Chat room helps parents who fret for their frosh students

York’s Internet chat room for parents of first-year students helps those agonizing about leaving their offspring on campus, The Globe and Mail reported Aug. 27.It used to be that the behaviour of frisky freshmen was a cause for concern on campus but now it’s: clingy moms and dads. “They don’t see university as the cutoff point,” said Frank Cappadocia, York’s director of student community and leadership development. “They say, ‘We’ve invested and we’re staying invested.’ ” Attendance at parent orientations, usually held in the days before classes begin, has increased dramatically over the past five years. While parents ask many practical questions, there are those queries that make university officials roll their eyes: Who will clean my child’s room? Why can’t I see my kid’s marks? Can I attend class and take notes if he’s sick? To help stem the flood of parental e-mails, York for the first time ran an on-line “chat” this month to answer questions from parents in one fell swoop. More than 200 parents logged on, armed with a fistful of questions. York also offered a parent orientation yesterday, coinciding with students moving into dormitories. Along with a campus tour and speeches from school officials, Cappadocia said parents learn about medical resources and counselling services for students – critical information so they can point their child in the right direction if they receive the tearful phone call.

Schulich top Canadian business school in survey: Best ‘return on investment’

The Aug. 29 edition of the National Post carried a story about Forbes magazine’s ranking of the MBA program at York’s Schulich School of Business as the first among Canadian graduate business schools in terms of the “return on investment” attained by graduates. The survey tabulated the rankings by collecting data from surveys sent to 25,000 alumni who graduated from 111 MBA programs around the world in 2000. According to Forbes, Schulich posted a five-year gain of US$104,000 – enough to rank first among the five Canadian schools ranked in the survey and tied for 10th among non-US schools. “The Forbes survey captures an important factual measure of a school’s value – namely, the average return on investment that its MBA students can expect when they graduate,” said Deszo Horvath, dean of Schulich.

Reservists lead double lives and they love it; ‘People’s army’ taken seriously now

The Toronto Star included a mention of York student and army reservist Cpl. Thanuja Rukman of Markham in its Aug. 29 story on the many Canadians who lead double lives, pursuing full-time careers or studies while also doing duty in Canada’s army reserves. Like many students, she initially joined the reserves for the money. It helped pay her tuition. “Here I am, four years later,” said Rukman, a political science major at York. And while there are other ways to make money, “none are as much fun,” she said, resting on the forest floor, propped up against a tree stump.

Funerals come at wrong time to best help bereaved

Modern funerals came in for a closer look in a Toronto Star feature story on Aug. 28 which included comments from York’s Stephen Fleming, professor in the Department of Psychology of the Atkinson Faculty of Liberal & Professional Studies. Fleming teaches a very popular course on the psychology of death and dying. Among the lessons he teaches is this mourning is a society-dictated set of rituals that is supposed to help people come to terms with their grief but rarely does. “We tend to have funerals at a time when the people closest to the person who died can least appreciate it,” he says, although they can comfort those with strong religious faith. “If you’re more of a tepid believer, you’ve got a problem,” he says. Fleming notes that funerals for fallen police officers and firefighters are often splendid occasions of secular ritual – the pomp and circumstance provided by solemn but resplendent rows of fellow officers.

Middleton comments on ‘Toronto Sucks’ teaser ad campaign…

While The Spectator (Hamilton) waits for the people behind the recent “Toronto Sucks” campaign to step forward, advertising experts and weary Hamiltonians are wondering if maybe it isn’t this campaign that sucks. “People generally don’t have the patience for this kind of thing,” said one expert in the Aug. 27 edition. Alan Middleton, marketing professor at York’s Schulich School of Business, agrees that teaser campaigns will often flop. With so much else competing for consumers’ attention, most don’t have the time to figure out what they’re being sold. “People will only pay attention to something they can identify,” Middleton said. He warned the “reveal” has to be big for the campaign to work. “Once you’ve built up the suspense, the payoff better be good,” he said. “If it’s just another beer, people will just yawn it off.”

…and CBC’s ratings after lock-out

As the CBC’s ratings drop and competitors gain viewers and listeners, questions are being raised about whether the broadcaster will ever regain audience numbers lost during the lockout, mused The National Post on Aug. 27. Middleton said he estimated that CBC will have trouble regaining 10% to 15% of its radio listeners who will have found something else on the dial. In terms of television programming, CBC’s sports shows and news franchises will draw back its viewers, he said. “There are people who like Lloyd (Robertson) and there are people who like Peter (Mansbridge) so the ‘tween don’t often meet.” But where the CBC is most vulnerable is with its entertainment programming, Middleton said. “People tend not to be network loyal but show loyal,” he said. “You’re in summer re-run sillyness. But if this goes on through launch season, they’re in serious trouble. “If CBC with that lower-audience base has got any chance at all of getting the advertisers back and the audience, they’re going to have to aggressively promote the entertainment shows and they’re going to have to deep discount the advertising.”

Osgoode student sounds off about Sun columnist

“I nearly spit out my cornflakes when I read Michael Coren’s “Rights-worship fetish ruining our society” (Aug. 20),” said Osgood Hall Law School student Joshua J. A. Henderson in a letter to the editor published in The Toronto Sun Aug. 27. “Even though it is true 9/11 changed the world we live in and everybody now has to make sacrifices to protect society from terrorists, we can’t allow the government to take away all our rights and freedoms. Nobody should allow the police to arrest another citizen without justification.”

Critics decry quick fixes for violent crime

A story in the Aug. 27 issue of the Saturday Star in Toronto looked at eight high-profile cases involving violent crime over the past three decades and tracked the aftermath, which usually included public calls for a quick solution to the violence. Alan Young, a law professor at York’s Osgoode Hall, says the problems in short-term thinking can be seen in the way the Criminal Code has been cobbled together by parliamentarians. Almost every time we get a change in sentencing law it’s because of some knee-jerk reaction, he says. “It takes a dead body to get lawmakers to sit around a table to decide we should do something,” he says. “What the public wants is to prevent the dead body, to prevent the death before it happens.”

Always the bridesmaid: spousal RRSPs underused tool for splitting income

Spousal RRSPs have been an effective income-splitting tool since their creation in 1974. However, but not even the Department of Finance knows how much money is invested in them, reported The National Post on Aug. 27. Moshe Milevsky, finance professor at York’s Schulich School of Business, said as long as there’s a high probability you’ll still be a couple when retired and a likelihood your spouse’s income will be less than yours at retirement, “I can’t see any good reason why NOT to use a spousal RRSP to equalize the RRSP flow.”

Novelist Neil Bissoondath learned French

In a story about novelist and York alumnus Neil Bissoondath(BA ’77), author of The Unyielding Clamour of the Night, published in the Toronto Star Aug. 27, the writer relates how he learned French at York and perfected it living in France and Quebec. “I majored in French at York University, which always amuses my French friends,” he comments. “‘Why the hell did you go to Toronto to learn French?’ The answer to that is, I didn’t know at the time that Quebec existed. Luckily for me, the program at York, especially then, was excellent. While there, I also spent a year at the University of Bordeaux. Of course, that was all academic French. What made the difference in my speaking French was moving to Montreal and then Quebec City.” He still enjoys living in the latter city. “To me, it’s very congenial,” he says.

Subdivisions bring back neighbourhood feeling…sometimes

People often move to the suburbs to gain that community identity but can end up feeling they have landed in a subdivision isolated from others rather than in a connected neighbourhood, said Roger Keil, professor in York’s Faculty of Environmental Studies, in the Aug. 27 edition of The Liberal (Richmond Hill). “It’s all true and it’s not new. It’s been on the agenda of urban studies since at least the 1940s and 1950s,” he said, pointing out Don Mills was Canada’s first “planned” subdivision. “A subdivision comes with cookie cutter houses with cookie cutter families.” Families look to the suburbs for less expensive housing in low crime areas where children have easy access to playgrounds and schools. While that is true, reality also means long commutes to jobs for parents and automobile-based subdivisions that don’t encourage contact with neighbours, Keil said. “The entertainment centre has become the centre of our homes,” he added. “Kids grow up without knowing the diversity of community life and, in many cases, they will only know their own family.” A lack of community resources and social services can make the transition to the suburbs daunting, especially for new immigrants, Mr. Keil said.