Are best friends bad? Some schools think so

Schools are discouraging close friendships in the hopes of preventing bullying, wrote Jan. 26.

It’s not that concerned educators are “out to get” best friends. But they are trying to nudge close pals apart a little bit, so that they don’t become too insular. Twosomes can turn into threesomes, and such cliques are often behind bullying. “When three or four kids get together, they can decide someone is not good enough to join their group. They can ramp each other up to do worse and worse things,” says Debra Pepler, a psychology professor in York University’s Faculty of Health, who is an expert on bullying and helps to run, a bullying information website.

Just as adult relationships aren’t always healthy or turn sour over time, kids can also get wrapped up in negative dynamics. Pepler says some close friends actually bully each other: they know each other’s secrets and can make a pal upset with a few choice words – whether about chubby ankles, a crappy slapshot or that time he wet his pants last year.

Radical call leads to death threats

A distinguished US academic in her late seventies has attracted death threats and an avalanche of abuse after she called for “an effective movement of the unemployed” similar to “the student protests that recently spread with lightning speed across England,” wrote Times Higher Education Jan. 27, in a story about Frances Fox Piven, professor of political science and sociology at the City University of New York.

Glenn Beck, the right-wing commentator,…produced a diagram that put her and her husband on a “Tree of Revolution” alongside Che Guevara. So, when Professor Piven’s new article, “Mobilizing the jobless”, appeared in The Nation last month, it drew a rapid response from Beck’s website, which unleashed a flood of bile. One poster suggested that somebody “should burst through the front door of this arrogant elitist and slit the hateful cows (sic) throat.”

But why had an elderly and comparatively obscure academic been targeted in this way?

Professor Piven’s friend Leo Panitch, professor of political science at York University in Canada [he is Distinguished Research Professor in Political Science and Social & Political Thought, and Canada Research Chair in Comparative Political Economy, in the Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies], suggested that conspiracy theorists were desperate to depict “someone not well-known as pulling the strings behind Obama”. In light of the recent shootings in Arizona, he also noted “the insurrectionary language of those who speak proudly of using weapons for political ends.”

Osgoode grad was a children’s advocate

Joanne Dutka (née Francis) (LLB ’81) was a breath of fresh air, wrote her cousin Carol Smith in The Globe and Mail Jan. 27, in an article about the Osgoode grad, who died of breast cancer July 16, 2010 at age 52. Born on a bright spring day, she was blessed with a sunny nature and positive outlook. She was a Google of sorts, the person others would turn to for information and advice.

Joanne lived most of her life in Oshawa and Port Perry. After high school, she attended the University of Western Ontario for two years. She was accepted at 19 to York’s Osgoode Hall Law School and called to the bar at the young age of 23. For more than 25 years, she practised law in Oshawa with her husband, Ken, providing legal services as a mediator and private counsel and as an agent for the Office of the Children’s Lawyer.

Children and adolescents were a primary focus of her personal and professional life and she was a co-founder of Durham Youth Housing and Support Services, a youth shelter. To honour her, the home operated by the organization was renamed Joanne’s House.

Kanter has date with Stanley Cup

A couple of days ago, Dan Kanter (BFA ’07) got the thrill of a lifetime when the Stanley Cup landed in his basement, wrote the Ottawa Sun Jan. 27.

“Back in June, I was doing “The Today Show” with Justin (Bieber) and the Stanley Cup was there with the keeper of the Cup (Mike Bolt). Small world. “Turns out, he lives around the corner from me. So I gave him a shout and he said he was going to come over. I invited all my boys over (to his mid-town Toronto home). The rule is unless you’ve won it, you can’t drink out of it or hold it over your head.”

The route to professional soccer for young Canadians is unclear

Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) athletes rarely head to professional teams after graduating, as few scouts or coaching staff look for players in Canadian university programs, wrote Jan. 27. The problem extends beyond soccer; even college-aged hockey players head south of the border for a better chance at making it into the NHL.

CIS is looking to change this for soccer athletes. In November of 2010 York University head coach Carmine Isacco mentioned efforts to attain CIS draft eligibility to Canadian podcast It’s Called Football. “I’ve been seeing some initiatives for CIS players to become draft eligible,” he said. “Not sure where they’re at, but I know there has been a lot of data aimed and talked back and forth [between MLS and CIS]. We are at that level now.”

Viva Orange could move to TTC express lane

Transit negotiations could soon lead to Viva buses moving more quickly between York University and the TTC subway, wrote Jan. 26.

Buses on the orange route may be able to take advantage of the TTC’s express busway as soon as this spring, Viva president Mary Frances Turner said.

TTC buses and Viva’s orange route go from the station to the university, but unlike the TTC buses, Viva’s continue to operate in regular traffic, missing out on time and cost savings of its Toronto counterparts.

Prior to opening, the busway was predicted to shave seven minutes off what used to be a 20-minute trip, but the actual number has been closer to four minutes. That leads to improved consistency and reliability, the region said.

On air

  • Glendon student Courtney Tresidder spoke about her outlook on life as a student in a discussion of a new international study about young Canadians, on TFO-TV Jan. 26.