‘You have to be conscious of your safety’

A week after York University students were rattled by a string of sexual assaults and break-ins at Vanier College residence, many students are still expressing frustration with on-campus security, reported The Globe and Mail Sept. 15. "It’s a wake-up call to be safe and be alert," said second-year student Angela Mungai, 19, who would like to see video cameras at all residence entrances. "There’s not a lot that goes on, but you have to be conscious of your safety."

The attacks carried out by two young men began at around 3am on Sept. 7, when they sexually assaulted two women, attempted an assault on another woman and forcefully entered three other rooms before fleeing the residence.

Since the attacks, staffing at Vanier College has increased, night staffing on all residences has been extended, security patrols on campus have doubled and there is greater police presence. Detective Christine Long of the Toronto police sex-crimes unit is encouraging students to supply the police with any details of the incident to aid them in getting a better profile. She added that the unit is having trouble reaching students living at Vanier College. "I don’t even think we’ve hit half that building," Long said.

She described the assaults as serial in nature, adding that "it’s different to attack once and think, ‘that was scary or exciting’ or whatever, but they just continued, so it certainly is a rare and unique profile."

"I think it’s been a very sobering experience for the community," said Alex Bilyk, director of media relations at York. "I hope the net result is that we all participate in the continued safety and protection of our community."

Two violent muggings in close proximity to campus have been reported since the sexual assaults and are being investigated by police, including one in which a York student and four friends were robbed at gunpoint in the popular off-campus housing area known as The Village.

  • The Ottawa Citizen mentioned the rapes at York in a Sept. 15 story about how a string of vicious sex attacks has rocked Ontario universities and focused attention on perceived lapses in campus safety and security. The assaults have also ignited the stirrings of a campaign to raise awareness about the broader issue of violence against women.

Winnipeg prof plays role in York-led Mars mission

Ed Cloutis, a University of Winnipeg professor, is playing a key role in an all-Canadian mission to Mars, reported the Winnipeg Free Press Sept. 17. Cloutis, a planetary geologist, is helping build a miniature digital camera and data analysis equipment for the spacecraft to used in the Northern Light Landed Mission to Mars, scheduled for late 2009. "Northern Light will be equipped with a sophisticated science payload, making the best use of Canadian scientific expertise," he said, adding that York University is the official research host, or Mission Control, of the project. "I love doing the hands-on work. It the fun part of my job," says Cloutis, who is advising his colleagues at York on how to build the tiny camera.

Family grieves loss of two daughters in crash

A Brampton family is grieving the loss of two daughters – both York University students – after a car crash killed one young woman, then later claimed her sister’s life, reported the Toronto Star Sept. 17. Vanessa Diceglie, 19, died at hospital soon after Thursday’s accident. She had been turning left onto Mayfield Road from Airport Road in Caledon when the car was hit by a dump truck. Her sister Isabel Diceglie, 23, died Saturday night.

"They were loving sisters and always stayed together," said their uncle Peter Diceglie. "They were both very outgoing girls, very friendly, happy, humorous, loving family members." Both girls majored in French at York University; Vanessa also majored in drama and Isabel in business. They had worked as lifeguards and with autistic children.

More than 2,000 members have joined three Facebook groups set up in their memory. "They loved me with all their hearts," their brother, 17, said in one post. "I can’t even express how much I’m going to miss you." 

Being bounced a blessing for boomers?

A new study out of York University says getting fired can be a blast for some baby boomers, reported the Vancouver Province Sept. 16. The study found job loss gave some baby boomers a chance to sit back and think about their lives, and sometimes led to a radical change of direction.

Researchers interviewed around 30 middle-aged managers and found several got past their initial anxiety from being fired. The managers said being unemployed gave them a chance to rest, to think about themselves, their career and to re-prioritize. Written by Jelena Zikic and Julia Richardson, both professors in York’s Atkinson School of Administrative Studies, and released earlier this month, the report said many of the participants had already reached career milestones. The downtime sometimes led to participants embarking on completely different professions and made getting fired seem serendipitous.

Scholarship gives students a leg up

Jason Finegan never thought he’d ever attend university. That’s until the 19-year-old got a head start from a $1,000 scholarship from the Jamaican Canadian Scholarship Program and some encouragement from family and friends, reported The Toronto Sun Sept. 16. "A lot of people I knew weren’t going to university," he said. "So I figured it wasn’t for me either. After switching high schools, I had a new outlook on life."

The JCA Scholarship Program was established to provide financial assistance of about $25,000 to Ontario Caribbean/African students attending post-secondary education. Students have to demonstrate leadership qualities, commitment to the community and outstanding academic achievement.

Finegan, a student at York University, was one of 25 recipients at the awards ceremony at the JCA in North York. "It feels good to say, ‘I’m in university’ because I never thought I’d be able to say that," said Finegan, who grew up in Jamaica and moved to Toronto at the age of 5.

Prof ambivalent about Toronto’s PATH system

To some, underground pedestrian networks are bastions of privatization and exclusion, pointed out the Toronto Star Sept. 16 in a story about expanding Toronto’s PATH system. Ute Lehrer, a planning professor at York University’s Faculty of Environmental Studies, notes that private security guards can move along the poor and dispossessed. "If you don’t fit the normal profile of the normal user of these pathways, you are not welcome."

Privately owned undergrounds have hours of opening and closing, she points out. They are often desolate on weekends. "While on the sidewalk, you have Jane Jacobs ‘eyes on the street,’ which you don’t have in the underground. It’s intriguing on Saturdays and Sundays because you feel comfortable and uncomfortable at the same time." She links life in the underground to the condominium boom, and with that, she says, a less engaged society. "You no longer encounter the other – the homeless, people on the margins. You avoid them by using the PATH system or moving to a condo tower, where you can go down to your garage and drive off – it’s a homogenized and sanitized environment."

But still, she can see comfort in the underground network, once you are familiar with it. "It gives a village experience – you know where the stores are, the access points to each building, which is the quickest way from subway to your workplace." 

 Will TV series expose nation of coddled kids?

York University psychology Professor Jennifer Connolly agrees children can be given more freedom and responsibility, but says it should be a gradual process, reported the Calgary Herald Sept. 15 in a story about "Kid Nation", CBS’s new reality TV show. It features 40 kids living without adults in an abandoned mining town in New Mexico for 40 days, where they do everything from cooking for themselves and running businesses to electing a town council and handing out gold stars worth $20,000 to the most deserving participants. Throwing kids as young as eight into a situation where things could very well go wrong might make for great TV, but "it’s really the antithesis of what good parenting is about," said Connolly. "I wouldn’t recommend the sink-or-swim approach. That’s just a recipe for disaster."

Executives benefit from York’s EMBA program

With so many EMBAs available, the National Post asked business schools across the country: Who will benefit most from your EMBA program? On Sept. 17 it published the responses. Andre deCarufel, director of York’s Joint Kellogg Schulich Executive MBA Program, said the program would benefit senior executives in major Canadian companies who have mainly "arrived" career-wise but want to sharpen their leadership skills and acquire a major knowledge upgrade at mid-career; senior executives who are preparing for an international role; senior functional managers (e.g., a director of finance) who are ready for the next step into executive management to develop a strategic perspective that goes beyond their functional expertise and develop a network of senior executives that help them with this critical career transition; a smaller number of younger (early-to mid-30s) managers who have shown exceptional career progress to date and who have been identified as "high potential" by their employers.

‘The greatest invention of the 20th century was the pill,’ says Marsden

"When I was married, the pill was not legal, divorce was impossible, and women had to take their husband’s name (except in Quebec)," said Lorna Marsden, president emerita of York University, in a quote run in the National Post Homes section as part of its Woman Issue Sept. 15. "After Pierre Trudeau’s Omnibus Bill in 1968, the pill became legal, divorce was eased and the state pulled out of our bedrooms. For some, issues of equality in pay, benefits and pensions were key so we didn’t end up as poor old women. But still, the greatest invention of the 20th century was the birth control pill – it changed the world!"

Lions lose QB Martin to gruesome injury in 47-7 rout by Guelph

Hard to believe that after only the third game of the season, York University’s chances of making the post-season playoffs have suffered a significant blow following Saturday’s humiliating defeat, stated the Toronto Star Sept. 16. And it was ugly for more than one reason. On the scoreboard, the Guelph Gryphons won their first game in three starts with a 47-7 victory over the Lions in OUA football action. York now shares the basement of the 10-team OUA with the U of T Blues. Both have 0-3 records and meet in the annual Red and Blue Bowl for the Argo Cup in two weeks at York.

On the field, York stumbled early and their embarrassing performance put a small crowd of loyal fans to sleep with a mere 146 yards of net offence. But then came a scary moment with 4:25 gone in the second half. York’s Nic Martin, on a quarterback sneak, stunned the crowd after suffering what initially looked like a gruesome injury to his left leg. After a 23-minute wait for an ambulance, he was taken to Humber River Regional Centre and was to undergo surgery on what hospital officials called a dislocated ankle.

York head coach Andy McEvoy was visibly concerned with the injury to Martin, a fourth-year player. "He was conscious but it was not a pleasant sight with his ankle turned 180 degrees … it shook all the guys up," said McEvoy. "As for the game, we’re not happy with what we’re doing on offence, the special teams didn’t look good and the defence struggled. We simply have to make a better effort."

Charity a good way to mom’s purse

While companies have been supporting causes and charities for years as a way to appeal to consumers’ social conscience, only recently has this kind of social marketing zeroed in on mothers, reported the National Post Sept. 15. And for good reason. In a recent study conducted by IMI International, a Toronto-based market research firm, 68 per cent of mothers said they are likely to buy a product or service if it is associated with a cause or charity, compared with 58 per cent of other Canadians. "Moms are the biggest controllers of the home spending purse," says Alan Middleton, a professor of marketing at York University’s Schulich School of Business. "They do the grocery shopping for the family. They’re hugely influential in most household purchases."

It’s heart versus head in Ferguson’s latest novel

Jack McGreary, the brilliant young con man and the protagonist of Will Ferguson‘s new novel, Spanish Fly, wrestles with the moral consequences of what he’s done every time he pulls off a scam in one of the Depression-era, Texas small towns he travels through with his cronies Virgil and Rose, reported the Calgary Herald Sept. 16. "Con men never grapple with the morality (of what they do)," Ferguson says. "Jack addresses it in a really direct way. I always thought the story was about the head of a con man, and the heart of Jack. He has the head for it, but he doesn’t have the heart for it. And that was his failing as a con man, but his redemption as a human. That was the key for his character." Ferguson (BFA ’90) studied film at York University in Toronto and it shows in Spanish Fly, which practically reads like a movie treatment. Think of a cross between Bonnie and Clyde, Bound for Glory and, of course, The Sting
John Tory’s wife sees his election campaign as a team effort

Barbara Hackett, who is married to Ontario Conservative leader John Tory, can’t get enough of the campaign, reported the Toronto Star Sept. 17. The 53-year-old business woman, who owns a home building and renovation company, said she’s even likely to hold campaign events separate from those of her husband’s. From the time Tory decided to run for the party leadership, a year after his failed bid to become Toronto mayor in 2003, the couple have seen his political career as "a team effort," Hackett said. "I’m not job shadowing him. I want to be in a strong supporting role." Hackett met Tory in a French class at York University. He was studying law and she was working on a business degree.

York music grad plays with Canadian Idol

More than two million Canadians tuned into "Canadian Idol" for the Sept. 4 show featuring live performances by former Idol finalists Kalan Porter, Jacob Hoggard and his band Hedley, as well as Ryan Malcolm with his indie rock group Low Level Flight, reported the Brampton Guardian Sept. 16. While many eyes were likely on the edgy Malcolm, winner of Canadian Idol’s inaugural season, band mate Brandon Merenick was also in the spotlight. The 25-year-old Brampton drummer has been with Low Level Flight since October 2006. The televised performance of the group’s second single, Say, was the "coolest thing," said Merenick (BFA Spec. Hons. ’06), a York University music graduate. "We’re actually the only indie band who’s played on ‘Canadian Idol’. These other guys were on major labels, but we’re doing this on our own." Love it or hate it, it is impossible to deny that Canadian Idol is a career-launching machine. "I’m really thankful for all the opportunities and it has been amazing," said Merenick.