York commits to forming no-sweatshop policy

A 45-hour sit-in by York University students outside the president’s office demanding a no-sweatshop policy ended Saturday, March 8, with a promise to commit to the request, wrote Insidetoronto online March 11.

Following a rally Thursday, March 6, 60 students later planted themselves outside the office of President & Vice-Chancellor Mamdouh Shoukri at 2pm. By 9pm, 14 students remained and spent the night. "We are trying to get York to sign a no-sweatshop policy," Terrance Luscombe of the York Sustainable Purchasing Coalition told the North York Mirror Friday, March 7.

"York University has been stalling in negotiations over a no-sweatshop policy for three years," he said. He said the coalition recently submitted a draft policy for York to use to monitor the manufacturers of its apparel to ensure workers are not producing York goods in sweatshop conditions. The policy was rejected by York’s legal counsel and an alternative was drafted, which was unacceptable to the coalition.

Luscombe said at least 16 Canadian universities have no-sweatshop purchasing policies and there is no reason why York shouldn’t. Students also spent the night of Friday, March 7, camped out at Shoukri’s office before the president met with them the following morning and committed to introduce a no-sweatshop policy for York University by next month.

"The reality is this is something that has been worked on together for three years with the students and we are committed to finishing it up in April of this year," said Alex Bilyk, York’s director of media relations. "We will work on the principles of what the code of conduct is relating to the Fair Labour Association."

Today’s bullies – yesterday’s feminists

The word "hysteria" has its root in the Greek word for uterus. It was coined by Hippocrates as a medical condition peculiar to women, wrote columnist Barbara Kay in the National Post March 12.

Understood as irrational emotional flailing about whenever public discussion touches on a woman’s fruitful uterus, Hippocrates’ neologism is spot on. Try to say out loud in this country that what’s in a woman’s pregnant belly is a human being, not a blob of tissue, and hysteria emerges in three interesting variations, wrote Kay.

One is the irrational impulse to ban discussion of an abortion law altogether, as we saw at York University on March 5, when a debate was summarily cancelled on the grounds that the issue was settled…. Those ancient Greeks had a knack for words. Hysteria is a good one. Hypocrisy is another, wrote Kay. Since the Supreme Court of Canada’s Morgentaler decision 20 years ago, Canadians have patiently endured more than enough of both from the self-righteous camp of yesterday’s feminists.

Stickland comes home to comedy

Playwright and York alumnus Eugene Stickland (MFA ‘83), the bard of the Beltline, is back onstage with a new comedy – and taking nothing for granted this time around, particularly not his greatest gift, which is making Calgarians laugh, wrote the Calgary Herald March 12.

Stickland’s first new play in four years, Writer’s Block, is being produced by Ground Zero and Hit & Myth Productions, rather than Alberta Theatre Projects, the theatre where Stickland served as the playwright-in-residence for a decade, beginning in 1994.

"You know what they say, life is a comedy to those who think and a tragedy to those who feel?" Stickland says, between bites of a gigantic smoked meat sandwich at the Palace of Eats on 11th Street. "I guess as you go through a period where, for all intents and purposes, you stop laughing, but then you find again the impulse for laughter, then it’s more special."

Columnist likes York prof’s latest book

My favourite story about the new man in my life – alas he is long dead, thus preserving my recent record for falling for the entirely unavailable – comes from Geoffrey Reaume‘s 2007 Lyndhurst, the story of the lodge-turned-rehabilitation centre for people with spinal-cord injuries…., wrote Christie Blatchford in a column in The Globe and Mail March 8. Reaume is professor of critical disabilities and health ethics professor in York’s Faculty of Health.

On air

  • Pat Armstrong, sociology professor in York’s Faculty of Arts, and Albert Banerjee, a York doctoral candidate, spoke about their recent study of violence experienced by long-term care workers, on CBC Radio and Television programs across the country March 11. Their study was also featured on Global Television.
  • Artist Anne Camozzi (BFA ‘76), a graduate of York’s Faculty of Fine Arts, spoke about her work on Halifax, N’s CAB Radio March 11.