York students noticed increase in security after previous attacks

"Are we safe?" was plastered across the front page of York University’s student paper Jan. 16 but most students answered with a shrug after yet another campus sex assault, wrote The Toronto Sun Jan. 17. "It doesn’t really worry me," said one student. "I usually don’t go anywhere alone."

“After the first assaults, there was actually a big increase in security around campus,” Eleni Kappos, a third-year criminology student said. “I’ve never really felt scared.”

The paper noted York has hired two dozen new residence "watch officers" to monitor the dorms but they started work two days after Friday’s assault. A closed-circuit camera system will be up and running in February, wrote the Sun.

The York Students’ Federation (YSF) organized a public forum after the September sex assaults and asked the University to get an outside firm to do a comprehensive safety audit, said Gilary Massa, YSF vice-president, equity. "There have been three sexual assaults in five months – this is ridiculous," Massa said.

  • Alex Bilyk, director of media relations at York, and Massa discussed safety measures at York following the Jan. 11 sexual assault, on CBC Radio (Toronto) Jan. 16. The interview was one of many heard on Toronto’s television and radio news stations, including French, Italian, Cantonese and Portuguese stations.
  • Kelly Holloway, president of York’s Graduate Students’ Association, spoke about the issue of violence against women in connecion with the assaults, on Citytv’s “Speakers Corner” Jan. 16.
  • Gabriella Colussi-Arthur, an associate dean in York’s Faculty of Arts, and Bilyk spoke about the issue on CFTM-TV’s “Studio Aperto” (Italian) Jan. 16.

School board to discuss black-focused schools

Toronto trustees will meet privately Monday night to discuss four approaches to improving the academic performance of black youth, wrote the Toronto Star Jan. 17. Among the possibilities contained in a report on the issue are a black-focused alternative school in the northwest end of the city or starting black-focused programs in three existing schools.

The two other options suggest board-wide plans to improve student achievement for blacks and other "vulnerable" students, or setting up a centre for innovation with York University and other community agencies that would focus on schools where the student body is predominantly black.

A public meeting is to be held later this month, where parents and community members may address trustees on the issue. Trustees will likely vote on the issue at the regular board meeting on Jan. 30.

Sun readers comment on prof’s call for an inquiry into donation

Prof. David Noble lacks the ability to recognize the greater good for the community, wrote Sarena Seidman in a letter to The Toronto Sun Jan. 17 about the York Faculty of Arts professor’s request for an inquiry into a $15-million donation to the Jewish Community Centre. Everyone in the three areas of the community centres will benefit, wrote Seidman. These centres serve as a home for our multicultural city to interact in recreational activities. Prof. Noble, give it a rest! Put your energy into a matter that needs your help – the environment, Darfur, the inequalities that take place at York University, etc.

  • Prof. David Noble suggests a public inquiry into another alleged incident of playing "political favourites." What for?, wrote Harry Jackson of Simcoe, Ont., also in the Sun. To spend more of my tax dollars on another useless exercise only provides lawyers with extra income. Even if the allegations are true, what is the point?…. Average Ontario voters don’t seem to care how much their tax dollars are abused, how much our government lies to us or abuses its power.

Beautiful new instrument brings York hall to life

It’s funny to begin a concert on a brand-new instrument, in a recently built hall, with a piece called "My Young Life is Over", wrote reviewer John Terauds in the Toronto Star Jan. 17. Maybe Professor Stephanie Martin, of York’s Faculty of Fine Arts, was having a bit of quiet fun as she sat down at her newly minted harpsichord by renowned Montreal maker Yves Beaupré for its debut at the Tribute Communities Recital Hall at York University’s Accolade East Building.

The new Beaupré harpsichord has a light, lyrical quality that makes it the ideal accompaniment for the sweet-sounding gamba. And the spare, box-shaped hall’s acoustics complemented the instruments’ limited dynamic range.

This was the third of seven concerts in York’s Faculty Concert Series this season. They range from classical to jazz to world music, in a variety of formats. This recital hall’s life is just beginning.

Make time for ‘stunning’ dance production at York, says reviewer

Head to York University for a dance production that is clearly at the top of its class, wrote reviewer Brad Wheeler in The Globe and Mail Jan. 17. Not only the does the school’s dance department, in the Faculty of Fine Arts, and the Toronto Dance Theatre present Christopher House’s stunning Timecode Break this evening, but at noon the choreographer leads an illustrated lecture on the piece’s creation.

Modesty, if not time constraints, may well prevent the York alumnus [BFA ’79] from boasting, so allow us to do it for him, said the Globe. Upon its world premiere at the Canada Dance Festival at the National Arts Centre in 2006, The Globe and Mail critic Paula Citron heralded the complex modern piece as one of the greatest dances ever created in Canada – “a mesmerizing evocation of the moving body in space.”

The applauding assessment was not the exception as the work (an homage to dance and dancers that incorporates video images) landed on numerous Top 10 lists for the year and went on to capture three Dora Mavor Moore Awards in 2007. With the production now on its way to New York and London, make time for Timecode Break today.

BC magazine does the math on York prof’s drug study

A recent study from Joel Lexchin, professor in York’s School of Health Policy & Management, showed big pharma in the US spends an average $57.5 billion marketing its products each year – more than the firms spend on research and development, wrote Vancouver’s Monday Magazine Jan. 16. Using the 1/10 rule often applied to cross-border economics, that means Canada’s 65,000 doctors face a $5.7-billion barrage of marketing work from the pharmaceutical companies, either in the form of direct-to-office visits or through online meetings, wrote the magazine.

Thakkar is a ‘pioneer in Indian dance all over Canada’

The evolution of Indian dance in Canada will be celebrated next month in a series of tribute performances honouring the life and career of famed dancer and teacher Menaka Thakkar, DLitt (Hon.) ’93, wrote The Toronto Sun Jan. 17. Eleven Canadian and Indian artists will present "Moving to Rhythm" Feb. 15-17 at Harbourfront’s Premiere Dance Theatre. Menaka’s brother, Professor Emeritus Rasesh Thakkar, former director of York’s India studies program, works very closely with her in terms of researching and writings, noted the Sun.

On air

  • A new high-school course on genocide being offered by the Toronto District School Board, with assistance from York’s Faculty of Education, was discussed on Radio Canada International on Sirius Satellite Radio, Jan. 16.