Consumers find ways to beat recession depression, says Schulich prof

“People need to escape for a few hours. You can’t focus on work all the time. The thought is, here’s a little pleasure you can reward ourselves with,” said Alan Middleton, marketing professor in the Schulich School of Business at York University, in a story about the recession’s positive impact on the entertainment business in The Toronto Sun June 7.

“During a recession, everyone gets nervous and cuts back on discretionary spending…. But, they’re bored and look to how to get out of things. They don’t cut back on relatively low-cost things to do with peers and family to make life more interesting. The museum, art galleries and movies tend to do well because they are relatively low cost and it just stops life from getting totally boring and more importantly, it takes your mind off things you’re worried about,” Middleton said.

Middleton says the movie industry is famous for flourishing during a recession. Beginning in 1929, movie attendance rose during the first couple of years of the Great Depression. 

Honorary degrees mark York’s 50th anniversary

York University will confer 14 honorary degrees during its 2009 spring convocation ceremonies, running June 24 to 30, wrote Metro (Toronto) June 6.

“We are proud to mark the 50th anniversary of York University by honouring such an extraordinary group of individuals,” said York President & Vice-Chancellor Mamdouh Shoukri. “Their remarkable achievements are an inspiration to our graduates as they embark upon their own careers.”

Sweet tweets, sweet job leads

A January report from Forrester Research shows baby boomers are no Luddites – 60 per cent of Americans over age 50 regularly devour social media such as blogs, podcasts and online videos, wrote The Globe and Mail June 8.

Though anxious to find work through any avenue, a huge quotient of job hunters over 50 are still wary of social media, says Mark Swartz, author of Get Wired, You’re Hired! “They’re keen and they’re also terrified,” he says. Last week the Toronto career consultant told a York University audience they’ve got a competitive edge if they’re on social-media networks now. If they’re still not on them a year from now, they risk becoming obsolete.

“I had a bunch of people come up to me after and say this is where the terror struck them,” he says. “They’re behind with even getting on there and they realize how quickly this user-friendly technology changes. It just leaves them feeling like they’re getting left behind.”

York grad enters Orillia design competition

John Ross (BFA Spec. Hons. ’07) has had two solo exhibits in Orillia, wrote the Orillia Packet & Times June 6 in a story about that city’s Festival of Banners Streets Alive! competition. He studied visual art at York University’s Faculty of Fine Arts, specializing with honours in studio art. Ross received awards twice in the All-Ontario Juried Art Show.

Olympic swimmer worked at Glendon

Canada’s oldest Olympian, Betty Edwards Tancock, was born when Sir Wilfrid Laurier was Prime Minister, wrote The Globe and Mail June 6 in an obituary of the former York staff member. She lived through two world wars, space travel and many other firsts including the inaugural British Empire Games, where she won a silver medal for Canada in swimming.

By the early 1960s, her children were grown, and Tancock went back to work as a secretary in the Department of Philosophy at York University’s Glendon College. For most of the next two decades she had increasing administrative responsibilities until she finally retired at age 69 in 1980.

Billionaire Penske gets a deal for Saturn

There is little doubt that Roger Penske has a talent for picking and creating winners, wrote The Globe and Mail June 6. He is known as a meticulous operator, with a precise attention to detail and a heavy focus on customer service. Yet critics say his success has been largely in business-to-business transactions, and he may encounter difficulties in the very different, consumer-driven business of car sales.

“I hope he got [Saturn] very cheap, because it will have limited life,” said Alan Middleton, a professor of marketing at the Schulich School of Business at York University. “Saturn is a brand without a positioning,” he said, pointing out that it has been a decade since it held any cachet. “I’m not sure it has much left that’s special,” he said.

Osgoode professor says US ‘secessionist’ could join Canada

Constitutional law experts on both sides of the border are intrigued by retiree Edward Barlow’s desire to secede from the US – along with his island Grindstone, the fourth largest of the Thousand Islands and a territory that was once a de facto part of Canada, wrote the Kingston Whig-Standard June 6.

“That’s great – if Grindstone comes, do you think they could arrange to bring New York City with them?” joked Bruce Ryder, a Canadian constitutional expert and professor at York’s Osgoode Hall Law School.

On a serious note, he said the two governments are free to give or take land from one another as long as proper constitutional, diplomatic and legal procedures in both countries are followed. “Basically, what you would need is an agreement between two sovereign nations agreeing to adjust their boundaries,” he said. “If we could get Harper and Obama to agree that Grindstone would be better off as part of Canada rather than being in the United States, we could work something out.”

York grad Cho is still wearing out his running shoes

Wayne Cho (BBA Spec. Hons. ’98, BA Spec. Hons. ’08) could easily give up and allow his anxiety to catch up with him, but his mission to run across Canada while spreading awareness of mental illnesses has left his problems in the dust, wrote BC’s Merritt Herald June 5.

The 35-year-old York University psychology grad suffers from general anxiety disorder, and is hoping to reach Victoria in mid-June after spending nearly a year on the road. Cho has used his savings and gained support as he headed west. “I’ve gone through 11 pairs of shoes since I started running,” Cho said. “I don’t have any sponsorships but I have faith in people that this cause will get the support it needs because it affects so many people.”

Tackling offbeat employment for off-season Argos

Most members of the Toronto Argonauts went the traditional route and exchanged football jerseys for suits after last season ended, wrote the Toronto Star June 7 in a story about players’ second jobs. Running back Jeff Johnson (BA Spec. Hons. ’02) sold real estate while fellow ball carrier and fomer York Lion Andre Durie continued his jobs working with intellectually challenged people and foster children.

Durie has several incentives for pursuing his off-field careers, which involve providing support for clients in all aspects of life from overseeing diet to helping with job applications to taking foster children on outings.

His mother worked with the mentally challenged and his 7-year-old son has an intellectual disability. “It was kind of like a way to help him from inside the organization,” says Durie, who studied sociology at York University before working for Community Living Mississauga and the Children’s Aid Society.

Sex workers feel the pinch

The vices – smoking, drinking, sex – are usually bulletproof during a recession, says economist Perry Sadorsky, who teaches at the Schulich School of Business at York University, wrote the Toronto Star June 7 in a story about the economic slump’s unexpected impact to the sex trade. So, if the sex trade is hurting, “we are in the most serious depression since the 1930s. This shows the magnitude of the decline. It is deep and it is problematic,” said Sadorsky.

Sadorsky wonders if the economic crisis is forcing more people into sex work, thereby increasing competition on the street. Toronto police, who use a community complaints system to keep track of prostitution, report no increase in complaints, though they suggest this may mean sex workers are trolling in non-residential areas.

But it’s no surprise prostitutes and their customers end up haggling, says Sadorsky. Unlike alcohol and cigarettes, which are regulated and sold in stores, the price of sex is flexible and negotiated for each transaction by the buyer and the seller. People willing to work for less affect the going price, he says.

The end of the political world as we know it?

“I think a lot of people would be surprised to discover that what’s being alleged constitutes a crime,” says James Stribopoulos, a professor in York’s Osgoode Hall Law School, in a story about an influence peddling case where a person was offered a political appointment in exchange for withdrawing from an election published in the Ottawa Citizen June 7. “I’m not saying it’s a fact, but the perception is that there’s a lot of quid pro quo going on among politicians.”

So, under that interpretation, it would be illegal to accept $10,000 in exchange for an appointment to a board. But what about accepting a resignation from an electoral race in exchange for a job? “It’s greyer, isn’t it?” says Stribopoulos. “A lot of people would be offended by the ethics of it, that’s for sure, but whether it’s criminal or not really comes back to how we expect politics to be conducted in this country.”

City’s talent on display downtown

Brantford artist Heather Williams, a student in York University’s visual arts program in the Faculty of Fine Arts, said Brantford’s Find Your Spirit celebration is a good opportunity for local artists to showcase their work to the public, wrote the Brantford Expositor June 8. “It’s great exposure,” she said.

Williams had on display several pieces of her artwork, in which she transforms photographic images with computer-generated enhancements. Also displayed were examples of jewellery that she designs and assembles. “People in Brantford don’t know how much talent there is here,” Williams said.

On air

  • Sarah Flicker, professor in York’s Faculty of Environmental Studies, spoke about her latest study of teens’ sexual health on CBC Radio (Moncton) June 5. Flicker’s study was also discussed on CTS-TV’s “Michael Coren Live” June 5.