Popular Posts

December 09, 2005

Earthquake concerns at Richmond campus

After a devastating hurricane season for people in and around the Gulf of Mexico, Chronicle reporter Stephen Kronstein writes about a natural disaster of more local concern, particularly to people at Kwantlen’s Richmond campus

Imagine that the building you’re in begins to shake violently. Shelves topple; windows shatter; gas, sewage and water pipes rupture; electrical wires snap; the entire structure sinks several feet into the ground, sending it toppling onto its side, as a mass of water rushes into the streets and buildings around, creating a toxic cocktail of industrial contaminants, human waste and decomposing bodies.

These are just some of the possibilities that students and staff at Kwantlen’s Richmond campus may face the next time an earthquake hits the Lower Mainland.

Richmond, a city comprised of 16 islands, is commonly thought to be one of the most vulnerable of all Vancouver Lower Mainland cities to the effects of a major earthquake.

But there is some good news for Kwantlenites. The Richmond campus was built around 13 years ago with the disastrous possibilities of an earthquake in mind.

Still, there are many good reasons for concern, according to experts in the field, such as Kwantlen’s own John Martin, a geology instructor at the Richmond campus.

Richmond is basically at sea level and the ground beneath it consists of sediments that are heavily saturated in water — sediments deposited by the Fraser River flood waters over the past 15,000 years. One of the most genuine concerns for people in the city during an earthquake is how buildings and other infrastructure will react to a process called liquefaction, said Martin.

Liquefaction involves water-saturated sediments acting like a slushy mixture when shaken, he said.

“If the ground material starts to shake, it will behave like a liquid and any buildings that are on it will start to sink,” Martin explained. Perhaps even the dykes are going to collapse or settle, which could lead to flooding by tidal movements or, more likely, river water.

According to an engineering website from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, www.cee.uiuc.edu, during liquefaction “the soil becomes a viscous fluid creating problems with any structure from bridges to buildings and to buried pipes and tanks.”

In a telephone interview with The Chronicle, John Clague — director of the Centre for Natural Hazard Research, geology professor at Simon Fraser University and president of the International Union of Quaternary Research — provided a detailed description of liquefaction.

"Picture this loose sand, and you’ve got all this water in the pore spaces,” said Clague. While the sand grains are relatively motionless, they’re in contact with one another and maintain an overall rigidity. As this sand is shaken, the grains lose contact and become suspended in their pore water. When this happens to soil, such as that found in Richmond, the ground behaves like quicksand.

However, those grains will not become suspended in their pore water where the sand is packed to a certain density, he added.

The fact that liquefaction is a problem facing buildings in Richmond isn’t news to the engineers who helped design the campus.

Clint Low, a structural engineer from Bush, Bohlman & Partners, who oversaw the designing and construction stages of Kwantlen’s Richmond campus, said a densification process was used to solidify the ground by forcing water out from the sediments beneath the construction site; a 10-tonne steel disc was hoisted into the air by a crane and pounded into the ground repeatedly for several months.

“The building now just sits on pad footing,” said Low. Pads have been placed under each of the campus’s supporting columns. This displaces the weight of the building over a larger area than the columns alone, which have a smaller diameter.

Previous to this, the site was loaded with a small mountain of sand to densify the ground and force out even more water from beneath the construction zone, said Low.

According to building plans for the campus, made available to The Chronicle by the city of Richmond, “native soils have been densified under the building’s footprint and six metres beyond to a depth of 10 metres using dynamic compaction.”

Considering Clague’s remarks about densely packed sediments withstanding the tendency to liquefy, Kwantlen appears to be on pretty solid ground.

“It depends upon the characteristics of the ground and how intense the shaking is as to how deep these sediments would liquefy,” explained Clague. “Roughly speaking, we’re talking about 10 or 15 metres.”

Engineering tests are fairly accurate when predicting the depth where sediments are not at a reasonable risk for liquefaction, he noted. “But of course, there’s extreme events that are off the scale where those engineering measures still wouldn’t work.”

The chance an extreme event like that will occur in close proximity to Richmond, however, is a very low probability, he noted.

“You can only spend so much money,” said Clague. There’s a balance between the cost of protection and the probability of damage from a future earthquake.

Determining the probabilities of a future earthquake isn’t so easy, mind you.

There are basically two types of earthquakes that the Lower Mainland could experience, said Clague: the big one and the small one.

The big one will occur when the Cascadia Subduction Zone slips along a large section of its two converging plates, just off the coast of Vancouver Island, said Clague. An earthquake like this will likely be a magnitude 8 or 9, which is about as big as they come.

Determining the probability that the big one will ever occur is relatively easy, because the subduction zone is so obvious. Determining exactly when it will happen is next to impossible.

Evidence suggests that these earthquakes take place about 100 to 1000 years apart, due to one plate, the Juan de Fuca, diving down under the other, the North American, Clague explained.

“Essentially, where those two plates are in contact, there’s a huge geologic fault,” said Clague. “It’s one of the largest you get on earth.”

It’s thought that a locked portion of that fault is accumulating a huge amount of strain, which will eventually be released during an earthquake, he said.

What’ll make the big one so big is that this fault will likely rupture over a very large area, producing a huge amount of shaking that could last for minutes, said Clague. The longer the shaking, the worse off Richmond is with respect to liquefaction.

The one thing Richmond can find solace in is that the locked portion of the subduction zone is off shore, said Clague.

Despite being about 150 kilometres away from where the rupture will likely occur, the downside is that it’s going to be such a large release of energy that Richmond will still be damaged, he said.

A magnitude 8 earthquake has a radius of damage that’s hundreds of kilometres, said Clague, whereas that of a magnitude 6 extends only about 30 kilometres.

The worst case scenario, however, is not the big one off the coast of Vancouver Island, but rather a smaller earthquake with magnitude 7 or 7.5 in close proximity to the Lower Mainland, said Clague.

Though none are known to be in the Lower Mainland area, non-subduction zone fault lines can lie hidden virtually anywhere. These are unlikely to ever cause a magnitude 9 earthquake, but they can be the source of a magnitude 7, which is essentially more common in the grand scheme of things, said Clague.

These smaller earthquakes occur on fault lines such as those that cut across the North American crustal plate, which is basically North America itself.

If a magnitude 7 earthquake has an epicentre within 20 kilometres of Richmond, it would result in about 30 seconds of very strong ground shaking, said Clague — “so strong that you’d have trouble standing up.”

“It would be truly catastrophic,” he said. “There would be, probably, over $100 billion damage.”

No one knows for sure if this can happen in the Lower Mainland, though. “Unfortunately that’s a weak link in our knowledge,” said Clague.

Geologists know where a lot of faults are, but most faults are dead. The challenge is recognizing the faults that can potentially produce earthquakes.

“We’re working on that,” he said. “There’s been a number of what we call capable faults — faults that can produce big earthquakes — that have been recognized, mainly south of the boarder.”

Recently, one of these hidden faults was identified about 10 kilometres south of the boarder, near Deming, Wash., which is close enough that Lower Mainland communities could experience damage, said Clague.

As for closer to home, Clague said “there are, undoubtedly, faults around here that can produce earthquakes. The problem is identifying them.”

One of the keys to identifying these hidden faults is in technology called LIDAR (Light Detection and Ranging), which makes it possible to take air photos of an area and strip away the vegetation to see a simulated image of the ground surface below. This makes it easy to identify potential fault locations, which can then be examined by ground teams to verify if it’s actually a fault or not.

As simple as it sounds, LIDAR surveys are expensive. With a price tag that can reach into the millions, “municipal governments don’t typically want to invest that kind of money,” said Clague.

“Right now it’s like hunting for needle in a haystack,” he said. “Unless you have some targets, you can’t go out and look at them and see what their history is.”

Aside from big ones and small ones, perhaps the most problematic aspect of an earthquake for people in Richmond is the possibility of a flood.

The dykes surrounding the island are not designed for earthquakes, said Clague.

Richmond’s dykes are essentially built up by putting fill in place, he said. “Fill material is very vulnerable to liquefaction.”

“The worst case scenario would be if the dykes failed during the freshet in July,” said Clague, referring to the seasonal thaw that sends a sudden surge of water down the Fraser River, which is the channel for about a quarter of all British Columbian waters.

“That would be bad news,” he said. “At very high flows, it’s definitely above the level of the surrounding plane, so if you had a breech under those conditions you’d have a tremendous amount of water flooding in.”

Another common concern for Richmond has been the potential hazard of an earthquake-induced tsunami, like that which devastated the communities along the western shore of Sumatra and surrounding areas nearly a year ago.

According to Clague, who recently finished a study commissioned by the city of Richmond to investigate the potential hazard posed by a tsunami, that risk “is virtually zero.”

“We looked to see if there was any evidence in geologic record for tsunamis, and there’s none,” he said. “Going back thousands of years we don’t think there’s been a tsunami,” or at least one large enough to be of concern.

Of course there’s always the worst case scenario where the unexpected can happen, he said.

For example, if the tides are high when a tsunami occurs, and liquefaction causes sections of the seafront dike to disintegrate, then there’s a possibility for a tsunami to cause some damage, he suggested, though this has a very low probability of happening.

With such a wet outlook for Richmond in the event of a major earthquake, Kwantlen student Shira Osipo said she’s aware the campus is in dangerous spot.

“We’re due any day for a really big earthquake,” she said. “It’s kind of freaky.”

Osipo tries not to think about the possibilities because the thought alone is scary enough, she said. She expects the dykes to burst and major flooding to cause havoc.

The city and Kwantlen need to tell people what to expect, how to prepare themselves and where to go if major flood is to occur, said Osipo.

Another Kwantlen student, Jessica Munn, said she was also concerned about the possibility that an earthquake will cause flooding in Richmond.

“The dyke won’t hold,” she said, “and the river will pour in.”

Though she has other reasons, Munn said the threat of an earthquake is partly why she wants to move out of Richmond to “somewhere higher up.”

Regardless of her concern for where she lives, Munn said she has no problem studying at the Richmond campus, which to her seems like a well designed structure.

Other than the windows in the front hall that could fall down on students below, she said “it’s probably pretty safe for the most part; it’s all brick and steel.”

Despite all the dangerous possibilities, Munn notes that “there’s nothing to say there will or won’t be an earthquake anytime soon.”

November 07, 2005

Grimus is bound to delight - Kwantlen Chronicle

I’ve read a lot of books in my 28 years, but there’s one that stands out from the rest.

I first came across Salmon Rushdie’s Grimus while travelling through Turkey. There was a book exchange at a hostel with all sorts of favourites you might expect from backpackers: Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, by Douglas Adams; On the Road, by Jack Kerouac; The Sirens of Titan, by Kurt Vonnegut; and a pile more.

Somehow it was Grimus – which I would soon come to think of as the work of a genius – that found its way into my pack.

Luckily it isn’t too long a book, otherwise I might not have seen as much of Turkey as I did.

Grimus is a novel that feeds intellectual appetites, entertains with a fantastic story, delights in using language as a malleable art and engages the reader with philosophical thought. Simply put, Rushdie is a master of the written word.

The style of Rushdie’s prose seems almost faulty at first, until it become obvious he’s in total control of his craft. One of the most noticeable quirks in this regard is that rather than use quotation marks, Rushdie introduces speech with a dash. Though at first this may be a little confusing, it sets a stage on which Rushdie has more licence to play with the function, flow and form of his novel. It’s bold and risky, which explains why so many find it a thrill to read his work.

The story centres on an American Indian named Flapping Eagle, an outcast from his isolated, traditional-living people. One day his sister Bird-Dog gives him two phials – one is an elixir of immortality and the other of certain death – which a mysterious, travelling peddler had offered to her. Flapping Eagle spends the next 700 years roaming the world searching for the meaning of life.

Quoted from Chapter 3 of Grimus:

–They’ll keep me young, she said, clutching them ever more tightly. Or at least this one will. She held up the yellow phial.

–For how long? I asked timorously. The shadow was back.

–Forever, she screamed triumphantly, and then burst into tears.

After drinking his way to everlasting life and later getting into a boating accident that leaves him drifting alone on a mystical stretch of sea, Flapping Eagle wakes up on the beach of the mountainous Calf Island, where everyone is just like him – immortal. It’s here where his adventure really begins, as he starts a quest to face his biggest fear.

Grimus was Rushdie’s first published novel, after he had abandoned two earlier efforts and had a third rejected by a publisher.

Although he is now internationally known as one of the world’s most gifted novelists, Rushdie’s genius wasn’t generally recognized until after publishing his second novel, Midnight’s Children, a historical fantasy about the independence of India that won the Booker McConnell Prize and later the Booker of Bookers.

In 1989, following the publication of his fourth and most controversial novel, The Satanic Verses, the Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini of Iran put out a $1.5-million bounty on Rushdie’s head for defaming Islam, forcing Rushdie into hiding until 1996.

If there is a weakness to Grimus, it’s that many readers will not have it in themselves to adapt to his style. In this case, Grimus probably will not seem the work of a genius, but more likely that of a nonsensical scatterbrain.

This book will please those who love fantastic stories and to think in abstract ways.

October 31, 2005

Free lecture on terrorism and U.S. desperation - Kwantlen Chronicle

International politics is about to become a lot more clear for students at Kwantlen University College.

Gwynne Dyer, journalist and military annalist, is returning to Kwantlen to deliver a free lecture titled Back to the Great Game.

Dyer will speak about an overblown fear of terrorism since 9/11, how – in reaction to China’s booming economy – the neo-conservatives running the United States of America are desperate to preserve its superpower status and of what this means for the United Nations and international law.

Seldom is there an event that can fill the conference centres at Kwantlen, but Dyer, who holds a Ph.D. in war studies from the University of London, does just that.

Students and non-students alike packed the hall at Kwantlen’s Richmond campus last year to hear Dyer lecture about the state of international politics.

Last year’s lecture was held just around the time Dyer released Future: Tense, his book telling of the coming world order. This year, Dyer has released a new book, With Every Mistake, which looks at the post-9/11 world and how media owners are moulding the agenda of the press.

Born in Newfoundland in 1943, Dyer entered the Canadian navy at age 17, later serving in both the American and British navies. He has taught war studies at both the Canadian Forces College in Toronto and at the Royal Military Academy in Sandhurst, England, and worked as a broadcast and freelance journalist.

With a syndicated column appearing regularly in nearly 200 newspapers, published in a dozen languages in more than 40 countries, Dyer is a world renowned personality.

To give an example of the acclaim Dyer has received, an episode from his 1980, seven-part television series, War – made in collaboration with fellow writer/producer Tina Viljoen – was nominated for an Academy Award.

Dyer’s articles on international affairs, dating back to 1997, are available on his website, GwynneDyer.net.

The lecture is being held on Monday, Nov. 21, in the conference centres at the Richmond and Surrey campuses, from 10:30 a.m. to noon and from 2 to 4 p.m., respectively. Anyone wanting to attend can book seats by sending an email, specifying one campus or the other, to Sue Doucette at Sue.Doucette@Kwantlen.ca.

Gaming relief for stressing students - Kwantlen Chronicle

Day in and day out, some Kwantlen students force themselves to carry an academic load that is far too heavy for their own well-being, crushing morale and squashing even the strongest resolve, eventually leading to a not-so-scholarly burial, in a grade-point-average sort of way.

If this sounds like you, stop and be glad, for I have an answer that may help you to decompress from the mass of homework stacking up around your grave: online video games.

I’ve been an addicted gamer for years, so trust me, I have some expertise in this field that can help you.

I’m not suggesting for you to follow in my footsteps and develop your own gaming addiction – I nearly missed deadline for this article because of my own – so letting it come to that might not be in your best interests. I don’t want to get you addicted; I want to use my problem to help you with yours.

First, in attempt to practice responsible journalism, I offer you this advice: If you think you’re succumbing to a gamerism problem, check out some of the online addiction resources at the Canadian government webpage www.healthservices.gov.bc.ca/mhd.

With my disclaimer out of the way, I can tell you how to find some mind-numbing cyber games that’ll help you lessen the pain of your studies.

If you want the real good stuff it’s best to pay the big bucks, but if you’re not too picky you can find what you’ll need for free.

It’s not always as easy as clicking a link. You might need to install a plug-in for your web browser or even download an application to use as the game’s interface. Don’t worry too much about this, though; the game’s website should guide you through the process easily enough. Once you’ve gotten passed this little hurdle it’s smooth, sweet gaming.

Perhaps the most addictive online game I’ve come across is poker.

There are many websites specializing in poker. Virtually all of them have real-money games, limited free games and require a download of some sort or another. Choosing one from the bunch can be time-consuming, considering all the installing and uninstalling of software. What we’re really after is a game that isn’t going to limit us to only a few thousand practice dollars for all time, otherwise, when the play bucks run out, the temptation to pull out the credit card and charge into the real thing might be more than we can bear, and that probably wouldn’t end in a happy, decompressing experience.

Go straight to www.interpoker.net. There are limits to the amount of practice money you can get per hour, but at least you won’t have to go and recreate a user account each time your bank roll runs out. Download the software, sign up as a user and play to your heart’s content.

Poker aside, all some people will need is a simple classic like Pac Man, first released by Midway Games about 25 years ago. It doesn’t take much to set up, it’s not complex and it’s a quick cure for the shakes when a big craving hits unexpectedly. Best of all, it can be played on almost any computer and it’s found all over the net. One of the easiest ways to play the game is via the Java applet launched at www.pacman.freeonlinegames.com.

If you remember playing Pac Man when it first stormed the video-game scene in 1980, you’ll probably get a thrill out of revisiting Q*bert, developed by Gottlieb.

Q*bert is an orange, alien-looking head with skinny little legs and a sucker for a nose. It bounces around a three-dimensional game board avoiding falling objects and springing snakes. For a quick fix visit the online-game portal at www.yahoo.com.

Game portals are a great place to look when trying to get an easy, cheap fix, so long as you can stand the advertisements. Other than the two mentioned above, Yahoo and Free Online Games, one of the best portals I’ve found is the Electronic Arts site www.pogo.com.

Pogo has a variety of live multiplayer games, such as chess or billiards, and single player ones, such as Word Womp, where you have to unscramble letters to form words. Pogo can even help you ease any building tension with its Knock Out Kings Web Boxing.

Those who like the strategy of chess will probably also take an interest in a couple other games. There’s Klaus Teuber’s Settlers of Catan, at www.catan.jsettlers.com. In this one you play live with other players in a race to dominate an island by trading resources to set up towns and roads.

A similar game of expansion, and my personal favourite, is the online adaptation of the strategy game Risk. There may be no better free online game in existence. You’ll need to download the small program from the stockade at www.missionrisk.com. Once you have this baby set up you’ll be hooked and pulling late nights far too often.

If downloading isn’t too big a hassle for you, try to get a couple of the more popular games available at www.pcworld.com, such as DopeWars 2.2 or the Quake III demo.

DopeWars is an addictive simulation of the drug trade. Through what is mostly a static, graphic interface, you can buy low and sell high on the road to making millions, just like a stock trader.

If you need more action buzzing across your screen, take the plunge and download Quake. It’s a first-person shooter where you blast through a three-dimensional world, doing away with your opponents using futuristic weapons.

If you’re more like me and love reading fat fantasy novels, go download a multi-user-dimension client like MudMagic (www.mudmagic.com) and get right into the world of fantasy, text-based style.

Once you’ve downloaded it, you can create a character with different magical and warring abilities at any of a number of MUDs. Two of the more popular ones are found at www.achaea.com and www.lusternia.com.

Careful though, you may never leave your computer again.

October 24, 2005

Board all-mighty - Kwantlen Chronicle

Sweeping changes were made recently to the Kwantlen Student Association bylaws that will affect how every student’s KSA-membership fees are managed.

Perhaps the most notable change, as learned by The Chronicle after comparing the old bylaws with the new, is the deletion of Article 16, which spelled out the powers of and restrictions on the ombudsperson, the KSA official in charge of investigating internal complaints.

The deletion means that the rules binding the ombudsperson to follow the mandate of the membership are no longer effective, and that the nature of the position is now open for definition by the board. Without a clear definition to adhere to, accountability will be a concern for some students, considering the board itself is a body that the ombudsperson could be asked to investigate.

Another important change is that there’s only a single voting body where there were previously two. The executive board and the council existed as separate authorities, now these have been combined to form what’s known just as “the board.”

As it was set up before, the council was the highest authority representing the membership, and the executive board managed the operations of the KSA. The council served as the overall guiding arm, while the executive was the detailing hand.

If council was concerned that a decision made by the executive board needed to be overruled, it could pass a resolution to block the executive’s action.

The executive board was made up of five directors: operations, finance, external affairs, academic affairs, and events and student life.

In addition to being on the executive board, KSA executives were a minority on the council. On the other hand, campus officers – directors, representatives and officials – made up a majority of at least 20 members.

In the new bylaws, the executive director positions have been changed to president, treasurer and vice-presidents of external affairs, internal affairs, and events and student life, all five of which now make up a majority on the board.

A more drastic change is that campus officials and representatives have been renamed members at large, while their voting privileges have not been re-established on the board.

As before, the four campus directors – one each from Langley, Surrey, Newton and Richmond – still have a vote on the board, though they now make up a minority.

Considering all of this, the campus councils have gone from having 20-something votes and being in a majority, to having only four votes and being in a minority. In effect, the balance of power in the KSA has been largely concentrated into the five executive positions, which can now vote together to pass even the most controversial resolutions without the scrutiny of the council.

Also of interest to students will be how the new bylaws limit the powers of a general meeting of the members.

For example, under the old bylaws the students at a general meeting held the authority to remove a member from the KSA. Under the new bylaws, the board is now the only unit to have this right, which it previously didn’t have. The executive members of the board could, if they wanted to, vote to remove any dissenting voice from the KSA, including other elected board members who could potentially be replaced by more agreeable appointees.

Another example of more powers being allocated to the board is found when looking at adjustments made to the requirements of notification and time limitations.

In particular, with regards to a referendum, the minimum number of notification posters required at each campus has gone down from 25 to eight. The minimum number of days to have these posted before the referendum has gone down from 14 days to seven.

In theory, a board can offer prolonged and highly visible notice of an event that it wants the students to know about or the minimum for one that it does not. In this sense, the new bylaws make it easier for the board to influence the results of the democratic process.

As a final highlight, changes have been made to the definition of honorary member.

Formerly, an honorary member was neither permitted the right to vote nor the right to run for office. Under the new legislation, however, anyone from anywhere can be bestowed the full benefits of KSA membership without being a student at Kwantlen, and even without being a student at all.

Considering adjustments were also made to the minimum number of students needed to validate the proceedings of a general meeting of the membership, down to 50 from 250, the new definition could pose a concern for student members if they find themselves outnumbered by honorary members.

October 11, 2005

KSA internal investigation - Kwantlen Chronicle

The way the Kwantlen Student Association bylaws were changed wasn’t the only controversy from the Sept. 29 KSA meeting. An internal investigation is underway regarding prizes that were handed out.

Mariana Nakhla said she “and four other members” of the executive board of the KSA are conducting the investigation. Nakhla, director of academic affairs for the KSA and member of the Reduce All Fees Party, said, “I can’t say anything else about that.”

According to a KSA attendance sheet, 256 students signed in, said Nakhla. Each student signed in was eligible to win prizes in a raffle-style giveaway. The advertisement campaign for the raffle was focused on the Surrey campus, said Nakhla. “We did give away some advertisement in Richmond, though.”

The prizes, which were paid for with student fees, included two iPod shuffles, three iPod nanos, three 27-inch TVs, five DVD players and a grand-prize $8,000 vacation to anywhere in the world for the winner, who must invite a minimum of three friends to accompany her or him.

It’s not clear which aspect of the giveaway the executive is investigating. The Chronicle will update students in a future article when more information is available.

Bylaws passed with no consideration - Kwantlen Chronicle

Steve Lee, KSA Richmond campus director, and Johnny Woo, KSA Richmond campus representative, share their concerns about the handling of the association's special general meeting.

Controversy has erupted after the Kwantlen Student Association passed a new set of bylaws at its special general meeting on Sept. 29.

The main purpose of the meeting – which was run by Aaron Takhar, director of finance, chairperson of the KSA board and member of the Reduce All Fees Party – was to hold a vote asking students whether or not to adopt a newly adjusted set of KSA bylaws.

"We have a new set of bylaws that we are presenting, and to approve these we can get straight onto the prizes," announced Takhar at the meeting.

Takhar introduced the bylaws as the only item on the agenda. Kulvir Gill, Richmond campus staff representative and member of the Reduce All Fees Party, moved that the changes to the bylaws be accepted, and Raman Mann seconded the motion.

According to a video of the meeting supplied to The Chronicle by Steven Lee, KSA Richmond campus director, the bylaws were approved at the meeting without debate. The video shows one student saying, “I would like to know, before we take a vote, what this is about.” As well, Laura Anderson, KSA Langley campus representative, also requested discussion.

Discussion was cut off, though, when Takhar said: “Before we get to what this is about, we have a lot of people who came for one reason, which is to win prizes, so why don’t we take a show of hands here?”

Takhar declared the motion to approve the new bylaws passed, announced the winners of the prizes and adjourned the meeting.

The video also shows Takhar claimed that the new bylaws had been available for students to read for three weeks prior to the meeting, but that’s being disputed by Anderson and others.

Anderson said she spoke with Takhar on Sept. 21 and asked to read the proposed changes to the bylaws, but “he said ‘they wouldn’t be ready [to view] for about another week,’” perhaps until only a couple days before the special general meeting. What took place at the meeting was “an absolute example of the incredible corruption” in the KSA, said Anderson.

Johnny Woo, KSA Richmond campus council representative, and Steven Lee, KSA Richmond campus director, also said the bylaws were not made available as Takhar had claimed.

Woo says he and Lee had asked to see the bylaws numerous times, by email and in person, including once about a week before the meeting, but were told the document wasn’t yet available.

“I asked Kulvir [Gill], I talked to Aaron [Takhar], we emailed them, and either it’s no response or ‘hey, you’ll find out soon enough,’” said Woo.

Rob Evans, student representative to the board of governors, which is a non-voting position on the KSA council, was critical of the role that prizes played in the process. “Unfortunately, the prizes were used for more than just getting people out to the meeting,” he said. “They were then used to facilitate the voting on the bylaws.”

“There was no dialogue” and no chance for the students to realistically consider the bylaws, he said.

“The bylaws are clearly invalid,” said Evans. “There was somewhere around $20,000 spent with no results.”

That’s not the view of the KSA executive. The bylaws are considered approved, according to Nakhla. “We’ve changed [the bylaws). We’ve changed the system – the whole hierarchy,” she said.

Despite attempts before the deadline, the Chronicle was unable to get comment from Takhar or other members of the executive, including Joey Atwal, KSA director of events, who did not return calls, and Jaivin Khatri, KSA director of external affairs, who said he was too busy studying for midterms for even a short interview.

Gill also refused an interview with the Chronicle.

“I’m not giving an article to the Chronicle,” said Gill, who wasn’t happy about a previous Chronicle article.

As for a reaction to what the changes will mean, Lee said: “They’ve basically given the president and the executive board all the power. Even general meetings don’t really have any power any more under this system.”

Lee said that students should also be concerned that “the ombuds section is gone” from the bylaws, referring to the internal body that is normally in place to investigate complaints.

To offer some perspective, Lee points to the student association at Simon Fraser University as an example of how things should be running.

SFU’s student association had a special general meeting Sept. 28, said Lee. “Their bylaw changes had been posted online and in the student society offices for about a month beforehand,” he explained.

The Chronicle will publish an article look at the new bylaws and what they mean for students in our next edition.

October 03, 2005

Vancouver's Vision looks to Kwantlen - Kwantlen Chronicle

Heather Harrison made the team.

“I’m really excited and honoured,” said Harrison, a Kwantlen philosophy instructor, after being selected to represent Vision Vancouver as one of its candidates for Vancouver city council in the Nov. 19 civic elections.

Harrison’s first official action as a candidate was to attend a press conference last Monday where Jim Green, current city councillor and the mayoral candidate for Vision Vancouver, announced his team of five candidates that was selected by committee from a list of 30 nominees.

Joining Harrison and Green on the Vision Vancouver team is Hydro engineer George Chow, microbiologist Heather Deal and current city councillors Tim Stevenson and Raymond Louie.

As for what’s going to be on the forefront of Harrison’s mind this election, she would like the controversy surrounding the Woodward’s building in the Downtown Eastside, a suggested site for social housing, to become one of the hotly debated topics.

“I think once people understand what it’s really about, what it’s doing for the community, what it’s doing for Vancouver, how it’s been organized and how it’s brought a lot of people together – developers and business and academia and neighbourhood activists – I think you just can’t help but to get behind it,” Harrison said.

Another big issue for Harrison is transportation, especially to and from the University of British Columbia.

“All of our transportation to UBC is our buses sitting in gridlock twice a day,” Harrison said. “It’s terrible and they sit there and they belt out smelly fumes.”

Some of Harrison’s suggestions include rerouting, controlling traffic lights and possibly even dedicating lanes. “We need to be thinking creatively about how we can help the buses get out there more effectively,” she said.

Harrison also said that environmental problems are one of her biggest motivators.

“I think that time is running out on global warming,” Harrison warned, highlighting the devastation around the Gulf of Mexico in the wake of hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

“Environmentalists tell us that these sorts of events are going to become increasingly common,” Harrison said, “and you look at the costs of the damage . . . and you realize that investing in the environment now is going to be so much cheaper in the long run.

“I really think that we’re not just on a short timeline with respect to the negative consequences, but on a short timeline with respect to how we can avert long term costs for a very small amount at this point . . . That’s ultimately what I am most concerned about.”

For now, however, Harrison needs to focus on the election and feels Vancouver is looking for a party that can get things done. “Jim and Tim and Raymond and [Mayor Larry Campbell] just got so much done for the city in the last two years with the RAV line, the Olympics and Woodward’s,” she said. The 2010 Winter Games “is going to make for the most sustainable Olympics we’ve ever seen anywhere.”

As busy as Harrison will be during the election, she doesn’t think it’s going to be an issue with respect to her teaching schedule.

It’s basically like having two full-time jobs for the next six weeks, Harrison said, but “I’m such an organized person.”

Harrison prepared for the term as though she is going to be elected, she explained, because if she is and she hadn’t planned for it, then it’ll be too late when the time comes to balance out her duties.

“I’ve gotten my courses completely organized,” Harrison said. All of her lectures are prepared, all of her assignments are done and all of her exams are written.

Other than marking – which is a big task, though one that has a great deal of flexibility with respect to when it’s done – Harrison said she has to come in to lecture, which for her is more like a welcome hobby. It’s something that “completely reenergizes me.”

Next term may be a bit of a different story, though. Harrison has been assigned a full-time schedule of courses, but if all goes as she hopes it does, there are quality instructors that can be called to fill in.

September 26, 2005

Politics with a philosophical blend - Kwantlen Chronicle

Some Kwantlen University College students may begin next semester learning philosophy from an elected politician.

“I can’t give up teaching, I love teaching,” says Heather Harrison.

Harrison, 46, who has been a philosophy instructor at Kwantlen University College for six years, will find out sometime before the end of the month if she has been selected to run as a candidate in Vancouver’s civic elections, which are set for this Nov. 19.

If Harrison, who has never been a political candidate before, becomes one of Vancouver’s next civic councillors, she will still teach, but she won’t be able to do it full-time, she says. “Being a councillor is a lot of responsibility and a lot of work.”

Vision Vancouver – a political party that was recently created by former members of the Coalition of Progressive Electors, including mayoral candidate Jim Green, who she’s known for years – has set up a committee to select three candidates from a list of 15 nominees, which has already been halved from 30.

If elected, Harrison will be calling on her many years of political exposure dating back to her early childhood.

Harrison’s father was politically active in the New Democratic Party and, previous to 1961, in the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation. “He had a strong social conscience that he instilled in us,” says Harrison.

Harrison’s brother, who also found grounding in his father’s social activism, is currently working on a project with the intention of creating a genetically-modified-organism-free zone in Vancouver, she says.

Harrison’s first memorable political experience dates back to 1972 when, in her early teens, she worked on Dave Barrett’s election campaign. Barrett was the first NDP premier of B.C., serving from 1972 to 1975.

The young Harrison’s positive experience during Barrett’s campaign led her to join the Young New Democrats when she was 15, she says.

“We would go to meetings and be very serious,” she chuckles, “and come up with resolutions that we thought the NDP should listen to on issues like the environment and youth involvement and we’d go to conferences and get involved in mock parliaments.”

“It was fun, it was really fun.”

Political involvement hasn’t just been about fun for Harrison, though, despite what her laughter may suggest.

“My family is most important to me,” she says in a more passionate tone. “The way that I live my life is because I want it to be an example for my daughters. I want to demonstrate that an individual, and particularly a woman, can make a difference.” Harrison has two daughters, ages 15 and 19.

“My oldest daughter belongs to the YND, and she’s very interested in international politics and the effects of globalization on third-world countries,” says Harrison. Her volunteerism has taken her as far as Guatemala, where she’s experienced their difficulties firsthand, she says.

“She’s absolutely thrilled at the prospect that I might become a candidate,” says Harrison.

Reflecting back on herself, Harrison, who spent most her youth in the small-town community of Saanichton on Vancouver Island, thinks that abstract thinking, which she’s been practicing during years of philosophical exercise, would give Vancouver city council a valuable point of view for difficult issues.

“I love abstraction, I love to think abstractly,” she says, “though it’s really good to have people of both [abstract and concrete] sorts in politics.”

“When you think abstractly you force yourself to see how things would apply in other situations; it’s a little bit of problem solving,” says Harrison.

For example, if reality were hers to mould, Harrison would have Vancouver looking very different than it does today.

“I would organize Vancouver in such a way that people lived close to where they work and where they shop,” she says. “We’d have a very effective transportation system . . . so that we could lose our dependency on automobiles.”

Though the city would look different in these ways, Harrison thinks that some things are excellent just as they are.

“I love the cultural diversity. I just think it’s so exciting,” she says. “I think we’ve made ourselves into a world-class city with the different parts of our communities, our restaurants, our festivals . . . I think we’ve shed the old, boring Vancouver image.”

Boring as Vancouver might have been, Harrison has always tried to keep herself interested by being involved in her communities.

“I started volunteering when I was nine,” she says. “I organized a community fair with all my friends,” and the proceeds went to charity.

Since then, Harrison has volunteered for the Salvation Army, the Arts Umbrella and as a Girl Guide leader, a soccer manager and a “hotdog” mom.

Perhaps by the end of November Harrison will need to add Vancouver city councillor to that list, too.

September 19, 2005

Helsinki exchange gives students new perspective - Kwantlen Chronicle

Exchange programs between Kwantlen and other educational institutes are not new.

Kwantlen fashion students have been on exchanges to Finland and, more recently, to two institutions in Taiwan, says administrative assistant Celia Lam.

Shih Chien University and Tainan Women’s College of Arts and Technology have begun to accept exchange students from Kwantlen.

Students hoping to go on exchange need to submit an application for review by faculty and administrators.

This spring there are five students on exchange, says Lam – three to Finland and two to Taiwan.

Previously there was an opportunity for the interior-design students to travel abroad under the CODE Mobility Exchange Program, which involved six institutions from Canada, the U.S.A. and Mexico.

“It’s a life-changing experience for most of the students,” says Lam. “It’s personality building, an eye-opener to something else other than what’s here.”

Two fashion-design students from Kwantlen who recently returned from an exchange with Finland say it was one of the greatest experiences they’ve ever had.

Katherine Chu, 25, and Melissa Kwan, 26, both travelled to Helsinki, Finland, last spring to live and learn from a different perspective.

Learning fashion in Finland wasn’t much like learning fashion here, says Chu. “They stress creativity over there, whereas Kwantlen’s a very technical school . . . It complements what we’re learning here.”

The two travellers agree a mix of having a clean slate with their new friends, mingling in a foreign culture and learning from a different perspective made it a wonderful experience.

“Oh, and our Pasila family,” adds Kwan with a reminiscent smile. The name Pasila comes from the neighbourhood they lived in, she explains. They were 12 students from all over the world who came together as a family.

“She’s wearing the shirt right now,” Chu laughs as she notes the word “Pasila” written across the front of Kwan’s T-shirt.

“Now that I’ve lived in a different country and I survived, I know I can go anywhere else and live there, too,” says Kwan.

The exchange has made her realize there’s more out there, says Chu. “I want to travel after school and continue my fashion studies abroad.”

Chile connects with Kwantlen - Kwantlen Chronicle

Some lucky Kwantlenites will soon be boarding flights for an exotic South American country.

An agreement has been signed between the presidents of Kwantlen University College and Chile’s Universidad Arturo Prat (UNAP), marking the beginnings of an exchange program that officials hope will offer new and different learning opportunities abroad for both faculty and students.

“Exchange programs are a very exciting opportunity,” says Peter Chevrier, Kwantlen’s director of marketing and communications. Students and faculty going to Chile will come back having had a rewarding cultural experience, he says.

Not only does this exchange enrich the lives of those travelling, but it also enriches Kwantlen and its surrounding community as well, says Chevrier.

With an exchange program such as this, the trading of research knowledge can serve as a treasure for the institutes involved. “In Kwantlen’s case, our research is very community focused,” says Chevrier, and if UNAP can offer knowledge that Kwantlen can contribute back to the community, then it’s a success on that level, too.

Another benefit of the exchange program is that it can help both institutions with international-student recruitment, notes Chevrier, “which is always a positive thing.”

All of this was made possible when Kwantlen instructor Patricio Ramirez took a one-year educational leave in 2002 to teach chemistry to the students, and English to the faculty, at UNAP.

Ramirez, who was born in Temuco, Chile, went back for a school reunion and met someone who helped him get the ball rolling with UNAP, which has a campus about 40 kilometres away in Victoria, a small city in one of the country’s agricultural regions. Victoria is close to Santiago, the country’s capital.

Like Kwantlen, UNAP has more than one campus – its other being in Iquique, a picturesque, beach-side city of about 200,000 people, located 2,000 kilometres to the north. “The back yard of the university is the Pacific Ocean,” Ramirez says appreciatively. “It’s beautiful.”

According to Ramirez, Iquique is where the heart of the university really is and where the exchange is likely to set most of its roots.

Because of an agricultural focus at UNAP and Kwantlen’s available programs, horticulture will be one of the main focuses for the exchange, along with criminology, Spanish and English.

One of the more interesting horticultural efforts coming from the Iquique campus is something called Project Desert Green. “They are doing research in the area of growing plants in the desert that otherwise wouldn’t grow anywhere else,” says Remirez.

Kwantlen and UNAP are presently in the planning phase, determining how many student and faculty exchanges will be offered, what joint research opportunities to undertake and how to get the most out of the chosen programs.

For Ramirez, seeing this program take off has been an extremely rewarding experience. “It’s always been one of my objectives to promote study abroad,” says Ramirez.

Travelling to Chile would be a great cultural experience for Kwantlen students and faculty, says Ramirez. “One of the things that has not been explored so much, and which has so much to learn from it, is the Latin American culture.”

Besides the more obvious benefits of the exchange, UNAP hopes to gain insight from its Canadian counter part that will help to improve its general ability to provide training geared towards employment markets that are both regional and international, according to a Kwantlen press release.

May 02, 2005


I was at the beach. There was fire. There were stars. Music was played and and songs were sung.

Life is good.

Off the edge of UBC there's a gem of a spot down a long and steep staircase, about 500 meters north from the Wreck Beach trail head. It leads to a sandy shoreline where waves crash gently aganist stones that lie twenty paces out from under thick, overhanging forest and at the edge of the sand.

There are many wonderful places to see in Vancouver; this is definately one of the best.

May 01, 2005