Victims can become bullies York prof tells The Washington Times

While most people think of bullies and their victims as opposites, studies show victimized children often begin as overly aggressive and that the same group of children who attracted bullies before they entered school continue to be targets throughout school and in later life, wrote The Washington Times (Washington, DC) Dec. 7.

Debra Pepler, a professor of psychology in York University’s Faculty of Health, who has studied bullying and victimization for 20 years, also found links between children’s early anti-social behaviour and victimization. As an example, she told of one child who said, "I want you to meet my friend" to another child, and then instantly called his friend "stupid". "In a single sentence, they would be both pro-social and anti-social, even before the other child has a chance to respond," she said.

This aggressive, unpredictable behaviour isolates these children from others and that "makes them more vulnerable," Peplar continued. Because these children lack self-control, they attract bullies and repel friends, she said, and sometimes become bullies themselves.

G-G consulted former Osgoode dean before granting Harper’s request

Constitutional expert Peter Russell, who has met Governor General Michaëlle Jean several times, said yesterday she has a forceful personality and would not have been intimidated by the prime minister, wrote The Globe and Mail Dec. 6 in a story speculating on the events of the meeting with Prime Minister Stephen Harper that resulted in Parliament being prorogued Dec. 4. Halfway through the meeting, Harper and Clerk of the Privy Council Kevin Lynch, Ottawa’s top civil servant, were left alone in the room while the Governor General and her secretary Sheila-Marie Cook went to confer with special adviser Peter Hogg, former dean of York’s Osgoode Hall Law School and author of the definitive scholarly work on constitutional law in Canada.

Why Boyden’s ‘aboriginalness’ doesn’t matter

If certain notorious examples are anything to go by, York grad Joseph Boyden‘s quick rise from obscurity to literary stardom should be followed by a Manhattan loft, hipster friends, fabulous parties, literary pissing matches, unstable girlfriends, a nasty drug habit and increasingly bad writing. Fortunately, this is not likely to happen, wrote columnist and York grad Dan Gardner (BA ’90, LLB ’92, MA ’95) in the Ottawa Citizen Dec. 6.

For one thing, Boyden (BA Hons. ‘91) doesn’t like New York. It also helps that the author of Three Day Road and Through Black Spruce – which won the Giller Prize last month – only looks like a pretty young thing. "A lot of writers who’ve had success in their 20s really hit a hard place," he says on the phone from his home in New Orleans. "But now I’m 41 and I know who I am and what I am. It’s never really gotten to my head."

Temperament also has something to do with it. I knew Joseph when he and I were undergrads at York University. We met in a poetry workshop. (Yes, dammit, a poetry workshop.) In reality, Boyden is a Toronto boy raised in a white-bread-and-mayonnaise culture. Boyden’s connection with aboriginal people and culture is very real and there’s no question it’s a big part of his identity. But he wasn’t born into it. He sought it out and lived it.

This is what makes the constant references to Boyden’s ancestry troubling. They seem to suggest blood is the source of his connection to the aboriginal lives he writes about, a notion that is simultaneously racist and ridiculous.

In any event, Boyden’s "aboriginalness" is not particularly relevant. Writing is good or it’s not and good writing inevitably requires the writer to imagine beyond himself. "I write from a woman’s voice," Boyden says. "Am I allowed to write in the voice of an old Indian woman from the turn of the century? Absolutely, but only if I do it with respect and with a deeper understanding of where these people come from. If writers only wrote what they know and where they come from and who they are, we’d be losing out on all kinds of great novels."

Laid off Canadians turn to politics

A US study found people who lose their jobs are much less likely to be involved in their communities, wrote the Toronto Star Dec. 7. The good news is that laid-off Canadians don’t become so disengaged. Carla Lipsig-Mumme, professor in the labour studies program in York’s Faculty of Arts, agrees that Canadians’ awareness and expectation of social programs – as well as the programs themselves – make a difference. "People don’t totally fall through the cracks when they lose their job," she says.

She adds that the vision of community participation described by American political scientist Robert D. Putnam, which does not include activism or government involvement, is incomplete. "Something that Putnam wants to write out is the government role. There’s a sense in Canada that society includes government. We know one area where participation is growing (in Canada) is advocacy groups" – organizations that tackle issues of homelessness or the environment. In fact, the US study showed that political organizations were among the kinds of involvement unemployed workers did not withdraw from.

Focus on shares rather than goods behind meltdown on stock markets

James Gilles, professor emeritus and former dean in the Schulich School of Business at York University, comes closest to explaining why the economy collapsed, wrote The Daily News (Kamloops) Dec. 6. One [reason] is the new concept of a corporation, rather than existing to earn profits through the production of goods and services, the principal purpose of corporations began to be the maximization of the value of their shares on the stock market.

Contemplating life without growth

Only once in modern history, as far as economist Peter Victor knows, has a financial crisis led to a reordering of society’s priorities and institutions, wrote columnist Carol Goar in the Toronto Star Dec. 8. The Great Depression was like no other downturn. But as this recession deepens, the York University professor is detecting a new openness to ideas that challenge mainstream thinking.

Victor, 62, has just published a book entitled Managing Without Growth – Slower by Design, Not Disaster. It invites readers to contemplate a future in which they don’t work longer, spend more and accumulate more to keep the economy hurtling along.

Since his book’s release on Nov. 18, Victor has been inundated with requests to speak, invitations to participate in panel discussions and opportunities to appear at academic forums. He never anticipated when he started writing in 2006 that his book would come out during the worst market meltdown in 79 years. He never imagined that world leaders would be questioning some of the long-standing tenets of capitalism.

Victor, who teaches in York’s Faculty of Environmental Studies, calls himself an ecological economist. He is not a tree-hugger or an anti-car zealot. In fact, he doesn’t live much differently than his neighbours in Bloor West Village. But unlike most of them, he rejects the proposition that economic growth is essential to progress.

Victor admits many readers will have trouble getting their heads around the idea of life without economic growth. It’s alien to everything they’ve been taught. "If I can at least get them to open their eyes to alternatives, I’ll think I’ve accomplished something."

Victor’s daughter, Carmen, and her friend, Laura William, decided the book deserved a better launch than a low-key academic affair. So they organized it. They invited 450 guests to The Boiler House in the Distillery District. Mayor David Miller spoke (he’s a neighbour). David Suzuki spoke (Victor is on the board of the David Suzuki Foundation). The place was so jammed that 150 people had to be turned away.

Grade 7 project launched a student of markets

A stock market project in Grade 7 piqued Suraj Gupta‘s interest in investing, wrote The Globe and Mail Dec. 6 in a profile of the business administration student in the Schulich School of Business at York University.

Shortly after he and his classmates invested their $1 million in play money, the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks occurred. "It was interesting to see the effect of world events on stocks," Gupta observed. Despite the selloff, he ended up doing well – one of his stocks appreciated threefold.

Afterward, he began investing through his father’s brokerage account. Now he has his own account and is an executive member of the York Investment Club. The club, with over 450 members, is "the largest at York University". Activities include investment education seminars and stock market simulations/competitions.

"So far, I would say my best investment moves have been to not be intimidated by the daily downturns that occur," Gupta declared. "The main thing you should be doing if you want to make a good profit is invest for the long term," Gupta advises.

Pension problems brewing

Some experts say the Canada Pension Plan should pursue more investments outside the stock market and should be audited by the federal auditor general, wrote the Winnipeg Free Press Dec. 8. An expert commission in Ontario, headed by Harry Arthurs, professor in York’s Osgoode Hall Law School and former president & vice-chancellor of York, last month recommended that the province should have a new, independent pension commission with stronger powers to intervene when problems are building in a plan.

Tory rallies threaten to overtake action day for women, critics charge

Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his supporters have scheduled public protests in Ottawa and Toronto in support of the Tory government, wrote the Vaughan Citizen Dec. 5. The decision has some women appalled by the apparent disregard for the National Day of Remebrance and Action on Violence Against Women. "To have the prime minister hold a political rally on Dec. 6 is sending a really bad message to women of this country," said York student Denise Taylor, president of United Against Violence Against Women. "If our government is going to do this, taking our day of remembrance, how will our voices be heard? How will the bodies of our sisters be counted?" Taylor said. Taylor’s group, which works in conjunction with York University, raises awareness on the issues surrounding violence against women, as well as spousal and child abuse.

Rapid transit is coming to Caledon

More recently, it has come to my attention that a considerable number of young residents in Caledon attend York University and rely on GO Transit for daily commuting, wrote Marolyn Morrison, mayor of the Town of Caledon in the Caledon Enterprise Dec. 5 . The current GO Bus routes are inconvenient for these students and it is too costly in terms of both time and money if they have to rely on other municipal transit services for transfer. I have asked GO Transit to consider fine tuning its service routes to especially take into consideration the needs of the York University students living in Bolton.

In Asia, American-style fundraising takes off

Catherine Yang, a newly hired manager of development at Sun Yat-Sen University, in Guangzhou, China, believes it is easier to start with alumni associations overseas because they are more familiar with the culture of giving, wrote the Chronicle of Higher Education Dec. 5 in an article about advancement trends at Asian universities. "They have the mind-set of giving back to the university," says Yang, who spent several years as a fundraiser for York University, in Toronto. "But in the long run, because the majority of our alumni are in China, we need to focus on local fund raising."

Taking on more can slow us down, says CFUW dinner speaker

The Canadian Federation of University Women (CFUW) – Oakville will welcome well-known Canadian cultural commentator, Christopher Dewdney as a speaker at its dinner meeting on Monday, Dec. 8, wrote the Oakville Beaver Dec. 6.

A prolific author, Dewdney will speak on his most recent non-fiction book, Sole of the World: Unlocking the Secrets of Time, which outlines the author’s life and activities over a nine-month period, including his metaphysical musings.

Dewdney blends science and mathematics elegantly with literature and poetry, and recommends we all shake up our daily routine, or take on new projects in order to slow down time – or at least our perception of how quickly it is passing by. Dewdney lives in Toronto and teaches creative writing at York’s Glendon campus, but has also taught in creative writing departments and served as writer-in-residence at many Canadian universities.

Selective silencing

[Student governments at] York University, Capilano College in North Vancouver and Carleton University in Ottawa have all denied funding to anti-abortion groups, wrote The Globe and Mail Dec. 8 in an editorial. At Guelph University, Life Choice recently lost its club status after an on-campus "Life Fair" included materials with statements like "Let’s make abortion extinct," "Your pregnancy ends with death," and "I regret my abortion." The group was characterized as being anti-choice rather than pro-life. Students maintain this is an intelligible distinction.

One hopes that minorities that were traditionally discriminated against, because of their sexual orientation, race or religion, realize that the acceptance and sense of entitlement they now enjoy is the result of decades of difficult work by activists whose opinions were threatening to a majority that would have preferred to silence them. They should call on their student executives to reverse this trend toward the cotton battening of thought and debate on campus.

A safe campus is not achieved by barring thoughts or speech that the majority of people disagree with but in providing a safe venue to express and explore competing ideas and beliefs.

For sale: Fake futures

For $3,000, Peng Sun (BHRM Hons. ’08) can turn anyone into an instant graduate from the most prestigious universities in the country, wrote the Toronto Star Dec. 7 in a lengthy investigative article. For another $1,000, he’ll provide authentic-looking transcripts for the dozens of classes you never attended. All you need is a bundle of cash and the nerve to meet him in a parking lot somewhere in the GTA. In return you will get a forged university degree virtually indistinguishable from the real thing.

We know this because for $4,000, Peng Sun made a York University MBA diploma for a Star operative posing as a Toronto bank employee who needed one quickly to land a high-paying job in China. In three days, Sun produced documents that would take years and hefty tuition fees for a real student to earn.

Shown the bogus degree and transcripts, York University registrar Joanne Duklas was both impressed by the quality of the forgeries and outraged that anyone, especially a former student, would undertake such "nefarious" work. "As a group, registrars of schools are appalled by this behaviour and find it unacceptable," said Duklas, whose forged signature is on the transcripts.

Sun’s own York University degree is real. He graduated from the Atkinson School of Administrative Studies in 2007 with a Bachelor of Human Resources Management and upgraded it to an honours degree this year, the University confirmed.

Contacted by e-mail, Sun boasted openly of his ability to produce degrees from most Canadian universities, with the exception of the University of Western Ontario in London, the Star said. A University of Toronto degree would have to carry a graduation date prior to June of this year. U of T has started using holographs on its diplomas, which are harder to copy, but Sun said recently he is now in a position to fabricate the new U of T degrees, for $6,000.

Both U of T and York get several hundred calls each week from prospective employers and other universities, many of them overseas. Anyone with a concern about the legitimacy of a degree should contact the Registrar’s Office at either school, wrote the Star.

In April 2007, York Regional Police arrested five Chinese visa students alleged to be operating a "full-service" forgery mill in the basement of a house in Markham. The Star has no evidence linking Peng Sun to that forgery operation.

Canada has no law specific to degree forgery, though in 20 American states it is a crime to use fake degrees and the US Congress is studying legislation to deal with diploma mills. In Canada, allegations of degree forgery come under the forgery section of the Criminal Code. "Possessing a false document could be defended on the basis that it is a novelty item," said criminal lawyer Scott Cowan, who defended one of the accused in the Markham bust. "But passing off a fake degree as an original in a job application would amount to the offence of uttering a forged document. It could be as serious as using a counterfeit bill."

On air

  • Allan C. Hutchinson, professor in York’s Osgoode Hall Law School, spoke about the proroguing of Parliament, on AM640 Radio Dec. 5.
  • Bernie Wolf, economics professor in the Schulich School of Business at York University, spoke about the crisis in Canada’s auto industry, on CBC Radio Dec. 5.
  • York grad Jonathan Rosenthal (LLB ’87), a criminal defence lawyer and an instructor in the Osgoode Hall Law School Professional Development Program, spoke about the conviction in one of the cases connected to the Jane Creba shooting, on CTV Newsnet Dec. 8.