Tonight I am heading to my first ever alumni event – the York University Toronto Alumni Mixer. As many of you already know, I am a York University graduate and returned back to York’s Keele campus this past summer courtesy of York University Alumni Relations (York University Alumni on Facebook and on the York University site here) to watch the quarter-finals of the Rogers Cup Tennis WTA Tournament. I had a fantastic day that day and it was good to return to campus when I didn’t actually have to go to classes and knew I wouldn’t be going back to school the next day either. (I have never been the biggest fan of most classes.)
Tonight’s event is not on either of York’s campuses however, it is in downtown Toronto. The description I got for the event from the registration website was this:
GTA grads, this is your chance to come out and network with York University senior staff, York University Alumni Association (YUAA) board members and hundreds of fellow grads.
Please join us for our annual Toronto Alumni Mixer and YUAA Annual General Meeting. This free event is a great opportunity to touch base with senior York staff and YUAA board members, including President and Vice-Chancellor Mamdouh Shoukri and YUAA Chair Guy Burry (BA ’82). Enjoy appetizers, drinks and door prizes too.
I am looking forward to getting down there. I was also told by the York Alumni Twitter account (@YorkUAlumni) that we should tweet events from tonight with the hashtag #YorkAGM so naturally that is what I will be using.
It sounds silly that I’m this psyched about an event like this but truth be told it not only is my first York University alumni event it’s also my first alumni event for anything! My private Orthodox Jewish elementary school doesn’t have any such events…and if it did I probably wouldn’t want to go. My private Orthodox Jewish high school doesn’t exist anymore, it ceased existence two years after I graduated! So York U is the only place that I have ever matriculated that still exists and that even has an alumni association.
To me, the whole ‘high school/college reunion’ plot point in movies and TV is always just a plot point. I almost don’t fully believe they happen in real life. This is especially true because I don’t think I can ever recall hearing anyone say that they’re going to (or went to) their reunion. Then again, maybe I and my friends are too young for me to be hearing about them at this point. I guess only time will tell.
Have a rocking week dear readers! Oh, and if your school/college/university actually has reunions and you’ve been to them let me know. I want to hear if these things actually still happen in the 21st Century.
OK, this is really one thought:
They should build the new subway extensions to allow for cell use even if they are underground tunnels.
To be clear, what I mean by that, is that they should allow for cell signals to be able to penetrate the underground tunnels – assuming it is feasible – by having shafts/grates above the tunnels to above ground to allow the signals to penetrate. This would mean a special network would not have to be built up below ground (at least for these new tunnels).
Here’s why: Read more…
Today, I was invited by Manager of Alumni Engagement Lindsay Reid aka @LindsayAtYork from the York University Alumni Relations (York University Alumni on Facebook and on the York University site here) to come out and watch the quarter-finals of the Rogers Cup Tennis WTA Tournament (#RogersCup & #RogersCupTO). I had never been to a live tennis match before but I have enjoyed playing the game from time to time and I do watch it on TV every now and again so I figured – as is usual for me – why not, this should be fun. So this morning I went to York University with my brother Ari and headed to the Rexall Centre’s Will Call Window to pick up our Executive tickets. Yes, you read that right, we got hooked up in the York University Executive Suite tickets from which to watch all the action of the day – awesome! Read more…
In the National Post Posted Toronto article titled “Ad agency hires prostitutes for talk-radio stunt” by Melissa Leong it tells how a new ad campaign by the zig Ad Agency in Toronto for radio station CFRB 1010 had two women on the “corner of Jarvis and Carlton streets…” holding “signs with a question: ‘Should prostitution be legal?’…they paid sex workers the ‘normal fee that they would get for a job’ to carry the placards for an hour…zig executive creative director Martin Beauvais said…the women were happy to participate.”
The article continues that:
As well, the article quotes Valerie Scott, executive director of Sex Professionals of Canada, who also took issue with the ad campaign. She said
“Here [CFRB is] paying them for one hour to hold up a sign in order to get publicity for their radio station. I don’t want to hear [anything] on that station about how women should not be working on the street after this. Now they have zero moral authority to complain.”
Now don’t worry I’m not going to get into a moral discussion about prostitution – although that is the conversation zig and CFRB would apparently like to spark – what I wanted to post about was whether or not Wendy Babcock’s concerns were legitimate and whether or not I agree with Valerie Scott.
My simple answer is no, they are both being ridiculous.
My longer answer is that Wendy Babcock, unless she was out there herself that night and knew the women personally has no way of knowing that those women were actually sex workers. Anyone who has driven certain streets in downtown Toronto at night has seen people loitering on the corners or at the curbside who we all assume to be sex workers. However, who is to say they are? Do I personally actually know that these people are sex workers? No, I do not, I have never conversed with them and any information I have about them and their trade is based on hearsay and assumption. That being said who is to say the women that CFRB and zig hired to be out there that night were actually sex workers? For all I know they could have been interns or employees or volunteers of zig or CFRB dressed in a certain manner to make everyone assume that they were sex workers. Maybe they were York U. Fine Arts Theatre students who, with the CUPE strike then in its 10th week, went out looking for roles to perform just to keep themselves in fine acting form.
So as long as they were not soliciting sex work on the streets as they held those signs no one really has any proof that they are sex workers and they were not under any threat of police action or criminal prosecution. When I was working for retail chains in malls I would often be told to stand outside the store and hand out fliers to drum up interest in the current sale and bring customers into the store. Same thing here, these people were being paid to hold up signs on a street corner. Granted, the mall was probably a lot warmer but the job is very much the same and they were being paid for their time doing it – and probably a lot more than your average retail sales associate or any variety of barker is paid too!
Were they in any actual danger from predators? I don’t know because I am not overly familiar with the crime statistics of that particular street corner but I would assume that (1) the people being paid to hold these signs were told in advance where, when, and for how long they would be expected to stand holding the signs and that (2) zig ad agency had people on hand watching out for those in their employ.
Also, in answering this question of danger let us assume for a second that these people were sex workers. If they were sex workers and were standing out on that or another corner anyway isn’t Wendy Babcock’s argument really against plying the sex trade on the streets in general? Actually, isn’t the argument against the sex trade as a whole? Maybe she is in the wrong line of work with arguments like hers! I would think that two women standing together on a well trafficked street corner in downtown Toronto on a Saturday night would be fairly safe from predators just by virtue of the fact that there are two of them and they are standing out in public on a well trafficked street corner. Assuming they were actual sex workers if they were soliciting business and plying their trade they would probably be separated from each other when they found a customer, go with that customer to a car or room somewhere where they are no longer in full view of the public and passerby or solicit an undercover police officer and end up in a jail cell.
Further, zig executive creative director Martin Beauvais did say that they were paid ‘normal fee that they would get for a job’ for the time they were carrying the placards. So they weren’t doing anything illegal, were being paid for their time as if they were performing those acts which are risky in terms of legality and health and were probably being observed by the company that hired them and members of the public, and definitely members of the news media as otherwise how would the National Post have known to write an article about them and get a picture to put up on their website with the article.
Ya, really dangerous work that ad agency hired them for!
As to Valerie Scott’s assertions, all I have to say is: Come on? Really? Have you never watched a talk show or listened to talk radio or read the opinion section of a newspaper? Just because a station or newspaper’s ownership has one opinion does not necessarily mean that all of the writers or on-air personalities share those views and it actually makes for better radio/ television/reading if they DON’T! Further, even if from now on every time they decided to have a talk show about the subject of prostitution on CFRB the host(s) took the stance that it should be totally legal do you want them to only have guests on the show who agree with that position and to screen all people calling in with a dissenting opinion? Ya, that will really help to further the debate.
But that’s just my $0.02, as always your comments are appreciated!
Some serious changes have been going on with the public transit system in Toronto known as the TTC (Toronto Transit Commission). I think that this is great and love that under Councillor Adam Giambrone massive expansion for the system is in the works a lot of which has already been completed.
In 2007, the TTC announced and began a Station Modernization Program aimed at “dramatically improv[ing] station environments, making them brighter, more attractive, and easier to use. Just as importantly, it will make it easier for the TTC to keep these stations cleaner”. I think it is an awesome idea and I love the way some of the redone stations look.
I also love that they are finally going ahead with the extension of the Spadina Subway line and extending it with 6 new stations up through York University and north all the way to Highway 7 in Vaughan. This will be the first extension of the TTC outside of the city of Toronto. This extension will make the TTC’s system so much more useful to so many more people who live in the northern suburbs. It will also make getting to and from York University’s main campus much quicker for the 50,000 students, faculty, and staff who come and go from that campus every day.
Another way that the TTC is expanding its services is with the Transit City plan (pdf link warning). This will add 7 Light Rail Transit (LRT) or streetcar lines to the city much like the ones already in existence all around the city. The slight twist is that they will not be on the street with the cars but will have their own dedicated lanes like the streetcar line on St Clair Ave W (much to the chagrin of many business owners and residents on St Clair Ave W). The thinking behind the Transit City plan is that it is cheaper and quicker to lay down light rail vs building subway tunnels.
Getting back to the subway, just completed December 17, 2008 was a study/presentation about the extension of the Yonge Subway line (pdf link warning) which will extend that line north into York Region as well.
Other improvements have also been implemented as of late. These include an electronic GPS tracking system of the Spadina streetcars soon to be extended to buses and other streetcars. Also included is extended bus hours referred to as “service improvements” for the bus routes that until now have only been available during peak periods or midday. According to the TTC “all bus routes will now align with the hours of the subway.” Awesome! Right?
Wrong! Much as I love the idea of further modernization and expansion of the TTC and its services I don’t agree with the priorities they have set and the methods they have undertaken to bring the TTC into the 21st Century.
In terms of the station redesigning I am all for the idea of it but realistically the TTC needs to worry about expanding service and routes before wasting money on beautification. I notice on the page linked above that there was a partner in the Museum Station remodeling and because of that I have no real problem with it – I even like the way the station turned out – but all the other remodeling projects on that page do not list a source of funds. This leads me to believe that city, provincial, or TTC money is being spent on these beautification processes and it could be used elsewhere. In New York City the subway system is, in my opinion, amazing. A lot of the stations look quite dirty and even if they weren’t grimy I highly doubt anyone would think to call them beautiful. However, the subway service is great! You can get almost anywhere in the 5 boroughs at almost any time day, night or weekend.
This brings me to my next point. The service of the TTC subway ends every night with the last train out of Union Station going north on Yonge is at 1:42am and University-Spadina 1:43am. If I live off of a route that leaves from Wilson station (the second furthest station north on the University-Spadina line) what good does it do me that my route has now been extended to “align with the hours of the subway” when that statement means that the last bus leaves the station at 1 AM not 2:20am (the approximate time I’d be at Wilson Station if I caught the last train from Union)? I’m still walking home!
As well, with all the money the city and the province spends on R.I.D.E. patrols (police check points checking for drunk drivers) especially on holiday and long weekends wouldn’t it be smarter to redirect some of that money and keep the Subway running until AFTER the bars and clubs stop serving alcohol? (last call is 1:45am and service stops at 2am, clubs and bars close at 3am in general) If people knew for $2.75 they could hop on a train when they got out of the bar/club and get back up to the suburbs they’d would be A LOT less likely to bring their car when they go out for the night. Hopefully the TTC will begin to do this after this past New Years when they did just that and kept the subway running later then usual. In fact the last trains on the Yonge-University-Spadina Subway left Union at 3:30 am for Finch Station and 3:34 am for Downsview Station.
Also, though some might think it useful the GPS program is another waste of money in my opinion. Yes, it sounds really cool. Yes, it will be awesome to know if a bus or streetcar is behind schedule so I won’t stand an extra couple of minutes out in the cold. But all in all I would rather have service hours that are later or even 24/7 instead of technology letting me know exactly where the next streetcar/bus is so I can know exactly when to go stand outside and wait.
But that’s just my $0.02, as always your comments are appreciated!