News in review

By Andrea Bundon

Low risk report for high-risk people

     Is attending university a high-risk activity?

Not according to the Risk Management Report released by the University of Calgary Risk Management Safety Services in September. The report outlines the success of the University’s RMSS Division, which is currently the only division of its kind in any North American academic institution.

"The university must manage its risks to maintain an attractive, safe and secure environment for its current and future community," said U of C Vice-President Finance and Services Dr. Keith Winter.

Since its inception, RMSS has developed programs to educate the campus population, committees to identify and minimize risks and ensure informed consent of those using university facilities.

"Risk management is about minimizing risks, and putting measure into place to ensure people can enjoy our campus safely," said Jennifer Yip-Choy, Director of RMSS.

The Risk Management report highlighted preventative actions taken to mitigate risks faced by the university population, including safety audits for the numerous campus labs.

The day the Earth stood still

     Students crowded around televisions in hallways and classrooms on September 11, mesmerized by footage of the collapsing twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York City. As the crowds grew, campus services were on hand to assist students and faculty members deal with the news. The Chaplains’ Centre conducted prayer services, and counselling centres were open full time.

"It’s horrible, it’s numbing, almost," stated the university President Harvey Weingarten. "It’s hard to contemplate this whole thing. And your heart goes out to these people. It makes one remarkably sad."

Campus Security did not feel that the attacks posed any threat to security at U of C or that distraught students were likely to initiate any trouble but remained in contact with city police and student organizations on campus.

Local blood clinics extended their regular hours to meet the increased demand and accommodate the thousand of Canadians that responded to their plea for help. Elsewhere in the city, buildings in the downtown area closed or limited access and at the Calgary International Airport, 2,300 passengers were diverted from their original U.S. destinations.

East meets west

     In early October, experts from the University of Alberta, University of Calgary, Athabasca University and Agriteam Consulting Ltd. helped identify problems and provided tools to tear down walls holding back education in western China.

"China has had a lot of success in developing the eastern and southern parts of their country," said Erin Palmer, Business Development Coordinator for Agriteam, the private consulting firm that bid for the contract. "Now, [China is] putting a lot of emphasis on the development of the West. This project is part of that strategy."

The project, "Strengthening Capacity in Basic Education in Western China" was developed to increase the quality and accessibility of education in the area, which often lacks electricity and telephones. It provided resources to teachers in remote locations. The project received $11.8 million from the Canadian International Development Agency and matching funds from the Chinese government.

"We’ll provide the technical help, but they’ll do everything [using what we give them]," said Ian Winchester, former U of C Dean of Education and director of the U of C’s contributions to the program.

Dukin’ it out

     The Students’ Union and the Political Students’ Association hosted a mayoral candidates forum on Sept. 26, moderated by Jeff Collins of CBC Radio One’s Calgary Eyeopener.

Of 19 candidates, 13 attended, including frontrunners Alderman Dave Bronconnier, MLA Richard Magnus and former Alderman Ray Clark. Alan Hunter and Alderman Bev Longstaff were scheduled to attend but cancelled at the last minute.

Hotly debated issues included the fate of Enmax Corporation and the question of government transparency, prompted by the City’s closed-door decision to sell the corporation. Many candidates also addressed public transit as an issue that appealed to students. In one response, Bronconnier referred to an idea similar to the U-pass.

"We embarked upon a program earlier this year with SAIT to provide students with a bus pass for $35 per semester," he said. "I would like to encourage you to get the U of C involved in a that program because I would like to see it expanded not only to the U of C, but also to Mount Royal College."

And for our next trick…

     On an afternoon like any other in October, two U of C football players made a foray into the world of crime fighting.

Lucas Ferguson and Chris Boulanger witnessed a bank robbery at the Varsity branch of the CIBC in early October. They followed the fleeing suspect until Calgary Police Services arrived on scene.

"Very seldom are we fortunate enough to have things unfold as they did," said Staff Sergeant Tom Marriott of the CPS Robbery Division.

Boulanger, a third-year Economics student, entered the CIBC while Ferguson waited in the vehicle. Boulanger noticed a bank robbery was in progress and ran next door to call 911 while Ferguson watched the bank.

"I saw the guy run out," said Ferguson. "He had a gun and a bag of money. He took off a ski mask, looked right at me and started running away. We jumped in the car and followed him."

The pair tailed the suspect across Shaganappi Trail and saw him stash the loot as well as his clothes.
Eventually they were able to alert authorities to the suspect’s location.

"We were pretty jacked on adrenaline," said Ferguson. "I totally wanted to get him but Chris said not to because he could shoot me. Chris could have saved my life."

"We had a good mix of level-headedness and stupidity," said Boulanger.

The pair was modest in accepting acclamation for their actions, shrugging off calls of "hero" and talk of commendations.

"It made for a pretty interesting Monday afternoon," said Ferguson. "I phoned [the coach] from the police car to tell him we would be late for practice. He laughed at us."

Discourses on terror

     "Religion was not created to put up borders."

Eight words spoken by Sikh Students’ Association representative Manmeet Bhullar captured the spirit of the Dialogue on Terrorism held on Oct. 4 at the U of C.

"I wish there would be more dialogue like this," said moderator and Religious Studies instructor Anne Moore. "If we don’t deal with problems that lead to ignorance, we will have more."

Muslim Student Association representative ‘Abd Alfatah Twakkal explained that the actions and motives behind the September 11 attacks were not representative of Islam.

In addition to Muslims, ignorance and hatred has affected people of other faiths, according to Bhullar. He and other Sikh students were mistaken for Muslims by people lashing out after the terrorist attacks.

"I hope that all of us as a human community do something about such issues," said Bhullar. "People who are brought up in hate themselves hate. We should battle hate with love, war with peace."

He added that the spirit of cooperation among individuals of different faiths is evident at the U of C despite minor incidents involving religious hatred. Alisa Webber, speaking on behalf of the Christian Religions Umbrella Group, agreed. "What’s going on is a few students are afraid," she said. "People are afraid of the unknown and we see this come out as racism."

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