SFU People in the News

June 27, 2012

Media Matters, a report on Simon Fraser University in the news, is compiled and distributed by SFU Public Affairs & Media Relations (PAMR).

This edition is a daily roundup that lists the main items of known media coverage from 8:30 a.m. Tuesday, June 26, to 8:30 a.m. today, Wednesday, June 27.

Crime | Business | SFU food services | Plastics surgery | Envrionment


  • In light of another gang-related shooting in Port Moody on Monday, SFU Criminology director Rob Gordon cautions against a "full blown" war in Metro Vancouver.
    In a Province article, Gordon says, "I don't think we're going to fall back on the situation that existed in Vancouver just before the Winter Olympics, but wherever these guys are running around taking pot shots at each other, there's always a chance that an innocent bystander is going to get hit."
    Prominent gang leader Randy Naicker, co-founder of the Independent Soldiers, was the latest victim in a thinning of Vancouver's gang scene. Naicker was gunned down Monday afternoon, in the laneway outside a Port Moody Starbucks.
    Full story:


  • Business professor Peter Tingling co-authored an article that appeared in Jakarta Post, a daily English language newspaper in Indonesia, which focused on how business can properly handle downsizing.
    “Despite efforts, your company is struggling to make ends meet. The economy has faltered, your reserves are dwindling, and your biggest clients are scaling back. It is time to make cuts, but where do you start?” he asks.
    “Contraction is a critical part of the business cycle. Unfortunately, most organizations are not very good at it. As a rule, we are much more comfortable expanding rather than contracting . . . and hiring rather than firing. 
    “Our research shows that spending reduction programs tend to be dominated by an inward-looking focus, revolve around emotionally charged arguments, and result in uncourageous decision-making,” he writes.
    “In order for companies to succeed in scaling back, we uncover some of the most commonly encountered bad habits.”
    One of those bad habits, says Tingling, is “remaining a slave to the budget cycle.
    “Too many organizations fail to adjust their budgeting process to changing market conditions. At best, budgets are static representations of last year’s reality; and at worse, reflect conditions that were relevant many cycles ago. 
    “[Organizations] should reevaluate the entire budget in light of changing conditions, and proceed accordingly.”
    Secondly, says Tingling, companies tend to be “going for the easy wins,” in that firms often look no further than the most obvious targets, though he says the best targets are not always those that are most visible. 
    Another bad habit Tingling found was that organizations are “not culling the herd.
    “Most organizations try to manage far too many initiatives,” he writes. “Only proven or promising projects that show a clear ‘path to performance’ based on well-defined metrics, and an unambiguous timetable can be spared. Initiatives that do not clearly demonstrate these factors should be considered for cutting.”
    Tingling also says that a much too-common reaction to a downturn is to decrease spending across the board.
    “This approach to contraction is, in fact, the very absence of strategy!” he says. “What it really says is that management lacks the courage to act; is disinterested in making the kind of tough choices that are necessary in a downturn; or is unaware of the real priorities and where value is created.
    “So, how should executives approach strategic decision making during a recession?” he asks. “We believe that the first step is to define a clear strategic direction, and from this, to develop a set of high-level priorities. 
    “Each funding request, both for new and existing expenditures, should then be rigorously assessed and ranked against these strategic priorities. We believe it is important that the rankings are analyzed and assessed individually, in order to reduce groupthink and other biases. Only in the final stage should the results should be aggregated into an ordinal ranking,” he says.
    “The objective of budget allocation is not so much to reduce costs as it is to prepare the organization for a better future. This process turns on establishing priorities and ensuring that only activities that support these priorities are advanced. 
    “To be successful in today’s economy, managers need to carefully and strategically learn to avoid cutting flowers and watering weeds,” he concludes.
    Full story:


  • SFU’s The Ladle, a soup shop located in the Maggie Benston Centre, was the focus of a blog. John Laurin, the general manager of food service facilities on behalf of the Simon Fraser Student Society spoke about it.
    "We're offering great value and it's some pretty healthy stuff," says Laurin. "The best thing about these soups is that they can go over rice or noodles so you can have an even bigger meal."
    Laurin says that with the recent spate of cold, spring weather, The Ladle consistently recorded some good business, but says warm weather doesn't hurt business.
    "Because we offer foods like the grilled cheese sandwich and burritos, people know they can get the food quickly," he says. "Everything is made fresh here and we're always adding new and better items."
    With the development of the student union building, The Ladle will eventually move to a new location, and Laurin promises to have even more food options.
    "We'll keep on trying to give students more value for their money," he says. "How we stay on top of things is we ask our employees, who are students here, what they want on the menu. I'll look at it and see if we can make it work and that's how we remain current."
    Full story:


  • Catherine Murray, Chair of the Department of Gender, Sexuality, and Women's Studies, was quoted by 24 Hours about Vancouver’s growing plastic surgery industry.
    With Vancouver’s large—and growing—Asian population, local plastic surgeons are repeatedly performing double eyelid surgery. The procedure opens the eye more and creates a visible eyelid, and Vancouver’s surgeons are drawing clients in from all over the world, where other surgeons are less experienced in the procedure.
    Murray says she is not excited about the prospect of Vancouver becoming a cosmetic surgery tourist destination. But she says even more troubling is the idea that people are striving toward one global standard of beauty.
    "I think this is a sign that a growing global culture values only appearance and a kind of homogenized beauty that is obviously so important to these women, they're prepared to undergo considerable personal expense and considerable pain and risk to reach that ideal," she says.
    "That's something I find very sad."
    Full story not yet online.


  • Biology professor Arne Mooers was interviewed by Radio Ecoshock, a weekly radio program and podcast syndicated to over 50 college, community and commercial radio stations.
    Mooers spoke about a paper he co-authored, Approaching a State Shift in Earth’s Biosphere, which originally appeared in the journal Nature last week.
    “One way of thinking about [a state shift] is you can project into the future . . .and we can predict what’s going to happen by adding up a bunch of small changes,” he says. “A state shift is where, graphically, the line stops being straight and does a huge jump, and you move into a completely different regime. The way that ecosystems are organized now will completely change.”
    Mooers says he had people from various scientific fields come together to examine how climate change and biodiversity are connected.
    “Different patterns at different scales were all collected together, and then we were really just making a plausibility argument. Something at the global scale could happen, because of the things we see in other contexts and at other times.
    “We have this overriding climate change, which is growing rapidly. But then you add on some of the other layers of things humans are doing,” he adds.
    “We’ve helped in the extinction of biodiversity, and top predators, for instance. We have land conversion—we now use over 40 per-cent of the entire Earth’s surface. We’ve also pulled a lot of the total amount of energy that the Earth and sequestered it for ourselves. All three of these things that we’re doing on a global scale are all things that can cause state shifts in ecosystems.”
    Full interview:
    Full paper in Nature (requires subscription or payment):
    SFU news release (June 6):



No comments yet