Dean makes top five in 2005 Eye

Toronto’s Eye Weekly named Joni Seager, dean of York’s Faculty of Environmental Studies, “one of four people and one thing that may make 2005 a little better than 2004.” In its Jan. 6 issue, the tabloid said Seager’s appointment sent a ripple of excitement through the environmental and feminist communities. She is the author of several books on feminist environmentalism and geography, and the environmental cost of militarism. Seager’s work gives us more reasons to be concerned about the consolidation of militarism across the globe. “Anywhere in the world, a military presence is virtually the single most reliable predictor of environmental damage,” she has said.

As Seager settles into her five-year term, she has big plans for FES, one of the most progressive and interdisciplinary environmental studies programs in the country, said Eye. In 1998, the 133-hectare Las Nubes rainforest in Costa Rica was donated to the FES, and the school sells its sustainable, fair trade coffee at Timothy’s coffee outlets. This spring, Seager will travel to Costa Rica to help develop a research centre in a nearby community and further the conservation of the forest. Seager is also working with the United Nations Environment Program, headquartered in Kenya, to bring much-needed gender analysis into its monitoring and assessment. Seager’s arrival confirms the University’s commitment to critical voices. Expect big things, concluded eye.

Seager shared the Eye spotlight with street nurse Cathy Crowe, McClelland & Stewart’s new publisher Doug Pepper, Blue Jays new Canadian recruit Corey Koskie and the Smart car.

Bad choice of adjectives?

Eric Lawee, a humanities professor with York’s Faculty of Arts, responded to Robert Fulford’s column about the checkered career of the adjective, in a Jan. 12 letter to the National Post. “Fulford writes that in journalism ‘certain adjectives suffocate meaning by embedding themselves in cliches, encouraging journalists to depict a world in which death is always untimely, edges are always cutting.’ Ditto, one might add, in journalistic descriptions of Mahmoud Abbas, the latest crony of Yasser Arafat to assume power among the Palestinians, who is always described as ‘moderate.’ All too predictably, the Post’s Jan. 10 front page proclaimed: ‘Moderate Abbas Easily Wins Palestinian Presidency.’ Unfortunately, given President Abbas’s recent ride atop the shoulders of a leading Palestinian terrorist, his campaign denunciation of the ‘Zionist enemy’ and his long record of Holocaust denial, it may yet prove necessary to consider ‘moderate Abbas’ more an oxymoron than a cliche.”

Life as a young Matlock

Working in the law business is a serious job. That’s why the first few times any lawyer stands up in front of a judge, pulses quicken and knees start knocking, reported the Toronto Star Jan. 11 in a feature about rookie defence lawyer and York grad Craig Bottomley. Bottomley, 30, who earned a BA in history in 1998 and a law degree from York’s Osgoode Hall Law School in 2002, was called to the bar in July 2003 and works for the Schreck & Greene law firm in Toronto. Navigating the court system gets easier, he said. “You constantly run into delays, bureaucratic roadblocks but you become more adept at getting around them.” Not every day is excitement and drama like “Law & Order.” Not every day has passion and catchy slogans like “If it doesn’t fit, you must acquit.” Some days — it’s just boring. But you still have to pay attention: “One of my mentors who is now a judge strongly impressed on me that the devil is in the details. If you miss the details, you may lose the trial. So even when it’s boring, you have to bite your cheek and pay attention. You don’t want some piece of evidence slipping in that is not admissible.” His worst fear is having someone wrongly accused go to jail. “Just because there’s a strong Crown case against them, it doesn’t mean they’re guilty,” he said. “Defence lawyers are no fans of crime but our entire reason for existence is to make sure people have the benefit of a fair trial.”

Schulich leaves everyone guessing over next gift

While he was ruled ineligible for a federal pension, York benefactor Seymour Schulich is planning a big year in giving money away, reported the National Post’s Barry Critchley in his column Off The Record Jan. 12. Schulich, whose name adorns two Toronto institutions – the Schulich School of Business at York University and the Schulich Heart Centre at Sunnybrook Hospital – would not indicate the names of the two institutions that he has decided he will give the money to. Schulich also gave money to the medical school at the University of Western Ontario in London, the Schulich School of Medicine. All Schulich would say  was that two universities will be the beneficiaries of his largesse. Those who like a punt may like to wager that one of the universities will be McGill University, said Critchley. Schulich has two degrees from that institution, his most recent being an MBA from the class of 1965.

Holiday tour turns horrific for York students

“We all have a common experience that no one else can understand,” said Harini Sivalingam, 25, a third-year student at York’s Osgoode Hall Law School who witnessed the devastation of the tsunami in Sri Lanka. One of 30 Tamil students who went to northern Sri Lanka on Dec. 18 to spend the Christmas break learning about the culture, she was only a kilometre from where the tsunami struck Mullaittivu, on the northeast coast, reported the Toronto Star Jan. 12. When she had trouble sleeping, she called a friend from the trip; no one else could comfort her.

OMNI.2 also interviewed third-year York law student Gary Anandasangaree, president of the Canadian Tamil Congress, about aid for tsunami victims in Sri Lanka, on the South Asian edition of “OMNI News” Jan. 11.

Expert praises Nortel’s bonus payback

“It’s remarkable and rare and long overdue,” Ron Burke, a professor emeritus of organizational behaviour at York’s Schulich School of Business, called the decision by 12 senior Nortel executives to return $10.4 million in performance bonuses, reported the Toronto Star Jan. 12.

Argos to stay at SkyDome another year

The Toronto Argonauts’ move to a new stadium at York University has been pushed back a year, leaving the Canadian Football League team to play two more seasons at SkyDome, reported The Globe and Mail and the National Post Jan. 12 and Toronto radio stations CFRB-AM, CJCL-AM and CP24-TV Jan. 11. Argos owners Howard Sokolowski and David Cynamon had aimed to be in a new stadium by the start of the 2006 season. But that hope began to fade last fall, shortly after they were forced to change the building site to suburban York from downtown Varsity Stadium.

“We would have liked to have been in the new stadium in 2006, and there are some economic benefits to being at York as opposed to the SkyDome, starting with the rent,” Sokolowski told the Globe. “But we always knew there was a chance this could happen. And I’m thrilled with the process York has gone through in the last six weeks.”

“The great news is all the ducks are lined up and everybody feels very comfortable now that we have a do-able stadium, on budget,” Sokolowski told the Post. “The federal government, the provincial government – everybody’s very comfortable.”