The Internet is the new launch pad for social mobilization

Alexandra Samur, who is in her second year of the Joint Graduate Program in Communication & Culture at York, was featured in the Toronto Star’s Aug. 9 Deep Thoughts column. Her final research paper is titled, “Digital Dissent: Culture Jamming and Cyberactivism”.

Samur is researching how independent media organizations and the Adbusters Media Foundation Web site use digital technologies to involve activists in four ways: political dialogue, social mobilization, information for action and progressive social change. She looked specifically at how effectively discussion forums are used by these organizations and by activists as tools to promote various campaigns and projects.

"These are the current MySpaces, Facebooks and YouTubes of an activist, globally aware generation that is suspicious of the mainstream," she states. But and are fighting for readers in an increasingly congested Internet media landscape. That’s why it’s crucial to use digital technology wisely, Samur says.

Uxbridge mourns popular York student

Friends and family gathered yesterday at a packed church in Uxbridge to remember Brent Foster, a popular athlete and honours student killed in a weekend car crash, wrote The Toronto Sun Aug. 9. "Brent was clearly a future leader who was making his immediate and extended family more proud each day," his aunt Michelle Kerrigan wrote in an e-mail to the Sun. "We are all devastated by Brent’s death."

Kerrigan said Foster was an honours student at York University and was set to go to England in September on a scholarship. Foster, 20, died Aug. 4 after the car he was a passenger in crashed into a tree near Reach Street and East Street in Uxbridge.

Venus pulls out of Rogers Cup

Reigning Wimbledon champion Venus Williams won’t compete at this year’s Rogers Cup after officially withdrawing from the Toronto event late Tuesday, wrote CBC News Online Aug. 8.

Williams, who did not give a reason for pulling out, is not the only high-profile player to decide not to make the trip to Toronto: former world No. 1 Amelie Mauresmo pulled out earlier this week. Top-ranked Justine Henin and No. 2 Maria Sharapova are scheduled to compete in the tournament at the Rexall Centre on York University’s Keele campus.

Canadians still have ‘a long way to go’ on gay issues

A recent string of intolerant events and blatant displays of homophobia in this country suggests that Canada may not be as progressive as Canadians believe, wrote The Globe and Mail Aug. 9. In Ontario alone, 68 complaints were made to the province’s human rights commission on the grounds of sexual orientation between April 1, 2006, and March 31, 2007, with $243,599.23 paid out in monetary damages.

The number of complaints tied to sexual orientation have increased in several provinces over the years, said Miriam Smith, a professor in York’s Atkinson School of Public Policy & Administration who studies gay and lesbian rights in Canada, but not because there is more discrimination. "It’s because people feel they are able to come out and complain that it’s unfair," she said.

Smith said Canada has made great gains in attitudes toward gay and lesbian individuals, noting that it was a Halloween tradition in Toronto during the 1960s and 1970s to go to Yonge Street and yell homophobic epithets.

Canadians look to ‘Thai’ one on at Universiade

The 2007 World University Games, which open Wednesday in Bangkok, Thailand, and conclude Aug. 18, are expected to draw 8,000 athletes from 141 countries participating in 18 sports. Canadian medal hopefuls include York University’s Shannon Condie in taekwondo, wrote Canadian Press Aug. 7.

Ottawa coach helped with football Lions

It appears that new Ottawa Demon Deacons coach Jeff Pinck is more than partly responsible for the football team’s tight-knit character, wrote The Ottawa Sun Aug. 5. Pinck was the defensive coordinator last year, and "five or six years" before that he was a linebacker on the team. Originally from Toronto, he’s also a former York Lions defensive back coach who appeared at an Ottawa Rough Riders camp as a guest coach under the late Jim Gilstrap.

Back to school for adults, too

Back to school isn’t just for children, wrote the Mississauga News Aug. 7. On Sept. 4, the Peel District School Board kicks off its fall session of courses for adults who want to learn English. Having come to Mississauga from Belarus, Anastasiya Kurhanava knows first-hand about the benefits of the Peel Board’s English as a Second Language (ESL) program. To be accepted at York University’s Osgoode Hall Law School in 2006, she had to complete the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL), used by universities in Canada and the United States to establish proficiency in English. She enrolled in the TOEFL preparation course offered at the Peel Board.

Preparations are on for Pakistan Independence Day

Pakistani Canadians are getting set to celebrate their 60th Independence Day with spirit and enthusiasm in the heart of Toronto this Sunday, wrote Brampton’s South Asian Focus Aug. 8. More than 10,000 Pakistanis are expected to take part in the official gathering at Toronto City Hall to mark the historic occasion. Tassaduq Hussain, consul general of Pakistan, will hoist the green national flag at 1pm to let the celebrations begin. Premier Dalton McGuinty and other important personalities will also join in. Members of the Pakistani Student Association at York, including Mujtaba Jamal Syed, will portray the cultures of Sindh, Punjab, NWFP and Baluchistan provinces while dancing on the stage.

Out of the Box’s Body Celeb bares all

Fire spinners. Bodybuilders. Opera singers. These people might seem unlikely to share a bill at a performance, but the folks at Out of the Box Productions would beg to differ, wrote Vancouver’s Monday Magazine Aug. 8. For their second Body Celeb fundraiser, artistic director Gwen Dobie and the rest of the crew at the eclectic theatre/dance/opera company – which most recently staged Prior Engagement at the Belfry Studio – put the call out to any and all artists around town who wanted to show off and celebrate their bodies.

It seems like a strange time to be holding a fundraiser for Out of the Box; after all, Dobie is set to start her new job as a professor in York’s Theatre Department, Faculty of Fine Arts. Well, make that already started. She’s been settling in at her new home in Toronto, where she’ll be working with students learning how to develop new works.

York fine arts grad wins TD Scholarship

The National Gallery of Canada (NGC) and its foundation announced the recipients of the TD Bank Financial Group Internships for the 2007-2008 academic year, wrote Canadian Press Aug. 8. This year, three internships are being awarded. Melissa Bennett (MA ’07) is the recipient of the TD Internship in Museums Collections Management. A recent graduate of York’s Master in Art History Program, she specialized in photography. At the Canadian Museum of Contemporary Photography, Bennett is working with the National Film Board of Canada Still Photography Division’s collection of negatives and transparencies. This initiative is preparing the ground to fully document the collection in the NGC collection management system, and ultimately providing public access to this invaluable Canadian heritage resource.

On air

  • Paul Delaney, professor of physics & astronomy in York’s Faculty of Science & Engineering, spoke about the latest shuttle flight to the International Space Station on CTV NewsNet Aug. 8.
  • Ian Roberge, political science professor at York’s Glendon campus, spoke about the start of the premiers’ conference in Moncton, NB, on CBON-FM radio (Sudbury) Aug. 8.