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February 19, 2004

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A compendium of articles that appeared in the media during the last few weeks quoting members of the SFU community.

Dean takes debate beyond classroom
Vancouver Sun, Feb. 10

SFU's education dean Paul Shaker is promising to play a role in shaping educational policy beyond his own backyard and participate in debate on educational issues. On the international front, he defended France's decision to bar Muslim girls from wearing Islamic headscarves in secular schools. “I think we can understand why the French government is doing that,” he says. “They want those young girls to have a starting point of choice and freedom from which to think how they live their lives.” Shaker said such “push-pull” between educators and families is inevitable. “We are separate advocates for children and youth. One of the reasons society created (schools) is so that children have more options than only what their parents can provide.”

Surrey has worst auto theft rate
Vancouver Sun, Feb. 6

Surrey has the worst auto theft rate of any major city in the English-speaking world, according to statistics compiled by the Vancouver Sun. According to Surrey RCMP, 8,042 vehicles were stolen in Surrey in 2003, up from 7,486 in 2002. SFU criminology professor Paul Brantingham says there are several reasons. One is that there are simply a lot of cars in Surrey. Another is the number of malls, and teenagers. Criminology professor Neil Boyds adds the community is spread out with large lots and winding roads. That means fewer people walking around — and less chance of being caught. “It's more difficult to steal a car off a downtown Vancouver street because of the kind of surveillance of people living in the area. It may well be that Surrey is not well designed from the point of view of auto theft.”

Kids at risk as result of computer use
Canadian Press, Feb. 6

In most families, a communal computer is set up at a desk that can be accessed by mom, dad and the kids. At school, the device sits on a table ready to be accessed by dozens of children. Both scenarios are likely to leave young legs dangling, necks craned and arms reaching. It's time we think about teaching proper ergonomics to youngsters, including finding furniture that fits little bodies, experts say. “Anything repetitive, or with awkward posture is going to start to create some problems,” says Anne-Kristina Arnold, an ergonomist who teaches at SFU. “If you look into the literature, we're starting to see diseases like carpal tunnel syndrome and repetitive strain injuries that we thought only were in the adult realm starting to jump up with kids.”

Anti-terrorism law reviewed
Kenora Daily Miner & News, Jan. 29

A parliamentary committee will review a much-criticized section of the anti-terrorism law that the RCMP used to search a journalist's home. Public safety minister Anne McLellan announced that a new national security committee of parliamentarians will examine section 4 of the Security of Information act. The law was passed following the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on the U.S. as part of the omnibus Anti-Terrorism Act. Section 4 of the Security of Information Act was modelled on provisions of the former Official Secrets Act, which had been widely criticized for decades as poorly drafted, vague and likely unconstitutional. The Anti-Terrorism Act, including the security of information law, was passed swiftly without proper scrutiny after the terrorist attacks on the U.S., said Stuart Farson, a political scientist at SFU. ‘'It's a big warning for Parliament to be much more careful what goes through when it's under pressure,” he says.

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