York helps students juggle courses and jobs

Two major articles on the front page of a Toronto Star education supplement March 31 focused on York programs and students:

  • The lead story, about students trying to juggle studies and part-time jobs, featured a large photograph of Natasha Jacinto assisting fellow kinesiology student Katherine Iscoe in York’s fitness centre. The Star interviewed several York administrators about campus life for time-crunched students:

Two-thirds of York University students work during the school year, according to sociologist Paul Grayson, who has spent a lot of time surveying students. “What is fascinating is that there is no relationship between the inclination to work and family income, nor between work and grades – at least until you get into mega-hours,” said Grayson, a York professor in Atkinson’s School of Social Sciences. “What constitutes need? It’s clear some students work to eat, while some work to pay for non-essentials, such as car expenses.”

    York has tried to engage more commuter students by offering them work on campus. “Through the Work Study program, we literally have thousands of students who work for us, doing everything from food service to tutoring. They play very large roles on campus,” said Sylvia Schippke, assistant vice-president of student community development.

    “We’re realistic about the competitive pressures being put on students,” added Frank Cappadocia, York’s director of student community and leadership development. “We’re scheduling campus activities in the mornings, afternoons, evenings, weekends and online, to better accommodate students’ busy lives.”

    At York, Schippke and Cappadocia maintain that campus life is “alive and evolving” as administrators respond to the changing needs of students on a sprawling campus that functions as a microcosm of Toronto. They point to the 240 student clubs that have grown dramatically in the past five years, and include everything from the Amateur Magic Organization to the Young Republicans of Canada. “There used to be academic clubs, traditionally. Now there are more social and cultural groups on campus. It’s a sign of community vibrancy,” says Cappadocia.

  • A second story described third-year sociology student Shamini Selvaratnam’s struggle to pay for a university education. Selvaratnam, 23, took a year off after high school and worked, while living at home with her family. The following year, she enrolled as a part-time student in George Brown College. “I went there not because it’s where I wanted to go, but because I wanted to stay in touch with school while saving for university,” she said. She got a full-time job in customer relations with Telus Mobility, which she held on to when she enrolled as a full-time student at York in 2002. “It was extremely stressful. I had to quit the job after my first year. It was impossible to do both,” she said. Selvaratnam has since picked up work-study jobs on campus in areas such as the housing office, women’s centre and Faculty office. She wants to be a lawyer, but doesn’t know if her finances can stretch to meet her ambitions. “It might mean taking three years off so that I won’t be in the hole to get a law degree,” she said.

Etiquette lessons help students brush up on table manners

At York University they believe it’s important to make a good first impression, especially at the dinner table, reported Metro Toronto March 31. That’s why York’s Career Centre introduced a new program this year called the professional etiquette series, as suitable dining etiquette is an important factor in making a sound impression. Farheen Rashid is the career programs coordinator who organizes the program. Rashid says university-age men and women haven’t had the same sort of experience of communal meals with family and friends as in the past. Two decades ago, a traditional family setting was to share a meal together at dinnertime at the same table and at the same time every night. However, Rashid remarks that today’s hectic and varied family schedules means more meals are wolfed down on the go as our time isn’t as disposable as it used to be. With this faster lifestyle comes a loss of etiquette knowledge. The program attracts enrolment from all ages and faculties, but Rashid finds there is particularly strong interest from York’s international students. “They are keen to know what differences there are between business etiquette practices in Canada as compared with those of their home countries,” she said.

Brewsky anyone?

Molson Coors Brewing Co. is betting the Russians will put aside their beloved vodka long enough to take a chance on a new beer, Coors Fine Light, made in Russia, reported the Toronto Star March 31. Roger Heeler, marketing professor at York’s Schulich School of Business, also warns that the company must learn from Molson’s failed entry into the Brazilian market in 2002 when it purchased Cervejarias Kaiser CA for US$765 million. The beer has less than 11 per cent of the Brazilian market. “Molson has been spectacularly unsuccessful in Brazil,” said Heeler. To follow a different fate in Russia, he said, Molson needs a local partner. And it has one.

The ideal home for a business

A clothes designer chose a hip place because it inspired her designs, but some businesses choose hip locales to inspire sales, reported The Globe and Mail in a March 31 story about how four mini-moguls chose a home for their businesses. “You’re not going to set up a modelling agency in Kalamazoo, Mich.,” said Eileen Fischer, a professor of marketing at York University’s Schulich School of Business. “You’ve got to come from where people think it’s cool to come from.”

Campus Kama Sutra

In an article about student sex columnists on Canadian campuses, Maclean’s interviewed York theatre student Miles Baker, 23, for its April 4 issue. He is Dr. Smoothmoves in The Flying Walrus, a student-run newspaper out of York’s Stong College. Baker created the persona to answer what he thinks are burning, or amusing, questions about sex – and to have fun. “Dr. Smoothmoves started off as a 1970s ladies man,” says Baker, who’s also the editor-in-chief of MONDO Magazine, the student-run monthly out of York’s Winters College. “Real sleazy, been around the block several thousand times. It’s a bit of me. I definitely have a really sick sense of humour. He writes the things that I think of but don’t say in polite company.” Most campus sex columns by men are heavy on humour and light on substance. But “the female sex columnist is willing to go to certain places I’m hesitant to go to as a male writing about how to please a girl, for example,” said Baker. “I get scared of sounding misogynist or being in bad taste.”

On air

  • Bernie Wolf, professor at York’s Schulich School of Business, talked about the increasing price of gasoline and what is causing it, on CBC Radio’s “Morning Watch” in Windsor March 30.
  • Thabit Abdullah Sam, a history professor in York’s Faculty of Arts, discussed recent key developments in Iraq, Israel and Lebanon, on TVO’s “Studio 2” March 30.