York takes financial control of split student union

The administration of York University has taken control of its student federation’s finances after a series of election controversies, reported the Toronto Star Jan. 11 and the National Post Jan. 10. Bonnie Neuman, York’s vice-president of students and alumni, informed student council members Friday, Jan. 9, that the school would not be relinquishing the student levies collected from tuition that effectively make up the York Federation of Students budget.

“Until I feel the whole thing has been resolved satisfactorily – and we do have orderly and democratic change – I’ll exercise that fiduciary control and take over,” Neuman told the Star earlier last week. Neuman had given a deadline of Jan. 9 for the federation to recognize a new council made up of the winners of a Nov. 27 vote. The delay in ratifying the election stems from accusations that some members of the incoming council had violated campaign budget restrictions and other subsequent problems in the adjudication process, reported the Star.

The University says the York Federation of Students is ignoring its own constitution by dragging out the appeal process of an election that occurred more than a month ago, reported the Post. “Our presence is to ensure that things keep happening without interruption,” Neuman told the Post. “We tell our students that when they come to university they are now adults. When they run their student government they are running it as adults. We expect them to do that,” she said.

A slate of 27 students was elected in a campus-wide vote November 2003 that was perceived to be a contest between Jewish and Arab student groups, reported the Post. The winners ran on a platform titled “Progress Not Politics” that criticized York’s student leaders for devoting council meetings to debating conflicts in the Middle East. The students promised to focus solely on such local university affairs as parking congestion and student-loan reform, said the Post. The vote was appealed by the losing side and heard before an elections committee, which overturned the appeal. YFS refused to recognize the election committee’s decision and planned to hold another hearing Jan. 12 on the appeal.

Ethicist says justice minister has Arar conflict

A leading political ethicist says Justice Minister Irwin Cotler should recuse himself from the case of Maher Arar, after doing free legal work for the Syrian-Canadian before being promoted to the federal cabinet, reported CanWest News Service in a story carried Jan. 10 in The Montreal Gazette, The Vancouver Sun and the National Post. David Shugarman, director of the Centre for Practical Ethics at York University, said “there is a conflict when he’s worked with someone who may in fact be under investigation. He has to recuse himself from oversight on this matter.” The call came the same day federal ethics counsellor Howard Wilson ruled Cotler was not in a conflict of interest. Shugarman said it makes “no difference whatsoever” that Cotler did not charge for his legal work. “Whether it’s pro bono or not, there are lots of lawyers who take on cases because they believe in them but that does not mean they aren’t providing legal services.”

Canada could play key role in future Mars expeditions

Last year, a weather station proposed by York University space scientist Allan Carswell was chosen to be part of the 2007 Mars lander Scout Mission “Phoenix,” reported The Ottawa Citizen Jan. 10 in a story about Canada’s role in future exploration of Mars. Canada has been gearing up for Mars for a while, said the Citizen. About two years ago, Canadian Space Agency President Marc Garneau announced that Mars exploration would be a priority for the Canadian program. An announcement expected soon from US President George Bush about further, possibly manned, missions to Mars will help to sharpen Canada’s focus even more, said Carswell. “Right now, Canada is responding on a mission-by-mission basis,” he said. “When something comes right from President Bush, then it has a lot of weight.” A column in The Ottawa Citizen Jan. 10 about Mars enthusiasts referred to York University as “a leading space school” that is “hoping for a $200-million Canadian Mars mission by 2009.”

York a leading contender for new Argo stadium

The new owners of the Argos are shooting to formally announce a future stadium for the team in the spring – and York University is believed to be at or near the top of the list of sites that Howard Sokolowski and David Cynamon are considering, reported The Toronto Sun Jan. 11. “We hope to have it tied up in the next 60-90 days, that’s what we’re gunning for,” Sokolowski said. “That’s what we have to deliver and we will.” The Sun said Sokolowski and Cynamon have had numerous dialogues with representatives of York University. Other sites in consideration are Woodbine Racetrack, the Canadian National Exhibition and Downsview Park. The Globe and Mail reported Jan. 10 that a redeveloped Varsity Stadium at the University of Toronto was also in the running, as part of a potential deal with Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment. Cynamon said all sites remain viable. However, he noted: “We are also having great discussions with York University.”

Flare editor heads new mag in New York

Suzanne Boyd, editor-in-chief of Flare magazine for about seven years, is heading to New York City to help create a new magazine aimed at young black women, reported The Hamilton Spectator Jan. 12. Boyd was born in Halifax but raised in Dominica, Jamaica and Barbados where she worked as a reporter. She took general arts courses at York University from 1982 to 1985 and later worked for the now defunct T.O. Magazine. She landed her first job at Flare in 1990 as an associate beauty editor. The news was also carried Jan. 9 by major Toronto newspapers.

York grad named associate VP at Simon Fraser

Pat Hibbitts, vice-president of finance at Simon Fraser University, has named Joe Weinberg as the university’s new associate vice-president, reported The Vancouver Sun Jan. 10. Weinberg, who earned an MBA from York University in 1983, was with the Ontario Hydro and its successor, where he handled budgeting, capital planning and risk management.

Former prof’s first novel about William Blake’s marriage

Janet Warner, who taught at York University for 24 years, is a first-time novelist at 72, but you can’t accuse her of taking an old-ladyish approach to her material, reported The Vancouver Sun Jan. 10. In Other Sorrows, Other Joys, her novel about the marriage of William Blake and Catherine Boucher, there’s a scene in which Kate comes across some erotic drawings and, excited by them, begins to masturbate. Warner taught the Romantic poets as an English prof at York’s Glendon College from 1967 to 1991. Her academic career coincided with the rise of feminist literary theory, and so – she says on her Web site, www.janetwarner.com – “it was only natural, I think, that I would wonder what it was like to be the wife of an eccentric genius in the 18th century.”

Canadian firms reluctant to use electronic networks

A London Free Press story Jan. 12 on Canadian firms’ reluctance to embrace e-business cited a 2002 study published by the Schulich School of Business at York University. The study found that approximately 50 per cent of Canada’s small and medium businesses have not yet utilized the Internet in a meaningful way. Furthermore, one in four respondents indicated that they have no immediate plans of investing in Internet-based services or applications in the foreseeable future. The study, entitled “Who’s Sharing What With Whom? How Canadian Businesses Used Electronic Networks” to share information in 2001, surveyed nearly 15,000 Canadian private and public organizations.