York University community weighs in on TTC plans

The York University community was invited to learn about and comment on the Toronto Transit Commission’s plans for improved transit service to the school at a special open house hosted by the TTC and the city of Toronto last week, reported the North York Mirror April 28. Included in the information were plans for new bus-only lanes leading from Downsview station to the University and an update on the progress of the Spadina subway extension up to Steeles Avenue.

Ted Spence, a senior policy adviser at York, said the environmental assessment on the proposed $1.2-billion subway extension was nearly complete. “I expect that within 24 months, someone will get on with deciding on how to proceed with the subway extension,” he said. “From there, it would take six to seven years to design and construct, so we could see it up here as soon as eight years from now.” Spence noted that the TTC was not planning a subway extension to York University. York would be a stop along the extended line to Steeles Avenue, which would provide a transit gateway, linking the York Region transit system with Toronto’s. “York Region is already committed to building a huge parking lot at Steeles Avenue,” Spence said. “With all the new ridership the TTC would get from York Region, the project would be huge in bringing the regions together.” Once the subway to Steeles was implemented, bus routes to the university could effectively be phased out.

York administration not anti-Semitic: Hillel

While the situation at York has been tense and at times uncomfortable for York’s 4,500 Jewish students, Talia Klein, director of Hillel @ York, says the campus is in no way a hotbed of anti-Semitism, reported the Canadian Jewish News April 29. “There are certainly anti-Semitic students at York…but York’s administration is not anti-Semitic nor do they foster an environment of anti-Semitism,” said Klein, who graduated from York in 1996 with a BA in political science. She was speaking on a panel at a recent Holocaust Remembrance Day program at Chabad Lubavitch of Markham.

Theatre grads land leading roles in Hollywood, at Shaw

York theatre grad Rachel McAdams admits that she drew on her personal history to play the bitchy young villain in the teen comedy Mean Girls, reported the London Free Press April 29. “I do remember being angry and a bit aggressive as a teenager, desperately trying to fit in,” said the London-born actor, who graduated with a bachelor of fine arts degree from York in 2001. Her major break occurred in 2002 when she was cast in Perfect Pie, a film based on the highly acclaimed play by Canadian Judith Thompson. After McAdams’s performance drew a Genie Award nomination, she hired an agent and headed to Hollywood. There she landed a starring role in The Hot Chick, portraying the cheerleader who switches bodies with a man in his 30s, played by Rob Schneider. McAdams also will be seen in The Notebook, a movie slated for a summer release and starring Gena Rowlands, Sam Shepard, Joan Allen and James Garner. McAdams divides her time between Toronto and Los Angeles, where she’s filming The Wedding Crashers, playing opposite Owen Wilson.

Shaw Festival actor Tara Rosling‘s moment of truth came when she was a 13-year-old growing up in Vancouver. It was then that she knew she wanted to be an actress, reported the Calgary Herald April 29, in a profile of the 1993 York theatre alumna playing Eliza Doolittle in Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion at the 2004 Shaw Festival. She said she remembers doing a monologue from Antigone at the little West Coast acting class she was attending. “I’m sure it was terrible!” she laughed, “But it was just having the chance to do it.” She also admitted she still suffers from stage fright on occasion. By the time Pygmalion ends in late October, Rosling will have played Eliza 125 times. She knows she will find the role a continuing revelation. “This is my first Shaw play and I knew it was very popular, but I didn’t anticipate what a gift it was to be in a piece that’s so sound the audience loves it.”

Argos pick York lineman

The Toronto Argonauts have taken former York University defensive tackle Frank Hoffman in the fourth round of the Canadian Football League draft, reported the Toronto Star April 29. Argo general manager Adam Rita said Hoffman can be groomed to replace Noah Cantor. “He’s a big wide body,” said Rita. “I think he can learn behind Noah and progress from there. We don’t have anyone with his body type. Of all the defensive linemen I saw, he was the best big guy.” Hoffman played the 2001 and 2002 seasons with York while studying human resources management.

Business ethicist tackles corruption

Wesley Cragg has a 36-page resume, began a front-page profile of the York professor April 27, in the Newmarket/Aurora Era-Banner. So, where to begin? Probably the best way is to follow his moral compass, which has steered the Aurora resident from his childhood days as the son of a United Church minister to his present position as professor of business ethics at York University’s Schulich School of Business. Cragg, who was recruited by York in 1992, was instrumental eight years ago in developing a global organization dedicated to stopping corrupt business practices worldwide. “Corruption is the single most important issue in international economic development,” he said. “Foreign aid was being wasted and [financial] efforts to help with economic development was finding itself in Swiss bank accounts or in the Cayman Islands and not being used in the communities where it was supposed to.”

Student organizers of Holocaust arts event invite Rwandan community

This year organizers of the Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center’s second annual arts-related Holocaust commemoration May 16, have invited other communities – including the Rwandan community, which marks its own 10-year genocide anniversary this month – to participate, reported the Canadian Jewish News April 29. “If we can all learn about each other’s histories, then I think we’re all better off,” said Noah Slepkov, a fourth-year York University religious studies student, active Hillel member and member of the eight-person organizing committee for the exhibit. “Our aim is to honour the memory of the Holocaust and to show through art the idea that there’s hope for the future,” said organizer Alexandra Battiston, a third-year student at York’s Osgoode Hall Law School.

On air

  • Sociologist Margaret Beare, director of York’s Nathanson Centre for the Study of Organized Crime & Corruption, discussed the investigation looking into corruption in the Toronto police force, on CBC Newsworld’s “CBC News: Morning” April 28. She said police chief Julian Fantino has been doing a good job.
  • Toronto1 TV station interviewed Sharon Fichman, under-18 national tennis champion, at the Rexall Centre at York University, on “Toronto Today” April 28.
  • Thabit Abdullah Sam, history professor with York University’s Faculty of Arts, discussed whether US clashes with militants in the Iraqi cities of Falluja and Najaf and violent clashes in Syria and Thailand are coincidence or are connected, on TVO’s “Studio 2” April 28.
  • Barry Elmes, jazz drummer and contract faculty member in York’s Faculty of Fine Arts, joined FM 98.5 “Jazz Beats” host Dale Gellatly April 22 to talk about 30 years of jazz at York University.