Students vent frustration over strike

York University students held a rally Monday, Nov. 17 to protest the current strike situation which has forced the cancellation of classes since Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) Local 3903 members walked off the job Nov. 6, wrote the North York Mirror Nov. 18.

Some 200 students filled Vari Hall at the University’s Keele campus, several holding signs and taking to the stage to voice frustration at lost class time. The rally, organized by student group, pinned banners, a petition and a message board to the walls, with many students choosing to vent their frustration through writing. Catherine Divaris, founder of, told the Mirror the group came to fruition last week on Facebook and has attracted 2,000 members. "We are frustrated with the strike," said the kinesiology student. "We are stuck hanging in the balance. This rally was to gain momentum and keep on pushing. We just want to get back to class. If both sides can agree on a deal, that’s great, but we don’t want to be out of the classroom any longer."

Stephanie Sunde, who is enrolled in York’s Bachelor of Education program, said she has lost critical program hours due to the strike. "I cannot afford to lose time," she said. "We need to have enough (practical) hours to apply for jobs with the (Toronto District School Board). I would like to see both sides come to some sort of agreement."

  • Several people identified as York University international students spoke about strike-related concerns on OMNI-TV Nov. 18.
  • Student Nora Kharouba spoke about her concerns about the suspension of classes due to the strike, on Toronto’s CFRB Radio Nov. 18.

Age battles are MIA at York, says head of mature students organization

Since I founded YUMSO, the mature students organization at York University, for our 9,000 mature students, I’ve never encountered a battleground of any kind, wrote Edward Fenner, founder and past president of the Your Mature Students Organization, in a letter to The Globe and Mail Nov. 19. He was responding to a story about tensions between mature students and younger students on university campuses.

I’ve counselled thousands of students and worked with hundreds of professors, teaching assistants, advisers and staff, wrote Fenner. With rare exception, mature students are welcomed and respected because they are highly focused, hardworking, don’t cause problems in class, read their readings and, generally, are excellent students.

My experience helping other colleges and universities assist their mature students also supports a broader, positive experience and nothing at all like your article suggests. There is no battle going on. There are generational spats now and then but anything epic is rare.

With the economies of the world in disarray, universities are likely to see a rise in our numbers as we go back to school to upgrade our skills or learn new careers. We are many. We are here to stay. Students should get to know us. They might like us.

Research earns York professor emeritus a quote of the day

"We’re looking at an ocean surface many times the size of the Mediterranean,” wrote the Calgary Herald Nov. 19 in its quote of the day by Bill Mahaney, professor emeritus of York’s Faculty of Arts, discussing fresh evidence that one-third of Mars was covered by a giant ocean.

York’s pension manager likes to invest in Canada

As Canada’s third-largest university, York University has been expanding students’ horizons through higher learning for nearly 50 years, wrote Innovate magazine in its Fall 2008 issue. But it’s not just students who are getting the opportunity to grow and learn – the University’s $1.1-billion pension fund is always in learning mode and is in the process of making some changes to its investments.

We’re in the process of looking for smaller niche infrastructure managers based in Canada who, preferably, will invest in Canada, said Leona Fields, manager of the York University Pension Fund in a Q&A interview. We’re Canadian, and it’s close to home – that’s part of it. I also think that, in the general infrastructure space, there are many investment opportunities in Canada.

I’d reiterate that every investment and every pension fund is different [said Fields when asked about what advice she’d give other fund managers]. In particular, each pension fund has a different governance structure. That means plan sponsors need to ensure that the decision-makers responsible for approving allocations understand what it is they are being asked to approve. And the decision-makers need to make sure that they understand what they’re investing in, and that it meets their objectives. Educating the decision-makers is extremely important.

Pension plan volatility not an ‘aberration’

The Ontario government is expected to release a report on pension regulation as early as today, wrote The Globe and Mail Nov. 19. A task force, headed by former York University president Harry Arthurs, will make recommendations about solvency funding standards and pension surpluses, and will examine the effectiveness of the province’s pension-guarantee fund.

First Chinese lawyer in Canada was an Osgoode grad, says descendant

Uncle No. 17 became a lawyer, the first Chinese to practise law in Canada, said BC’s Randall Yip in The Vancouver Sun Nov. 19 in a story about a reunion in Vancouver of 347 direct descendants of Chinese immigrant Yip Sang. [In the story, Randall referred to his uncles by number instead of their name.]

That son of Yip Sang , Kew Dock Yip (LLB ’45), graduated from Osgoode Hall Law School and went on to become an important figure in Canadian law. He worked to repeal the Chinese Exclusion Act, was active in the Chinese-Canadian community and toward the end of his life started an acting career, appearing in the movie Year of the Dragon with Mickey Rourke.