All Posts Tagged With: "toronto"
What students are talking about today (February 11th)
1. After Drake won the Grammy Award for Best Rap Album on Sunday night he released a video for his new single, Started From the Bottom. Much of the video was filmed at a Shoppers Drug Mart in Binbrook, Ont, according to the Hamilton Spectator, and it also features his mom standing outside his childhood home in Toronto, reports Canada.com. Why do we care? My guess is because Canadians love to see Canadian things in videos they think Americans will watch. For more Grammy coverage see Macleans.ca.
2. City of Toronto inspectors have found what they say is an illegal rooming house near U of T Scarborough and Centennial College. Officials told the Toronto Star it was probably full of foreign students. Eleven people were living in rooms in the majorly renovated house. Real estate agent Yixuan (Jessica) Wang has been accused of arranging the leases. The city says there are 120 active files stemming from complaints over suspected illegal properties in Scarborough where there is just one 765-bed student residence (at UTSC) for nearly 15,000 post-secondary students.
Prof. Pettigrew on why universities can’t divest
Here, Cape Breton University Professor Todd Pettigrew argues that divesting from “unethical” companies isn’t as easy as activists make it sound. After reading his commentary, check out Torrance Coste’s argument in favour of divestment.
I served, for a brief time, on the Board of Governors of Cape Breton University, and one thing I did during that period was speak in favour of looking into ethical investments. After all, we know from the proverbs that money talks. So if we are talking with our money, why not have it say something important?
Ethical investing, I argued at the time, seemed all the more urgent in the context of university education. If we are trying to teach our students to think critically, shouldn’t we ask tough questions about scholarship endowments and pension funds? Should we give scholarship funds to a student studying, let’s say, social justice, and then tell that student not to worry where that money came from?
Bad news for Bieber, Mayor Rob Ford & job-seeking grads
1. Toronto Mayor Rob Ford has been removed from office and has 14 days to vacate his seat after a judgment from Ontario Superior Court Judge Charles Hackland. Ford violated conflict of interest rules by voting during a February council meeting on whether he should be forced to repay money he solicited from city lobbyists and businesses for his football charity. Toronto New Democrat MP Olivia Chow says she may run.
2. After accepting the Diamond Jubilee Medal—in overalls—from the prime minister, Justin Bieber was booed by the crowd during the halftime show of the Grey Cup final in Toronto on Sunday. The Canadian Press says 74-year-old Gordon Lightfoot better captivated the crowd. The Argonauts won 35-22.
3. In more bad news for Bieber, he’s no longer YouTube King. Korean rapper Psy’s video for Gangnam Style surpassed Bieber’s Baby as the most-viewed ever at 806 million and counting.
Two are in Ontario
Startup Genome has released a global ranking of Startup Ecosystems and three of the top 20 entrepreneurial cities are in Canada. The ranking is based on eight components: startup output, funding, company performance, talent, support infrastructure, entrepreneurial mindset, trendsetting tendencies and ecosystem differentiation. Toronto is eighth, Vancouver is ninth and Waterloo, Ont.—the only small city on the list—punches above its weight class at 17th. Here are the top 10:
A photographic tour of the main Toronto campus
This fall, Maclean’s photographed 24 of the 49 institutions featured in the 2013 Maclean’s University Rankings. Below, Jessica Darmanin shows you around York University. Click on each photo to make it larger. Then check out the other 23 galleries by clicking here.
Doesn’t he remember SlutWalk?
Following a string of sexual assaults on female students in Toronto, a street preacher told The Toronto Sun that be believes the attacks happened because Canadian laws “give too much freedom to women.” Al-Haashim Kamena Atangana is a 33-year-old Islamic convert connected to the Muslim Support Network. He can often be heard preaching at Toronto’s Yonge-Dundas Square.
Atangana, who is planning to hand out literature on the topic, wrote to The Sun asserting that women get raped because of the way they dress. He also proposes Toronto become “the first city in North America to introduce laws that would make it illegal for women to dress provocatively.”
Sound familiar? It should. It’s a more extreme version of what Toronto Police Constable Michael Sanguinetti told an audience at York University last January—that women shouldn’t dress like “sluts” if they don’t want to be victimized. Atangana remembers. He praised the officer in his e-mail.
But apparently he doesn’t remember how it ended—with the public shaming of Sanguinetti and the global SlutWalk movement. Women and their supporters marched in provocative clothes to assert their right to dress however they wish without fear of being sexually assaulted. The marches hit a collective nerve, spreading from Toronto to faraway places like London and New Delhi.
With people like Atangana out there, it’s clear SlutWalk’s work isn’t over yet. I hope he’s prepared for feminists in short-shorts. I’d be surprised if he doesn’t see a few more of them in the future.
Woman flees washroom
A third woman has reported an apparent peeping tom lurking in a washroom at York University.
This comes two weeks after two similar incidents. Women reported seeing a man in a washroom stall at Curtis Lecture Hall on Jan. 9 and Jan. 10.
The latest incident occurred on Jan. 24 inside a washroom at the Stacy Lecture Hall. At 8:55 p.m., a woman says she noticed large shoes inside a stall that looked like they belonged to a man. She fled the washroom and activated a security alarm.
The suspect is described as a brown male aged 21 to 23. He’s about six feet tall, weighs about 185 pounds. He has a chinstrap beard and a square jaw. He was last seen wearing dark jeans, brown or dark-green shoes with beige soles, a dark-grey hoodie with a black jacket and was carrying a dark brown or black backpack. Those with any information are encouraged to contact Crime Stoppers.
Male suspect had phone in his hand
Toronto police are looking for a man after several women reported seeing a male lurking in washrooms at York University over the past week.
Police say that on Jan. 9, at 6:05 p.m. two women in a washroom stall at Curtis Lecture Hall noticed a man reach under the stall they were in, holding a cellular phone. The man then fled. The next day at 8:30 p.m., a different woman walked into a washroom at Curtis Hall and saw a man looking over a stall. He fled once more.
The suspect is described as brown skinned, aged 20 to 25 years old, 5’8″ to 5’9″ high with a thin face and chinstrap beard, dark eyes and black hair. He was last seen wearing a grey knitted sweater, blue jeans, grey shiny sneakers with two straps and a grey toque.
Woman sexually assaulted by six men near campus
Ryerson University in Toronto has put up notices around campus seeking information after a woman was sexual assaulted near the downtown campus last week. Police say a 27-year-old woman was picked up on Yonge Street between Dundas and Gerrard on the evening of Jan. 3 by six men in a black minivan with tinted windows. She was driven to a house somewhere in the Yonge and Eglinton area, sexually assaulted and then released. Police haven’t said whether the woman got into the van voluntarily. Detailed descriptions of the six suspects are available here.
But gov’t won’t track race of teachers
In Toronto’s Peel Region, where 57 per cent of people are minorities, South Asians are demanding more non-white teachers. “We’re still seen as outsiders, we’re not part of the team because schools are kind of clique-ish to those who aren’t Caucasian,” teacher Krishna Nankissoor told the Toronto Star. He had complained to the Ontario Human Rights Commission after failing to be promoted, but since made a deal with the board. Tony Pontes, the director of education for Peel Region told The Star that it takes time to get more minority teachers. Dean Alice Pitt of York University similarly explained that although the supply of teachers in recent years is very diverse (33 per cent at York) boards aren’t hiring much, so the face of classrooms is changing slowly. The Ontario Ministry of Education told school boards earlier this year to make equity a focus in hiring, but the government will not force boards to track the races of teachers.
Deal to be ratified on Tuesday.
A strike has been averted by Toronto school bus drivers, after the union reached a tentative deal with Stock Transportation. The drivers, who bus students in Toronto’ north and east regions, had voted 91 per cent in favour of strike action late last month. A strike deadline had been set for Monday at noon. “We’re pleased to have reached a tentative agreement after a challenging set of negotiation,” CAW Local 4268 president Debbie Montgomery said. Details of the agreement, which was reached on Saturday, will be released following a ratification vote by the union’s 600 members on Tuesday. Approximately 7,000 students would have been impacted by a work stoppage.
Job action could be taken Thursday
School bus drivers in Toronto could be on strike as early as Thursday. Members of CAW, local 4268, have voted 91 per cent in favour of job action. According to CAW, which represents more that 600 drivers, who work for the privately owned Stock Transportation, the dispute is centred over discrepancies between total hours worked and compensation. Stock provides bus services for schools in Toronto’ north and east regions. “Our members deserve to be treated fairly. They provide a crucial service for the city’s education system, including for the largest school board in the country,” union president Debbie Montgomery said.
Online petition organized in opposition
A proposed Africentric program to be housed at a high school in Toronto’s west end is being criticized by students who say the plan could limit diversity. On Wednesday, the Toronto District School Board will vote on plans to incorporate the program into Oakwood Collegiate. Students, who, the Toronto Star reported on Sunday, were “blindsided” by the news have organized an online petition and a Facebook group in opposition to the proposal.
“Not that students are racist, but some parents could stop sending their kids because they could see it as potentially dangerous, which could reduce the enrolment of the school. The idea of segregation is not something Canadians like; we’re a mosaic of various cultures,” Grade 11 student Matthew Wong told the Star on Tuesday. Another student told CTV News that, “this is one of the most diverse schools I know. There are Asians, blacks, whites. It doesn’t matter. It is a diverse school.”
In 2009 an Africentric elementary program was opened at Sheppard Public School, and many who attend that school live in the same area as Oakwood Collegiate.
Jewish Defence League to hold event to counter Israeli Apartheid Week
The Jewish Defence League of Canada has announced it will be hosting an event called “Islamic State Apartheid Week” in Toronto next week. Its stated goal is to “counter the campus lies against Jews and highlight the truth of Islam,” as well as “expose and confront the Israel bashers and Jew haters during IAW [Israeli Apartheid Week].”
Sounds like this all should go off without a hitch, no?
So far, it seems the program consists of protesting IAW events. The first gathering is scheduled for Tuesday, March 8, to protest a screening of “Jaffa the Oranges Clockwork,” which (to add another twist) is being sponsored by the Ryerson Student Union. Two more protests–one at the University of Toronto and another at York University–have been scheduled so far.
As of yet, just over 100 people have confirmed attendance on Facebook.
Another reason to prefer small universities is the access to full-time profs.
There’s a lot of talk these days about the disappearance of the tenured professor. We now regularly hear that most of the undergraduate teaching these days is done not by the experienced, expert, tenured professor, but rather by the “ill-paid, overworked lecturer.” When statistics are given, they are for the country as a whole, but those numbers, I suspect, paper over vast differences among different kinds of schools.
In my department, for instance, there are seventeen teaching positions in total. Of those, thirteen are full time and eleven of those are tenured or tenure-track. Of the four who teach part time, one works at the university in another capacity, another is a professional writer married to a tenure-track member. The third is employed elsewhere, and the last is a woman who has just finished her MA and is teaching part time while she applies for her PhD. They each teach the equivalent of one full course per year, generally in areas where the course offerings and enrollments cannot justify full-time positions. Overall, our under-paid part-timers teach about ten percent of our course offerings. Even if you include the full-time sessionals (who are paid using the same grids as tenure-track people, and who have similar benefits), around three-quarters of our courses are taught by tenured and tenure-track faculty.
To be sure, our part-time faculty members are not paid as much as full-time members, but, by the same token, they do not have non-teaching responsibilities either. They are not expected to maintain a research program, for instance, nor do they have to sit on the various committees, boards, and task forces that the rest of us do.
In other words, no “roads scholars” here.
The reason a university like mine does not employ an army of sessional instructors is not because we are superior in terms of virtue. It’s practical. We simply can’t. In Toronto or Vancouver or Montreal, there is a veritable sea of PhDs looking for work, and universities take advantage. In Cape Breton we only have the sea, not the PhDs, and to attract scholars we need to offer tenure-track — or at least full time — work. I suspect much the same situation obtains in Antigonish, and Brandon, and other small places removed from major centres.
So while at many universities, students can get through much of their degree without ever meeting a tenured faculty member, at a small school like mine, you can easily meet five of them the first week. There are some disadvantages to a small-town school, but laments about the state of “today’s university” ignore some of the real advantages.
Students in Toronto, Calgary are proving that authority still rests with the governed
This has been a good year for students wielding power over their administrations. A high school student in Toronto, suspended for speaking his mind to the administration, got the school and local media on his side and had his record cleared. Two students at the University of Calgary criticized a professor online, but a court cleared them.
It hardly even matters what the students at the University of Calgary were speaking out about. As it has it, the kick-off was a relatively childish Facebook group about a disliked professor. But it quickly turned into a story about a university pushing its students around arbitrarily without regard for their rights or due process. The students saw this and asked a court to side with them. On Oct. 12, 2010, the Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench saw fit to do so, ruling that the students’ Charter rights had been infringed.
In Toronto, the situation never escalated quite as far, but was no less dramatic. After a 17-year-old soccer player voiced his concerns about support for the school’s teams at an assembly, his school banned him from athletic activities and suspended him for two days. The heavy-handed and blatant act of censorship did not go unchallenged. Parents, fellow students and media outlets across the city quickly rose to his defence. Inside of two weeks the school’s administration backed down, reinstating the student’s privileges and allowing him to return to class.
He’s now trying to expunge the suspension from his record as he prepares to apply to university, and it seems he has support on his side again. While his principal has said it won’t be an easy feat, if precedence is any indicator, I don’t think he’ll have a problem realizing his latest ambition.
In a year where we’ve heard much about heavy-handed government from WikiLeaks, G20 abuses and corporate scandal, that the power of the people can still be wielded, and wielded with courage, is itself encouraging.
These are students who showed incredible courage and wisdom. They recognized that they had been wronged, and recognized the most effective avenues for correcting those wrongs. But what these examples demonstrated most effectively was the power of the people when they come together.
When media outlets and hundreds of supporters rally behind a cause, it cannot be ignored. A mentor of Russell Crowe’s Gladiator said it best: “Win the crowd and you will win your freedom.”
Even Barbie in this summer’s Toy Story 3 was on to this idea. “Authority should derive from the consent of the governed, not from threat of force!” she declares in the film.
And while there is much to be sorrowful in this world, as 2010 nears its end we can be thankful that it is still our consent that is required above all else in government. And we are still free to withdraw that consent, whenever we see fit, so long as we have a few friends to stand with us.
Poverty reduction program would reward students for academic, social work
The Toronto District School Board is considering paying students to attend class as part of an anti-poverty initiative. So far, it’s not clear what kind of program the public school board is studying—only that it’s looking at the idea that students could be promised “some kind of financial benefit… to help you with your basic needs,” according to a TDSB official, and that the funding for such a program would have to come from “community partners.” Similar experiments in the U.S. have met with mixed results: in New York, students who were given $50 for doing well on a series of tests didn’t perform any better; however, elsewhere, students’ reading scores improved after they were promised a flat $2 fee for every book they read.
Crown withdraws charges over lack of police warrant
The Crown has dropped charges against about 100 people arrested during a police raid at the University of Toronto during the G20 summit.
Police entered the Koffler Student Centre and the Graduate Students’ Union facilities back in June without a warrant (whoopsies), and arrested a number of activists after discovering several “weapons of opportunity.” These weapons included rocks, bricks and sharpened sticks, which—yes—are fairly ubiquitous, but call me cynical if I don’t believe the GSU had planned a sort of hut-building orienteering exercise for out-of-towners during the G20 summit weekend. The activists, many of whom were from Quebec, later accused police of profiling them because of their province of origin.
For all of our coverage of this story, please click here.
In any case, the Crown has withdrawn the charges since police didn’t have a warrant for the raid. According to police spokesperson Meaghan Gray, the police didn’t believe they needed one, citing “reasonable and probable grounds” for the arrests.
This incident is one just among a slew of G20 humiliations on all sides of the debate, including gross overspending ($334,000 bill for sun screen, bug spray and hand sanitizer, for example), vandalism of public property, mass detention of peaceful protesters, and even a police officer threatening the arrest of a woman blowing bubbles.
But why the GSU thought it a good idea to turn its gym into a makeshift hostel during the hyped-up G20 summit, especially when the campus was pretty much shut down, is beyond me. Why the police decided to raid the area without a warrant, however, also leaves me scratching my head. Unfortunately, neither scenario is surprising.
Universities facing bedbug infestations
Dorms face a ‘major problem’ and when kids come home, you could too
Imagine you’re a bedbug—a creepy nocturnal creature, maybe no bigger than an apple seed, that craves human blood. Times are good for you right now in North America. DDT once rendered your species a distant memory, a revolting relic found only in children’s rhymes. But you’ve evolved immunity to the short-lived, environmentally friendly insecticides of today, and you’re on the march. So where would you prefer to nest and spread your progeny? You’d look for a communal setting, one where people are frequently moving and swapping furniture. Tidiness is a minus; substance-induced inertia a plus. The ideal host population would include sheltered young people who have never seen a bedbug or learned to recognize its excreta.
“Universities are in the line of fire,” declares Don McCarthy, president of Braemar Pest Control in Bedford, N.S., and board member of the Canadian Pest Management Association. “You’ve got transient populations. You’ve got a lot of the social aspects that come with being at university—your buddies come over and sleep over; everybody’s going back and forth to parties and study sessions. There is not a major university anywhere in North America that does not know this is a major problem, whether or not they have it.”
There is no evidence bedbugs can transmit disease, and their whole modus operandi is to be noticed as little as possible. But news of their presence can ward off visitors and clients as effectively as any plague—as retailers are discovering in New York City, where flagship stores for franchises such as Niketown and Victoria’s Secret have had to close temporarily to address infestations, and as Toronto learned in August when a mere Internet whisper had Toronto International Film Festival organizers double-checking venues.
News of on-campus infestations occasionally slips through to public notice. Ryerson University in Toronto has had intermittent problems dating back to at least 2006. The same is true of the University of Alberta, which had to evacuate and treat the entire 20-storey Newton Place residence in 2008. McGill was hit tornado-fashion in 2007 and 2008, with New Residence Hall, MORE House, and Solin Hall all affected. The University of Calgary admits to a steady “one or two cases per year,” according to spokesman Grady Semmens. Humber College in Toronto is following up a positive finding last month with a campus-wide sweep of residences using bedbug-detecting dogs.
At Simon Fraser University, bug-sniffer dogs have become a familiar sight; the school uses them pre-emptively, checking every residence once a year shortly after the start of classes. “SFU has not been immune to the bedbug problem,” says Chris Rogerson, associate director of residence life. “No multi-unit housing provider is.”
But Rogerson emphasizes that universities enjoy advantages that private apartments or social housing don’t. “Universities have departments like mine whose job is to educate tenants, dispel myths and misconceptions, and organize quick reactions to problems,” he observes. “We encourage early reporting, and our attitude is, address the bug, not the person.” That’s why the dogs are brought in after the students arrive. “We don’t get into saying, ‘Well, the unit was clean before you got here.’ The best defence is to make sure there’s no stigma attached, so students don’t decide to suffer in silence.”
Routine pre-emptive inspections are becoming part of the arsenal for many schools, according to Mike Goldman, owner of Toronto’s Purity Pest Control and a pioneer of bedbug training for dogs. “Universities have to deal with students, but ultimately they also have to deal with parents,” says Goldman. (Some of those parents may be worried about secondary infestations acquired on home visits; bedbugs aren’t avid travellers, but they can be transmitted in laundry or other personal effects, a potential worry as thousands head back home for Thanksgiving weekend.) “Nobody wants to get the ‘What kind of school are you running over there?’ call.” Dogs can detect live bedbugs super-accurately, but Goldman says they work better when students are given advance notice to tidy up and minimize distraction. “They’re bedbugs,” he says. “The dog and I have to be able to get to the bed.”