Fall 2011 newsmakers
Catch up on everything from slighted staffers to bar blues
Goodbye, Canada Post
The little postal outlet kiosk in the corner of the Wyckham House basement closed its doors just before the beginning of last semester.
The Students’ Association of Mount Royal University decided to shut it down rather than pay an estimated $20,000 to $25,000 for a renovation that Canada Post deemed mandatory.
“It’s sad because it did provide a good service for students, but on the other side there’s dealing with Canada Post, which can be a bit challenging at times,” said Lisa Antichow, outlet manager.
SA president Meghan Melnyk said the renovation, which was for a new counter and signage, was costly because they would have been required to use Canada Post-approved contractors who charge an estimated 18 per cent more than the Students’ Association’s regular contractors.
Antichow said the SA tried negotiating with Canada Post, but a compromise couldn’t be made. “We tried to talk to them and say ‘our counter is still good, can we maybe be an exception and keep what we have?’ But they said no. They said, ‘It’s this or no contract.’”
Students using an online form to opt out of the health benefits plan in September may have put their personal information at risk, as the site was not using any visible encryption.
An email, with a screenshot of the form, was sent out to all schools using Gallivan & Associates Student Networks as their health benefits provider.
The anonymous message blasted the company for not encrypting the online opt-out form with an SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) certificate, leaving the information submitted via the form vulnerable to cyber criminals.
Brian Boechler, Gallivan & Associates client services director, said in an email that the SSL certificate was an additional security measure they were in the process of establishing.
Though there was no known breach of student information, Spencer Brewer, an information security analyst, told The Reflector it was possible, but unlikely a hacker could have gained access to the sensitive data.
“The information submitted through that form would likely not have been protected from network capture,” Brewer said.
Gallivan is still used by the Students’ Association to process health benefits, including online opt-outs, but the form — located at mystudentplan.ca — is now encrypted by an SSL certificate.
MRU works on standardizing grades
Scoring 80 per cent in a really tough class — that’s great. Maybe.
If the class was a part of the faculty of Science and Technology, you’ve earned an A-, but if it was a communications course that 80 per cent is only going to net a B grade.
That’s why Jennifer Langille, Students’ Association VP academic, has been advocating for a change in the grading system. According to her proposal, a percentage mark will result in exactly the same letter grade — and GPA score — regardless of the educational department.
“If we’re essentially getting a 4.0 in one class and a 3.5 in another, for exactly the same percentage mark, it just doesn’t add up for a lot of students,” Langille previously said.
David Wood, a registrar at Mount Royal University, later said at an academic forum on Nov. 8 that he would like to see the school move forward with a grading system that will allow comparable GPA calculations across departments.
“If it’s easier to get an A in one faculty, it gives those students an unfair advantage,” Wood said.
He stressed the way professors decide grades will not change, meaning it will still be educators’ sole responsibilities to determine which mark a student deserves.
Ex-Sodexo employee fired because of Occupy Calgary?
Sodexo, the food services company running Mount Royal’s Herb ‘n Market, found itself at the centre of an Occupy Calgary scandal in November when a former employee claimed he was fired because the company did not approve of his involvement with the protest movement.
Marcus Arseneault, 19, said he supported the Occupy movement, but never missed work to participate in the protests. He said he received an email from MRU Sodexo retail manager Elric Nielsen stating he was fired because of his association with the group.
“You have been a wonderful contribution to the Sodexo team however unfortunately due to your involvment (sic) with Occupy Calgary we do have to let you go,” wrote the email’s author, stressing the company was not unhappy with Arseneault’s work performance.
Sodexo spokesperson Jon Kristjanson denied that the email was sent by Nielsen. He said Arseneault’s firing had nothing to do with his Occupy Calgary activities and Sodexo believed the email to be a hoax.
As of Jan. 3, Brent Mann, Sodexo’s general manager at MRU, said the company’s sure the email did not come from Nielsen’s computer. Arseneault did not return messages requesting a follow-up interview.
The Hub opens its doors after delays
Last summer we bid a fond farewell to the Liberty Lounge and welcomed The Hub to Wyckham House. Since then, it’s proven to be an interesting venture.
The new bar was not able to open their doors at the beginning of the semester because of construction setbacks with a plumbing sub-contractor. Liquor service began in mid-September and food service started near the end of October.
Students’ Association president Meghan Melnyk said the slow start impacted The Hub’s income, contributing to the $200,000 shortfall they are now projecting for the year.
The Hub made up the majority of a $2.4-million summer renovation project. Melnyk said the student-funded organization is working hard to make sure students get the most bang for their buck.
“We’re definitely trying to juggle making sure that it’s affordable to students and making our targets because we do take it very seriously that this is student money we’re investing in this project,” she said.
In an effort to reduce the expected loss, the SA recently implemented several new strategies, including moving up the launch of their catering and take-out options, adding more tables and chairs and banning outside food and drink. They’ve also rolled out a new menu based on student feedback.