York University student and president switch places for a day

When York University student Ali Esnaashari found out who the grey-haired dude was behind him in line for the only microwave in the Student Centre, he gave him an earful, wrote the Toronto Star Feb. 29. In fact, the mature fellow in the sporty York jacket was University President & Vice-Chancellor Mamdouh Shoukri, who traded places with biochemistry major Rabia Sajun for the day to get a taste of student life. A sort of “Undercover Boss” without the undercover part – Shoukri introduced himself to students, from library stalls to lecture halls – it’s believed to be the first time a Canadian campus has run the President for a Day event popular at some American universities as a way to boost student engagement. Read full story.

Richmond Hill student university president
A third-year student from Richmond Hill has switched roles with the president of York University. As winner of the first-ever President for a Day contest, Rabia Sajun has started her day as head of the University, while President & Vice-Chancellor Mamdouh Shoukri is attending all Sajun’s classes and extracurricular activities. Read full story.

Showering bullies with empathy
Experts and educators are looking at better ways to prevent bullying before it begins, wrote the Toronto Star Feb. 29, in a story about the Roots of Empathy Program for Grade 3 students. The Roots program addresses a small piece of the bullying puzzle, said Debra Pepler, Distinguished Research Professor in psychology in York University’s Faculty of Health and co-leader of PREVNet (Promoting Relationships and Eliminating Violence Network). Where a program such as Roots falls short, she said, is that empathy alone cannot eliminate bullying. Some bullies have a tremendous amount of empathy and know exactly how their victims are feeling. (Article link not available.)

The role that bystanders have to play in Ontario’s anti-bullying push
Bullying generally happens where adults aren’t, including hallways, bathrooms and online, wrote The Globe and Mail Feb. 29, in a story that also quoted Debra Pepler, Distinguished Research Professor in psychology in York University’s Faculty of Health. “It’s a social event,” said Pepler, noting that bystanders can be key to getting adults involved and are particularly helpful in cases of cyber-bullying. Read full story.

Ottawa axes network of immigration research centres
Ottawa plans to stop funding a research network whose findings have helped improve Canada’s immigration policies and settlement programs, wrote the Toronto Star Feb. 29. Its research shed light on many migrant issues and contributed to knowledge about the experiences and contributions of newcomers in all spheres of life, said York University Professor Valerie Preston, director of CERIS – the Ontario Metropolis Centre. Read full story.

Twitter-mining firm will go beyond 30-day limit for customers
Alan Middleton
, a marketing professor at York University’s Schulich School of Business, agrees that millions of tweets taken together can give a powerful image of trends, wrote the Toronto Star Feb. 29, in a story about a data mining company that’s offering Twitter searches that go back two years. “Taken en masse, it creates a pattern that can anticipate things.  This can tell you not only who’s interested, but how often they’re expressing an interest,” said Middleton. Read full story.