Osgoode atrium focus of $25M expansion at York

A strange thing about Canada’s largest law school is that its drab design never seemed to match the dissent that’s often brewed within its walls or the larger-than-life personalities who have passed through its doors, wrote the Toronto Star May 15 in an article about a $25-million expansion project for York’s Osgoode Hall Law School, to be unveiled during a fundraising launch at the Design Exchange on May 23. Nearly $6 million has already been pledged.

The plan by Jack Diamond, the architect behind Toronto’s Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts, makes a new atrium the school’s focal point, with common areas, student meeting rooms, faculty offices and the library housed under glass, wrote the Star.

Dean Patrick Monahan calls it the next logical step after a flurry of recent changes at the school, which moved from Osgoode Hall in downtown Toronto to York’s Keele campus in 1968.

In the past three years, Osgoode has hired nine professors, revamped its admissions policy and curriculum, and become home to the new Ontario Law Commission, a legal think-tank brought back to life by Attorney General Michael Bryant, wrote the Star.

Now, with a renovated building in the works, Monahan thinks Osgoode will rank among "the best in the world."

Students are buying in. Osgoode’s Legal and Literary Society – its student council – recently cashed in $70,000 worth of stock and donated it for use in student areas of the building, the Star wrote. Society president Jason Reynar, 26, thinks the building will give Osgoode a new sense of community. "I think people want to be social and interact and create a community feeling, but the only place to do that now is in the basement lounge or cafeteria, and people are not going to walk past the cafeteria just to say ‘hi’. ‘"

No-fly lists provide false sense of security

"Nothing personal sir, but your packages are not allowed on passenger airlines," said a United Parcel Service customer service agent, sitting in an American call centre, wrote Faisal Kutty, doctoral candidate at York’s Osgoode Hall Law School, in an opinion piece in the Toronto Star May 15. She was explaining to me that my package could not be delivered on an "early am." basis from Toronto to Peterborough.

The agent eventually confessed that when my account number was entered into their system, the "Flight Guardian" software flashed a red signal. "Sir," she said, "after 9/11 we can only pick up packages if the green light is given."

The next day I called the UPS head office and inquired about the situation. The supervisor apologized and informed me that I could use the expedited service within Canada, but that I did not have the requisite clearance to use this service to the US.

We will never know how many Canadians have been so specially designated on more than a dozen lists maintained by the United States. The proliferation of these watch lists around the globe has been a troubling development in the "war on terror."

Now the Canadian government may complicate the situation even more by introducing its own no-fly list, which will inevitably be shaped by, and be available to, the Americans and perhaps even others, wrote Kutty.

Kutty, a Toronto lawyer, is also vice-chair and counsel to the Canadian Council on American Relations, noted the Star.

Osgoode alumna Susan Hare elected bencher with law society

Aboriginal lawyer and York alumna Susan Hare (LLB ’93) of the M’Chigeeng First Nation on Manitoulin Island, has been elected bencher with the Law Society of Upper Canada, the governing body for Ontario lawyers, wrote the Sudbury Star May 15. Hare was instrumental in the establishment of the Aboriginal Lands, Resources & Governments Intensive Law Program at York’s Osgoode Hall Law School. In 1994, The Susan Hare Fund was established at Osgoode in her honour. In 2003, she was a recipient of Osgoode’s Alumni Gold Key Award for outstanding achievement.

High-school law course ignited scholarship winner’s passion

It’s an enormous distance – both literally and figuratively – from rural Sri Lanka to a $30,000 scholarship at York’s Osgoode Hall Law School. But York student Hamza Dawood covered it in short order, wrote the Toronto Star May 12.

On a trip to his parents’ homeland prior to Grade 12, Dawood watched how hard his cousin worked at high school despite a 90-minute bus trip each way. It was a lesson in the love of learning that was foreign to a young man from Scarborough who skipped classes and showed no interest in university, wrote the Star.

"That really woke me up," says Dawood, 22, who is graduating with an honours BA in criminology from York. "It made me recognize how important it was to take advantage of living in the society I live in."

Dawood, who was born in Saudia Arabia and immigrated here with his family when he was in Grade 4, has excelled during his time at York – inside and outside the classroom. He was the top student in first-year social sciences and, last year, won an award for a perfect grade point average with six A-pluses. This year he was given the Alumni Silver Jubilee Scholarship for his grades and extra curricular work. In September, Dawood plans to start at Osgoode, where he’s just been awarded that scholarship worth $30,000.

"Even though he’s an incredibly well-rounded academic and scholar, he has never lost sight of his community connections," says Livy Visano, a professor of criminology at York. "He stands out as an example of what we want our students to be."