13,000 York students to get more OSAP cash

About 13,000 York University students can have their student loans extended to help deal with the costs of the 12-week-long strike – the longest ever at an English-speaking university in Canada – the provincial government announced, wrote the Toronto Star Feb. 18.

The government will extend payments to students already receiving aid through OSAP. Those with the greatest need – about 5,300 of the 13,000 students – won’t have to pay the extra money back, said Training, Colleges and Universities Minister John Milloy.

Some 50,000 students were shut out of classes until 3,340 striking teaching assistants, contract faculty and graduate assistants were legislated back to work by the province. Classes resumed Feb. 2. To make up lost time, the semester has been extended by four weeks.

“We estimate about 13,000 York students will benefit from this OSAP extension,” Milloy said yesterday in the legislature.

York students can also stay longer in residence if needed and York is fundraising to create a $5-million bursary fund for those who need help due to the extension of the school year, he said. “Students can also apply to the fund next year if they need additional financial assistance due to the shortened summer work period,” Milloy added.

Rob Tiffin, York’s vice-president, students, admitted it will be “a challenge” to raise funds during an economic downturn but said some potential donors already have signalled an interest. Tiffin noted applications to York for extra financial help are up 15 per cent since the strike.

The 50th Anniversary Bursary and Awards Program – named in honour of York’s milestone this year – will go to students who can demonstrate financial need.

But all students will be allowed to drop a course and transfer those tuition fees to next year.

Tiffany Brogan said the money will help cover food and study supplies until she finishes her final year as a finance major in June. “The extra loan is great and so is being able to stay in residence longer at no extra cost…but I know students who aren’t sure they can afford to come back next fall now that they’ll lose one-quarter of the summer when they could be working.”

Gathering focuses on Nazi ban of ‘degenerate’ culture

Anne Beer ’s bookshop is a stone’s throw from the University of Windsor, and it suddenly occurred to her how little the students coming into her shop knew the stories of the banning of books and music by the Nazis during the Second World War, wrote The Windsor Star Feb. 18. Beer (BA Spec. Hons. ’69, MA ’72, PhD ’80) decided it was time they learned.

That’s what led to "An Evening of Degenerate Art", held recently at Mackenzie Hall and featuring a string ensemble and readings from such writers as Karl Jirgens (MA ’80, Phd ’90) and Louis Cabri, and University of Windsor poet and Professor Stephen Pender.

Some 100 turned out to the event that took as its focus artistic work targeted by the Nazis in the 1930s and 1940s in Germany. Hitler’s regime banned such work on the grounds it was “un-German” or Jewish in nature. The artists themselves were also subject to sanctions. Many were dismissed from teaching positions and were prohibited from selling or exhibiting their work.

Besides the artwork, music and books also came under the ban.

Jazz, blues and works by Jewish composers, even historical classical artists such as Felix Mendelssohn and Gustav Mahler, were banned. So were the works of such writers as Thomas Mann, Franz Kafka and Karl Marx.

“For these students,” said Beer, “something that happened 70 years ago might as well have happened 700 years ago – it’s all the same. I think when they hear about it, and hear the music, and hear the words that weren’t permitted when Hitler was in power in Germany, they will know it was wrong, and it made no sense really.”

Beer, owner of The Book Room, a used bookshop on Wyandotte Street, organized this evening of readings and music, knowing it would be a hard sell. “But I thought it was important and I wanted people to know about it – that’s why I did it.”

For Beer, this focus on censorship is not some idle intellectual concern – it goes deep within her own roots in Hungary where she was born. She had been raised a Protestant only to discover once the Nazis took control that her parents were Jews. “I wore the Star of David, and I wore it proudly but I was brought up as a Protestant. My parents died in a concentration camp – I don’t know where. I had been placed in a convent.”

Beer lived under the care of nuns along with other children who, during the war, were referred to as “hidden children” – youths whose lives were spared because they were protected by people or institutions that weren’t Jewish. They were given false identity papers.

As a child, Beer saw first-hand the effects of tyranny upon people and has never forgotten it. Beer came to Canada in 1948. She was 13 years old, and went to live with an aunt and uncle in Midland, Ont., before moving to Toronto where she earned a doctorate at York University. She came to Windsor 21 years ago to start a bookstore and has remained here ever since.

Hockey teams among favourites for gold at Winter Universiade

Women’s hockey is about to make its World Universiade debut, and Canada hopes to set the bar high, wrote The Canadian Press Feb. 18.

The Canadian women are favoured to win the 2009 World Universiade tournament, Feb. 18 to 28 in Harbin, China, and would like nothing better than to bring home gold in their first ever appearance. “Every time Canada suits up in women’s hockey, the expectation is to win gold,” said Dan Church, the Canadian women’s head coach in China and also the [women’s] head coach at York University. “It’s great that women’s hockey has finally been included as part of the Winter Universiade, and I think the girls realize how special it is to be the first group to represent Canada at that level.”

The women’s hockey team, compiled from players from across Canada, will play a six-team tournament against Finland, Slovakia, Japan, Great Britain and China. And with no representation from the US or Sweden, the Canadians are easily favoured for gold. “It’s hard not to be impressed when you look at some of the accomplishments of these players,” Church said. “We’ve got nine players heading to China who’ve won a Canadian Interuniversity Sport national championship.”

Transit is the little gallery that could

“There is a sense that nothing should happen until everything else is fixed, but everything is never going to be all fixed.” That is York grad Priti Kohli (MA ’01) and David Brace speaking recently in the middle of a beautiful space, vibrant with art and with thrift, that should not, by rights, even exist, wrote the Hamilton Spectator Feb. 18. Because, when the couple started the Transit Gallery on Locke Street in March 2001, it was as though they had waited for everything to be broken.

At a personal level, Kohli was commuting several times a week, on public transit, to York University in Toronto, where she was working toward a PhD – three hours each way.

Set yourself apart from the pack

What can you do to make your company stand out? asked The Globe and Mail Feb. 18. Find how out how you’re doing, and whether what you’re providing is fitting your customer’s needs. Alan Middleton, professor of marketing at the Schulich School of Business at York University, advises examining every aspect of your business, from delivery times to cost.

Think through the value-added extras you can pass along to customers, things that will be perceived as a bonus. Try to avoid cutting prices to increase volume. In doing so you risk giving away future, as well as short-term earnings, Middleton says. “The whole point of differentiation is that you’re providing something your competitors aren’t and therefore they cannot directly compare [on] price with you.”

Look for a partner or someone you can co-operate with. Middleton gives the example of the Escalator Handrail Co., based in Oshawa, Ont., which supplies parts to large escalator and elevator companies. It offered to manage all the purchases of small items such as handrails and ball bearings for the companies and turned itself into a buying group for five or six items.

Equities and job security

Moshe Milevsky, finance professor in the Schulich School of Business at York University, writes in his book, Are You a Stock or a Bond?, that investors employed in insecure lines of work should have less exposure to equities than persons with secure jobs, wrote The Globe and Mail Feb. 18 in an article on investing.

On air

  • Bridget Stutchbury, biology professor in York’s Faculty of Science & Engineering, spoke about her latest study of songbird migration on CBC Radio (Winnipeg, Man.) Feb. 17.