SFU PEOPLE IN THE NEWS - August 7, 2009

August 7, 2009

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A look at how Simon Fraser University and its people made news: July 31-Aug. 7, 2009

The SFU Pipe Band got a first-class send-off as it performed at the Burnaby campus Aug. 2, warming up for the world bagpipe championships in Scotland Aug. 15.
More than 300 people came to a free concert at SFU Burnaby.
Technician Thomas Buchan of SFU’s Learning and Instructional Development Centre shot endless video, and set some up on request for GlobalTV’s London bureau, which plans to cover the championships in Glasgow.
Maclean’s OnCampus blogger and multi-media man Phillip Jeffrey also covered the concert.


  • Jon Kesselman, economist and public policy prof, did an interview and took some calls on CKNW, re: the BC government’s plan to harmonize GST and PST as of next July 1.
    Kesselman dismissed as “wrong” suggestions that the move will mean a $1-billion-a-year windfall for the BC government; instead the new system would be “pretty close to revenue-neutral”.
    True, consumers will pay more, because of “a big shift of payments of tax to consumers from business.”  But he said the experience in the Atlantic provinces, which have had harmonized federal and provincial taxes for 12 years, is that business did pass on savings to consumers.
    And, Kesselman added, harmonization brings us much closer to a “true consumption tax” as used by many countries and jurisdictions.
  • Kesselman also wrote a guest column in The Vancouver Sun, proposing that TransLink “apply economic principles” to its ways of raising money for transit. Among other things, he wrote: “ . . . heavy use of property taxes to finance public transit and roadway maintenance and improvements is fundamentally flawed. The homes and businesses that generate the least demands on the transit system—those in the central city—bear the highest property tax burdens because of high land values.”
  • Surrey Now was quick to use a news release from SFU on $10 million in government funding for upgrading the Podium 2 space at the Surrey campus. The Vancouver Sun, The Province, the Victoria Times Colonist and other BC media first carried a story on Premier Stephen Harper’s announcement of $4.7 million in federal funding for the project. The next day, the BC government confirmed $5.3 million in provincial funding.
  • The Vancouver Sun formally launched its “community of Interest” blogs—“an electronic town hall for British Columbians; a meeting place for ideas and debate among opinion leaders; a forum to create better public policy.”
    Its writers include seven profs from SFU—the biggest contingent from any one source: Neil Boyd, André Gerolymatos, Alex Moens, Gordon Price, John Richards, Patrick Smith and Kennedy Stewart.
    On Day One, Boyd, Price and Stewart wrote mini-columns in the paper and on its website.
  • The Vancouver Westender looked at calls for a pedestrian advocate for Vancouver, and quoted two people from SFU. One was Anthony Perl, director of SFU Urban Studies, “whose suggestion that Vancouver hire a pedestrian advocate has garnered widespread media attention of late.”
    The other was Terry Lavender of the West End Residents Association who is (although the Westender didn’t say so) communications manager at SFU Surrey for SFU’s office of Public Affairs and Media Relations. Said Lavender: “People who are walking are still traffic; they're still trying to get to their destination. But if you treat them as an obstacle and not part of the traffic flow, they tend to be ignored.”
  • The Vancouver Courier told readers that the Body Mass Index (BMI) has limitations as an indicator of health risks. It quoted SFU kinesiologist Scott Lear: "From a health perspective, we are mainly interested in body fat, not weight per se. BMI doesn't tell us where a person may be carrying excess body fat. And we know that fat around our waists carries a greater risk for diabetes and heart disease than body fat elsewhere."
  • The Victoria Times Colonist quoted criminologist Neil Boyd in a story about the public question-and-answer section of the Saanich police department’s website. Boyd said such outreach efforts help build confidence in the justice system.
    "People lack confidence in the justice system and a lot of studies point to a lack of education. Any outreach by any part of the criminal justice system to provide explanation of their function and improve relationships with the general public proves to be a very positive endeavour."
  • The Vancouver Courier visited the rooftop garden on the Vancouver Public Library downtown, a garden that is closed to the public.
    “Enter Yosef Wosk, philanthropist, author, community leader, director of interdisciplinary programs in the department of continuing studies at Simon Fraser University and a passionate believer that this garden is a gift that should be shared with more than the lucky few who can see it from their homes or offices.”
    Wosk has donated $250,000 to a redesign so the garden can be open to the public. “’I want to call it the Literary Sky Garden,’ Wosk muses. ‘I see something more lyrical. It should set an example for other roofs to follow. It should not be just another garden on a roof.’"
  • The website of Vancouver councillor Geoff Meggs quoted Michael Schmitt, psychology prof and cyclist, on issues around the monthly “Critical Mass” runs by cyclists:
    “I share your concerns about the rising antagonism between cyclists and car drivers, and for unsafe driving practices by each. . . . I also share your concerns about the safety issues surrounding Critical Mass. Fortunately, many Critical Mass regulars are working very hard to encourage participating cyclists to behave in a peaceful and safe manner.”
  • The Coast Reporter on the Sunshine Coast reported that Gibsons BC is a step closer to having a plan to govern development in and around the harbour. The design team includes Michael von Hausen, an instructor in SFU’s City Program.
  • The Vancouver Sun’s career pages looked at notaries public as a career opportunity. It noted: “Training for notaries—only offered in B.C. at Simon Fraser University—is quite extensive. Students must be approved by the society, and have some business background and an undergraduate degree before entering the two-year master's program.”
  • Biology student Janie Dubman continued in The Vancouver Sun her reports from the orangutan care centre in Borneo.
    “When one of our rambunctious youngsters decides he or she deserves a longer walk than usual, she energetically takes off along the treetops in an 80-hectare forest. I think, how can anyone convince an arboreal animal to leave its playground and go back into a cage? And yet, some caregiver always returns with a placid orangutan on his or her back. When I asked a tattooed young man how he did it, he replied, surprised, ‘Because they are my sweethearts.’"


  • The Canadian Press looked at how Canadian post-secondary institutions are preparing for an anticipated wave of swine flu this fall. Apollonia Cifarelli, SFU’s director of environmental health and safety, was quoted at length. Among other things, she said educating people on infection control has been a primary focus. We saw the story in 14 newspapers from BC to New Brunswick.
  • Criminologist Neil Boyd was also in an Edmonton Journal story that wondered if a $1-million reward offered for a bomber targeting Encana pipelines would produce any results. “It's much more common than not that the reward will not be given out. Although I certainly don't see a downside in offering it."
  • Fifty academics told media about the open letter they have signed and sent to the Rhode Island Assembly, opposing two bills that would make “indoor” prostitution (in such places as massage parlours) a criminal offence. Among the signatories was grad student Tamara O'Doherty of SFU Criminology.


  • SFU’s move to the NCAA was a cover-story for Sports Illustrated magazine’s online NCAA section. SI wrote:
    “For Simon Fraser the appeal was better competition, full scholarships and, oddly, geography. Playing competition along the Pacific Coast against closer, albeit American, rivals is more accessible than opponents over the Rocky Mountains into Alberta and the eastern provinces.
    “From the Vancouver suburb of Burnaby, four of the nine schools in the Great Northwest Athletic Conference—SFU's expected home in Division II—are within two hours driving time. That proximity to the border is why Simon Fraser has already been playing a number of its sports teams in the predominantly America NAIA, even winning the Director's Cup, which is awarded to the best overall program, six times since 1997.
    “‘We're doing more to promote Canada by playing in the United States than we ever do up here,’ said Dr. David Murphy, SFU's athletic director.”
  • SFU Athletics told media how the Clan football training camp opens Aug. 14. “The Clan are welcoming 117 athletes to the 2009 training camp, including 50 new faces.” The season opens at UBC on Aug. 29. SFU’s first home game of the year is Sept. 11, against the Manitoba Bisons.
  • The North Shore News told readers that SFU athlete Helen Crofts of West Vancouver earned a bronze medal at the 2009 Canadian Junior Track and Field Championships, in the 800-metre race. “In her freshman season at SFU, Crofts won gold in the 800-m at the NAIA indoor championships and bronze at the outdoor championships.”
  • The Abbotsford News starred a pair of local athletic brothers, Mark and Matt Isherwood. “Mark, a 20-year-old defenceman with the Western Hockey League’s Medicine Hat Tigers, recently earned an invitation to rookie camp with the Boston Bruins. Younger brother Matt, 18, is off to Simon Fraser University this fall on a football scholarship.”
  • The Globe and Mail featured the role Electronic Arts Canada plays in the world of sports video games. The Globe opened with flashback to the early 1990s when Jay Triano and his SFU Clan basketball team helped EA by grading the scoring skills of basketball players. Now EA uses advanced digital techniques to replicate the movements and behaviours of real-life NBA players.
  • The Trail Daily Times reported that Patrik Martin of the Trail Smoke Eaters will suit up for the SFU Hockey Club in the fall.  Martin is the second BC Hockey league player to sign on SFU, joining Justin Mulholland, who played goal for the Surrey Eagles. The SFU team competes in the BC Intercollegiate Hockey League.

ALSO in the NEWS

  • The Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows Times reported plans by criminology student Brandon Norgaard and others to rappel down a 20-storey building in downtown Vancouver in September to raise money for the Easter Seals Foundation. "Any charity involving children really tugs at the heart strings. I am definitely drawn to anything that helps kids."
  • And Burnaby Now featured volunteers at the Burnaby Blues and Roots Festival. Among them was Grace Chiu, SFU Communication and English lit student. “I've been volunteering for seven or eight years, so I'm almost like a rookie. I read about it in the Burnaby NOW and thought it might be fun to volunteer."
  • The Invermere Valley (BC) Echo carried feature on a lack of bees in the Windermere BC area, and what apiarist Morley Winnick of Spillimacheen did to bring in new bees. “Morley . . . is a graduate of the bee-master program at Simon Fraser University and has a master of science degree in environmental design.”
  • The Albany (NY) Times-Union wrote about two regional pipe bands that are heading to the World Championships in Glasgow. One is the Oran Mor Pipe Band. The paper noted that Oran Mor is led by Andrew Douglas, a former piper with the SFU Pipe Band.


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In response to the swine flu article: I realize Swine Flu is a serious issue but I found a very funny graphic that I'd like to share with your readers. It's clean and funny. Hope it brings a smile to your face.

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