SFU PEOPLE IN THE NEWS - March 5, 2009

March 5, 2009

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A look at how SFU and its people made news: Feb. 26-March 5, 2009


  • A string of media outlets gave big coverage to the story of how some 50 SFU students braved cold and rain to “live on the streets” for 24 hours Feb. 28-March 1. They had no food, no money and no technology—just blankets and their clothes. Saying there are more than 1,000 young people living on the streets, they raised almost $6,000 for Covenant House.
    Media coverage included CTV, CBC Radio and CBC-TV, GlobalBC-TV, CKWX News 1130AM, Virgin Radio 93.5FM, CFOX 99.3FM, Talk 1410AM, Evolution 107.9FM; and, in print, Sing Tao, 24 Hours, and Burnaby Now. It also made the front page of the BC Catholic (with a photo). A number of blogs picked up the story, and news of the students’ experiment also spread far and wide via Twitter.
    For the inside story from the Student Marketing Association of SFU, see:
  • The Vancouver Sun was the first to report that SFU is exploring the possibility of private funding, construction and operation of student residences on its Burnaby campus. Pat Hibbitts, v-p of finance and administration, said: “We’re just testing the waters. We’re just looking for creative ways to try and deal with residences.” GlobalTV picked up the story.
  • Also in The Vancouver Sun, a feature on “yarn bombers”, who place knitted “yarn graffiti” in public places (think lengths of colourful knitting tied to trees, little pom-pom hats on fence posts). A leader of the “craftivist” project: Leanne Prain, “a graduate student at Simon Fraser University and a graphic artist whose day job is at the University of B.C.”
    Canwest News Service sent the story across the country. We saw it in National Post, the Victoria Times Colonist and the Alaska Highway News.
  • Associate dean Ed Bukszar of SFU Business was on FairchildTV, talking about the Bank of Canada’s interest rate cut to 0.5%, and what the bank or the federal government might consider next to give the economy a reboot.
  • The Georgia Straight looked at the impact on consumers of the recession. Among others, it quoted marketing prof Lindsay Meredith: “It’s the lower-economic crowd who really, really have to cut back. So even Wal-Mart, for example . . . might find a bit of a decrease in sales.”
  • Gordon Price, director of SFU’s City Program,was in the Tri-City News, questioning the proposal from BC transportation minister Kevin Falcon that some funding for the Evergreen transit line could come from developers, by way of new zoning around stations. Price said the "Hong Kong model"—directly linking transit to commercial and residential real estate development—might not translate locally. "We don't have the density to sustain that like they do."
  • The Vancouver Courier featured a “happy hooker” who works for a Vancouver escort agency. As a sidebar story, the Courier reported on a soon-to-be-published study by Tamara O'Doherty, a graduate student in SFU Criminology. “(The) study on the off-street sex trade . . . concludes it's possible for women to work safely in the sex industry. Sixty-three per cent of the women who participated in Off-Street Commercial Sex: An Exploratory Study, reported they had never experienced violent behaviour.”
  • Meanwhile: CTV posted online its video story on the Feb. 26 Open House at the Surrey campus. You can see it (though preceded by a commercial) at:
    As well, there are videos from Surrey’s Open House on our SFU YouTube channel:


  • Northern News Services carried a story saying that—thanks to SFU’s Lynne Bell—a soon-to-be-released documentary will show the infamous “Mad Trapper” was not a Canadian as originally thought.
    The man known as Albert Johnson shot and killed an RCMP officer in 1932 and led the Mounties on a six-week chase through the Arctic before he was finally shot dead. But who was he? Forensic anthropologist Bell ran isotope tests on his bones and found him to be not Canadian, but American or Scandinavian.
  • Canwest News Service carried a feature on “smart” homes for those suffering from dementia, monitoring actions and environment and using a recorded voice to remind residents to turn off the tap or to shut off the stove if they forget. And sending text messages to family members as needed.  It quoted Andrew Sixsmith, director of SFU's Gerontology Research Centre: “The new generation of telecare that's coming into the marketplace now aims to do a lot of things a good neighbour would do.”
  • The Globe and Mail’s Public Policy Wiki invited SFU energy prof Mark Jaccard to provide the “overview” for an online debate on reducing greenhouse gases (GHGs). He wrote in part: “Canada now has over two decades of experience in setting GHG emissions reduction targets, and then implementing policies to achieve these targets, only to see emissions continue to climb unabated. We have missed the 2000 target, the 2005 target and soon the 2010 target. In spite of this, Canada’s current government speaks with conviction about its new target for 2020 and especially about its aggressive target of a 60-70% reduction by 2050. . . . What we should have learned is that policies that fail to price GHG emissions (sometimes called carbon pricing) will not reduce emissions.”
  • Shauna Sylvester, a fellow at the SFU Centre for Dialogue and director of the Canada’s World citizens’ dialogue on Canadian international policy, wrote a guest column in the Globe and Mail.  Through that Canada’s World dialogue, she wrote, “Canadians are making up for political parties' inadequacies and asserting a contemporary, revitalized role for Canada in the world. The challenge is for the federal government to catch up with its citizens, find its foreign policy voice and develop an equally compelling vision.”


  • The Australian Broadcasting Corporation interviewed communication prof Richard Smith. This for a segment on a national radio and podcast show that will look at the provision of internet service for remote and rural areas, which Australia has pledged to improve with billions of dollars in investment. Smith compared the Canadian picture with Australia.
  • The Honolulu Advertiser reported that petroglyphs found on a remote island in Tonga are similar to those found in Hawaii, hinting at the possibility of early travel between the two archipelagos. David Burley, SFU archaeologist and ethnohistorian, was quoted: "Initially I was a bit stunned, knowing the distance and difficulty of travel between the two groups of islands. The evidence, however, is visual and difficult to ignore or explain in ways other than direct contact." Archaeology, the magazine of the Archaeological Institute of America, also carried a story.
  • The Scottish news website featured This is Who We Are, a photo exhibition co-created by Harry McGrath of SFU'S Centre for Scottish Studies. ForArgyll called it "the most inspirational of the main Homecoming Scotland 2009 commissions." It brings together images from Scottish diaspora communities in Nova Scotia, Alberta and BC.
  • Speaking of Scotland, the website of the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall is already promoting Affirmation, an Aug. 12 concert by the SFU Pipe Band.  It’s a precursor to the annual World Pipe Band championships in Glasgow, which SFU has won five times.


  • John Peloza, assistant prof at the Segal Graduate School of Business, wrote a guest column in the Financial Post section of National Post on corporate social responsibility (CSR) and its relationship to profitability. “Studies typically find a small but positive relationship between the two, suggesting that CSR can, in fact, be profitable. But (it) requires far greater management skill than simply writing a cheque to a local charity.”
  • The Financial Post noted the MBA class of 2009 is graduating into the worst job market for MBAs in years. But it featured as a success story three MBA 2006 grads from SFU Business, the founders of Pacifica Capital Management: A. J. Sull, Aman Bhangu and Naveen Gopal. They launched the firm “as career prospects dimmed or vanished with their previous employers.” Now it has exceeded its partners’ expectations, and has managed to increase its client base through referrals by about 10%.


Two stories from SFU Athletics made headlines, with media director Scott McLean sending the media instant releases and statistics:

  • The Clan men’s wrestling team won their first ever CIS national championships behind gold medal performances by Arjan Bhullar (130kg) and Isaac Wing (65kg). And the Clan women team finished second overall in Calgary, with fifth-year senior Ashley McKilligan successfully defending her title in the 48kg weight class.
    SFU head coach Justin Abdou was named the CIS Coach of the Year for the first time in his career, while the Clan’s Rafiq Charania earned the R.W. Pugh Fair Play Award.
    This weekend Bhullar could be the first Clan wrestler to win both CIS and NAIA national titles, as he competes at the NAIA nationals in Oklahoma City. The Clan men’s and women’s wrestling teams both compete there.
  • The Clan women’s basketball team won the 2009 Canada West championship, winning their 27th straight game and defeating the University of Regina Cougars 68–57 in the West Gym at SFU Burnaby.
    Laurelle Weigl and Matteke Hutzler each scored 15 points, while Robyn Buna and Courtney Gerwing added 12 points apiece. It was the last home game for fifth-year senior Gerwing.  There’s a video recap at
    The Clan had moved into the west’s gold-medal game by defeating the University of Alberta Pandas 84-69. Hutzler led the Clan with 22 points in that game.
    Both the Clan and the Cougars now play in the CIS National Championship this weekend (March 6-8) in Regina.
  • Also on the road this weekend: The women's softball team, off to Tucson AZ for a full week of competition; the men's and women's swimming team, in St. Louis MO at the NAIA national championships; and the men's and women's track and field teams, at the NAIA indoor national championships in Johnson City TN.
  • Speaking of Clan wrestling:  SFU Athletics has online a video profile of wrestlers Wing and Rita Pare and their two-year-old son Andrew. Pare won a silver medal at the Calgary event in the 55kg class. The video is at:


  • Radio CHMB 1320AM talked to Eugenie Ko, SFU’s acting director, administration, SFU Student Services, and Vivian Chu, SFU-Zhejiang university dual-degree program coordinator, for 45 minutes. Among the topics: what makes SFU a wise academic choice for Chinese-Canadian and international students. The interview, in Cantonese, can be downloaded at 1.mp3
    This week, CHMB listeners also heard two rotating commercials promoting SFU's dual-degree program, its bachelor's degree in Mechatronics, and giving the application deadlines for the fall semester. The commercials, in Mandarin and Cantonese, ran five times a day.
  • Mary Lynn Stewart, chair of women’s studies, wrote a guest article in the Georgia Straight: The headline: “Why women's studies, still?” Among her answers: “ . . . that women still earn significantly less than men, even when they work full-time and do not interrupt their careers; that women and children still suffer higher rates of poverty than men, that highly successful women still bump up against a glass ceiling that has protected the upper echelons of business, government, and other areas of endeavour as a men-only—and primarily white men only—domain.”
  • Canadian Heritage minister James Moore visited the Burnaby campus to announce a year’s extension of federal funding for the Office of Francophone and Francophile Affairs at SFU. “With this extension, the Government of Canada is committing to contribute up to an additional $1.215 million to British Columbia's official-languages expenditures for 2008-2009.”
  • The Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows Times reported more than 35 per cent of students in Grade 4 and 7 there didn't write the BC Foundation Skills Assessment test, after their parents requested their children be exempted.  The story noted that public policy prof John Richards had defended FSA data as “among the best educational research data in Canada."
    Richards was also quoted in a Times editorial that said: “All these attempts to disrupt the FSAs are being done because parents and teachers don't want their school to receive a poor ranking. It's all about hurt feelings, not quality education.”


  • "Any police officer trained in basic forms of self-defence would not have a hard time dealing with someone with a stapler, and frankly I wouldn't be fearing for my security if someone was waving a stapler at me, even one with very large staples."
    The quote is from Rob Gordon, director of SFU Criminology (and a former police officer), in a Vancouver Sun story about the public inquiry into the airport Taser death of Robert Dziekanski. “Atrocious police work," Gordon added.
    “What was always drilled into me and worked for me was to just take your time. . . . If somebody is threatening somebody else, then okay, you may need to intervene. But if a person is exhibiting psychotic symptoms or is agitated or drunk, then you just take your time and talk the person down, rather than taking a cowboy approach."
  • As gang gunfire continued in the Lower Mainland, the Globe and Mail looked at calls for a single regional police force, and at mayoral opposition to the idea.  Among those quoted was Gordon, long a proponent of a single force.
    "The system we have now made sense in 1950 when Burnaby was an orchard and Surrey a forest, but not now.” The BC government, he said, is “scared” of creating a single force. “They are afraid of the reaction of local mayors. . . .  They are also afraid of the RCMP—the great red machine that has its own political power and is very much into its own survival."
  • In a later story in the Globe and Mail, Gordon echoed his call for a single force, and pointed to a gang execution in Delta: “Even bucolic Delta is going to be visited by crime, serious crime, because the actions of organized crime groups have no respect for municipal boundaries, and they will roam anywhere in the area.”
  • The North Shore Outlook examined the opposition by North Shore (and other) mayors to a single regional police force. In that story, Gordon said Metro Toronto and Montreal amalgamated forces certainly have a better approach to combatting gangs: "Quebec has been particularly successful with the bikers.”
  • The Province carried a story on how some BC gangs are using the internet to recruit members, intimidate people, distribute information and show off.
    “’It’s once again become cool to be associated with a street gang,’ says Robert Gordon, director of Simon Fraser University’s criminology department. ‘With the availability of the Internet and networking sites . . . they are communicating more online now. So, rather than marking territories with violence or making their presence known by wearing particular uniforms or clustering in particular places, they are transferring all of that to the cyber-world.’”
    Canwest News Service sent the story to Canwest media across the country.  We saw it in five newspapers, and it turned up in the Boston-based Ecommerce Journal.
  • In another story, The Province quoted Gordon as saying the majority of gang members in BC are young adult males in their 20s. “It’s more exciting than going off to work in McDonald’s. If you’re a male, in particular, it’s flashy, exciting and it offers all the things that young men likely crave, and they’re going to get them very quickly.” That story also ran in the Victoria Times Colonist.
  • Gordon was also on the Early Edition show on CBC Radio, following the arrest of a number of gang members in the Lower Mainland. And he was in 24Hours.
  • Maclean’s named Saskatoon, Winnipeg and Regina (in that order) as Canada’s most crime-ridden cities.  Much of their crime is in areas of young transient population, with unemployment and other issues. “They are 10 times more likely to be victims and suspects,” said criminologist Neil Boyd. “It’s basically a very tragic reality.”
  • The Edmonton Sun reported police there hailed the new anti-gang bill introduced in Parliament by federal justice minister Rob Nicholson. But the story quoted Boyd: "It's far too late in the game. It's a pretence for the prime minister to say they're going to have any impact. . . . They’re catering to public anger." The Brandon (MB) Sun used that quote in an editorial supporting the legislation.
    Gordon was also in a CTV story about the bill and its proposed longer sentences for gang activity. Said Gordon: “The problem is that you have to actually get them to the point where they're actually being sentenced.”
  • The Province quoted Boyd as saying new federal anti-drug laws fail to address the reality that prohibiting cannabis doesn't work. "It makes sense to focus on the issue of violence, but we've had so many reports at the same time that the criminal law is not an appropriate response to cannabis use and production.” The Victoria Times Colonist picked up this story.


  • Research scientist Robert Young told media how scientists in SFU’s new medicinal chemistry research laboratory are developing novel drugs to help prevent osteoporosis and stop the survival of cancer cells. Researchers in the lab, established in spring 2007, are already close to testing stages in both projects.
  • SFU also told media how the Neurostep—a device that assists people who have paralysis in one leg to walk—will soon be on the market in Europe and, eventually, Canada. SFU kinesiologist Andy Hoffer spent 30 years developing the pacemaker-like device that is implanted inside the thigh. It senses and stimulates nerve activity in the paralyzed leg, allowing greater mobility.
  • The Canada’s World project at SFU Dialogue told media that Canada’s World will release on March 11 the results of a year-long dialogue with thousands of citizens. It sets out a new international vision for Canada and a blueprint for how Canada can serve as a role model in the world.
ALSO in the NEWS
  • CKWX News1130 and the blogosphere reported that SFU grad Anny Chih, 22, is one of three Vancouverites in the running for “the best job in the world”—living for six well-paid months on an island in Australia’s Great Barrier Reef—and blogging about it for Tourism Queensland. Some 34,000 people applied; the list now is down to 50. You can see Chih’s video “application” (and vote for her) at
  • Featured in the Financial Post: Francesco Aquilini, real estate developer and owner of the Vancouver Canucks, and the impact of the building slump on the Aquilini family empire. The featured noted that Aquilini has a BBA from SFU.



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