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Archive for February, 2012|Monthly archive page

TTC pushes for cell phone service on subway platforms

In Uncategorized on February 29, 2012 at 5:16 pm

Photo credit: Creative Commons

TTC subway riders will soon have cell phone service on the city’s underground platforms.

The TTC is in talks with three potential service providers and will put forward a former call for a proposal next week.

The project would cost about $250,000 with the remaining costs covered by the successful bidder. Service will not be extended to tunnels, though Ross says there could be some “bleeding” between stations.

The project is expected to be finished by the end of next year but Brad Ross, a spokesperson for TTC, said there is no specific date as of yet.

“The TTC board will be getting an update on this today,” Ross said. “The successful proponent will bring a work plan forward that will include timeline.”

Many students are in support of having cell phone signals on subway platforms.

“There’s an app that you can check when the next bus is coming so it’d make it really convenient to know when the next bus is coming while you’re on the subway,” Phillip Lin said.

Samuel Yeung agrees.

“I’m all for it. I enjoy using my phone and I think commuters will enjoy it too.”

City council is expected to debate the issue Wednesday at a transit meeting.

* Published on February 29 at the Ryersonian


Universities Oppose Access Copyright

In Education on February 29, 2012 at 4:51 pm

Photo credit: Creative Commons

Amidst controversy over an agreement made between copyright licenser Access Copyright, the University of Toronto and the University of Western Ontario, Ryerson is standing by the Association of University and Colleges of Canada (AUCC) in its ongoing legal negotiations with the copyright licensing company.

Signed on Jan. 30, the U of T and Western agreement allows Access Copyright to collect an annual royalty of $27.50 from full-time students and faculty to cover the use of online material.

Currently, 34 post-secondary institutions across Canada have chosen to opt out of Access Copyright or fight its demands at the Copyright Board of Canada.

“Ryerson, along with most Canadian universities with the exception of those in Quebec . . . have opted to work together through AUCC in a legal discussion with Copyright Canada,” said president Sheldon Levy. “The (University of Toronto-Western) agreement came as a surprise.”

The AUCC and Access Copyright began legal discussions after the latter declined to enter into new licences and instead filed a tariff with the Copyright Board on March 31, 2010 that imposed higher fees and administration costs on institutions choosing to use it.

The AUCC has stated that institutions have chosen to opt out because the proposed fee of $45 per student and the administration fees associated with the tariff are unfair.

“The University of Toronto views the new (licence) as providing a fair and efficient balance between the rights of copyright users and the rights of creators,” said Jill Matus, U of T’s vice-provost of students in an email statement.

The agreement has been publicly criticized by the Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT), which represents 66,000 teachers, librarians, researchers, academic professionals and general staff in more than 100 universities and colleges.

“We have no problem with (Access Copyright) in principle,” said James Turk, executive director of CAUT.

“The focus of our concern is that these two universities agreed to pay this outrageous fee,” adding that at a time where many universities are cutting back on student services, it’s unfair to students.

The group has raised concerns over the identification of a hyperlink as copying and surveillance. The group mentions a recent Supreme Court of Canada ruling that states that “hyperlinks do not constitute the communication or publishing of content.”

Additionally, it states that because the agreement defines copying to include email transmission and linking to digital files, “the survey instruments will require intrusive monitoring of professors, librarians, researchers and students that will violate academic freedom and privacy.”

John Provenzano, communications manager for Access Copyright, disputes this claim.

“The agreement in no way requires the monitoring of emails. In fact, the agreement is particularly sensitive to the privacy rights of students and faculty,” he said.

“The manner of how Access Copyright will get usage reports in a digital environment will be developed in partnership with (the universities).”

Like the CAUT, the Canadian Federal of Students (CFS) has also denounced the agreement.

In a letter to U of T dated Feb. 15, it urged the school to revoke it and explore other options, stating that “Access Copyright is no longer the most efficient or effective option by which to obtain copyright (licences) for works used on campus.”

“I think that students have seen this agreement as a betrayal,” said Roxanne Dubois, CFS chairperson.

“It imposes new fees and restricts access to materials we need.”

The new flat fee is a change from the previous $3.83 plus 10 cents a page and includes all course packs and hyperlinks or copyright material contained in an email.

Still, the CAUT and CFS question the timing of the agreement, citing better alternatives and the expected clarification of educational copyright by the Supreme Court in the coming months.

* Published on February 29, 2012 at the Ryersonian

Ryerson pairs with private sector for new rez

In Education on February 28, 2012 at 5:21 pm

A new student residence project to be built in partnership with a private developer will create at least 500 additional residence spaces at no further cost to Ryerson, the university announced Monday.

The projected 23-storey student residence will be constructed at 186-188 Jarvis St. between Queen and Dundas Streets, about a five-minute walk from campus where a parking lot currently sits.

For years, the university has been strapped for residence spaces, said Julia Hanigsberg, vice-president of administration and finance.

Currently, the university has only about 1,000 residence spaces for its 28,000 students, she said.

The partnership, with developer MPI Group and designer IBI Group Architects, was secured after at least two years of working to provide new student housing, according to Hanigsberg.

“Everybody is trying to figure out how to build student residences in a way that’s affordable and that’s why it’s taken a while for us to come to a form of approach that we think can work.”

President Sheldon Levy said the university wanted to develop a residence that was affordable for students, didn’t require a subsidy from the university and operated on shorter eight-month leases coinciding with the school year.

“Those were the goals,” he said. “I didn’t think there was a way of achieving all three.”

But, although the current development will provide much-needed affordable housing for students, Levy noted it does not meet all three conditions since the new residence will only give students the option of 12-month leases.

“I didn’t think you could do eight months cheap, affordable and not hit the budget,” Levy said. “This is the best that we could have possibly done.”

But Chad Nuttall, manager of student housing services, said a mix of eight-month and 12-month tenancies at Ryerson will cater to a wider group of students.

“There are a lot of students who want to stay in the city,” he said. “I don’t think it will be difficult to fill 500 beds.

“There are a lot of students we have to kick out in May who want to stay so it’s a good option.”

The construction of the residence is expected to begin in 2014 and will be completed by 2016.

MPI Group will cover the construction and development costs of the building through residence fees, Hanigsberg said.

“Working with this developer, they’ve determined that they can make the economics work in a plan that we are very comfortable with,” she said. “It doesn’t involve us paying them.”

The starting rent is projected to cost $1,000 per month, Hanigsberg said, a higher price point than other Ryerson buildings.

Ryerson will provide the student life services for the residence, including room assignment and programming, while MPI Group will be responsible for financial operations and maintenance, she said.

“We think it becomes a really good model of combining areas where we have extremely strong expertise and areas where others have strong expertise,” Hanigsberg said.

It is the first private partnership for student residence for Ryerson but Levy said “there is no risk to the university.

“At the end of the day, if the rents become too high then they don’t fill them,” he said. “They’re going to have to do the balancing between the price and the occupancy.”

The design of the residence has yet to be finalized but preliminary plans include a two-storey podium with retail and other services and a mix of one- to four-bedroom units. Amenities will include laundry, shared kitchens and glassed-in lounges. There will no food service within the building but students can opt in to a meal plan provided on campus.

The student residence will reflect the Ryerson Master Plan that requires that a residence be a maximum 20-minute walk to Gould and Bond Streets.

All plans are tentative until the space undergoes rezoning with the city, Hanigsberg said.

Like Ryerson’s other buildings, priority is given to first-year students, she added.

“We are so far from being able to meet the demand of first-years that this would be our initial focus,” she said.

But as a part of the university’s goal to add 2,000 new residence spaces by 2020, space for upper-year students might be considered.

“I think, as we increase the stock, we will be able to look at where the demand is,” Hanigsberg said.

Levy said obtaining permits for the building may take a while but he still expects the planned time frame for the project to be sufficient for its completion.

“I think it is possible but it is tight,” Levy said.

* Published on February 27 at the Ryersonian

Ryerson rower earns bronze at championships

In Sports on February 13, 2012 at 10:46 pm

Photo courtesy of Ben Murphy

Ben Murphy started off the 2011-2012 season as the lone member of the Ryerson rowing team. He spent months training without the assistance of a coach, campus facility or teammates, and watched as the team was demoted to club status. Now, he’s leading the way for the team’s rebirth.

It was back in August that the rowing team coach Dominic Kahn resigned to spend more time with his infant son. Soon after Kahn’s departure, Murphy stood by as the team of 12 was reduced to one – himself.

Fast-forward to today and things are looking a lot better for Murphy and returning teammate Rob Kania. They have a new coach – Arden Beddoes – and were joined by three novices in December, who they are currently coaching. Murphy, Kania, and teammate Stephanie Steinhoff competed at the Canadian Indoor Rowing Championships last Sunday, Feb. 5. Murphy had a strong showing, taking home a bronze medal after placing third in the Senior Men’s B category.

Though he is pleased with bronze, like a true competitor, he feels he could have improved on the outcome.

“It felt okay,” Murphy said, describing his performance. “I was close to what I was expecting to get in terms of time; I just had no finish.”

Murphy finished with a time of 6:14.5 in the 2,000-metre race, just below University of Western Ontario’s Jerome van Leeuwen at 6:13.6 and Brock University’s Tim Shrijver at 5:54.7, who placed second and first place respectively.

According to Murphy, Shrijver took off “flying” early on and was able to maintain his lead throughout the race, while Murphy himself kept steady with a few other rowers.

“There were a few other guys hanging with me; I had a really solid pace,” he said.

It was at the 1,000-metre mark that Murphy began to feel the pain, concentrating on getting more strokes in at a higher rate. “My legs are turning into jelly,” he recalled of how he felt at the half-way point in the race.

With just 100 metres to go, silver medalist van Leeuwen began to catch up to Murphy and would eventually pass him, beating him by a mere second. Once the race was over, Murphy said he collapsed from exhaustion and had to be helped up by a coach before emptying the contents of his stomach.

“That was the fastest race I’ve ever done and the most I’ve ever put into one,” he said, adding that it was also the first time he ever vomited afterwards. This was Murphy’s third time competing in the Canadian Indoor Rowing Championships and his first time earning a medal.

Ryerson graduate and St. Catharines Rowing Club member Matthew Buie also competed in the championships, receiving a gold medal in the Senior Men’s category with a time of 6:07.8.

Teammates Steinhoff placed 17th in Senior Women and Kania placed 14th in Senior Men.

Murphy’s next race will be on March 3 at the Ontario Ergometer Championships at Ridley College in St. Catharines.

* Published on February 13, 2012 at the Ryersonian

Toronto students participate in National Day of Action

In Education on February 3, 2012 at 4:27 pm

More than a thousand students from across Toronto showed up at Queen’s Park on Feb. 1 to protest the high cost of tuition in Ontario.

They joined students from around Canada who marked the National Student Day of Action, a country-wide campaign to call attention to the high costs associated with post-secondary education.

The Canadian Federation of Students (CFS) organized the protest to demand that the McGuinty government reduce tuition fees. The organization says that Ontario students have the lowest tuition funding in the country and accuse the provincial government of using the promise of a 30 per cent rebate — which excludes two-thirds of students — to buy votes. Metro News reported that 90,000 eligible Ont. university and college students have not applied for the rebate.

In Toronto, students from Ryerson University and George Brown College marched to the University of Toronto, then travelled east on Wellesley St., south on Bay St. and then west on College St. to Queen’s Park. Traffic was stopped along the route.

Winnie Ng, the Sam Gindin Chair in Social Justice and Democracy at Ryerson, told The Ryersonian that she wants the government to recognize the importance of post-secondary education.

“In Ontario, students are urging the McGuinty government to drop the fees by 30 per cent as promised in the last election,” she said. “It is important that our federal and provincial governments recognize that people are the most important resource of a country and that allocating more funding and investing in public post-secondary education system is more important and yield more return than investing in fighter jets. Our collective voice and action will hold them accountable.”

Sandy Hudson, Chairperson of CFS-Ontario, echoed Ng’s sentiments on the importance of a collective voice.

“In the past, we’ve been able to win significant victories,” she said, adding that students who got involved not only represented themselves, but entire families who are also concerned.

The Ontario Liberals recently made headlines after they announced that $66 million allocated to research conducted at universities and hospitals would be cut. They stated that the money is needed for other programs, which would likely create more jobs.

* Published on February 2, 2012 at Canadian University Press and the Ryersonian as part of a live blog on the National Student Day of Action