York student’s death prompts CBC on-air debate on fighting in hockey

Following the death on Jan. 2 of York student Don Sanderson from injuries he received during a hockey fight in December, CBC News’ “The Fifth Estate” aired an hour-long television program on the subject of fighting in the sport Feb. 27.

Mike Sanderson, Don’s father, told the program: "He would always say, ‘Do I have to fight?’ And actually, his goal this year was not to fight at all. He didn’t want to fight…. I’m not saying that they were looking for him to fight, because that was not his role, it was just his toughness, that he’d go out and make the big hit, play physical along the boards and everything else.

"You could hear that gleam in his voice going, ‘I’m still here. I’m still here. I don’t know what I’m doing right, but they love me,’" Mike Sanderson recounted. "And what it was, was just, he’s not the most talented hockey player, but his heart was huge and you couldn’t take away his drive and his ability and his infectious smile."

  • CBC Radio’s “The Sunday Edition” noted March 1, that Don Sanderson’s degree will be awarded posthumously by York University’s School of Kinesiology & Health Science, Faculty of Health.

Ontario to spend $51.6 million to create almost 3,300 new graduate spaces

Ontario says it’s committing $51.6 million to add some 3,300 graduate spaces at its universities over the next few years, wrote The Canadian Press Feb. 28 in a story that listed York University’s share at 168 places. The government says the investment will enable more students to study in high-demand sectors such as engineering and environmental studies. The money, from the $6.2-billion Reaching Higher program, will create 1,925 new master’s spaces and 1,373 new PhD spaces.

  • York student Krisna Saravanmuttu spoke about the announcement on Ottawa’s CJOH-TV Feb. 27

 Canadian women strike gold at World University Games

York University forward Courtney Unruh scored for the third time in her last four starts as Canada’s women’s hockey team beat host China 3-1 in yesterday’s gold medal final at the World University Games, wrote The Edmonton Sun Feb. 28.

Unruh’s second period goal stood up as the game winner as the Canadian side made history as the first winners of the women’s hockey event at the FISU Winter Games. “It’s actually funny to score them in bunches like that because this year I’ve actually had trouble finding the net,” said Unruh. “It’s been a little frustrating back home because the puck just hasn’t been going in for me but here this week it seems everything I do leads to a goal.”

Canada posted a 7-0 record and outscored their opponents by a combined total of 46-7 at the event.

  • York University’s Courtney Unruh, from Fort St. John, BC, regained the lead for Canada with the eventual winner at 7:09, wrote The Gazette (Montreal) Feb. 28.

Free speech on campuses doesn’t work both ways

In what is yet more evidence that universities have become, as one critic has described them, “islands of repression in a sea of freedom,” Toronto’s York University witnessed a near riot of some 100 pro-Palestinian Israel-haters, as police had to be called to usher Jewish students to safety after they had been barricaded inside the Hillel @ York offices and were ‘‘isolated and threatened’’ by the demonstrators, wrote Richard L. Cravatts, director of Boston University’s Program in Publishing at the Center for Professional Education, in the Chicago Sun-Times March 2.

York, one of Canada’s largest universities, also has a sizable Jewish student population, but that has not served to diffuse what has become an increasingly volatile problem on its campus, one that raises issues about what is acceptable behaviour and discourse at universities worldwide.… The York mob demonstrated once again that what is positioned as “intellectual debate” on campuses about the Israeli/Palestinian issue has devolved into something that is not really a conversation at all; rather, it is something more akin to an ideologically driven shout fest.

CUPE at U of T cites York incident and calls for Ryan’s resignation

Surely Ryan knows that had he consulted his constituents, he could not claim that union members would support a focus on boycotting academic institutions, wrote members of the University of Toronto’s CUPE Local 3902 in an open letter to CUPE Ontario president Sid Ryan in the National Post Feb. 28, calling for his resignation. But of course, none of us has had the opportunity to express any opinion on the use of our dues for his partisan political preferences, said the writers.

Many have pointed out that singling out predominantly Jewish institutions for this boycott suggests a discriminatory policy, wrote the CUPE members. The experience at York University campus only last week demonstrates how quickly anti-Israel positions can translate into anti-Semitic slogans. Whatever the intent, the question arises: “Why is the leadership doing anything that could be remotely construed as anti-Semitic?” This accusation of anti-Semitism shames our union. Such policies are an inept and disgraceful abuse of the authority vested in this leadership.

Group ultimately worked for its own dissipation, says Abella

Once, gatherings of the Toronto Workmen’s Circle required a meeting hall. Today, Sara Frymer’s dining-room table is big enough, wrote the Toronto Star March 2. Paradoxically, the decline of their beloved group is largely a reflection of their success.

“The men and women of the Workmen’s Circle struggled so that their children did not have to become workers,” says Irving Abella, a professor of Canadian Jewish history in York’s Faculty of Arts. “They were really working, as it turned out, for its dissipation.”

The Workmen’s Circle, founded in 1900 in New York and in 1908 in Toronto, was Yiddish-speaking, socialist, non-religious and critical to the formation of the labour movement in both cities. In its mid-20th-century heyday, the group included more than 1,000 Toronto members, Eastern European tradespeople who had been associated with left-wing groups in their home countries, mostly Poland and Russia.

Library science gets an artistic intervention

Still more books, this time in the form of an elegantly contrived photo-based installation (extrapolated from a handsome, accordion-style booklet/ multiple) by the consistently ingenious Barbara Balfour, who teaches print media and art theory in York University’s Department of Visual Arts in the Faculty of Fine Arts, wrote Gary Michael Dault in The Globe and Mail Feb. 28 in a review of Balfour’s exhibit Ex Libris at Toronto’s Art Metropole.

The title of the work – both multiple and installation – is Ex Libris, a term that references not only a passion for books but also a passion for owning them. The exhibition is presented as seven large digital prints, each showing a shelf of books. Balfour says she was initially bemused by the way interior decorators “reassemble clients’ libraries into ‘mountain’ and ‘valley’ configurations.”

Balfour has done that too, but her shelves of books come rich with secrets, with whisperings – within the selection and ordering of the books – about more than the meaning of the books themselves and the meaning of their being juxtaposed to one another. In Balfour’s hands, the books band together to form a loose but powerfully felt narrative – about nothing less than the entire rise and fall of human life. One shelf, the Yellow Shelf, features books about the trajectory of life: Thomas Mann’s Buddenbrooks, for example, and The Magic Mountain. Subsequent shelves move onward, subtly but insistently (Tristram Shandy), settling into rumination (Lydia Davis’s Varieties of Disturbance), wisdom and, gradually, acceptance (Zadie Smith’s The Autograph Man, E. M. Cioran’s A Short History of Decay and so on). Art Metropole says the work ends on a positive note, with a mention of an afterlife. But it’s a really small postscript to all that has gone before.

Murder most local

There are tons of great places to murder someone in Toronto and Robert Rotenberg (LLB ’79) knows where to find them, wrote The Globe and Mail Feb. 28 in a review of the Osgoode grad’s first novel. After nearly two decades as a criminal lawyer, he can list more than a few.

Editors and publishers had perpetuated a misconception for decades, that readers prefer London, New York or Los Angeles to the cold anonymity of the Big Smoke as a setting for a murder mystery novel. But if Rotenberg’s book, Old City Hall, is any indication, Toronto can turn pages in at least nine other countries.

The book, published by Simon & Schuster, will be released in hardcover this Tuesday. Its 372 pages are crammed with trivia about the city, its flaws and foibles. And as the narrative jumps among a diverse cast of characters, it sheds light on nuances of Canada’s largest city. “I wasn’t trying to write about Toronto as the world’s most multicultural city or the greatest city. Just Toronto, warts and all,” Rotenberg said. “And the warts are much more interesting than the other stuff.”

Rotenberg crossed the Atlantic several times throughout his twenties before settling in Toronto. After studying law at York’s Osgoode Hall Law School, he studied for a year in London, and then worked for a year in Paris as the managing editor of an English-language magazine named Passion, founded by another Torontonian, Robert Sarner.

Local author shining spotlight on Chatham-Kent

Chatham-Kent is gaining international attention thanks to the latest book penned by Bryan Prince, a local historian and author, wrote The Chatham Daily News Feb. 28. Prince and his wife, Shannon, are also included in a CD titled Road to Freedom, which is a concert series featuring the Karen Schuessler Singers from London and jazz singer Denise Pelley.

In between songs, the Princes provide historical narratives. Prince said a highlight occurred in March 2007 when they performed for Governor General Michaëlle Jean at York University in Toronto, when she received an honorary doctorate. “She came up and hugged us, she was so moved by the performance,” he said, noting that remains a special memory.

Now the payoff: cashing out

Moshe Milevsky, finance professor at the Schulich School of Business at York University, calls annuities “longevity insurance”, wrote the Ottawa Citizen Feb. 28 in a story about RRSP investing. If you’re healthy with long-lived parents and grandparents, and concerned about outliving your money, you can annuitize part of your investment portfolio to reduce this risk.

FES prof takes issue with Star’s take on nuclear power

Your statement that nuclear power has “zero greenhouse gas emissions” is simply untrue, wrote Mark Winfield, professor in York’s Faculty of Environmental Studies, in a letter to the Toronto Star Feb. 28. Nuclear has major environmental impacts throughout its life cycle. Ontario has better energy options. It needs to make them the centrepiece of its future energy plans.

Animals: Some we love and some we eat

Ritter’s new book is a far-reaching exploration of the paradox underlying our relationships with animals, wrote Christine Sismondo (BA Hons. ’96), who teaches humanities in York’s Faculty of Arts, in a review of Erika Ritter’s The Dog By The Cradle, The Serpent Beneath, in The Globe and Mail Feb. 28. Her devotion to gaining insight into that tortured relationship is quite amazing. Ritter travels extensively, interviewing scores of animal experts in her attempt to confront and make some sense of the ugly truths we generally put blinders on to avoid seeing.

The Dog by the Cradle, The Serpent Beneath can’t really provide any hard and fast answers or a definitive code by which we should all live. Thankfully. This is no polemic. What Ritter does, instead, is pose provocative questions and expose the paradoxes we tend to ignore.

Bonnie wants your support

In these uncertain economic times, who can you trust for sound financial advice? A beauty pageant contestant, that’s who, wrote the Waterloo Region Record Feb. 28 in a story about former York student Bonnie Casey. Not that you should entrust your life savings to just any dishy diva who can sexily sashay across a stage in a swimsuit and an evening gown, mind you. But you can put your financial faith in Casey, a 23-year-old pageant contestant who is equally comfortable in power suits and bathing suits.

When she’s not preparing for the March 21 finals of the Miss World Canada pageant, Casey is doling out money tips as a financial adviser with RBC. At the moment, she is also campaigning with the fervour of a politician seeking office, since online voting could launch her into the top 20 contestants in Miss World Canada. Casey has already bested hundreds of other would-be beauty queens in the preliminary rounds of competition, and is now among 47 other women from across the country vying for the title of Miss World Canada. The winner will represent Canada at the Miss World pageant

On air

  • Karolyn Smardz-Frost, research associate in York’s Faculty of Education and a course director in York’s School of Arts & Letters, spoke about Black History Month on CBC Radio’s “Metro Morning” Feb. 27.