Back to York poster campaign attacks ‘war of words’

In a move to turn down the heat on Ontario’s most politically fiery campus, York University is urging students to watch how they use their words, wrote the Toronto Star online Oct. 6.

Gritty new posters unveiled Monday as part of the school’s first Inclusion Day show an open mouth launching weapons from dynamite to a hand grenade, with warnings to respect those with whom you disagree:

“Words have a way of hitting innocent bystanders.”

“A war of words is still a war.”

“It’s not just what you say, but how you say it.”

“Nothing kills ideas like an explosive argument.”

The Safe Speech campaign comes days after President & Vice-Chancellor Mamdouh Shoukri agreed to calls from a York task force for steps to discourage the sort of heated confrontations that have erupted on the Toronto campus in recent years, often over the Middle East.

Civil liberties champion Alan Borovoy stepped out of retirement as head of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association to speak to students about the importance of free speech.

“Freedom of speech is falling out of favour on a lot of Canadian campuses with the restrictions of codes of speech and conduct,” said Borovoy. “But the moral need to be respected must be accompanied by the legal right to be disdainful.”

York is not trying to shut down protests, explained Noël Badiou, director of the University’s Centre for Human Rights, but after some of last year’s emotional clashes, “we had to do something."

“I truly believe freedom of speech does not give you carte blanche to do whatever you please,” said Badiou. “We’re supposed to help students learn and be the leaders of tomorrow, and I’m not sure those are always those who can shout the loudest.”

York has also launched an online tutorial for new students about York’s policies of respect, which Badiou said could become a compulsory part of Orientation for new students in the future.

Changing how the world’s oldest profession is policed

As police across the country search for scores of missing and murdered women, three prostitutes are launching a carefully prepared challenge that could force changes in how Canada polices the world’s oldest profession, wrote The Globe and Mail Oct. 6.

“As it currently stands, the law is arbitrary and irrational,” said Alan Young, a criminal law professor at York University’s Osgoode Hall Law School, who is spearheading the Charter challenge. “We have created this bizarre situation where prostitution is not directly prohibited, but the state tries to prohibit all the incidental transactions.”

Lawyers for the federal and Ontario Crown are focusing their strategy on proving the inherent dangers of prostitution, whether it is conducted in a car, an open field or a luxurious boudoir.

But Young scoffed at the idea that prostitution is as dangerous indoors as it is outdoors: “It’s common sense,” he said. “You can lock the door. You have a baseball bat under your bed. You have a panic button. You have a closed circuit camera.”

  • Closing arguments on a decades-old debate are set to start today, with two sides locking horns in the battle over whether prostitution should be decriminalized in this province, wrote Sun Media Oct. 6.

It all started in March 2007 when Osgoode Hall Law School Professor Alan Young filed a motion in Ontario Superior Court that challenged three key prostitution laws: Keeping a common bawdy house, communicating for the purpose of prostitution and living wholly or in part on the avails of prostitution of another person.

On one side is Young, representing the interests of sex workers who say by decriminalizing these sections of the Criminal Code, sex workers would feel free to go to police if they are assaulted and provide more security measures, thus making them safer.

On the other side, represented by the attorneys general of Ontario and Canada, are those who think decriminalizing the trade would make it easier for pimps to victimize vulnerable workers.

  • Today in a Toronto courtroom, an Osgoode Hall Law School professor, a dominatrix and two sex trade workers are poised to launch a constitutional challenge of our prostitution legislation, wrote Sun Media’s Mindell Jacobs in The Timmins Daily Press Oct. 6.

They contend that the laws banning bawdy houses, living on the avails and communicating for the purposes of prostitution are, in fact, exposing sex trade workers to violence and murder.

“The law, the way it’s structured in an irrational, arbitrary manner, contributes to these killing fields,” declares lawyer Alan Young, who’s spearheading the court challenge. “It’s not about whether you have the right to sell your body,” he explains. “It’s whether the law is unconstitutional when it increases the risk of harm.”

The new harassment

Experts say there is good reason to believe that many of the [sexual harassment] complaints filed by men concern a male harasser and that at least some of the complaints filed by women concern other women, wrote The Globe and Mail Oct. 6.

As for the latter, says Stephanie Ross, a professor of labour studies in York’s Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies, “more women are in positions in leadership in workplace hierarchies.”

A tough-guy male boss picking on a male colleague by constantly calling him a “pansy” could, for example, be considered sexual harassment, Ross says.

“Sexual harassment has never really been about sex. Sexual harassment really is about exerting a certain kind of power in the workplace,” she says. “As long as workplaces are hierarchical and are competitive places, we’re going to find a persistence of forms of harassment. The form that harassment takes, whether it’s opposite sex or same sex, what underlies that on the whole is the exertion of power in a workplace where people are competing for advantage.”

Requests soaring for student financial aid

University and college students are feeling the bite of the recession, with steep increases in applications for financial aid, wrote the Waterloo Region Record Oct. 6 in a story about an increase in applications to the Ontario Student Assistance Program.

One student who got caught in the recession was Ben Steele of Kitchener, in his third year as a theatre major at York University. He wasn’t able to find a job this past summer despite plenty of experience in the service sector.

So this year, he has taken a part-time job on campus and dropped a course to make sure he has enough time to devote to his studies. And that means he’ll have to be at York an extra year, with an even higher debt load at graduation.

Bridging program creates hope of escaping poverty

Shazia Sharif, raising three children on her own, is in her second year at York University, headed for law school, maybe, or a career in international development, wrote the Toronto Star Oct. 6.

It was a program called Women Moving Forward that transformed her from an isolated mom on social assistance to an aspiring professional, meaning that Sharif – and her children – will likely escape their impoverished Toronto neighbourhood.

Through the program, she entered a York University bridging course that gave her entry to women’s studies courses and opened her eyes to the professional possibilities that would have seemed impossible a few years earlier. “Now my children see the possibilities of coming out of poverty,” Sharif said. “As a parent, you do need to lead by example.”

Financial planning is still about selling

The first-ever Financial Planning Week launched yesterday with the year 2020 set for holistic financial planning to become a properly regulated profession, wrote the National Post Oct. 6. But despite lofty rhetoric from the Financial Planning Standards Council, the difficulty of attaining this seemingly simple goal was underlined in a panel session in Toronto where stock brokers, insurance and mutual fund sales people admitted their focus remains selling these products and finding new customers to buy them.

York University former finance instructor Alan Goldhar said finance grads are often disillusioned by the true nature of the entry-level jobs they find in the industry. “It’s like graduating from medical school and then being allowed only to check temperatures and change Band-Aids.” At York, 90 per cent of those who enrol in financial planning don’t take the advanced “capstone” course, which includes real-life case studies. The reason they quit is “the industry has jobs for investment sales people, not for professional financial planners.”

Environmental delinquency likened to ignoring smoking ‘etiquette’

In the near future, Canadians driving gas-guzzling vehicles, purchasing products with excess packaging, or giving dinner guests a tour of the house with inefficient, old appliances will be seen as social outcasts, wrote CNW Group Oct. 6. Already today, fellow citizens are watching. According to a new national consumer poll titled, “The Bosch Eco-lution Report”, a full 7 in 10 Canadians say it’s a social faux pas to do things that are environmentally irresponsible.

“We’re seeing changing sensibilities around the environment and sustainability, just as our society experienced a major culture-shift on smoking not too long ago,” says David Bell, senior scholar, professor emeritus and former dean of York’s Faculty of Environmental Studies. “Today, it’s simply unacceptable to smoke in someone’s house – a norm of yesteryear. Our eco-culture is growing leaps and bounds in the same way today, and soon people who blatantly disregard the environment will be treated as outcasts.”

“Canadians are starting to close the gap between their eco-beliefs and their actions – and while we have a ways to go, I see this country at the cusp of great social change,” predicts Bell.

Change happens when there are a combination of drivers, explains Bell, including government legislation, public policy incentives and disincentives, demonstrated leadership from the corporate world, government, schools etc. and increased education and awareness. Because all of these things are currently aligning, Bell expects fundamental shifts in our eco-culture to take place not within 20 years, but as quickly as five years.

Toyota is driving toward the future

Nearly two decades into the third major technological revolution of modern human history, we have yet to identify the new enterprise that provides a model for the future – one that exemplifies the power of information and communications technologies (ICT) to challenge past management practices

Why is it that a Japanese auto firm, anchored in the flagship industry of the previous century and based in a country that is a laggard in the ICT revolution, is widely held up as a model of the network organization of the 21st century? wrote Eleanor Westney, Scotiabank Professor of International Business in the Schulich School of Business at York University, in the National Post Oct. 6.

One reason is that, so far, the ICT revolution has had its greatest organizational impact on existing corporations, rather than by creating a host of new industries and companies that turn past champions into dinosaurs overnight. A second reason is that both today’s network model of the corporation and the speed of the 1990s ICT revolution have their roots in the Japanese competitive challenge of the 1980s.

Younger readers may find it hard to understand the dismay of US companies like GM and Xerox when faced with Japanese “lean enterprises” like Toyota and Canon, which were less than a quarter of their size in terms of employees but were rapidly overtaking them in the marketplace. The Japanese competitors confronted US firms with a different form of the corporation, variously called the extended enterprise, the vertical keiretsu or the network organization, in which the firm focused on core competencies and relegated lower value-adding activities to a network of specialized suppliers and distribution subsidiaries.

Marketing’s evolution: long live the empowered consumer

It brings me no great joy to say it. But, as a marketing professor, a consultant and a marketing researcher, I have had a fairly good vantage point from which to observe the gradual decay of marketing, wrote Robert Kozinets, marketing professor in the Schulich School of Business at York University, in the National Post Oct. 6.

Marketing is dying. By marketing, I mean that managerial discipline and area that devotes itself to understanding consumer needs, guiding the building of products and services to fulfill them, managing channels, and communicating and enticing consumers to buy.

But that is not what most of today’s marketers do. Instead, marketing has come to mean “marketing communications,” the broadcasting of commercial and promotional information. Marketers are the media folk. The writers of pamphlet copy, liaisons with ad agencies, buyers of focus groups and planners of tradeshows. Perhaps they work with salespeople. Perhaps they even are the salespeople. Sales and advertising – this is what so much of modern, everyday marketing has become.

Emerging from the still-hot embers of marketing’s implosion will be a brilliant new age of consumer-centric management. And I don’t know about you, but I can hardly wait for it to get here.

  • What will be the strategies and structure of the model corporation of the future? Bring your opinions and questions to Smart Shift online when we host a live discussion on The New Corporation and The New Consumer from noon to 1pm ET, wrote the National Post Oct. 6. Eleanor Westney, an expert on international business, and marketing specialist Robert Kozinets will be online at to take your questions and comments.

Cobourg author ties twitching record

If not for the painting of a bird on the cover, one might not know what to make of the title of Cobourg author Richard Pope’s new book, The Reluctant Twitcher, wrote Oct. 6. Fortunately, there’s the subtitle: A Quite Truthful Account of My Big Birding Year.

Just released and widely available, the book will get its official launch Oct. 18 from 2 to 4pm at Meet At 66 King East in Cobourg. The former York University professor is a lifelong birder.

On air

  • Sung Soo Kwon, professor of accounting and director of York’s Master of Financial Accountability Program in the School of Administrative Studies, Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies, spoke about the new program on CBC Radio Oct. 5.
  • Moshe Milevsky, professor of finance in the Schulich School of Business at York University, spoke about risk tolerance and investing on Alberta’s ACCESS Television Oct. 5.