Forget SARS and West Nile – the real epidemic is fear

Our culture is plagued by free-floating anxiety, exacerbated by the dramatic and devastating news events of our time: tsunamis, hurricanes, 9/11, contended Maclean’s in its Sept. 29 cover story. It’s not that we’re more afraid now than we used to be; it’s that the things we fear are less tangible, and the fear itself more diffuse and promiscuous. It will affix itself to global terrorism or earthquakes one day, killer bees the next. And when people feel a sense of general insecurity, says Donald Carveth, a sociology professor at York’s Glendon campus, their natural response is to try to identify the source, to give the enemy a face and a name, and exert whatever measures of control they can over it. “To feel threatened by vague, abstract forces – that’s terrifying,” he says. “When you’ve got an enemy, no matter how powerful he is, once he’s been identified, you can get him in the sights of your guns.”

TV clicker engages law students in dean’s classroom

Every student in Patrick Monahan‘s first-year public law class has a remote shot at a good grade, reported Canadian Press Sept. 29, picking up an earlier Toronto Star story. That’s because the dean of York’s Osgoode Hall Law School is among a growing number of professors experimenting with a new teaching tool designed to click with their technology-savvy students. Teachers can pose questions, give tests and conduct impromptu polls by giving students a personal response system, commonly known as a “clicker”, a hand-held keypad similar to a TV remote. Last year, Monahan’s students used clickers anonymously. This year, the clickers have been programmed with students’ identification numbers so they can earn up to five per cent of their grade by correctly answering questions. Teachers like Monahan say clickers give them an instant read on how well their students are absorbing the material and, when necessary, they can go back and review the information.

  • Howard A. Doughty, of Richmond Hill, who saw the story Wednesday in the Toronto Star, wrote a letter to the Star printed Sept. 30: “I am appalled at this further denigration of post-secondary education. Can students not concentrate on a lecture for more than 15 minutes without being awakened by a clicker? Do they need a ‘fun interlude’ to keep their attention? These folks have been watching entirely too much television. As for the courses, since when have multiple-choice questions insinuated themselves into Osgoode Hall? Isn’t law an ‘essay-type’ profession? Most important, instead of using toys to ameliorate the burdens of higher education, maybe some clever people could figure out a way to avoid classes of 1,100 students in the first place.”

York grad Fully Committed to 40 parts

For 90 minutes, one man will become 40 others when the comedy Fully Committed arrives at the Capitol Theatre for seven shows, reported the Port Hope Evening Guide Sept. 29. A twelve-time Gemini Award nominee and four-time winner, Peter Keleghan, best known for his roles as Ranger Gord on “The Red Green Show”, the self-absorbed news anchor Jim Walcott in “The Newsroom” and the unpleasant Alan Roy in “Made in Canada”, plays Sam Peliczowski, an out-of-work actor who mans the reservation line at a hot Manhattan restaurant. Sam fields threats, bribes and forceful persuasion from the high and mighty all the way to the wanna-be patrons who all strive for the prime reservation or the right table. Keleghan earned a BA in English from York in 1984.

On career day, first impressions count

Whether at a Bay Street networking breakfast, a large corporate recruiting event at a conference centre or at an MBA career fair, the people charged with hiring new staff often meet dozens, if not hundreds, of people – all of whom are looking for a job. That’s why making a lasting impression is so important, experts say. And that’s where etiquette comes into play, wrote Richard Bloom, a former Report on Business writer who is now an MBA student at York’s Schulich School of Business, in The Globe and Mail Sept. 30. At York, as at other campuses, career day is a big deal. It is an opportunity for students to drop off their resumés to numerous employers in one fell swoop. It is also an excellent venue to find out from recruiters what departments are in need of personnel, how to go about applying for jobs and, perhaps, impress someone in a position to hire a student for that much-coveted (and much-stressed about) first job out of school.