Ontario was ‘bonkers’ to consider sharia

“While we have been focused on the heart-rending news about the devastation of Hurricane Katrina, our neighbours to the north have been going bonkers,” wrote Jennifer Hunter of the Chicago Sun-Times Sept. 14. “In the province of Ontario, the government was considering allowing Islamic tribunals to mediate civil, family and marital disputes between Muslims.” She quoted Taj Hashmi, a research associate at the York Centre for Asian Research, from a “wonderfully named” Web site called Muslims Wakeup, Prayer is Better Than Sleep: “It is quite puzzling that secular Canada should toy with the idea of incorporating sharia into its legal system while several Muslim countries are gradually replacing the sharia with secular codes and some have already done away with it.” Puzzling indeed, concluded Hunter.

Underemployed grads’ health suffers

If you are a university graduate who can’t find work in the field you studied, your career prospects may be affecting your health, reported Toronto’s Metro Sept. 14. According to a new study by researchers at the Institute for Work & Health in Toronto (IWH), university graduates are more likely to self-rate or report poorer health than peers who have or have not graduated but have a job that matches their skill set. York political scientist Thomas Klassen, who co-authored Flourishing In University And Beyond with York social scientist John Dwyer, offers this advice: “Getting stuck in a dead-end job is stressful regardless of your education level,” he says, “but for [university] graduates it is essential that you match your expectations with the reality of today’s workforce. Don’t expect to get the top job right out of university. It’s not the norm and that kind of thinking will only result in more stressful feelings on your health.” Klassen encourages students to build their network of contacts in and outside of school before graduation to help them secure entry-level positions following graduation.

Students don’t want to live in fear

In a Sept. 14 letter to the Toronto Star, York undergraduate students Kaitlyn Brown, Victoria Kennedy and Melissa Shin wrote: “York University has the distinction of being the only university in Canada situated in a high-crime area. We are the future. Scholarship winners and star athletes live alongside guns, poverty and violence. Students should be able to walk to school, go buy groceries and go downtown to party without being worried that they will be hit by a stray bullet.” They said “at least 10 shootings have happened a stone’s throw away from York University,” but “widespread police attention and action only seem to happen when a child is struck. The attitude appears to be that these gang members will kill each other and thus it is unnecessary to devote too many resources to catching the perpetrator – someone else will hand down their own brand of justice instead.”

Treat faith-based schools equally

“The headline on my letter Tuesday was misleading,” wrote Eric Lawee, humanities professor in York’s Faculty of Arts, in a Sept. 14 letter to the National Post. “I was not calling for separate school funding to be cut, but rather I was deploring the unequal treatment accorded to non-Catholic faith-based schools in Ontario. As public support for Catholic schools in Ontario is constitutionally mandated, and as the Catholic school system contributes to Ontario’s multicultural mosaic, the solution to the current unjust situation in Ontario is to extend government funding to the tiny minority of non-Catholic faith-based schools that continue to suffer discrimination on religious grounds.”

Class reunion: catching up with former football player

For its Class Reunion column, The Toronto Sun asked Tom Gretes, head football coach at York, what he remembered about playing football for Northern Secondary School in the 1970s. “Back then, we had bantam, junior and senior football teams. We played for fun and there was no such thing as off-season training. I was a quarterback. We threw the ball a lot and had a potent offence. We always came close, but we never won a championship. One game in 1975, we played Parkdale at Ravina Park. We led 21-1 at halftime and lost 42-28. We had a great team in ’74, but we lost to Western Tech in the semi-final. Football was big in the city and there 20 teams. Our rival was North Toronto and we’d get 3,000 to our games with the marching bands.”

On air

  • In a Sept. 13 interview on CFRB’s “Bill Carroll Show,” David Noble, a professor of social and political thought in York’s Faculty of Arts, elaborated on objectives of his campaign to keep teaching on non-statutory religious holidays at York, which suspends classes on Jewish holidays, then answered calls from listeners.