Endorsement from the next Prime Minister of Canada
- Globe and Mail, January 31

"I have had the enormous pleasure of working with Darcy Higgins for the last few years through youth environmental initiatives. Darcy played a key role in the youth team in my leadership campaign. His demonstrated ability to build strong teams, achieve consensus and move from the abstract to action should serve University of Waterloostudents extremely well."
- Elizabeth May, Leader of the Green Party of Canada


My promise to Muslim students at UW
Practicing Muslim students face major barriers on campus. This has been evident to those students who follow the Qur'an. But until recently, it has been less know by student leaders and the broader campus. Sparked by issues of vandalism and other incidents at Ryerson, the Canadian Federation of Students has set out to look at the needs of Muslim students and document concerns from across the province. Homophobic and Islamophobic vandalism occured one year ago at UW as well. This issue is something we must deal with, though day-to-day concerns are also very relevant.
I didn't realize the pressure that some students feel, and how many missed opportunities occur because of an often difficult system, where Muslims must miss meetings or events for prayer (including transit time to prayer rooms) - and this is often compounded at times such as Ramadan. Conflicting societal rules can make it difficult for Muslim students to write exams, participate in sports, attend holidays and finance their education, while maintaining moral obligations.
It is obvious to me that concerns are being raised, and being unmet. On the other hand, much progress has been made, for example, in the timing and accessibility of halal food.
And it appears that our MSA is providing more of a service than just what a club can handle. I bet there are several clubs like that if we look deeper.
So what will I do?
If elected, I will maintain support for events that increase awareness of Islam - with awareness comes tolerance, acceptance...
Of course Muslim students should also come out to other educational events and mingle with students who participate in various clubs and services as much as possible. Making athletic facilities appropriate and increasing the number of multi-faith prayer/meditation rooms is important. Perhaps before these actions are lobbied for, however, I see the need for student leadership positions to be accessible to Muslim students. Suggestions were given to allow for specific conditions when applying for positions such as in Feds, that would excempt dealing with alcohol or interest. Great idea.
Aside from education and interaction, specific changes can be implemented. Most of these involve changes in the university, so working with staff, faculty and administration at some level. I will look into how to increase the availability of Halal meats and vegetarian dishes at Food Services, and work with my VP Admin & Finance for the same at Aussies and Bomber.
I would also advise my Vice President Education to investigate (in collaboration with other campuses and the Human Right Comission) a different system to pay off OSAP fees that would not involve paying interest, and increasing grants in general over loans. I would also direct the VP-Ed to work on getting a directive from upper-administrators, down to professors and teaching assistants, to allow exemption without penalty for prayer during exams.
It is true that a real leader looks ahead how to solve issues before a crisis hits. I heard this in the meeting, and learned this as well from a lecture by Romeo Dallaire last year.
This is not by any means a comprehensive plan, and I can't pretend that we can achieve perfect conditions within a year. Perhaps it could involve making a long-term plan with the Feds. The prioritizing should be determined by Muslims students, so we can work together on these, sharing the task of advocacy. Halal food appears as a top concern in a small MSA website poll. But more discussion on the specific question of immediate prioty is needed.
I look forward to reading through the recommendations of the task force on the needs of Muslim students.
Barriers to student service at UW however don't only include Islam. There are other cultural-religious issues that can and should be raised - let's keep the discussion going. I believe I can come closest to achievements working with you, because that's what I've done at UW already when working on change with students and administration. Below is a comment from the Director of Food Services at the University of Waterloo.
“In the initial development stages of the UW Farmers Market, Darcy and I worked on getting the concept and support teams in place to get the Market of the ground. His marketing strategies and influence with student volunteers, staff and faculty helped make the UW Market the success it turned out to be. Darcy works well with others and has gained the respect within his faculty and beyond…it would be a refreshing change to have someone like Darcy Higgins involved with the Federation of Students who can work with the entire university community in a positive way.”
- Lee Elkas, Director
For those of you who are tired of receiving invites to facebook groups related to the Feds campaign, and think it's a little like kids in a sand box competing for their number of friends.
Bare with us for a couple weeks... we're politicians. we don't know any better!
So the Feds campaign begins.

I'm running for Vice President Internal of the Federation of Students. I've got some great ideas based in making things better for students - I think my background in advocacy, communications, organizing and effective strategy can make things come a long way at UW.
Also important is to get make things fun. Feds should be exciting. People don't know about what it does because of a lack of connections and communications.
But so much is going on at this campus!

My, Michelle and Del's volunteers were up late tonight putting up our rad posters. I want to thank you guys very much. I look forward to keeping up this blog and responding to your posts here and on facebook when I get a moment. Come out to the forums, read the Imprint, and stay involved.
We're gonna rock this place.


I know I may be criticized or critiques with this quote - feel free to. But look at this and think about how it may affect your own life... what are you driving towards?
It was written by educator David Orr back in 1995:
"The plain fact is that the planet does not need more successful people. But it does desperately need more peacemakers, healers, restorers, storytellers, and lovers of every kind. It needs people of moral courage willing to join the fight to make the world habitable and humane. And these qualities have little to do with success as our culture has defined it."

It really centres things back away from ourselves, and onto "all that really matters most", as Raffi said in his song about the genuine progress indicator.

Is it to fluffy for you. What really matters in your world? comment here.


U-Pass referendum looks set for March!


I got a little bit of Fresh Air two weeks ago, and just found this post-air commentary: "I love interviewing university students early on Sunday mornings. They manage to be both sleepy and articulate. Good on them."
Thank you Jeff - it was an excellent show idea. Keep up those New Year's Resolutions all!

My Imprint Pick of the Week:

There are so many great articles this week on transit issues, housing, food and even urban camping. So I gotta go with Valerie's photo on the cover of the party people with the hula's. As an avid fan of "hula-la", I can do a thing or two, but for a real treat, you should see my roomates! Heck they're probably at it right now. My roomate just taught me to get it up high.
Pickup an Imprint to see the pic, and follow their adventures at CUP at: http://imprint.uwaterloo.ca/cup/
I've just been tipped off to the presence of a show that you just might be interested in. It's called the O'Fishbein Factor, and it features this young school-involved Irishman doing his part to promote the upcoming Feds elections. And unbeknownst - yet not unwelcome - to me, was his discussion of a certain group in the first In Your Facebook feature. Listen to the first podcast for his commentary at: http://jonathanfishbein.com/factor/Podcast/Podcast.html
Heck, listen to the second and keep tuned in.
I must issue a response: though I have been of course consulting with the greater student body who don't know me as well, you're right, I haven't. You'll have to listen some to get the context of what I'm saying. So turn on, tune in, drop out to O'Fishbein.
And Fish, I am more than willing and able to make an appearance. I'd love to be a first guest once January 30 rolls around. Look forward to hearing from you.


Please leave a comment after you read this post!

Campus news update:
Feds Council has voted to defer the debate on a universal bus pass. They have instructed the Feds Executive to investigate the possibility of a *refundable U-pass. Is it possible? I can't say.
Apparently the University of Utah has one.
As was said at the meeting, in our UW slogan, the spririt of Why Not? I wish that slogan applied to other areas, where UW could become a leader.
It would be highly unconventional, but perhaps highly popular. Some benefits would be lost due to a higher cost and fewer participants.
Councillor Drew Adams will be starting a pass the pass petition which could force a vote.

I'm not afraid to say that we need a U-pass. Safety from less drinking & driving, benefits to air quality and CO2 and popularity among students make this a winning idea. Everyone who has said 'finally' will have to wait a little bit more.

Though I'm not communist, I believe in community and the greater good, so I value this quote: "part of being human is subordinating your own day-to-day desires and wants to the good of others."


I attended the Citizens' Assembly forum for KW on electoral reform on Wednesday night. I also made a presentation to the delegation there.
If you don't know much about it, there was a citizen (regular Joe/Sally) selected from each riding in Ontario. They have been given the task to research, gather input, and select an electoral system for Ontario that works - to recommend change if they find necessary.
I wanted to represent the voices there who aren't normally heard: (disenfranchised) young people.
Everyone at the meeting knew that the current system didn't work. Furthermore, most people went on to recommend a particular system they believed to be more fair: mixed member proprotional. An overflowing room of interested individuals really got me excited - there was so much passion from all kinds of people for what you might have thought is a dull topic.
It's pretty clear to me that the Assembly will recommend change. I'm quite willing to accept whatever they recommend. I believe in this process. But it will be up to the people it looks like to educate the public and get this passed. Their recommendation goes to a referendum this October, and must be passed by 60%. This threshold is too high. Consider the government has a majority mandate with well under 50% of the vote.
I got to recognize our federal MP for K-W, who came in towards the end of our presentation and I stated that I hoped he brought the Assembly's findings to a federal level. He spoke after me, the last speaker, and recognized what I had said about young people & voting.
Billy Ballot has a cheesey little video for you if you want to learn about different voting systems: http://www.citizensassembly.gov.on.ca/en-CA/The%20Classroom/Billy%20Ballot.aspx


My Imprint pick of the week:

Journalistic writing first 2 sentences of an article pick of the month:

WASHINGTON- President Bush once said he was determined to stick with the Iraq war even if his wife and his dog were the only ones left at his side.
It’s moving in that direction.

Best solid smooth icey fun street in Waterloo of the night: Alexandra Ave.


Change doesn't happen.It's made. Act.


this is just icky...

Strip club's tuition offer riles university, feminists
Guelph Mercury, Tuesday, Jan. 9, 2007 FRONT; Pg. 1
By GREG MERCER, Guelph Mercury
GUELPH -- Guelph's only strip club is offering to help one needy student pay for school next year.
The catch? That student will have to win a wet T-shirt contest, determined by the hoots and hollers of audience reaction at the club. The prize? A year's university tuition, up to $5,000.


Here's my latest Imprint article: "UW helps meet international campus climate challenge". It's pretty popular!

And here's my Imprint pick of the week:

If you're interested in writing or doing photography, proofreading, web help, or anything else..
Especially if you complain about Imprint - I want to challenge you to make it better. Submit something!