they bring their expertise and knowledge to the table, while helping further the UWSA mission to represent the interests of UW Staff," says a note from the University of Waterloo Staff Association.

Joe Allen, UWSA's chief returning officer, presented the 2020 election report at the UWSA Annual General Meeting (AGM) on Thursday, October 29, 2020. The following candidates were successful in their bids for election:

  • Dave McDougall, President-elect
  • Jane Arnem, Director (3-year term)
  • Michael Herz, Director (3-year term)
  • Selena Santi, Director (1-year term)

"The election of sitting Board Director Dave McDougall to the position of President-elect left a Board Director vacancy," says the note from UWSA. "In accordance with the UWSA constitution and general practices, the next runner-up was invited to serve as a Board Director until the next AGM; we are happy to report that she accepted. Welcome, Kristen Deckert (1-year term)."

At the first meeting of this new Board, held on November 10, 2020, Jane Arnem was appointed Treasurer and Kristen Deckert was appointed Secretary.

"Please join us in welcoming the 2020-21 UWSA Board of Directors:"

  • President: Kathy Becker
  • President-elect: Dave McDougall
  • Past President: Lawrence Folland
  • Secretary: Kristen Deckert
  • Treasurer: Jane Arnem
  • Director: Agata Antkiewicz
  • Director: Selena Santi
  • Director: Bill Baer
  • Director: Michael Herz

“We have a solid team, and I’m excited to see what we can accomplish over the next year for our members," says President Kathy Becker. "If you’re interested in supporting our efforts, please send me an email or Teams message."

Ian Scholten.The next Knowledge Integration seminar is scheduled for Friday, November 27 at 1:00 p.m. “Indigenous Clean Energy in Canada - Leadership, Self-Determination, and Next Steps”, will feature speaker Ian Scholten, director of Bringing It Home, Indigenous Clean Energy.

"Indigenous communities across Canada are a powerful force for change in Canada's transition to a clean energy future," says Scholten. "Apart from crown and private utilities, Indigenous communities and enterprises are the largest single owner of clean energy assets in the country. And this is only the beginning."

Lori CampbellLori Campbell, director of the Shatitsirótha’ Waterloo Indigenous Student Centre, is among the recipients of the 2020 Women of Inspiration awards. Campbell was one of two winners of the Indigenous Leader Award. The Women of Inspiration awards are given out by the Universal Womens Network, described as a global platform committed to advancing gender equality.

Link of the day

To Infinity and Beyond: Toy Story at 25

When and Where to get support

Students can visit the Student Success Office online for supports including academic development, international student resources, leadership development, exchange and study abroad, and opportunities to get involved.

Instructors can visit the Keep Learning website to get support on adapting their teaching and learning plans for an online environment. The following workshops are current offerings from the KL team (CTE, CEL, ITMS, LIB):

Independent Remote Course Design Essentials. Self-directed, continuous self-enrollment course in LEARN.

Remote Course Design Essentials, beginning Wednesday, November 11. 

Introduction to PebblePlus, Monday, November 23, 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m.

Introduction to Bongo Virtual Classroom (Technical Session), Wednesday, November 25, 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m

NEW - ATLAS: Part 1, Thursday, November 26, 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.

NEW - Authoring Content in Mobius, Thursday, November 26, 2:00 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.

NEW - Introduction to Bongo Video Assignment (Technical Session), Friday, November 27, 1:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m.

Employees can access resources to help them work remotely, including managing University records and privacy of personal information. Here are some tips for staying healthy while working from home.

Stay informed about COVID cases on campus by consulting the COVID case tracker

The Writing and Communication Centre is rolling out virtual services and programs for fall term: 

  • Undergrad students -- work with us to brainstorm, draft, revise, and polish assignments by meeting with our writing advisors in virtual appointments. Chat with our friendly and knowledgeable peer tutors in our virtual drop-ins and PJ-friendly writing groups. Or experience an online workshop at your own pace. 
  • First-year Warriors! Check out Waterloo Ready to Write to build your skills for writing success.
  • Graduate Students -- meet with an advisor in a virtual appointments, take an online workshop,  join the grad writing community at our Virtual Writing Cafés and #WaterlooWrites groups, develop your academic voice at Speak Like a Scholar, or make progress on your thesis at Dissertation Boot Camp.
  • Instructors and faculty -- Request and access WCC workshops for use in your courses, join a virtual writing group, or speak with a writing advisor about a writing project.

We understand that these circumstances can be troubling, and you may need to speak with someone for emotional support. Good2Talk is a post-secondary student helpline based in Ontario, Canada that is available to all students. If you feel overwhelmed or anxious and need to talk to somebody, please contact the University’s Campus Wellness services, either Health Services or  Counselling Services. You can also contact the University's Centre for Mental Health Research and Treatment.

The Library has published a resource guide on how to avoid information overload.

The Faculty Association of the University of Waterloo (FAUW) continues to advocate for its members. Check out the FAUW blog for more information.

The University of Waterloo Staff Association (UWSA) continues to advocate for its members. Check out the UWSA blog for more information.

The Waterloo Indigenous Student Centre facilitates the sharing of Indigenous knowledge and provides culturally relevant information and support services for all members of the University of Waterloo community, including Indigenous and non-Indigenous students, staff, and faculty.

WUSA supports for students:

Food Support Service food hampers are currently available from the Turnkey Desk on weekdays from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. in the Student Life Centre. If you have any questions please email us at

The Bike Centre – Now open by appointment for your bicycle repair and rental needs in the Student Life Centre. For more information or to schedule an appointment, please go to:

Centre for Academic Policy Support - CAPS is here to assist Waterloo undergraduates throughout their experience in navigating academic policy in the instances of filing petitions, grievances and appeals. Please contact them at More information at

WUSA Commissioners who can help in a variety of areas that students may be experiencing during this time:

WUSA Student Legal Protection Program - Seeking legal counsel can be intimidating, especially if it’s your first time facing a legal issue. The legal assistance helpline provides quick access to legal advice in any area of law, including criminal. Just call 1-833-202-4571

Empower Me is a confidential mental health and wellness service that connects students with qualified counsellors 24/7. They can be reached at 1-833-628-5589.

When and Where (but mostly when)

Healthy Warriors at Home. Free programming including Online Fitness, Health Webinars, Personalized Nutrition and more from Warriors Athletics and Rec. Open to students, staff, faculty and alumni. Register today.

Renison English Language Institute continues to offer virtual events and workshops to help students practice their English language skills.

Warriors vs. Laurier Blood Donation Battle, until December 2020. Join your fellow Warriors, donate blood and help us win the Blood Battle against Laurier for a second year in a row. Set up a profile or add the PFL code: UNIV960995 to your account if you have a account already. Questions? Contact

University Christmas Project is seeking sponsors for clothing and gifts for children in need. Contact Christian Girodat at for information on how to participate.

Take the UN75 survey. Waterloo International is asking the Waterloo community to fill out a survey to gather your perspectives about the state of global governance and where it should be headed. If you have questions, contact Aisha Shibli.

From Silos to Synergy, Tuesday, November 24, 2:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m., Webex event (registration via Eventbrite).

Fireside chat with Professor David Gosset, Tuesday, November 24, 7:00 p.m.

Noon Hour Concert: Music for Self-IsolationWednesday, November 25, 12:30 p.m., Online, Free.

The Centre for Bioengineering and Biotechnology presents: “CBB presents: Quality Management Systems Webinar Series - Product Life Cycle with Abdul Khalfan, Thursday, November 25, 1:00 p.m., Online via Webex. Please register to receive the link.