Bottled Water Sales Banned at Ottawa Campus

May 3, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

By Emily Chung, CBC News

Thirsty students won’t be able to buy bottled water from vending machines, food outlets or stores at the University of Ottawa starting Sept. 1.

That is when a ban on the sale of bottled water goes into effect across campus, the university announced Wednesday, the eve of Earth Day.

Pierre De Gagné, assistant director of engineering and sustainable development at the University of Ottawa’s infrastructure department, said the move is intended to encourage students to drink free, healthy tap water and reduce plastic bottle waste.

Michèle Lamarche, vice-president of student affairs at the Student Federation of the University of Ottawa, said the move was largely driven by students, who have been working with the university to bring in the ban for more than a year.

Contract issues

Initially, she said, the university was concerned about upgrades to water fountains that would need to be made, as well as contracts with food services and vending machine companies that sell bottled water.

Many food outlets on campus didn’t even have water fountains nearby, she said.

Bottled water bans

In 2009, the University of Winnipeg, Memorial University in St. John’s, and Brandon University in Manitoba all announced they were banning bottled water sales on campus.

The University of Ottawa says it is the first university in Ontario to do so. Queen’s University in Kingston, Ont., announced earlier in April that it will phase in a bottled water sale ban as it renegotiates food and vending machine contracts over the next few years.

Twenty universities in Ontario participated in Bottled Water-Free Day on March 11.

“Why have a water fountain outside when they can get people to buy the water bottle inside?” she asked.

De Gagné said he was surprised how quickly the university’s food services staff managed to renegotiate with their suppliers to drop bottled water.

“It all happened through a lot of good will, I guess, and a lot of long-range thinking.”

He did not know the details of the renegotiated deals.

In preparation for the ban, the university said, it has spent more than $100,000 since 2008 to improve the availability of tap water by:

* Adding goose necks to about 75 water fountains to make it easier to fill reusable bottles.
* Installing new fountains near food service outlets.
* Upgrading existing fountains with features including wheelchair accessibility, stronger pressure and better refrigeration.

Lamarche said the student federation is also doing its part by giving away hundreds of reusable bottles. It will also be selling the reusable bottles at the student-run convenience store for around the same price as a regular disposable bottle of water. And it will be installing a bank of water fountains with goose necks in the store itself.

Maps, signage on the way

Both the student federation and the university are working on maps and signage similar to washroom signage to indicate where water fountains are located. Neither Lamarche nor De Gagné thought students thought the ban would encourage thirsty students to choose pop instead of water.

“It won’t reside anymore in the same machine as pop, but it won’t be far away,” De Gagné said.

Lamarche said drinking water issues are very personal for her because she is an archeology student who spends her summers working in the Middle East. There, drinking water isn’t readily available, she said.

“The more we buy bottled water in North America, the more we say it’s OK to charge people for something that should be free or really really cheap,” she said. “And then governments say why do we have to worry about water infrastructure if they can buy water?”

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State Department Internships

February 23, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

The US Dept. of State is now accepting applications for the Fall 2010 Student Internship Program.

 

Please visit this link for more information (http://careers.state.gov/students/programs.html#SIP)

Syed Adil Husain Wins MIT Business Award

February 14, 2008 by · Leave a Comment 

Award Recognizes Student’s Company for Top Consumer Service

By Rabiah Ahmed and Adil James

Cambridge, MA–Syed Adil Hussain, a Harvard graduate student, is a recipient of the world-renowned MIT $100K Executive Summary Competition (ESC) award in recognition for the high-quality online tutoring his company, uProdigy, begins delivering this week to American college students.

The MIT $100K ESC award is one of the world’s leading entrepreneur competitions and is designed to encourage students and researchers to act on their talent and ideas. It has produced hundreds of successful ventures since its establishment in 1990.

The winners of the ESC competition were announced Friday, February 8, at the Business Plan Competition kick off held at the Strata Center. Eight student-managed companies were selected from over 100 entries and were awarded cash prizes.

“I started this company because as an undergrad student, I could never afford the $60-$70 normally charged for help in higher-level math,” said Hussain, 26, CEO of uProdigy. “The MIT award recognizes the important social impact uProdigy can make by delivering quality and affordable academic tutoring services to American college students.”

Hussain’s company, based in Massachusetts, was selected from a panel of judges from the MIT and Boston venture communities. Judges were asked to select business plans that showed high growth potential, market leadership potential, stage of idea development, and quality and breadth of team among other things.

As part of it services, uProdigy offers live, around-the-clock homework assistance from highly educated, English-speaking tutors in South Asia.

The niche for uProdigy is college students who need low-cost emergency one-on-one help with understanding concepts from very qualified people. Mr. Husain explained that “We are just launching the business to the public–we just launched yesterday. We had an alpha release in November.”

He explained that “In India, there is so much talent, so many brilliant people. Most of the people we selected as tutors are professors at universities. There is really no shortage of them at all. We accepted only about 5% of those who applied to be tutors.”

As for the future, Husain explains that “this is really a huge huge market–what we are seeing now is only the beginning.” The biggest player in online tutoring now, he explains, is Tutorvista, which focuses on elementary school and middle school tutoring rather than the college students that uProdigy aims to serve.

Students will be able to use uProdigy’s services for only $15 per hour–and the first hour is free. People who join uProdigy as members will also (in the future) have access to general academic instructional videos. Visit their website to learn more.

For more information on uProdigy, visit www.uProdigy.com.

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Chicago Muslim Student Remembered

December 13, 2007 by · Leave a Comment 

Amadou Cisse, who was murdered Monday morning.

CHICAGO, IL–When it came to helping others, Amadou Cisse pulled many times his own weight. Cisse once helped International House Director William McCartney unload 1,000 pounds of weights for the I-House exercise room.

“He was very well-liked by residents and someone who was always quick to help others,” McCartney said.

Cisse, a Muslim Ph.D. student in chemistry at the University and native of Dakar, Senegal, in Africa, was shot and killed early Monday morning.

“He was an extremely gentle person, a very caring person,” said Czerny Brasuell, Director of Multicultural Affairs at Bates College in Lewiston, Maine. Cisse worked closely with Brasuell during his four years as a student at Bates College. Cisse graduated from Bates College in 2001 with a B.S. degree in chemistry, physics and mathematics.

“He was very concerned with injustice, especially injustices regarding children,” Brasuell said. “He was committed to doing good in this world, particularly as it related to his country and the continent of Africa. I am horrified at the senseless nature of this act that has removed from the world someone who would have done so much good.”

Cisse, 29, had successfully defended his doctoral dissertation on Nov. 1. The University will award him the Ph.D. posthumously at graduation on Dec. 7.

“He was a diligent researcher and very committed to his science and colleagues,” said his faculty adviser, Steven Sibener, the Carl William Eisendrath Professor in Chemistry. “He was incredibly happy last week. He smiled ear-to-ear and just sat back and enjoyed his accomplishment.”

For his Ph.D. research, Cisse studied how molecules diffuse and migrate through films made of large molecules called polymers. “He gave us a new way of measuring diffusion in thin films. That’s quite an accomplishment,” Sibener said.

Cisse and Sibener were interested in the purely scientific aspects of the process. This is also an important problem in the technological world, where thin films act as protective layers for materials and food.

As a teaching assistant for general chemistry, Cisse impressed fellow graduate student Miriam Freedman with his concern for his students. “I think working with students was one of the things he most enjoyed,” Freedman said. “He was always talking about how to improve his students’ understanding of the material and rooting for their success.”

Fellow students also recalled Cisse’s habit of quietly singing or humming as he went about his work. “Amadou loved Senegalese music so much that he recorded it onto tapes from Senegalese radio online,” said Nataliya Yufa, graduate student in chemistry. “That’s why he still had a Walkman. He was planning to get an iPod after graduation. His whole life was on hold til after graduation.”

Lieve Teugels, a graduate student in chemistry, recalled Cisse’s gentle smile, with graduation now in his sight. “I remember how happy he was right after his thesis defense a couple of weeks ago, talking about how he hadn’t told his family he was defending so they wouldn’t worry.”

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