Thursday, May 19, 2022

President's Forum takes place today

PART report banner image.

Today's President’s forum will highlight the President’s Anti-Racism Taskforce final report and its 88 recommendations to address racism at the University. 

Key participants include Vivek Goel, President and Vice-Chancellor, Jim Rush, Vice-President, Academic & Provost, and Charmaine Dean, Vice-President, Research and International and PART Executive Designate.

There will be a panel discussion featuring:

  • Charmaine Dean;
  • Jean Becker, Associate Vice-President, Indigenous Relations and PART taskforce/implementation team member);
  • Lili Liu, Dean, Faculty of Health and PART Working Group co-chair;
  • Colleen Phillips-Davis, PART Working Group co-chair; and
  • Angeline Ram, PART Working Group co-chair.

Get your questions answered during the live Q&A following the President's presentation. Submit your question during the live online Q&A that will take place after the panel discussion.

"I encourage you to join the forum to learn more about what we are doing to change the University to be a more inclusive, anti-racist place," says President Vivek Goel.

The president said that anti-racism is the shared responsibility of the entire community – not that of a specific leader or a campus unit. He calls on all faculty members, students and staff and the wider University community to work together to assist and support those accountable for PART’s recommendations, and to look for ways to implement anti-racism into their daily work.

Join the event at 10:00 a.m. on Microsoft Teams.

Campus Housing initiative diverts more than 6 tons of waste after residence move-out

Campus Housing staff stand with a whiteboard showing how much waste has been diverted.

A message from Campus Housing.

What happens with the leftover belongings that students leave in residence after they move out?

Campus Housing is still trying to tackle this problem after the initial success of our Waste Diversion pilot project in 2020. As 5,200 students departed during our busiest move-out of the year (with many students moving out after living with us for eight months), we collected clothing, electronics, household items (kitchen supplies, bedding, etc.), non-perishable food items, and books from our UW Place communities and the Villages (Village 1, Mackenzie King Village and Ron Eydt Village).

With an initial goal of diverting 8,000 lbs from ending up in landfills, we are proud to announce that we surpassed our goal and collected 13,500 lbs. We collected:

  • 4,770 lbs of clothing
  • 1,858 lbs of non-perishable food items
  • 4,274 lbs of household items
  • 875 lbs of books
  • 1,189 lbs of electronics

These belongings will be getting a second life through WUSA initiatives like the WUSA Food Support service, the 519 Community Collective, and other community partners.

Thank you to our Campus Housing Residence Hospitality Experience team for their hard work in sorting and weighing all the collected donations and our partners (past and present), including the Sustainability Office, WUSA, 519 Community Collective, Textbooks for Change, and The Working Centre.

We are looking forward to expanding this initiative in the coming years to help create a more sustainable residence experience.

Why people trust or distrust experts when it comes to critical issues

An illustration showing interconnectedness and human silhouettes.

By Elizabeth Rogers. This article was originally published on Waterloo News.

These days, it doesn’t take much to set off a heated online debate. Anyone can publicly share their opinion, but not everyone is concerned with accuracy or acting in good faith. And when it comes to critical issues such as the pandemic and climate change, trusting the wrong people can have serious consequences.­

“The varieties of expertise involved in understanding and responding to the pandemic has shown us assessing experts and their expertise is a difficult challenge,” says Ashley Rose Mehlenbacher, a University of Waterloo professor of English and Canada Research Chair in Science, Health, and Technology Communication. Her research looks at how people perceive expertise.

“Figuring out who we should be listening to, and who to trust, has been further complicated by misinformation as well as bad faith appeals by bogus experts. Such appeals can have devastating, deadly consequences.”

Who do we trust as experts, and why?

Neither individuals nor organizations can be experts on everything, so we rely on others to help us make more informed decisions. It might be someone who has certain credentials or holds a certain position — a medical doctor or university professor, for instance.

But there’s much more to it than that, Mehlenbacher says. Her recent book, On Expertise, looks at how people perceive and position expertise — especially experts themselves.

How we understand expertise draws on many disciplines, including ethics, sociology, psychology and education, as well as Mehlenbacher’s field: rhetoric. She found that when experts talk about expertise, problem solving skills and how we relate to one another are key. “How should we discern there is indeed a problem, deliberate upon it, and do so in a situated manner to take the appropriate action?”

The concept of “expert” is also evolving. For instance, Mehlenbacher’s research engages with citizen scientists — everyday people involved in science who often have important expertise to contribute. For example, Safecast is an international, citizen-led science group started after the nuclear disaster at Fukushima Daiichi in 2011.

“Expertise comes in many varieties, not just scientific but also local knowledges, traditional knowledges and Indigenous Knowledges. Including different types of expertise is necessary for addressing complex issues.”

Why trust in experts is eroding

If you’ve spent any time online lately, you’ve likely seen the distrust and disdain levelled at experts. For Mehlenbacher, it’s not only the change in perception of experts that’s important — it’s what is driving this change.

First, it can be difficult to tell who is actually a credible expert. With the anonymity of online platforms, anyone can claim credentials on their profile and that makes people worried they will trust the wrong person or be fooled. These fake or bogus expert accounts can also create and spread disinformation and misinformation designed to undermine trust in experts, she says.

Even more troubling are attempts to discredit legitimate experts using bad faith critiques. In her research on climate change communications, Mehlenbacher has seen several tactics including claims that a researcher is biased because of career ambitions, or “purity tests” such as suggesting a climate scientist who uses commercial flights is a hypocrite.

“We also see sexism, racism, antisemitism, transphobia and other prejudices used to undermine an expert's credibility,” Mehlenbacher says. “For instance, the sexist ‘climate Barbie’ insult or attacks on women in public health leadership roles during the pandemic.”

There are also legitimate reasons for distrusting experts and institutions, for example, marginalized groups of people may have been harmed by them.

“Understanding the ways in which sexism, racism, antisemitism, ableism and other forms of prejudice have been enacted by experts and institutions is crucial,” Mehlenbacher says.

Reclaiming credibility

While we should all be approaching information with critical thinking, Mehlenbacher notes that there are some ways experts can build trust through how they communicate.

“Communicating knowledge and limitations in a transparent manner and demonstrating an understanding of the situations and audiences can be effective,” she says. “For instance, public health officials who explain the evolving pandemic situation, the limitations of what is currently known, and the reasons why they’re making certain decisions. But there are no easy answers.”

Another pressing question for Mehlenbacher is how to support women and other groups who disproportionally face online attacks for participating in the public sphere.

The book cover of "On Expertise."“We need to look at how different bad faith attacks operate and create ways to support the people affected,” she says. “Numerous researchers have lamented the contemporary erosion of good faith conversation on topics where expert knowledge is important. Now more than ever, exploring communication strategies that acknowledge and understand the complexities of expertise in its various forms is a goal worth pursuing.”

On Expertise: Cultivating Character, Goodwill, and Practical Wisdom is available from Penn State University Press.

Link of the day

My Big Fat Greek Wedding at 20

When and Where to get support

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

Instructors looking for targeted support for developing online components for blended learning courses, transitioning remote to fully online courses, revising current online courses, and more please visit Agile Development | Centre for Extended Learning | University of Waterloo (

Instructors can visit the Keep Learning website to get support on adapting their teaching and learning plans for an online environment.

Course templates are available within your course in LEARN to help you build and edit your content and assignment pages quickly.

The following workshops, webinars, and events are offered by the KL team (CTE, CEL, ITMS, LIB):

Supports are available for employees returning to campus. Visit IST’s Hybrid Work and Technology guidelines and workplace protocols to assist with the transition.

The Writing and Communication Centre has virtual services and programs to help undergradsgrad students, postdocs and faculty members with academic writing.

Co-op students can get help finding a job and find supports to successfully work remotely, develop new skills, access wellness and career information, and contact a co-op or career advisor.

The Centre for Career Action (CCA) has services and programs to support undergrads, grad students, postdocs, alumni, and employees in figuring out what they value, what they’re good at, and how to access meaningful work, co-op, volunteer, or graduate/professional school opportunities. Questions about CCA's services? Live chat, call 519-888-4047, or stop by our front desk in the Tatham Centre 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday to Friday.

Drop-in to Warrior Virtual Study Halls on Wednesdays from 5:30 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. Come together in this virtual space to set goals and work independently or in groups each week.

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

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 TreatmentGood2Talk is a post-secondary student helpline available to all students.

The Library is open with expanded hours for access to book stacks, drop-in individual study space, bookable group study rooms, drop-in access to computers and printers, book pick-up services and IST Help Desk support. Librarian consultations, Special Collections & Archives and the Geospatial Centre are available by appointment. Full details on current services and hours are available on the Library’s COVID-19 Update webpage.

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 Sexual Violence Prevention and Response Office (SVPRO) supports all members of the University of Waterloo campus community who have experienced, or been impacted, by sexual violence. This includes all students, staff, faculty and visitors on the main campus, the satellite campuses, and at the affiliated and federated Waterloo Institutes and Colleges. For support, email: or visit the SVPRO website.

The Office of Indigenous Relations is a central hub that provides guidance, support, and resources to all Indigenous and non-Indigenous campus community members and oversees the University's Indigenization strategy.

The Waterloo Indigenous Student Centre, based at St. Paul’s University College, provides support and resources for Indigenous students, and educational outreach programs for the broader community, including lectures, and events.

WUSA supports for students:

Peer support  - MATES, Glow Centre, RAISE, Women’s Centre - Visit to book an appointment either in person or online for the Fall term.

Food Support Service food hampers are currently available from the Turnkey Desk 24/7 in the Student Life Centre. Drop off locations are also open again in SLC, DC, DP, SCH and all residences.

Co-op Connection all available online. Check for more details.

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 caps@wusa.caMore information is available.

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.

GSA-UW supports for graduate students: 

The Graduate Student Association (GSA-UW) supports students’ academic and social experience and promotes their well-being.

Advising and Support - The GSA advises graduate students experiencing challenges and can help with navigating university policies & filing a grievance, appeal, or petition.

Mental Health covered by the Health Plan - The GSA Health Plan now has an 80 per cent coverage rate (up to $800/year) for Mental Health Practitioners. Your plan includes coverage for psychologists, registered social workers, psychotherapists, and clinical counselors.

Dental Care - The GSA Dental Plan covers 60 to 70 per cent of your dental costs and by visiting dental professionals who are members of the Studentcare Networks, you can receive an additional 20 to 30 per cent coverage.

Student Legal Protection Program - Your GSA fees give you access to unlimited legal advice, accessible via a toll-free helpline: +1-833-202-4571. This advice covers topics including housing disputes, employment disputes, and disputes with an academic institution.

The Graduate House: Open Monday to Tuesday 11:30 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. and Wednesday to Friday 11:30 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. We’re open to all students, faculty, staff, and community members. The Graduate House is a community space run by the GSA-UW. We’re adding new items to the menu. Graduate students who paid their fees can get discounts and free coffee.

When and Where (but mostly when)

Warriors vs. Laurier Blood Donation Battle. Join our “Waterloo Warriors” team on the website or app. #ItsInYouToGive

Equity and inclusion in industry sponsored contract research and commercialization consultations for researchers, Monday, May 9 to Friday, May 27. Sign up for an interview timeslot.

President's Forum on PART report, Thursday, May 19, 10:00 a.m., Microsoft Teams.

NEW - Victoria Day holiday, Monday, May 23, most University operations and buildings closed.

Discovery lab and world café, “The Future of Sustainable Transportation”, Tuesday, May 24, 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., STP 201 (Alumni Hall).

Master of Taxation, Virtual Information Session, full-time virtual info session, Tuesday May 24, 3:00 p.m., part-time virtual info session, Tuesday, May 24, 4:00 p.m.

NEW - Online Workshop: You Don’t Know What You Don’t Know Part 1, Wednesday, May 25, 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. Register now.

NEW - Continuous Improvement Showcase, Thursday, May 26, 9:00 a.m. to 12 noon, Federation Hall.