York Region votes to back transit U-Pass for York students

York regional council has moved its plans forward to offer a universal transit pass – or U-Pass – to students who attend Canada’s third largest university, wrote Toronto’s Metro April 30. But students aren’t jumping on board just yet.

The U-Pass must receive a 50-per-cent or more favourable vote in a student referendum at an interested school. That voting process could take place as early as this fall at York University, wrote Metro.

Still, there’s no need to rush, said Ben Keen, vice-president external of the York Federation of Students. There are still a number of fine details to work out before putting the matter to a vote in a referendum.

The idea of a universal pass is not a new one and has been around for some time, Keen said. One recurring sticking point is that the cost is added to a student’s tuition fee and leaves no way for a student who doesn’t use transit to have the fee removed. “One of the big problems, though, is that there’s no way to opt out of it,” said Keen.

Newmarket resident and York student Sarah Puiras said she expects the U-Pass to equal big savings for her commute. Currently, she pays about $150 per month to ride GO Transit to school, so $60 would be a bargain, she added. “That would probably help me out a lot,” she said. “It would definitely cut my costs.”

One can always act, says renowned sociologist at Glendon ceremony

Alain Touraine, perhaps the best-known French sociologist on the American continent, and Glendon Principal Kenneth McRoberts were the invited speakers at a conference the transculturalarity of the Americas at York University’s Glendon campus April 24-25, wrote the French-language Toronto newspaper L’Express in its April 29 issue. Touraine was the keynote speaker for the conference on Latin America, which he has studied for 50 years.

After receiving an honorary doctorate from the Glendon principal and York President & Vice-Chancellor Mamdouh Shoukri, like a good sociologist, Touraine, a bit irritated by “all these stupidities that one says about Latin America," was anxious to clarify things for L’Express, the publication wrote.

In a somber ceremony in the Senate Chamber of York Hall, Touraine gave a personal speech, mostly in English, looking back on years of research and sociological battles with a call to the future of social science, guided by the individual. In his traditional cap and gown, Touraine dreamed of modernity.

“One can always act, do something,” he said. The world-renowned sociologist rose up against socialist totalitarianism and chose to study the subject. For him, defending individual rights begins by countering the determinism of both Marxism and liberalism.

York professor helps track missing songbirds by radio

Eastern loggerhead shrikes once were a common songbird in southern Ontario, wrote the St. Catharines Standard May 1. Nobody knows why the shrike’s population has crashed. Wildlife Protection Canada (WPC) tried radio-telemetry last year, attaching miniature radio transmitters to 20 juvenile birds from a hatching program in the hope of tracking their movements. Complications developed, but WPC did learn that 76 per cent of the hatchlings survived to migrate, and the onset of cooler nights triggered their migration south.

This season Bridget Stutchbury, biology professor in York’s Faculty of Science & Engineering, and Ryan Norris, a biology professor at the University of Guelph, are assisting WPC with the radio tracking. The goal is to follow released birds on their migration to their natural wintering areas in the southwestern United States and, hopefully, back to southern Ontario next spring.

On air

  • Neil Brooks, tax law professor in York’s Osgoode Hall Law School, spoke about a proposed flat income tax, on Montreal’s CINW-AM radio April 30.

  • Ute Lehrer, professor in York’s Faculty of Environmental Studies, spoke about Toronto’s condominium boom, on TFO-TV April 30.