SFU PEOPLE IN THE NEWS - September 5, 2008

September 5, 2008

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A look at how SFU and its people made news: Aug. 29-Sept. 5, 2008                 

Media during the week reported record enrolment of first-year students at SFU for the fall semester.
SFU was also in the news with stories ranging from a study suggesting BC old-growth forests can be worth more left standing than when harvested, to a new book from an education professor proposing radical changes in our schools.
And three SFU Contemporary Arts students got into the news by winning awards.
Tragically, many headlines were devoted to the death of an SFU student, killed by a driver who plowed his vehicle into a Maple Ridge sushi restaurant last week.


  • The David Suzuki Foundation, the Wilderness Committee, and Ecojustice unveiled to media a report from researchers at SFU saying that in broad areas of BC it usually makes more economic sense to conserve old-growth forests than it does to cut them down.
    The study proposes that when the “value” of forests is defined as not just wood, but is broadened to include capturing carbon from the atmosphere, recreation sites, and sources of products such as wild mushrooms, increased conservation wins out over logging in most cases.
    "We see clear evidence that conserving these forests is economically worthwhile," said lead author Duncan Knowler, associate prof in the School of Resource and Environmental Management.
    SFU’s office of Public Affairs and Media Relations also sent out a news release. The Canadian Press sent the story across the country. The Globe and Mail and CTV were among more than 50 media outlets to pick it up. The Vancouver Sun and The Province and GlobalTV did their own stories. Knowler was on CBC-TV’s national news. The story also ran on numerous blogs.
  • Marketing prof Lindsay Meredith was on GlobalTV National talking about Prime Minister Harper’s new Conservative Party TV ads. They present Harper as a warm-and-fuzzy family guy. Meredith saw the ads as aimed at women. “One of the finer makeover jobs. Women don’t really warm up to guys who are icy and cold.”
  • Tim Rahilly, senior director of student life, was quoted at length in a CanWest News Service feature on what universities are doing to accommodate diversity.
    "As an example, he mentions the creative scheduling required to reserve a room for Muslim students whose prayer timing is guided by the sun, meaning the schedule can vary widely over the course of the school year. SFU's Interfaith Centre was renovated last year to include ablution rooms and now provides a 'more respectful' option for Muslim students who had been making do with public washroom sinks to wash their feet before prayer, he says."
    We saw the story in National Post, The Vancouver Sun, The Province, the Nanaimo Daily News, Winnipeg Free Press, Ottawa Citizen and Windsor Star. It was debated on a number of blogs, too.
  • Social psychology prof Michael Schmitt was also quoted across the country, in a Canadian Press story on how a Vancouver-area golf course is denying membership to players who don't speak English. The Vancouver Golf Club insists this is to ensure all players understand the rules. Schmitt said there's no question the policy is discriminatory and there are easy ways the club could get around its concerns.


  • The Vancouver Sun, The Province, Maclean’s, Asian Pacific Post and South Asian Post reported record enrolment of first-year students at SFU  for the fall term. Said the Sun: “The number of SFU's first-year students has climbed by almost 300 to a record 5,465 so far. This includes 350 first-year students from other parts of Canada, mostly Alberta and Ontario, an increase of 65 from last year.”
  • The Vancouver Sun reported BC teens leading the pack across Canada when it comes to not smoking. Among experts quoted was Health Sciences prof Bruce Lanphear. He recently moved here from the U.S. and said he's impressed with the lack of billboards and tobacco marketing here. He noted that in the U.S. at one point Joe Cool, the camel, was more recognizable to children than Mickey Mouse.
  • The Province ran a newsfeature on Vancouver's new community court. But SFU criminologist Neil Boyd said BC's overstretched health and social services are in no way ready to meet the sentencing demands of the new court. "(The community court) sets up a structure, but it still doesn't have the infrastructure around it.''
    The criminology department at SFU is charged with evaluating the court's progress.
    CanWest News Service sent the story to CanWest media across Canada. We saw it in the Victoria Times Colonist and the Edmonton Journal.
  • Boyd was also in an Ian Mulgrew column in The Vancouver Sun on an initiative of the BC Bar association to reverse the public's loss of faith in the legal system. “The bar has discussed the situation with Neil Boyd, criminology guru at Simon Fraser University, and he has proposed a plan to gather data and expertise to counter the ‘negative, ill-informed perceptions’ and ‘misinformation’."
  • While TransLink promised better bus service for SFU students this fall, The Province reported buses were jammed as students returned to school. The paper said there were some extra buses on the 143 route from Coquitlam to SFU Burnaby. But many students watched full buses pass by and leave them standing in line. The Vancouver Sun quoted a TransLink spokesperson: "As the students' classes start and their travel times spread out it will shake loose a bit, but you'll have to be patient.”
  • New student Layne Clark is authoring a weekly column about her SFU experience in 24Hours. The paper promises: “She will write about her trials and tribulations every Monday this fall.”  (No trials or tribulations in her first piece, though: “I put on a smile and realize that everyone is smiling. Everyone is friendly. Everyone is excited, welcoming and seemingly amazed to be standing there, in university, at SFU.”)
  • The September 2008 issue of Alive magazine has an article on "Video games for good". Terry Lavender of the Surrey campus was interviewed. Among other things, Lavender designed a hit social-issues game (Homelessness: It’s NO Game) while doing his master’s degree at the School of Interactive Arts and Technology.
  • The Chilliwack Progress carried a story on last week’s “swarm” of sub-sea earthquakes off Vancouver Island. It quoted earth sciences prof John Clague: “The earthquakes are within an area near the ‘triple junction’, the spot where the Pacific, North America and Juan de Fuca plates come together. I think the earthquakes are related to the tearing apart of a former microplate within this triple-junction area.”
  • The Vancouver Sun and GlobalTV looked at the progress (or lack of it) on the BC government’s promise to do seismic upgrading on schools. One of those quoted as criticizing the government was Clague. “They are not living up to their commitments.”
  • A back-to-school story in the Tri-City News looked at efforts to offer and encourage healthy foods in schools. It quoted Carrie Matteson, a PhD research associate in the chronic disease systems modelling lab at SFU. "Losing weight is one thing, sustaining long-term healthy change is a different challenge." Noted the News: " The Coquitlam resident runs an obesity support group in Burnaby and has been studying the barriers to sustaining healthy lifestyles." The Maple Ridge News also picked up the story.
  • Rob Gordon, director of criminology, was in the North Shore News in a story on statistics showing BC's over-all crime rate has dropped. He noted that a huge proportion of crime is committed by young men between the ages of 14 and 26. "If we could lock them all up, then we'd have no crime. The bulk of predatory street crime is committed by that age group."  The News later selected that as a Quote of the Week.
  • The Vancouver Courier quoted SFU's Kennedy Stewart at length. The story began: "While some political observers might believe the number of hopefuls seeking a Vision Vancouver nomination is a sign of the party's popularity, political analyst Kennedy Stewart has another theory. 'It looks to me like Vision has lost control of its brand,' said Stewart, a political scientist at SFU. 'On the other hand the NPA has been in this game a long time and knows how to protect its brand.'"
  • The Vancouver Sun did a feature on how "green" is the latest trend in niche dating. It noted that business prof Boyd Cohen included a green dating component on his website, where he is running his "Greenest Person in the World" contest. "I want to challenge the stereotype of green people as being all pot-smoking hippies," said Cohen. The story also appeared in National Post, and as far away as the Truro (NS) Daily News.
  • Speaking of things green, the Penticton Western News featured Colin Mayer and his summer job in conservation with the Nature Trust of BC. Mayer is starting his third year at SFU, studying education with minors in biology and kinesiology.
  • The Burnaby NewsLeader had a story on Orientation Week and its Drum Cafe. "The largest first-year class of students ever to enroll at Simon Fraser University is already marching to its own beat. Literally. . . . 'Drumming is the oldest form of team building,' said Joseph Ramia, who led four sessions of more than 500 drummers on Convocation Mall."
  • Burnaby Now also did a story on Orientation Week, picking up a PAMR news release that quoted student life coordinator Liesl Jurock.
  • Surrey Now reported on security measures at the Surrey campus, focusing on the SFU Alerts system that can send text, phone, e-mail and Instant Messaging alerts to students, faculty and staff in case of emergency.


  • National media reported that three SFU Contemporary Arts students nailed awards at the Canadian Student Film Festival in Montreal. Grad Tony Massil won Best Documentary for Forty Men for the Yukon, which will also be shown at the Toronto International Film Festival. Grad Pablo Albarez won Best Experimental Film for Presidio Modelo. And Kelvin Redvers, a third-year student, won Best Fiction Production for Fire Bear Called Them Faith Healers.
    The Vancouver Sun did a feature story on Massil and his movie. National Post also had an item. The North Shore News did a story, too, as Massil is a North Van resident.
  • The Vancouver WestEnder promoted Vancouver Flying University, a community exhibition and series of talks, exploring issues of housing, urban gentrification and media.  "'We want to open up the idea of how Vancouver, as a city, is changing—through globalization, through the Olympics—and not to accept the limited offers that are being held in front of us,'" says Jeff Derksen, a writer and SFU English professor."
  • The Aldergrove Star promoted a series of free presentations about the art of authorship. "The series kicks off with a panel of four writers—instructors and students—from SFU's Writing and Publishing program on Sept. 18 at the Murrayville Library."
  • The Chilliwack Times featured SFU pipe band drummer Sarah McLatchy of Chilliwack. The band won its fifth world championship in Scotland on Aug. 16. "It was definitely kind of exciting," McLatchy said.  (It’s also on video at
    Burnaby Now ran the SFU news release on the band’s victory. The Moose Jaw (SK) Times Herald featured former Moose Jaw resident Colin McWilliams, a piper with the band since 1995. And Vancouver Sun columnist Malcolm Parry reported: "The honeymoon of bagpipers Angela Beckett and Damien Burleigh got fruitful when their Simon Fraser University band became world champions in Glasgow Aug. 16."
    And the Canmore (AB) Leader reported that heavy snow last weekend didn’t stop the Canmore Highland Games. Among those quoted: piper Andrew Smith of the SFU Pipe Band. “Last time I played bagpipes in the snow was 10 years ago in Canmore.”


  • The Vancouver Sun wrote a big feature on Education prof Kieran Egan and his new book: The Future of Education: Re-imaging the school from the ground up (Yale University).
    Said the Sun: “School would be radically different if Simon Fraser University education professor and philosopher Kieran Egan had his way. For starters, children would become experts in one specific area of study by the time they reach Grade 4. By the time they graduated, they'd know as much about the subject as anybody on Earth. Grades wouldn't matter the same way they do now. Neither would exams.”
  • The Vancouver Sun looked at the changing workplace, and the advantages of having a broad education and general skills, rather than being trained for a particular job. Among those quoted were Nancy Johnston, senior director of student learning and retention at SFU, and Barbara Mitchell, associate professor of sociology. The story was sent across Canada by CanWest News Service.
  • Surrey Now picked up a news release from BC Housing on how Perihan Sucu has won a BC Housing bursary to help cover her final year's tuition. She is completing her masters of education while raising a son and is particularly interested in multicultural education.
  • And the Comox Valley Echo featured Robyn Ashwell of Comox, who has been awarded a Premier's One World scholarship worth $20,000 to support post-secondary studies abroad. She is studying political science and French at SFU and now plans to attend the Institut d'Etudes Politiques of the Université Robert Shuman in Strasbourg, France.


  • SFU Athletics kept media up to speed on Clan play and results.
    • Women’s soccer: The Clan moved to a 5-0 record for the season with a 1-0 win over the U of Saskatchewan Huskies. Earlier, Sarah Boulton’s fifth goal of the season gave the Clan a 1-0 win over Thompson Rivers University. The Clan also defeated Rocky Mountain College 2-1. And Boulton’s fourth goal of the season gave the Clan  a 1-0 victory over Westmont College Warriors in Portland. The Clan’s next game is Sept. 9 vs St. Martin's College.
    • Men’s soccer: The Clan defeated Evergreen State College 3-1 but lost 1-0 to the Concordia University Cavaliers. The Clan’s next date is today at Westmont College.
    • Men’s basketball: The Clan dropped exhibition games at SFU Burnaby 94-66 to the Colorado State University Rams and 81-78 to the Cal State Fullerton Titans. They next play at UBC Okanagan Sept. 27.
    • Women’s basketball: SFU fell 71-47 to the LSU Tigers and 86-67 to the Baylor University Lady Bears, in NCAA exhibition games in SFU’s West Gym at Burnaby. The Clan play again October 8, when they host the University of Saskatchewan Huskies at 7 p.m.
    • Football: University of Alberta Golden Bears beat the Clan 25-13 in Edmonton. This a week after the Clan ended a 25-game drought by beating UBC at home. The Clan next host the Saskatchewan Huskies Sept. 13th as part of a Super Football Saturday doubleheader with the BC Lions at BC Place.
  • Meanwhile, The Province reported officials from the NCAA were in town last week to meet with the presidents of SFU and UBC, as the varsities consider applying to join the NCAA's Division 2. A landslide vote by NCAA Div. 2 members in January opened the door to Canadian schools for the first time. Their first season could be 2010-11.



  • Murder charges were laid against a driver whose truck plowed into a Maple Ridge restaurant last Thursday, killing SFU fine arts student Maija-Liisa Corbett, 19, and another woman.
    Media across Canada reported Brian Craig Irving was charged with two counts of second-degree murder and six counts of attempted murder.
    Said an RCMP spokesperson: "Our investigators have a sense of what the motive was. All I can say is we have two murder charges and no alcohol-related charges whatsoever. People can read between the lines. . . . It comes across certainly as a targeted act focused solely at that restaurant."
    RCMP said Irving did not know the victims and was not known to police.
    There were 45 people in the Halu Sushi restaurant when Irving's truck smashed through the front window and ended up in the kitchen. Witnesses included an off-duty RCMP officer.
    Classmates of Corbett came to the scene to drop off flowers and light candles. A Maple Ridge resident, she had just taken summer-semester courses in history, communication and archaeology, and was to have begun her second year at SFU this week.
    Corbett’s father, Jim, called the SFU President’s office to say: “She just loved SFU, and everything about it. I just wanted you to know.”
    The second victim was 46-year-old Hyeshim Oh, also of Maple Ridge. Oh’s daughter, Jessica Han, attended the same high school and dance classes as Corbett, and is also an SFU student.
    The tragedy occurred two weeks after two SFU students drowned, in separate incidents 24 hours apart, in a lake in BC’s Manning Park.


  • SFU told media how a model river now runs through the lab where SFU geographer Jeremy Venditti carries out his research. He will use the flume to investigate the impact of flow resistance, and better estimate potential flooding impacts on the lower Fraser River.
  • SFU also advised media that that SFU biologist Inigo Novales Flamarique will be the 2008-09 Fulbright Visiting Research Chair in Neurosciences at the University of California, Santa Barbara.  And that SFU grad Rhiannon Coppin, an engineer-turned-journalist, has received a Fulbright prize. She will use the $15,000 award to complete a master’s program in journalism at Columbia University in New York.
  • SFU also told media about two other SFU Contemporary Arts students:
  • A play by first-year student Max Ley will run as part of the Vancouver International Fringe Festival. Untitled is the first all-teen play at the Fringe. (Info: Again, the North Shore News did a story as Ley lives there.
  • Dance student Kim Dixon is among the international dancers who will take their collective Passion to Fight Poverty to Centennial Theatre in North Vancouver on Sept. 7 at 6:30 p.m. All proceeds will help the non-profit group Global Agents for Change fund micro-finance projects in the developing world.


  • Also seen on the web:  Arman Danesh, computing science student, as author of the book Mastering Red Hat Linux.  . . . A reference to economist Stephen Easton’s 2004 report that estimated the street value of British Columbia's annual marijuana crop at more than $7-billion. . . An Indonesian blog that cited Len Berggren, historian of mathematics, on the skills of medieval Muslim mathematicians. . . . Michael A. Lebowitz, emeritus prof of economics, as one of the signers of an open letter protesting European laws allowing detention of undocumented migrants. . . . Word of a new book from history prof Hilmar M. Pabel: Herculean Labours: Erasmus and the Editing of St. Jerome's Letters in the Renaissance.  . . . A promotion for the second annual SFU Sustainability Festival (Sept. 24, SFU Burnaby, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.


ALSO in the NEWS

  • Burnaby Now gave a plug to the SFU Pocket Farmers Market on the Burnaby campus. It’s being staged every Wednesday from Sept. 10 through until Oct. 29 at Town Square, near the Cornerstone building. It’s a project of the SFU Local Food Project and the Coquitlam Farmers Market.
  • The North Shore News featured Shannon Boase, founder of Earthcycle Packaging and winner of a distinguished alumni award from Capilano University. She went through Cap’s Asia Pacific Management Cooperative Program after graduating from SFU with a bachelor's in marketing.
  • The Merritt Herald featured Wayne Heppner, new principal of Bench Elementary. He attended SFU, the paper noted, and has a master’s degree in special education.
  • Two websites in Ghana carried a feature story on Ken Attafuah, criminologist and acting executive secretary of the National Identification Authority in Ghana. The story mentioned he studied for his doctorate in criminology at SFU.
  • The Nanaimo Daily News featured Terry Beech, who at 18 was the youngest person ever elected to a BC municipal council. Now a 27-year-old SFU grad, he is heading to Oxford University, where he will study for his master’s in entrepreneurship and electronic business.
  • The Trail Daily Times reported Bill Ford is the new director of instruction for School District 20 there. The paper said he has a master’s in curriculum and instruction from SFU.



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