Why your kid shouldn’t go to school in the fall

As high school students await their university acceptance letters, a growing body of research suggests that the best course of action may be taking a year off, reported The Globe and Mail Feb.18.

In Europe, the gap year is an accepted rite of passage. In North America, however, the traditional student track has long been to graduate from high school in June, and arrive at university in September. But amid concerns about persistent dropout rates, researchers say that many students who follow the straight-to-university path find themselves trapped in programs they don’t like, burdened by debt and are more likely to quit. The pressure to get to class quickly is shortsighted, experts suggest, especially with recent studies suggesting increasing levels of anxiety – and, according to tests and interviews, little actual learning – among first-year students.

More universities in Canada allow, and even encourage, gap years for admitted students; they will even hold their scholarships. “We are trying to say it’s more than a deferral,” says Kenneth Withers, the director of recruitment at York University. “We are really encouraging students to do something with their time.”

Schulich ranked best in Canada, 18th in world

A business publication has ranked York University’s Schulich School of Business 18th in the world and No. 1 in Canada in a global master of business administration (MBA) survey, reported insidetoronto.com Feb. 18.

It was the highest rank ever attained by a Canadian business school in Expansion magazine’s survey, and the second straight year Schulich has made the top 20.

In finishing 18th overall, Schulich ranked closely behind Yale School of Management and Stanford Graduate School of Business, and just ahead of Kellogg School of Management and UCLA Anderson School of Management.

Schulich ranked ninth among business schools outside the United States and 10th among North American business schools. Schulich graduates posted the fourth highest percentage salary increase of any business school in the world, at 121 per cent.

“We are extremely pleased to once again be included among the top 20 business schools in the world and among the top 10 business schools in North America,” Schulich Dean Dezsö Horváth said in a release.

Established in 2006, Expansion‘s Best Global MBAs ranking rates leading MBA programs worldwide using a broad range of criteria, including academic quality, return on investment and global value.

Officer to apologize for ‘slut’ remark

A Toronto police officer will send a written apology to students and York University’s Osgoode Hall Law School, after commenting that women could avoid sexual assault by not dressing like a “slut,” reported the National Post and newspapers, broadcasters and online news sources across Canada Feb. 18.

The incident occurred on Jan. 24, at a campus safety and security forum that featured two members from York University security and two police officers from 31 Division who were available to offer tips, said the Post.

York University’s student newspaper Excalibur reported that the assistant dean of the juris doctor program heard the officer say: “I’ve been told I shouldn’t say this,” before offering the offending suggestion.

Toronto Police spokesman Mark Pugash said a complaint was filed shortly after the incident and the constable has been disciplined. He would not say what form that discipline took, adding the matter is considered an internal police investigation.

Pugash said the officer was not present to deliver safety advice. Student Joseph Hoffman, who was in attendance, said the officer came in with another officer and made the comment to clarify a point the latter had made.

Representatives of the York Student Federation are not satisfied with the police response.

“The officer’s comment is a clear display of misogyny and sexism that is inherent, as the officer felt comfortable saying that,” said Darshika Selvasivam, vice-president of campaigns and advocacy.

The federation is calling for a third-party audit of the police service in the near future.

“We are organizing efforts to hold the police accountable,” she said, adding that details of the disciplinary action against the officer need to be made public.

Canadians cushioned from rising oil prices so far

The current unrest sweeping across the Middle East is helping to push oil prices into dangerous territory for economic growth, reported canoe.ca Feb. 17 on its Money page.

So far the Canadian consumer is being cushioned from the oil price spike in Europe by a record gap in the price at which Brent crude and West Texas crude is traded. But that is also a double-edged sword.

“We are losing out as most Alberta oil is linked to West Texas,” said Perry Sadorsky, professor of economics at York University’s Schulich School of Business. “Producers are missing out on a lot of profit opportunities.”

At present there are no indications that the unrest, which has toppled the governments in Egypt and Tunisia and is now sparking protests from Iran, to Yemen, Algeria and Bahrain, has disrupted oil production or oil supply. The countries involved are not the biggest oil suppliers in the region, though many of them are strategic.

“I’m not too worried at the moment,” Sadorsky said. “If this kind of unrest were to gravitate to Saudi Arabia, then we’d have something to worry about.”

Being bilingual may delay Alzheimer’s and boost brain power

Research suggests that bilingual people can hold Alzheimer’s disease at bay for longer, and that bilingual children are better at prioritizing tasks and multitasking, reported Britain’s The Guardian  Feb. 18.

“Being bilingual has certain cognitive benefits and boosts the performance of the brain, especially one of the most important areas known as the executive control system,” said Ellen Bialystok, a psychologist at York University, on Friday at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Washington, DC.

In her research, published recently in the journal Neurology, Bialystok looked at 211 people with probable Alzheimer’s disease, 102 of whom were bilingual and 109 monolingual, and noted the age at which the patients’ cognitive impairment had started. Her results showed that bilingual patients had been diagnosed 4.3 years later, on average, and had reported onset of symptoms 5.1 years later than monolingual patients.

Do I really need car rental insurance?

“When you’re about to rent a car and the person behind the counter gives you the hard pitch and a scare story – the ‘You know, I had someone last week, they smashed up the car and just walked away because they had our coverage,’ – it’s an emotional sale, and sometimes it’s tough to say no,” says Moshe Milevsky, finance professor at York’s  Schulich School of Business.

“But I find that in some cases, you’re triple-covered, especially if you’ve rented a car with a credit card, and you have your own car back home with a comprehensive enough policy,” says Milevsky, who is also the author of Your Money Milestones: A Guide to Making the 9 Most Important Financial Decisions of Your Life.

Prof calls appeal of prostitution-decriminalization ruling ‘knee-jerk’

Last September, Justice Susan Himel of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice struck down three provisions in Canada’s Criminal Code: living off the avails of prostitution; keeping a common bawdy house; and communicating in a public place for the purpose of engaging in prostitution, reported the Kingston Whig-Standard Feb. 18, in a series examining the local sex trade.

“These laws,” wrote Justice Himel, “individually and together, force prostitutes to choose between their liberty interest and their right to security of the person as protected under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.” It was hailed as a breakthrough by those in the sex trade.

Until, that is, the federal and provincial governments appealed. A decision is expected this spring.

For Alan Young, the York University law professor [at Osgoode Hall Law School] who represented one of the sex workers in the superior court case, the communication section is “the least important aspect of the case.”

“It was always about bawdy house,” said Young. “The idea was to provide the safe house, a safe place to work. If anything is achieved by the case, it’s that. I also don’t like living off the avails because it’s overly broad.”

Young describes the federal government’s appeal of the ruling as “knee-jerk” and “ideologically driven.” He’s outspoken in his hope that by the time the ruling is given, the current government will have lost a spring election.