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McGill Reporter
May 13, 2004 - Volume 36 Number 16
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On campus

Burgers and baseball

Spring is here, and that means it's time to burn - I mean cook - slabs of meat over a hissing propane... er, that is, flaming barbecue.

The Great Macdonald Campus BBQ

The Postgraduate Students' Society is hosting an outdoor grill-o-rama at Macdonald Campus for grad students, postdocs and their families. Food will include vegetarian and fleshy varieties of burgers, veg, meat, and non-pork hot dogs; salads, drinks and dessert. There will not, at last report, be an ethical counsellor on hand to determine the morality of grilling beef in front of the Macdonald cattle.

The barbecue will also serve as the kick-off for a historic occasion in the annals of McGill Athletics - the First Annual Downtown Versus Mac Softball Game. Years from now, when your children ask you where you were on that fateful day, you can say, "I was there. I remember the sound of the crack of the bat, the wind as it rustled the grass, the melodious clucking of the magnificent flocks of chickens..."

"The Great Macdonald Campus BBQ," Thursday, May 27, 6 pm (June 3 in case of rain). Sign up before May 21 in Thomson House, room 401. There is a $5 fee for those who need transportation. Bus leaves Thomson House at 5 pm, returns 9 pm.

MForum harassment session

Earlier this year, the university introduced an interim harassment in the workplace policy. Of course, a policy is no good if no one knows about it - or what it means. To that end the good folks at the Management Forum Steering Committee will be hosting a plenary session entitled "Toward a harassment-free workplace."

Although sexual harassment is the best-known form of workplace conflict, harassment can take many forms, not all of them obvious.

Speakers at the plenary session include Robert Savoie, executive director (Human Resources); Line Thibault, general counsel and director (Legal Services); Martha Crago, associate provost, (Academic Programs, Office of the Provost); and Sophie Marcil, staff development specialist (Human Resources).

"Toward a harassment-free workplace: The interim harassment policy" on Monday, May 17, from 12 to 1:15 pm in the McConnell Engineering Building, Room 204. More info can be found at www.mcgill.ca/mforum.

Hot slice of PI

Philosophy professor Eric Lewis, founder of McGill's Project on Improvisation (PI), is rounding up the troupers for a conference on improvisation and the arts. Scholars will talk about the creative process, performers will jam, and everyone's going to mix it up as part their mandate to study and promote improv. Lewis says highlights include the May 26 roundtable on women and improvisation led by Cambridge cultural theorist Georgina Born (who will speak on Dub poetry) at Sala Rossa, followed by a concert by accordionist Pauline Oliveros. On May 28, there will be a talk and performance by violist and inter-art performer Charlotte Hug at Sala Rossa. On May 29, MacArthur Fellow and trombonist George Lewis will speak on computer-aided composition at the Cultural Studies Building and give a concert in the evening at El Salon. On the 30th, all talks will be at Sala Rossa, followed by a dance performance in the evening. McGill speakers are communications professor Will Straw (on Brian Eno), law professor Desmond Manderson (on musical and legal reasoning) and musicologist David Brackett (on the evolution of late '60s Rock from three minute ditties to free-for-all jam sessions).

New Perspectives on Improvisation, May 26-30, www.mcgill.ca/improv, Cultural Studies Building, 3475 Peel; La Sala Rossa, 4848 St-Laurent; El Salon, 4388 St-Laurent. For more on Eric Lewis, see profile

Wonder walls

From now until May 28, room 114 in the Macdonald-Harrington Building is a true repository of architectural wonders. Wandering through the posters and models that constitute the display of highlights of student work from the School of Architecture from the past year, one is struck by questions: I wonder how they would build that? I wonder how they came up with that idea? I wonder why there's a cardboard chair in the corner?

Émile Bédard's poster on display at the School of Architecture's student works exhibit
Émile Bédard

Not bound by mundane concerns like budget or, in some cases, even gravity, the imaginative projects of the students are a mix of whimsy and practicality.

Take, for instance, competing visions of a student union building for Concordia. Both are fascinating ideas: one a multi-storey building in the shape of an oval; the other, some kind of crystalline structure atop a giant steel girder tripod.

Many of the projects are outside Montreal - one is a proposed arts centre in South Korea built in the memory of labour activist Tae-Il Jun. Directly below this poster is an affordable retreat to be built in the desert outside Dubai. Yet another student designed a modular gas station that would allow a petroleum company to set up many different kinds of fill-up locations for minimum cost.

And off in the corner is a cardboard chair, complete with a design poster explaining how it was made. I wonder...

Highlights of student work from the architecture studios of Fall 2003 and Winter 2004, until May 28, Monday to Friday, 9 am to 5 pm. With the financial support of Institut de Design Montréal (www.idm.qc.ca). Macdonald-Harrington Building, Rm 114. For information, contact 398-6704.

Addictive machines

Video Lottery Terminals - VLTs for short - have been in the news again, courtesy of Lotto-Quebec's decision to remove them from certain locations in the province. The proliferation of this form of gambling has led, some believe, to an increase in gambling addictions with an attendant increase in depression, family breakups and suicide.

VLTs: Addictive machines

Professor Mark Griffiths from Nottingham Trent University and Serge Chevalier from the Institut National de Santé Publique du Québec (INSPQ) will be speaking on these machines, from their structure (deviously clever) to their health effects (not good).

The link between VLTs and problem gambling isn't just a question of ease of access, though the fact that it's easier to find a VLT than a payphone in some bars doesn't help. Electronic gaming machines are carefully designed by a team of computer engineers, product analysts, statisticians and psychologists, all of whom work together to create an illusion of hope - hope that winning is possible.

Carmen Messerlian at the International Centre for Youth Gambling Problems and High-Risk Behaviours, which is sponsoring the lecture, said that these machines are designed to make players lose track of where they are.

"The speed and frequency at which the machine operates could be considered an addictive component, because people are putting money into the machine before they process how much has already gone in. There's no time-out period," she said.

The lecture will be held on Friday, May 14, 10 am to 12:30 pm, at 3700 McTavish Street, room 129. For information call Carmen Messerlian, 398-4438, or email carmen.messerlian@mcgill.ca.

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