Female York student delivers mosque sermon

Maryam Mirza wants more of her Muslim sisters to become religious leaders instead of followers, reported the Toronto Sun Nov. 14. So the 20-year-old, first-year political science student at York University stood on stage Saturday at her Rexdale mosque and delivered part of the Eid-ul-Fitr sermon, in which she called on the Islamic community to “keep an open mind” about gender equality, and to let more women lead prayers and sermons. It’s a sharp departure from the long-held “patriarchal” Islamic tradition of only allowing men to deliver a sermon, members of the United Muslim Association mosque said during celebrations marking the end of Ramadan. “One of my main focuses is definitely on the participation of women in Islam,” Mirza said after reading the second half of the sermon at the Finch Ave. and Hwy. 27-area mosque.

  • “Maryam is an influential speaker and has courage,” mosque imam Jaber Ally told the Toronto Star in Nov. 13 coverage before the event. “And she speaks with some knowledge.”

Cities need more power

After more than 20 years in the House of Commons, recently retired cabinet minister David Collenette has no illusions about the state of the nation, wrote Christopher Hume in the Toronto Star Nov. 15. “Our cities can’t deal with 21st-century realities under a 19th-century system,” said  the former transport minister. “There will be a revolution in the next few years if cities aren’t given the powers to behave as what they are, essentially city-states. Toronto doesn’t have the necessary taxation powers, development powers, planning powers.” Sitting in a small, photograph-laden office in the south wing of York’s Glendon campus, where he is a Distinguished Fellow in political science, the veteran political operator talked frankly about the frustrations of power. Specifically, he lamented the difficulties faced trying to breathe life into two of Toronto’s most vital urban-growth projects, Downsview Park and the waterfront revitalization.

Price of motherhood too high

“Men aren’t penalized for having children, but women are,” said Andrea O’Reilly, director of York’s Centre for Research on Mothering, in a Nov. 15 story in The Winnipeg Sun about the price of motherhood. The story cited US figures showing that a couple that decides to have a child forfeits about $1.3 million in lost potential income, and that the wage gap between childless women and mothers is larger than the gap between women and men. The Canadian situation is not as bad, but not great, said O’Reilly. “We look pretty good in Canada when we compare ourselves to the United States, but when we compare ourselves to Scandinavian countries we don’t look so good anymore,” she said.

Ad business needs overhaul

The advertising industry is in trouble, says veteran marketing man Alan Middleton, one of 12 Canadians to be inducted into the Marketing Hall of Legends, reported the National Post Nov. 15. The marketing professor and director of the Executive Education Centre at York University’s Schulich School of Business says the agency side of the business needs a radical overhaul of its management structure in order to compete effectively in today’s crowded marketplace. The command-and-control dynamic, essentially managers who order or oversee creative types, is out of date. “If you think you’re in the business to order creative people to do what you tell them, you are not going to survive long,” Middleton said. “In a world where it is the intellectual capital and creativity of the people that is really going to drive difference you can’t work it that way.”

The Post also quoted Middleton Nov. 15 in another story on the prospects of Fido’s survival after the $1.4-billion acquisition of Microcell Telecommunications Inc. by Rogers Communications Inc. Middleton predicted: “Goodbye. Woof, woof.”

Grand Theft Auto game isn’t antisocial

In four and a half minutes, 14-year-old Ryan Mason ran over a police officer, stole his gun and shot and killed three innocent bystanders. He also shot two more cops, beat a woman to death and carjacked a cab driver backed by a soundtrack of racial slurs and hardcore gangster rap.

He was playing Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, the hot video game released two weeks ago, reported the Newmarket/Aurora Era-Banner Nov. 14. To the casual observer, the anti-establishment, antisocial themes of Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas are abhorrent. But some experts, such as Jennifer Jenson, a professor in York’s Faculty of Education, disagree, as long as those playing the game are adults applying a mature perspective. “These games actually aren’t antisocial at all,” said Jenson, a pioneering authority on technology in education. “People play them, read about them, talk about them and play them together. The game is mostly targeted at people already playing games.”

Not all welcomed Vietnam boat people

Twenty-five years ago, Canada decided to fling open its doors to Vietnamese refugees – raising its quota from 8,000 to 50,000 – reported the Ottawa Citizen Nov. 13. This, despite the conservative National Citizens Coalition running full-page ads against the move and despite secret government polls showing the majority of Canadians were opposed, said Howard Adelman, founder of the Centre for Refugee Studies at York University. The contribution of the refugees to the Canadian economy was instant. Within a year of their arrival they had a higher employment rate than Canadian-born people, said Adelman. But they were dealt a heavy blow during the recession of the early 1980s. However Adelman’s research shows they remained resilient. Instead of increases in depression, withdrawal or child abuse, family ties strengthened.

The digitization of the battlefield

The US is spending billions of dollars to increase the bandwidth of the global information grid, an information system for war fighters, policy makers and support personnel, reported The Daily News of Halifax Nov. 13 in a continuing series on defence. On the downside, network-centric warfare creates a danger that Americans will get so far ahead of other countries that allied countries’ militaries won’t be able to share information or fight together, said Martin Shadwick, a defence analyst at York’s Centre for International & Security Studies. “The other question, too, is no matter how good your information gathering and information sharing capabilities are…in the final analysis, a lot of it still comes down to so-called boots on the ground. That you have the most informed and literate military machine, I suppose. But if you’re short of people to actually carry out some of the missions, you could be in big trouble.”

Zine gives young the Right2Express

Youth looking for a way to express themselves have a new outlet thanks to the hard work and initiative of Jay Solomon, a third-year political science student at York University and a motivational speaker, reported the North York Mirror Nov. 14. “I’ve talked about bullying for six years and parents ask me all the time, ‘What can kids do to build self-esteem?'” he said. “I realized that writing is a great way for young people to express themselves.” With the help of webmaster Bryan Herskovits, and Solomon’s brother Matthew, the 22-year-old York Mills Road and Bayview Avenue area resident launched Right2Express, an Internet-based magazine. “We’re letting the young people write about whatever they want to write about, whatever is important to them,” he said. “With school, they have assignments and essays and are told what to write all the time. Here, we’re just encouraging them to write.”

Student to compete at ringette worlds

Ringette, invented as a 1960s hockey substitute for the girls and women of North Bay, has expanded, going from grassroots to global. York student Beth Hurren is ready to go from grassroots to global, too, later this month at the world ringette championship, reported the Toronto Sun Nov. 13. The 23-year-old Pickering native is one of the rookies on the Canadian national team, and this will be her first opportunity to compete on the international stage. Hurren’s been honing her skills as a player for 17 years. Juggling two jobs and striving to finish her sociology degree from York University, she makes the time to train for the worlds, play on the Canadian National League’s Richmond Hill team, and coach a team of 14-16-year-olds.

GO going to double-deckers

GO Transit plans to buy up to 12 double-decker buses for its growing 407 service, reported the Toronto Star Nov. 15. The double-deckers – expected to be in service in 2006 – would run on GO’s 407 service, which uses York University as a hub. GO carries about 10,000 passengers a day on that service, in 350 trips. That’s up from just 800 people a day in 2000.

On air

  • Roger Kelton, chair of York’s School of Kinesiology & Health Science, discussed rapid weight gain and loss, as exemplified by Renee Zellweger’s quickly packing on – and taking off – pounds for her role as Bridget Jones, on segments of the Discovery Channel’s “Daily Planet” Nov. 12 and 13. Kelton noted that most people take time to gain weight and, therefore, need time to lose it.
  • Bernie Wolf, economics professor at York’s Schulich School of Business, talked about the possible takeover of Noranda by Minmetals of China, on CBC Newsworld’s “CBC News: Business Weekly” Nov. 13.