How many times a day would you like to take the shuttle and go to Lot O, one of the most remote parts of campus? Once? Maybe three times? Certainly not five, right?

That is what faced the McMaster Muslim Students Association in March of 2013.

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Before the demolition of Wentworth House, the MSA had prayer, storage and office space in the building.

“The prior MSA office had a room for brothers and sisters, and it was connected with a door in the middle,” said Zarak Aslam, the MSA’s public relations representative.

“The Wentworth space was great—very central, and the room set up was such that you could very easily interact between brothers and sisters.”

When news of the building’s impending demolition reached the MSA and other tenants of Wentworth House, like MACycle and the Photo Club, they were told that an adequate replacement would be found.

Initially, a temporary structure near Lot O was suggested as a space for the MSA. Lot O is one of the most far-reaching points on campus—accessed via shuttle, taking passengers over the bridge behind Mary Keyes Hall. Because space can be hard to come by, this was seen to be the only option for the University.

The problem is that many Muslim students pray five times each day—a ritual made incredibly inconvenient if one needs to shuttle to prayer every time.

Once word got out about the troubles facing the MSA’s acquisition of new space, McMaster and Facility Services began to reach out and look for more feasible solutions.

“After the article was written in The Silhouette last year, things got moving… It brought attention to the problem. Not only our problem, but also the other organizations in that building,” said Aslam.

He continued: “[McMaster] was willing to do whatever it took to get our accommodations set up.”

Between April and August of 2013, while the school was less crowded, Facility Services worked to ensure that a new space would be ready for September’s arrival of students.

Now, two former classrooms in T13—the bunker-type building next to the Engineering Technology Building—are devoted to the MSA, to be used for storage, meetings and daily prayer.

The University even paid for changes to be made with the aim of accommodating the club. Carpeting was installed (necessary for men and women who spend their prayer time kneeling) and other adjustments made.

“[Facility Services] let us choose what kind of carpeting, we were able to get that in—they installed that over the summer,” said Aslam. “Since we are in two rooms now, they even offered to set up an intercom in-between. So now we have the speakers and the microphone going between rooms.”

When the Fall term of 2013 began, the room was prepared for occupancy.

Of the transition, Aslam said, “We are pretty much settled in and things are going well. Honestly, it’s been a great blessing.”

Universities are hubs for innovation and creativity. And sometimes, this creativity can be used to cheat the system and park for free.

Since the start of 2013, McMaster Parking and Security Services have issued 75 tickets to people who were caught trying to circumvent the parking system.

There are an indeterminate number of students, faculty and visitors whose parking-related mischief goes completely unnoticed and unpunished. And there are plenty of methods being used to beat the system.

Sarah, a McMaster grad, said that she parked illegally all the time.

“My best tactic has been to use a previously issued ticket and put it on my windshield pretending that I had already been ticketed [that day]. Works like a charm,” she said.

A Fleming College student named Dan had a similar tactic. When visiting McMaster to see his girlfriend on weekends, he would park around the west quad, in Lot M, or the one behind Bates Hall.

“Over there, they give you a warning slip before they issue a ticket,” he explained. “I just keep the warning in my glove box, put it in under my windshield wipers when I park, and they just assume someone already gave me a warning.”

Other approaches can be less simple. Justine, a Mac grad, said that she used to use a frying pan to get out of paying for parking.

Her story references the smaller parking lot in front of Ivor Wynne. In that lot, a driver pulls up to the automatic arm and ticket dispenser. A metal detector identifies the car and issues a barcode that says what time the driver arrived at the lot. Upon leaving, the driver is supposed to insert this barcode, and be charged according to how long he or she has been parked there. The driver can then pay using debit or credit.

A stay of less than 15 minutes is free of charge.

Justine invented a scheme one day, when for a reason that is forgotten, she had a frying pan in her car. She thought “If it’s a metal detector, I bet it will pick up this frying pan”.

And so it began. When leaving the parking lot, instead of using the voucher she got when she parked, Justine would go back to the entrance, wave the frying pan in front of the metal detector, and receive a new voucher with that time encoded on it. While exiting, she would simply insert that new voucher into the machine, and being less than fifteen minutes since waving her frying pan, she could leave the lot for free.

“I probably did it 40 or 50 times,” she said. “I didn’t have to pay very often.”

The plot thickened if someone started looking at her waving a frying pan in a parking lot. Of course, she would wait for quiet moments to run over to the metal detector, but if someone did notice her, Justine would call them over, and offer up her secret method in exchange for their silence.

Those without the fortitude to amass a scheme can get away with free parking too. Will Farr, a Kinesiology student at McMaster, told a story of a very simple way to escape parking charges.

“I was walking from Les Prince when I looked over to the parking lot in front of Hedden. I saw a guy in a big, black SUV drive over the curb and turn around the barrier, so he didn’t have to pay for parking.”

Terry Sullivan is the director of Security and Parking Services. He said that his department is doing important work to stop this issue.

“Not paying for parking is theft and we treat is seriously.”

“Parking revenue contributes to the betterment of the University through reconstruction of sidewalks, roadways and bike pads,” said Sullivan.

Anyone caught attempting to scam free parking receives a $75 fine and a suspension of their parking privileges for a month.

Parking lots are regularly monitored by staff and closed-circuit video cameras.

Photo credit: Julia Redmond / News Editor

 

A small fire in the A.N. Bourns Building that evacuated students, staff and faculty was put out earlier today.

A fire alarm in the building was pulled at 12:21 p.m, causing the building to be evacuated for about 1 hour. The Hamilton Fire Department responded promptly to the alarm and worked with McMaster Security Services to investigate the source.

It was determined that the alarm went off due to smoke from a fan belt motor being seized in a fan on a roof. Friction from the belt caused a small amount of smoke, wafting into the vents and filling parts of the building with a slight burning smell.

Facilities Services repaired the fan and the alarm was cleared at 1:19 p.m.

Students, staff and faculty were able to re-enter the building and it is now fully operational.

How does someone get from forgoing education and crossing the country to care for his father, to becoming the founder and CEO of a successful tech start-up? Ask Ethan Do.

Do's company, Over Air Proximity Technologies ltd., is a year-old, growing operation that has made its name as the creative and inventive face of near field communication.

NFC is a technology that allows users to transfer data between two devices. An NFC tag, sticker or wristband contains a small microchip that is able to send data to a smartphone simply by bringing the phone into close proximity.

The most well-known and publicized use for NFC has been mobile payment systems—purchasing goods by simply waving your phone over VISA or Debit payment pad, for example.

Ethan Do grew up in Montreal and always had a fondness for technology and computers. He graduated high school at 18, with a 95 per cent average — affording him the opportunity to attend almost any Canadian university.

At the same time, his father had a stroke and was half-paralysed as a result. Do decided to move to Vancouver and take care of his father.

With needs to meet and bills to be paid, Do got a job at a FedEx Kinkos store in Vancouver. He worked hard and was able to climb the ladder of his branch, over the course of five years.

“I went from being a photocopy boy on the night shift, doing hand staples for ten hours, to being the senior manager of their most profitable store in Canada” he said.

Do soon became wary of the retail life and was looking for a change. After calling up a FedEx client, eBay Canada, Do started working there, starting at the bottom, again, as a customer service e-mail response agent.

When he was unable to keep up with the e-mail response quota, at work, he designed a filter that would sort customer emails and generate automatic responses.

“It was accurate about 90% of the time…that caught the attention of eBay, and I got my first promotion” said Do.

Do found himself climbing the ladder again. Even without a degree, he was offered a position working in business intelligence—crunching number, analyzing customer activity and working in fraud prevention.

Do’s life was shaken up, though, during 2008 and 2009. In a six month period, his half-brother, and then his father, both passed away. Meanwhile, eBay announced that they would be shutting down their Vancouver centre and outsourcing. Do was going to be laid-off.

Of that time in his life, Do said “I didn’t know exactly what to do, but my father always encouraged us to go back [to school]."

“I decided to drive across Canada…and reflect,” he said.

Knowing that Ontario had the most universities of any province, he determined that he would stand a better chance applying there. After gaining more high school credits through an adult secondary school, he eventually enrolled at McMaster as a mature student.

Do was still hurting from his eBay job being outsourced, and decided to study Kinesiology.

Do said that his rational was “I’ll be a doctor, they can’t outsource me.”

He loved studying the body and its inner workings, but couldn’t give up his love of technology. Knowing this, he transferred into McMaster’s business informatics program, where he could learn coding and business principles together.

“I’ve learned a lot, and I am very thankful for that, it really opened a lot of doors” he said.

A game-changing moment came in the fall of 2012. After buying a new smartphone, Do was exploring the settings and features of the device. When he saw something about near field communication, he was intrigued and researched the technology.

His curiosity encouraged him to order a few NFC tags and a tag writer. He wanted to try them out.

Then, an epiphany: “I programmed my first one, I took my phone, touched the tag, and my LinkedIn profile came up.”

He continued, “I felt the potential of all of this and it was just mind-blowing.”

He knew then that he wanted to work with NFC. He didn’t look at the market, or think about competition. Do began teaching himself to code NFC tags and educated himself of all things NFC.

After advice from professors, Do went to the Innovation Factory and McMaster Innovation Park, an incubation centre to help students develop their businesses.

He wanted to take pitch training at Innovation Park, but upon arriving on the wrong date, found himself at a competition, rather than a training seminar.

He showed the audience what he had been working on. He demonstrated an NFC enabled medical alert wristband, inspired by his father.

“The night that my father passed away, he lost consciousness, so the people who found him didn’t know who to contact,” he said. The people who found him were on the phone with 911 operators for over 20 minutes.

“By the time they hung up with 911, they could find me, and I was only two blocks away. When I got there, it was too late.”

The product he demonstrated could inform anyone with a smartphone. The NFC tag sends the phone important medical information—allergies, medication. It then opens a first-aid app, to inform the user about what how to help. It then sends a text message, automatically, to the programmed emergency contact. It can do all of this, while someone is on a call with 911.

He won the competition. Realizing the potential for competition funding, and noticing that his credit card funding strategy would not work forever, Do asked for help from classmates, who volunteered, and entered into more competitions.

He was a finalist at Hamilton’s Lions Liar, a winner and Vitacore Dragon’s Den, second place at the Enactus Student Entrepreneur National Competition and the top winner at Dx3.

Since then, Over Air has added more than 20 volunteers to the company and several paid co-op students. This has helped them develop all kinds of ways to use NFC and offer it to clients.

Ethan Do’s future is somewhat uncertain. He knows that he will finish his degree in the spring of 2014 and he knows that he will take Over Air as far as it can go, and work to become a Canadian leader.

“People are captivated by our technology... I really believe we are on the verge of an NFC explosion,” he said.

“There is an opportunity to show the world that Canada can still be innovative, and that it started right in Hamilton, right here at McMaster.”

Photo by Yoseif Haddad / Photo Editor. 

The consolidation of course materials into one sales location has caused long line-ups. Here students wait to check out after shopping at the Campus Store.

Eliza Pope/Assistant Photo Editor

Titles Bookstore is no more and the Tank is closed. The new incarnation is called the Campus Store, and it is being billed as the “one-stop shop for everything McMaster”. The new store is simultaneously consolidating and expanding.

Renovations this summer allowed for the expansion of the Campus Store to include an attached textbook selling location. In the process, the Tank was emptied and all course materials were moved to the main location.

While the changes are meant to improve both the variety in products and the efficiency of the operations, the new design is not without its drawbacks.

Students seeking textbooks must enter the store through a separate, tented entrance outside of Chester New Hall. Shoppers are not allowed to cross from the main store into the course materials store, but are permitted to go straight into the Campus Store after purchasing textbooks.

The lineup into the new textbook store has been long during the first week of classes, at times stretching from the tent outside of CNH to the University Hall arch. In past years, first year students bought their textbooks at Titles, while course materials for upper courses were sold at The Tank. Long lines are a mainstay for McMaster textbook seekers, but the new system creates a line that includes all students.

The Campus Store has now, more than Titles before it, increased its focus on McMaster-branded consumer goods and clothing.

Donna Shapiro, Director of the Campus Store said, “I think that the name, the Campus Store, can now appeal to more potential customers than Titles could”.

Shapiro says that the university marketplace has changed a lot in the past few years. Because of the introduction of eBooks and increased competition in book sales, Campus Store needed to alter its product offerings to meet the market demands of the McMaster community.

Less than six per cent of overall sales currently come from general books.

Clothes now occupy four separate sections of the store and will evidently be a sales focus for the store this year. The consolidated store offers an expanded selection of McMaster clothing and other merchandise.

“More students are purchasing McMaster crested merchandise than in the past. The profile of McMaster as well as the Marauders’ ongoing success has created an increased demand for the products being offered,” explained Shapiro.

In addition to McMaster wear, the store has expanded and updated its electronics section.

While expansion was a major focus of the store’s renovation, the Campus Store no longer has a post office. The continuing decline of the use of “snail-mail’, along with the changes in the OSAP process meant that a full-service postal operation became inefficient and obsolete.

Shapiro said that the post office lost money each year, citing an operation cost of over $90, 000 last year.

Dundurn Castle, one of Hamilton's several attractions. Rick Cordeiro, c/o Wikimedia Commons

Curious McMaster students seeking adventure need look no further than Hamilton itself.

That’s the message from one of the McMaster Students Union’s newest campaigns. Discover Your City is a initiative designed to connect students with the city around them. The operation will focus on promoting events, businesses, sights and restaurants to McMaster students.

Hamilton has earned a reputation. People say it is dirty, gross and sketchy; elsewhere in the province, it is called “The Armpit of Ontario.”

Spencer Graham, MSU vice-president (Education), is concerned that students are accepting this. “We as students believe that narrative without actually going into the city at all."

He feels that students should author their own judgement of the Hammer; to draw their own conclusions, they’ve got to cross the 403 and actually explore the city.

Hamilton truly has a lot to offer. The MSU wants to use Discover as a vehicle to inform and impassion students to leave Westdale and appreciate the city they live in.

The idea originated with last year’s Vice-President (Education), Huzaifa Saeed. As a lover of Hamilton, he had worked in local advocacy before finishing his time at McMaster. He also focussed on surveying perceptions of Hamilton. His vision is being carried on by Graham and a team consisting of representatives from the Student Community Support Network, the External Affairs Commissioner and the MSU Advocacy office.

Similar promotions have existed. Most recently, the Get Cultured campaign helped to connect students with the arts in Hamilton. Discover differs from previous attempts in that it is more wide-ranging. The hope is that something will appeal to everyone. One week it may be a music festival, and the next could be a Hamilton Bulldogs game; it could be a waterfall, a restaurant or an historic site.

During Welcome Week, Discover will be spreading their message and trying to build brand recognition, before planning events later in September. Representatives will be giving away free t-shirts and telling students to look out for Discover Your City promotions. Residence Orientation Advisors will be starting early—hosting events that draw residence students off campus to introduce them to the city.

Graham also wants to gauge student input in the campaign. Suggestions for events and locations can be sent to vped@msu.mcmaster.ca.

Spencer Graham’s final words of advice? “Go explore Hamilton. A majority of students will be here for at least four years, so make the most of your experience in the city. Hamilton isn’t a scary place, it’s home.”

Tyler Welch, Assistant News Editor

Cash-strapped students can stretch their dollars a little bit further this summer, with the advent of Westdalicious. The two-month event is a chance for Westdale eateries to collaborate and to each offer a special bargain from their menus.

 
Seventeen restaurants in Westdale Village will be participating in Westdalicious and they have all agreed to offer their respective bargains from July 1 until August 31, inclusive.

 
Those who combine a sweet tooth with a reliance on coffee will certainly gravitate toward The Second Cup, where they will be able to walk away with a medium coffee and any slice of cake for five dollars. For a light lunch, a hungry pair of students can stroll down to Pita Pit, share the cost of $20, and enjoy two 6-inch petitas, two smoothies and a choice of chips or cookies.

 
McMaster student Ryan Beshara likes the idea of Westdalicious and is glad that The Bean Bar - his favourite Westdale restaurant - is participating. Beshara appreciates the opportunity to take a friend and enjoy their delicious cake for a fraction of the regular price (two slices of cake for $15 during the promotion). “It’s a smart way of exposing the different restaurants of Westdale” he said. “It gives us a taste of the types of food that are in our area.”

 
Beshara said he will probably try out Walker’s Chocolates ($10 box of mint meltaways) or Dragon Court (2.5 pounds of lobster for $25) this summer, to take advantage of the specials they are promoting.

 
The whole concept - the brainchild of the Westdale Village business association - takes inspiration from a similar idea in Toronto. Since 2003, Toronto has held two food festivals - Summerlicious and Winterlicious - in an effort to encourage dining out at expensive restaurants that are usually beyond the scope of many people’s budgets. Westdalicious is certainly a smaller undertaking - Toronto’s current Summerlicious includes 196 restaurants in its 2013 promotion. However, Westdale’s runs longer. Where West Hamilton locals will be treated to savoury deals and sugary bargains for two months, the Toronto-licious promotions only last for two weeks each.

 
Toronto’s festivals have come to include the city’s high-end dining options and have provided a genuine incentive for local restaurant spending during historically lower periods. Toronto has seen a growth in popularity during the each festival’s decade-long lifetimes.
While the true economic impact of Westdalicious remains to be seen, students will surely be figuring out how dining in Westdale Village can now fit into their budget.

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