Avie Bennett promoted to companion of the Order of Canada

Philanthropist and York University Chancellor Avie Bennett, already named to the Order of Canada, has been promoted to companion, the highest rank, reported The Globe and Mail and Canadian Press Jan. 27 in a listing of this year’s newest members of the order. Bennett was named a member of the Order of Canada in 1991 and was promoted to officer (OC) in 1997.

Writing courses help students

York University requires arts students to take two writing courses, Sheila Embleton, vice-president academic, told the National Post in a Jan. 28 story about Simon Fraser University toughening its admission standards to prevent barely literate high-school graduates from enrolling. ”It seems like a condition of life that we always complain about our students’ writing,” she joked. ”I don’t know that there is any major evidence that it’s better or worse than it’s been before.”

Ottawa won’t prosecute medical marijuana activists

Citizen groups that provide medicinal marijuana to the chronically-ill are rejoicing amid news that Ottawa will not proceed with trafficking charges laid against two men operating a well-known Toronto care centre, reported The Globe and Mail Jan. 28. The stay was ordered after Justice Minister Irwin Cotler received a letter from Toronto lawyer Alan Young asking that the prosecution be reviewed. In his letter, Young, a professor at York University’s Osgoode Hall Law School, noted that the centre “operated in an open and transparent manner” and that, between 1999 and 2002, there had been numerous police officers who investigated the centre and determined that the laying of criminal charges was not warranted. “I am asking that you intervene to stay proceedings because the continuation of this prosecution reflects poorly on the integrity of your department,” he wrote.

New student council moves forward

Now that Paul Cooper is officially president of the York Federation of Students (YFS), he says his first priority is to reform the student government election process, reported the Canadian Jewish News Jan. 29. After two months of uncertainty and limbo following the Nov. 26 election, Cooper’s slate, Progress Not Politics (PNP), was finally ratified Jan. 22 by the YFS council. The council voted to ratify with 16 people in favour and 11 abstentions. “I’m happy we were finally ratified,” Cooper told CJN. “Now we’ll be doing the job we were elected to do, but doing it in the YFS office and with the credibility we need.”

Bonnie Neuman, vice-president students at York University, said, “We’re very pleased to see this come to a closure, and we are very happy that our students are the ones who ultimately came up with the solution.” The abstentions, she said, indicate that Cooper’s opponents have “moved from refusals to abstentions….I think that was a recognition that it was time to move forward and get on with the job of providing services to students, which is what student government is all about.”

Normally, YFS elections are held in the spring, but because of the controversy and the fact the November vote had already been delayed, Neuman recommends waiting until next year before students return to the polls. “Obviously we need some electoral reform, and I think that should be done carefully and cautiously to make sure we get it right,” she said. 

Schulich experiences impressive vault into top 25

Two Canadian schools – York University’s Schulich School of Business and University of Toronto’s Rotman School  – are in the top 25 internationally according to the Financial Times global business school rankings, reported the Vancouver Sun Jan. 28. Schulich School of Business leap-frogged a flagging Ivey School of Business at the University of Western Ontario, and is now second in Canada. To Schulich’s credit, the school has vaulted into the top 25 in the world, which is awfully impressive, said the Sun. Schulich’s standing was also news on the “World According to Mark” (CFRA-AM) Ottawa, Jan. 26.

On air

  • Brendan Quine, space scientist in York University’s Faculty of Pure & Applied Science, discussed the rover Opportunity, Spirit rover’s twin, which is exploring the other side of Mars. The rover fell in a crater of exposed bedrock, which will give them an idea of the evolution of the planet, Quine told “CBC News”, aired on CBC Newsworld Jan. 26.
  • Toronto Mayor David Miller discussed the York University subway extension among other topics with callers phoning the “Ted Woloshyn Show” (CFRB-AM) Toronto, Jan. 26.