June 4, 2009

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A look at how Simon Fraser University and its people made news:  May 29-June 4, 2009
The case of a high-school student who posted a 117-person "hit list" on his Facebook page put four SFU profs and their thoughts into the news media this week.
Psychologist Stephen Hart was in the Toronto Sun, 24Hours and other media. Criminologists Ray Corrado and Brenda Morrison were on CTV national news. And communication prof Richard Smith was in the Globe and Mail, saying the graphic images of a gun and machete on the student's Facebook page acted as a warning sign that wouldn't have existed pre-internet.
More on this story below.


  • The Vancouver Sun and other media reported that a YWCA Woman of Distinction Award went to Sophie Lavieri, senior chemistry lecturer at SFU.
    Lavieri takes a portable lab into public schools where she puts on workshops, called Experimental Chemistry for Us, at no cost to the schools. They were the first in Canada to feature an academic teaching chemistry to elementary school children.  Her YWCA award was for “education, training and development.”
  • The Vancouver Sun quoted John O’Neil, dean of SFU Health Sciences, in a story on the financial woes of BC’s health authorities:
    “Metro Vancouver faces longer health care waiting lists, more crowded emergency rooms and shortages of beds, doctors and nurses unless health authorities can avoid looming funding shortfalls, an expert has warned. John O’Neil, dean of health sciences at Simon Fraser University, says he is skeptical that health authorities will be able to avoid affecting patient services.”
  • The Province and other media used an SFU news release to announce that the memorial service for renowned architect Arthur Erickson will be held at SFU Burnaby on June 14. “His service will be held June 14 at SFU's Convocation Mall at 2:30 p.m. The service will be conducted by Peter Elliott, dean of Christ Church Cathedral.”
  • Burnaby Now used an SFU news release on how SFU gerontology researchers are taking part in a major new 20-year study of 50,000 Canadians aged 45 to 85 to learn how they cope with health, social and economic changes as they age. “Andrew Wister, professor and chair of SFU's gerontology department, was a co-leader in the development of the study and will lead the SFU-based comprehensive data collection team.”
  • The Vancouver Sun reported Vancouver council would consider implementing bus-only lanes on Hastings Street during rush hours. “The lanes also support plans under consideration to replace the No. 135 route to Simon Fraser University with a new 95 B-Line bus, which would move passengers between Burrard Station and the Burnaby campus.”
  • SFU student Janie Dubman continued her weekly reports in The Vancouver Sun on her work—“Caring for hairy, orange babies” (and burping them)—at the orangutan care centre in Borneo, founded by SFU primatologist Birute Galdikas.
  • The Vancouver Sun ran two more guest essays from grads of SFU’s master of public policy program.
    • Dorothy Easton wrote: “While it is fairly routine to divide household goods and savings, surprisingly few separating spouses split their Canada Pension Plan benefits. . . . Steps to improve the delivery of CPP credit equalization could readily be implemented.”
    • Frances Simpson wrote: “Despite the strong evidence demonstrating the benefits of respite care and its relatively low cost, hundreds of families throughout the province are on waiting lists to receive public support for this valuable service.  . . . So we need to modify our provincial policies. Most notably, neither Alberta or Manitoba had wait lists, and both provided immediate services to all eligible families.”
  • Joanna Ashworth of SFU Dialogue was on CBC Radio’s BC Almanac show, talking about her  "Heart of a Citizen" dialogue series. The latest: "Celebrating Citizen Engagement: How do community festivals and the arts engage citizens and create social change?"
  • The Vernon Morning Star carried a guest column on gun laws. “When the authorities eliminated legal handgun ownership in Britain, they ended up with more guns in the hands of criminals and more violent crime overall. Many of us know of the overwhelming evidence that gun control is not crime control that has proved by researchers such as Dr. Gary Mauser of SFU . . .”


  • A John Geddes column in Maclean’s looked at how Finance Minister Jim Flaherty painted himself into a political corner with some too-optimistic deficit projections in January. Geddes wrote: “Given the way the world was spinning into a deep recession by budget time, Flaherty could have played it prudent then, says Simon Fraser University professor Richard Harris. ‘They would have been better served by offering a wider range [on the deficit],’ Harris said, ‘and stressing that because the global recession was so unusual, the projections were less reliable.’"
  • Business prof Aidan Vining was quoted in a Canwest News Service story saying the federal finance department has flagged several prominent Crown corporations as entities that could (at least in theory) be sold as part of the government's asset review—including the CBC and VIA Rail.
    “They're not the classic privatization candidates, where you sell and walk away—unless, of course, you're prepared to fully withdraw from the public purpose. . . It's hard to believe that some of these sales would go forward in a minority Parliament.''
    We saw the story in and on 14 media outlets across Canada.
  • A Globe and Mail story on calls to give prescription heroin to intractable addicts quoted SFU criminologist Neil Boyd on the NAOMI trial (North American Opiate Medication Initiative) of giving heroin to addicts.
    “It's pretty clear not only do the people in the program benefit, but we all benefit. The participants are involved in less crime and there is no impact on the community.” As for the Stephen Harper government, though: “The idea of providing drugs in whatever form is something they have reacted quite strongly against."
  • Boyd was also in a national Canadian Press story on the federal government’s moves to tighten up the national sex-offender registry. “(It) is really about imagery. It's not about reality." And: “It's very consistent with much of the Tory agenda on crime. . . . They're looking at how they can shape public opinion." We saw this one in 28 media outlets, as far away as the Truro (NS) Daily News and Cape Breton Star.
  • Globe and Mail columnist Michael Valpy looked at the book Galileo Goes to Jail and Other Myths About Science and Religion (Harvard University Press, 2009). Wrote Valpy: “The important thing about him, however, is that, between the fall of Rome and the voyage of Columbus, he and the fourth-century church father Lactantius are the only two major scholars who proclaimed the Earth to be flat, Lesley Cormack, Simon Fraser University's dean of arts and social sciences, says in a collection of essays by Canadian, British and U.S. scholars debunking 25 myths about religion and science.”
    Cormack and the book also turned up on, The Hindustan Times and a string of other websites, thanks to a story from ANI, a New Delhi-based news agency.
  • As Vancouver police arrested an 18-year-old high-school student on weapons charges after he posted a 117-person "hit list" on his Facebook page, SFU psychologist Stephen Hart was in the Toronto Sun, 24Hours and other media, saying the presence of weapons ratcheted the threat to a new level.
    “Anytime there are weapons involved, the potential for violence is a serious concern. It signifies a person may have a plan and is trying to implement it.”
    Then criminologist Ray Corrado was on CTV national news on the same story: “Getting together the fire power, the publicizing of the hit list, all those are obvious signs that there's potentially extremely serious, and obviously if carried out catastrophic, (threat).”
    And communication prof Richard Smith was in the Globe and Mail, saying the graphic images of a gun and machete on the student's Facebook page acted as a warning sign that wouldn't have existed pre-internet.
    "The blurry sense that people have about Facebook being private was a benefit, because you got insight into someone's private thoughts that you wouldn't otherwise."
    Criminologist Brenda Morrison told CTV News that a photo of the teen shows that just like the gunmen at the Columbine massacre or the shooting at Montreal's Dawson College, the youth is attracted to the power that carrying a gun gives. "Weapons are a source of power. . . . What we learned post-Columbine is that it's not about snapping. These young people were reinventing themselves slowly through these social networks that validate their behaviour."
  • The Globe and Mail carried a guest column from two SFU profs emeriti of economics:  James Dean and Richard Lipsey. They addressed the theory that government stimulus packages will just replace spending by consumers and firms—so-called ‘crowding-out.’ “In short, arguments that deficit-financed stimuli will be crowded out are far-fetched in the extreme, even when the deficit is as massive as the Americans'.”
  • The Canadian Press covered last week’s SFU conference on the health and environmental impact of the 2010 Olympic Games.
    Tim Takaro, a researcher at B.C.'s Simon Fraser University, said the most likely major impact is going to relate to infectious disease patterns. . . . ‘So we have a large influx of people from all over the world coming and the potential for pandemic is higher this year than in previous years.’”
  • Maclean’s carried an item on the removal from office, by a judge, of a veteran White Rock city councillor—for engaging in "deceit and lies" during last fall's election campaign.  Wrote Maclean’s: “But what seems a clear-cut victory for truth in politics sets a galling precedent: it allows failed candidates to unleash their lawyers to challenge losing results, says SFU political science professor Kennedy Stewart. . . . ‘It's recall by judges,’ says Stewart—a ‘highly unusual way to run elections.’"
  • With student summer-job markets looking tight, the seven Metro newspapers ran a story on how students cut costs while in school. Two were SFU students: Greg Harder (grad student in economics) and Lauren Pratt (SFU Communication). Harder said his vegan diet of local foods from farmer’s markets saves time as well as money. Pratt has reduced her course load to free up time to earn income. “For Pratt, this means finishing a four-year degree over five-and-a-half years, but graduating debt-free.”


  • The Christian Science Monitor featured the Bionic Energy Harvester device invented by Max Donelan of SFU Biomedical Physiology and Kinesiology and his team.
    “Soldiers on the battlefield and aid workers in remote outposts may soon be able to recharge their mobile phones simply by walking, thanks to a device being developed by Canadian researchers. The Bionic Energy Harvester attaches to a knee brace, capturing energy with each step. One minute of walking can generate 10 minutes of talk time on a cellphone.”
    The Monitor used a photo by SFU photographer Greg Ehlers.
    ANI, a New Delhi-based news agency, picked up the story, and ANI’s version appeared on,, Newstrack India, and half a dozen other Indian and South Asian websites.
  • Speaking of India: The Hindu newspaper in India picked up last week’s UK story on how SFU ecologist Christina Semeniuk found the rays at "Sting Ray City"  (Grand Cayman) are suffering from too much tourist attention. “‘Our study is the first to definitively show negative physiological impacts that indicate long-term costs to the animals' health.’"


  • Canwest News Service sent to news clients across the country a feature on co-op education that quoted John Grant, marketing and communications co-coordinator for SFU Co-op.
    “Co-op programs are great because employers get to test-drive students and the students get to test-drive employers. Students tell us they find the program an outstanding educational experience and a great boost to long-term career objectives. And employers use the co-op program as part of their long-term recruitment strategy. A significant number of employers will only hire graduates of co-op programs.”
    Canwest reported: “Simon Fraser University claims the most comprehensive co-op education status, with 5,000 students enrolled annually across every program the university offers.”
  • Burnaby Now ran a feature on conservationist Mark Angelo, recipient this week of an honorary degree from SFU. He’s the founder of B.C. Rivers Day, Canadian Rivers Day and then World Rivers Day, celebrated in 30 countries around the world. "It's a great honour. It's something I am very excited about. I've always thought the world of SFU."
  • The Surrey-North Delta Leader ran an SFU news release on how some SFU students are raising awareness of environmental issues by bringing their message to elementary school kids in Surrey and West Vancouver. “Members of Students in Free Enterprise (SIFE) worked with Grade 7 students from Betty Huff Elementary in Surrey and Irwin Park Elementary in West Vancouver to create a magazine discussing environmental issues.”
  • The Vancouver Sun reported that “Some of the sharpest young minds from India have taken up residence at B.C. universities as part of an unusual program intended to woo international students and boost Canada’s reputation as an education destination.” The program includes SFU and is managed by SFU-based MITACS.
  • The Planning Institute of BC announced to media its 2009 awards. They included a student fellowship award to Jeff Zukiwsky, a student in the SFU School of Resource and Environmental Management planning program. This allowed him to participate and present his academic work at the 2009 BC Land Summit in Whistler at the end of May.
  • Coquitlam Now reported three students from Terry Fox Secondary recently won the 2009 Chic Tech Competition for girls in computing science. “The competition, sponsored by SFU, was open to all Grade 9 and 10 girls across the Lower Mainland. The goal is to encourage female high school students to expand their interest in computer science by building a website for a non-profit organization.”


  • Canadian Interuniversity Sport announced to media the 11 student-athletes who will represent Canada in women’s basketball at the 25th Summer Universiade from July 1-12 in Belgrade, Serbia. Two are from the CIS champion SFU Clan:  guard Robyn Buna and centre Laurelle Weigl, both second-team all-Canadians in 2008-09. Buna led the Clan in scoring with 16 points per game last season with Weigl, the 2006-07 CIS rookie of the year and CIS championship MVP, following close behind at 14.
  • CanWest media across Canada reported SFU was the first Canadian school to apply officially this week for membership in the National Collegiate Athletic Association.
    “Simon Fraser is seeking membership in the Great Northern Athletic Conference, a Division II which includes schools from the U.S. Pacific Northwest, Alaska, Idaho and Montana. Simon Fraser . . . was among 15 schools to meet the NCAA's June 1 application deadline.”
  • The St. John’s (NL) Telegram featured SFU track star Ryan Brockerville: “As far as banner years go, Ryan Brockerville's sophomore track season at Simon Fraser University was just that.  . . . ‘Things really came together for me,’ says Brockerville. ‘I put a lot of time into things and it really worked out well.’"
  • The Langley Times and other media reported the Langley-based Vancouver Titans of the International Basketball League have signed player Richard Anderson. Anderson was a standout power forward at SFU, from where he graduated in 2000. He was also a member of the Canadian national team from 1999 to 2005.
  • Sports media across Canada reported the BC Lions will be saying goodbye to special teams player Bret Anderson after 12 years. As The Province noted: “The Simon Fraser University grad has played in 176 CFL games since he was drafted in 1997 and was the only player on the active roster last season who had won two Grey Cup rings with the Lions.”

ALSO in the NEWS

  • The Vancouver Sun and other media reported that Ballet BC announced that its 16-year artistic director, John Alleyne, is leaving his post.  No reason was given. The Sun noted: “Alleyne received the first honorary Doctorate of Fine Arts from Simon Fraser University.”
  • The Canadian Museum of Nature in Ottawa announced to media that its new chair of the board of trustees is David E. Bond of Kelowna, former chair of the board of SFU and past president of the Association of Professional Economists of BC.


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