Put onus on men, says Jane Doe at York talk

When it comes to rape, let’s talk about men for a change. That’s what the fifth victim of the 1980s so-called Balcony Rapist had to say to a room full of young women at York University, where two men broke into six dorm rooms on Sept. 7, raping two women, wrote The Toronto Sun Nov. 16.

"We continue to examine, judge and regulate women’s behaviour and reaction to the crime versus the actions of men," said the woman, who became known as Jane Doe during her quest in the late 1990s to sue Toronto police for not warning women about the Balcony Rapist’s attacks in the Wellesley and Sherbourne Streets area. "Sexual assault is about men."

Doe, whose real name is protected under a publication ban, said police and York University authorities reacted poorly to the situation during the first week at school, for which two men – Justin Connort and Daniel Katsnelson, both 25 – face several charges.

Rather than focusing on "systemic problems" that lead to rape, women were told to lock their doors, travel in packs and avoid unlit places, Doe said. That the dorm victims hadn’t locked their doors before they were attacked was reported "as if it was somehow their fault," Doe said. "We need to focus on the perpetrator of the crime – that is men."

Academic freedom violated, arbitrator rules, but no defamation

A labour arbitrator has ruled York University violated David Noble‘s academic freedom by issuing a 2004 press release criticizing a controversial pamphlet he penned and ordered the University to pay Noble $2,500 in damages, wrote the Toronto Star Nov. 16. It must also withdraw the press release from its Web site.

While Noble failed to win an apology from York for the press release and was awarded a mere sliver of the $10 million in damages he was seeking, the professor in York’s Division of Social Science, Faculty of Arts, calls the ruling "a major victory for academic freedom."

York University spokesperson Alex Bilyk said "we uphold the principle of academic freedom and accept the decision of the arbitrator" but Bilyk also noted York has not been asked to issue an apology, or pay the $10 million in defamation.

"York breached the collective agreement by failing to respect Professor Noble’s rights as an academic," said labour arbitrator Russell Goodfellow’s decision. "The university publicly vilified his work without first contacting him or the York University Faculty Association to advise of its concerns, to investigate the matter or to indicate what it was contemplating," concluded the arbitrator.

Let’s use both sides of the Canadian coin

For 60 years, under Liberal and Progressive Conservative governments, we Canadians played above our weight in international affairs, said Joe Clark, Canada’s sixteenth prime minister, in remarks made at York’s McLaughlin College Nov. 15 and published in The Globe and Mail Nov. 16.

So, where are we now? How is Canada applying that 60-year tradition of effective internationalism? In terms of official policy, we are essentially prominent in three places – Washington, Haiti and Afghanistan…. But we are quiet in the multilateral forums that we once animated. We are increasingly absent from Africa, the continent where we can make the most difference. Our development assistance is diverted increasingly to conflict zones, away from the work that might prevent conflict. We have become invisible on an international stage where Canada had been a consistent and constructive presence for more than half a century.

Planned film browns off tanning industry

A film student from Brantford learned a tough real world lesson Thursday after her plans for shooting a black comedy about a fictional illness dubbed “tanorexia” at a local tanning salon provoked an unexpectedly angry and far-reaching response from members of the tanning industry, wrote the Brantford Expositor Nov. 16.

Sarah Evans, a fourth-year York University film major, had arranged to shoot portions of her short comedy at Stand ‘N Tan on Fairview Drive with the permission of salon owner Michelle O’Brien. A profile of the budding filmmaker and her project was featured in Thursday’s Expositor.

However, film plans were scrapped by mutual agreement after O’Brien received a flurry of angry and concerned telephone calls from other local tanning operators and even from the BC-based Joint Canadian Tanning Association. Evans was taken aback by the backlash. "This was blown way out of proportion," she said. The film "is a fantasy. It would never happen. People took it in a negative way." Evans said she did not want her project to put anyone’s business in jeopardy and she was scrambling late Thursday to find another venue to shoot her film.

You can always get what you want

When Meenu Chhabra (MBA ’01) needs to get something done, she turns on the charm, wrote The Globe and Mail Nov. 16. "I look at who the key opinion makers are, and focus my attention on who I need to win over," she says. Then she hits them with a message that will resonate with their personal interests. And they’re usually hooked.

It’s an approach that is far different from the one she was taught, and used, when she started out as a manager in biotechnology organizations after graduating with an MBA from York’s Schulich School of Business. But once she latched onto it, she used it to propel her career exactly where she wanted it to go. And at just 32, Chhabra, a Canadian, was last month named president and chief executive officer of biotechnology company Allozyne Inc. in Seattle.

Court decision could aid oppressive police tactics, says Osgoode professor

In the 5-4 decision announced this month, the court ruled that people detained by police do not have the right to silence, wrote the Red Deer Advocate in an editorial circulated by The Canadian Press Nov. 15. Sure, they can keep their lips sealed, but police are now allowed to badger them over and over until they agree to make a statement.

James Stribopoulos, a professor at York’s Osgoode Hall Law School, says the decision gives law-enforcement officials no disincentive at all from overreaching and engaging in potentially oppressive tactics. 

Greens get ready for next election

The Nipissing-Timiskaming Green Party riding association is holding a candidate nomination meeting tonight at Evelyn’s Urban Cafe at 7pm, but it’s more of a formality than anything else, wrote the North Bay Nugget Nov. 16. To date, only North Bay native Craig Bridges (MES ’00) has stepped forward as a possible candidate.

Bridges, 40, was born in North Bay and lives on Lakeshore Drive with his wife and two children. He is now the education co-ordinator for Greening Nipissing as well as a supply teacher for the Near North District School Board.

Capers’ 2005 national title also came at York’s expense

I congratulate the Cape Breton University (CBU) women’s soccer team on winning the Canadian university title in New Waterford, NB, over York University in the final on Sunday [Nov. 11], wrote Brian McPhee in a letter to the Cape Breton Post Nov. 16. The championship is well deserved. However, I’m writing to remind everybody that just over two years ago, in October 2005, the CBU men’s baseball team won the Canadian university title. Coincidentally, they also defeated York (1-0 in a thrilling final), as well as teams from a few other large universities, en route to their championship.

Lights, cameras, action!

Organizers of the 2008 Aultsville Winter Filmfest, a spinoff from the hugely popular Wednesday Night Movie Series, have been gearing up for the second annual festival for several months, wrote the Cornwall Standard-Freeholder Nov. 16. Back again this year, will be the popular showcase of student films prior to each feature film. One of last year’s participants, Vince Pilon, who’s now enrolled in film production at York University, will run a short movie he’s developed during his studies.

Police board will consider audit of seized guns

A call for a gun audit to be made public every year is being considered by the Toronto Police Services Board, wrote The Toronto Sun Nov. 16. Harvey Simmons, professor emeritus at York and a member of the Toronto Police Accountability Coalition, asked for an audit saying it should disclose how many guns were recovered during the year, if they were smuggled from the US, what type of crimes they were used for and if they were stolen from collectors or businesses.

"Intelligent debate about gun control is hampered by a lack of information," said Simmons. "It is important for this debate to get reliable, accurate figures on where the guns come from."

Simmons told the board an annual audit would have more visibility, provoke more media attention and contribute more substantially to the gun control debate. "Providing gun information to the public should not cost a lot of money," he told the board. "The information would contribute substantially to the debate on guns."

Canadian Satellite Radio names York alumnus as CEO

The founder of Canadian Satellite Radio Holdings Inc., the operator of XM Canada, is stepping aside as CEO to make way for a successor who won’t be distracted by other business ventures, wrote The Canadian Press Nov. 15. The company said Thursday that Michael Moskowitz (BA ’93), previously head of Canadian, Latin American and Caribbean operations at Palm Inc., will become chief executive of CSR effective Jan. 1, replacing John Bitove. Before working at Palm, Moskowitz, was employed at several leading global consumer electronics product companies, CSR said.

Calm, deliberate Toronto fire captain won citation for rescue operations

By the time they found the woman unconscious on a couch, the apartment fire had already ventilated itself, shooting flames out a back room and into the summer night, wrote The Globe and Mail in an obituary Nov. 16. Firefighter and former York student John Chappelle calmly scooped her into his arms and carried her out of the building. For the captain of Toronto Fire Station 443, it was just another day on the job.

For 27 years, he attended fires, medical emergencies and hazardous-material accidents in the same even-handed and methodical manner. Above the cacophony of fire alarms and smashing glass, his was always the steady voice other firefighters heard while crawling on their hands and knees through black, blinding smoke.

John Arthur Chappelle was born in Toronto on Feb. 3, 1954. He died of brain cancer in Orangeville, Ont., on Sept. 5, 2007. About 350 uniformed firefighters from across Ontario attended his funeral.

 On air

  • James Morton, adjunct professor at York’s Osgoode Hall Law School, spoke about the judicial inquiry into the work of pathologist Charles Smith, on CBC Radio’s “Metro Morning” (Toronto) Nov. 12.
  • Peter Taylor, professor in York’s Department of Earth & Space Science & Engineering, in the Faculty of Science & Engineering, spoke about cuts in weather forecasting services at Environment Canada on CBC Radio Nov. 15.
  • Patrick Monahan, dean of York’s Osgoode Hall Law School, spoke about the Karlheinz Schreiber extradition case and its impact on a public inquiry into his dealings with former prime minister Brian Mulroney, on CBC Newsworld Nov. 15.