York residences compete for Earth Hour prize

When students pile out of their dorms for some late evening fun, saving the environment isn’t always at the top of their minds, reported the Toronto Star March 5. But undergraduate residence students at York University now have an extra incentive to power off before they head out. This year’s Res Race To Zero contest, an annual Earth Hour initiative, is its second.

"Last year the winning dorm, Calumet, had a 32 per cent energy reduction per student from the year before. That’s pretty amazing," says Pavel Graymason, a coordinator of residence life at York.

He explains the contest, which this year runs from March 1 to 28: All 10 undergraduate dorms, with 2,500 York students combined, compete against each other, but also against themselves, to reduce their own overall energy use for the same time period from the year before. The residence that achieves the highest percentage reduction this year wins $2,000.

"The REAs (residence environmental ambassadors) at each residence decided to give the money back to York if they would match it and spend it on something meaningful (to meet the University’s energy reduction goal)," Graymason says, noting that last year’s prize was $3,000. He was unsure at the time if York would match the prize again this year.

The goal is part of a $40-million investment to reduce the University’s energy consumption by 25 per cent over five years.

Last year, the prize money and matching funds bought high-efficiency light bulbs that were installed in residences.

"It was very meaningful for the students to do that," Graymason says. "This year we’d like to install low-flow showers. When I was in undergrad residence as a student here 10 years ago, I didn’t see this level of passion for environmental issues. But there’s still too much apathy."

Mothering research centre to close

Mothers in academia, running businesses or at home with children are joining forces to try and save a Toronto research organization that has been a voice for motherhood over the past decade, reported the Toronto Star March 5.

The Association for Research on Mothering (ARM), launched 12 years ago by Andrea O’Reilly, women’s studies professor in York’s Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies, announced Tuesday it will close its doors on May 1 due to lack of funding.

The news means regular conferences planned for New York City and Toronto are cancelled, its renowned academic journal exploring motherhood has been suspended and the future of Demeter Press, which has published 10 books on maternal issues, is in jeopardy.

O’Reilly has been flooded with hundreds of e-mails, offers of help and proposals for how to keep her organization going from across Canada.

The organization, which is not one of York’s designated research units, has been given office space by the University but no operating funding, said the Star. ARM relies on grants from the Social Sciences & Humanities Research Council of Canada along with fees from its nearly 550 members and sales of its publications.

Over 12 years, its debt has grown to about $200,000, but O’Reilly said that has turned around in the past five years, with ARM making a small profit or breaking even. She said she has been requesting annual funding of $20,000 from York – the equivalent of what it would cost to hire one graduate assistant – with no success.

York has no plans to provide funding, spokesperson Keith Marnoch said Thursday. He acknowledged the groundbreaking work achieved by the association, but said it is an "arms-length relationship" and there have been "concerns related to financial management and accountability."

"We have not been able to come to an agreement that is acceptable to both parties," Marnoch said.

Former York player wins coaching award

Sarnia resident Janine Day (BA Spec. Hons. ’02) has been honoured by the provincial coaching association, reported the Sarnia Observer March 5.

Day, who teaches and coaches soccer and basketball at Wallaceburg District Secondary School, was recently named the 2010 female winner of the Ontario Coaching Excellence Awards for Developmental Athletes. The former York University basketball and lacrosse player has coached the girls U15 provincial basketball team the past two summers. In 2007, Day was an assistant coach with the U17 team. All three teams won Canadian championships.

York grad named new principal of Madawaska High

At the beginning of February 2010, students at Madawaska Valley District High School were introduced to their new principal, Lauren Wilson (BSc Comb. Hons. & BEd ’79) reported the Pembroke Daily Observer March 5. Wilson, formerly the principal at Arnprior District High School, is a self-proclaimed "student-oriented principal."

She has held many different posts in her 31-year teaching career, spent entirely as an employee of the Renfrew County District School Board. Originally from Winnipeg and trained at York University’s Faculty of Education, Wilson started teaching math and computer science at Fellowes High School in Pembroke.

On air

  • Brendan Quine, space engineering professor in York’s Faculty of Science & Engineering and mission leader for Thoth Industries, talked about the team behind Canada’s Northern Light mission to Mars, on Discovery Channel’s “Daily Planet” March 4.