Legal pioneer ‘wrote the book’ on women

Elizabeth Sheehy is not a household name, yet her quiet influence on Canadian law is profound, reported the Ottawa Citizen July 12. As a scholar specializing in women’s legal rights, the 1981 York law grad has been responsible for key research behind the notorious sex assault case that resulted in “no means no” being a feminist rallying cry. As a legal advocate, she pushed the federal government to review the cases of women who were convicted of killing abusive men in self defence. When a Toronto woman was assaulted at knifepoint by a serial rapist who broke into her apartment, Sheehy was part of the legal team that forced the country’s largest police force to admit its officers were negligent in the way they investigated sex crimes.

For her contributions to women’s justice, the 48-year-old University of Ottawa law professor is being awarded an honorary degree from the Law Society of Upper Canada. Fittingly, the ceremony will take place July 13 as more than 180 new Ottawa lawyers – two-thirds of whom are women – are called to the Ontario bar. As a student at York’s Osgoode Hall Law School in the early 1980s, when women made up only 20 per cent of the class, Sheehy was among the first to take courses about women and the law. She went on not only to teach those courses, but to write the textbooks that form much of what students learn today about how the courts treat women, both as victims of crime and as offenders.

York offers program on managing emergencies

A new program in professional emergency management will be offered at York University this fall, reported The Toronto Sun July 12. “The program is a response to a pressing need for trained professionals in the growing field of emergency management in the public sector at local, regional, provincial and federal levels both domestically and internationally,” said David Etkin, coordinator of the Professional Certificate Program in Emergency Management. The program will provide students with an overview of the fundamentals in emergency management and a grounding in the basic science of disasters. Emergency managers “need to be able to analyze complex information and make sound decisions in difficult circumstances,” said Rhonda Lenton, dean of York’s Atkinson Faculty of Liberal & Professional Studies.

  • Etkin was also interviewed about the program on CBC Radio’s “Here And Now” July 11 in relation to an anti-terrorism and emergency preparedness conference taking place in Toronto this week.

Male students appear to be beneficiaries of ‘affirmative action’

Men appear to be given preference in the admissions process as university applicant pools become more female, a provocative new study has found, reported CanWest News Service July 12. Raising the spectre of affirmative action for a group not historically disadvantaged but increasingly under-represented in undergraduate classes, the study examined admissions data from 13 liberals arts colleges in the United States and estimated a tipping point for male preference kicks in when the female applicant pool reaches between 53 and 62 per cent. Results of the study, completed by economists from New York’s Skidmore College and Lewis and Clark College in Oregon, will be published in a forthcoming edition of the journal Economics of Education Review.

In Canada, the last time men accounted for at least half of the undergraduate student body at universities was 1986. Since then, the male presence has been shrinking steadily. Today, about four in 10 undergrads on average at Canadian universities are men. At York University men represented 44.3 per cent of Ontario high-school applicants looking for a spot in the freshmen class last year. The actual gender gap in first-year undergrad enrolment was a little bigger, with men making up just 41 per cent.

Clever physical theatre

As a piece of writing, KD and the Bomb is, well, a bomb, wrote the Toronto Star Fringe Festival reviewer July 12. But in terms of theatrics, this show is a clever piece of physical theatre, employing dozens of boxes of Kraft Dinner (KD) in dozens of innovative ways. The show, by students in York’s Department of Theatre’s Creative Ensemble, took on more urgency the day after opening due to the London bombings. The “Bomb” of the title is both the atom bomb and the kind of explosive devices left in schools and other public places. Framed by the premise of a school assembly, a series of scenes make reference to the wartime London Blitz, mushroom clouds, the Manhattan Project and the physiology of the orgasm. How all this relates to Kraft Dinner is anyone’s guess, but much is made of the little oblong boxes. Given the youth of the cast, KD could be read as a message from a generation that has inherited a world where bombs and guns are an everyday reality.

When Hollywood needs shrubbery, York grad is on call to help

Lowrrie Applebaum is king of the jungle. The York alumnus is also the king of Downtown Forest, a Toronto-based rental company that specializes in providing fake greenery for movie sets, commercials, photo shoots, music videos and special events, reported The Globe and Mail July 9.

The jungle over which he recently reigned was the one he created at the Finch subway station to promote the DVD release of Disney’s animated film Tarzan II. “The camera doesn’t read it,” he said, “so you can’t tell it’s fake when you see it on screen.” Applebaum started the business nine years ago after 15 years spent installing greenery in downtown office buildings. His 1973 degree in psychology from York University comes in handy in dealing with the variety of personalities and needs that walk through his door.