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« 01.28.2013

Fee increases cause confusion

Students are reportedly confused about the proposed fee increases for Student Centre expansion Larissa Ho News Editor With notes from Stefanie Marotta Editor-in-chief Students have been confused in the past week about the fee increases proposed by UTMSU to expand the current Student Centre, according to UTMSU’s president, Chris Thompson. The referendum proposes a $75 increase in fees, bringing the total tuition levy for the regular fallwinter academic year to $100. The UTMSU is proposing a temporary increase of $27 per semester for the Student Centre levy. This amount will be in place for no more than three years, during which time the levy will generate $2 million that will be matched dollar for dollar by the university to raise the total of $4 million that the expansion is estimated to cost. In addition to the temporary increase, UTMSU is also proposing a permanent increase of $10.50 per semester, including the first three years. This works out to a total levy of $100 per year for the first three years, and $46 per year from then on. UTMSU currently collects $12.50 per semester, a total of $25 for the regular fall/winter year. “The misconception students have is that it’s a $100 increase,” said Thompson. “When talking about finances, it’s very tricky. When you do, you want to give context. […] When I talk to students, I give context to where these numbers came from.” Students are confused about the definition of a “session”, which is the word used in the referendum preamble to explain the breakdown

of the fee increase. The preamble gives the figures on a sessional basis, which is one semester. Last week’s article in The Medium explains the fee increases on both a per-semester and per-year basis. “I’ve been talking to a lot of people while campaigning on the ground, and they’re confused,” said Khogali. The permanent increase, which will fund “additional programming and activities”, according to the preamble, would generate approximately $250,000 per year for UTMSU. Fifth-year student Thomas Kristan said he thinks the referendum will fail. “I do have a sneaking suspicion that the referendum will fail, though, as most of the students who will be paying this new fee will not be around to enjoy the expansion—either at all or possibly only for just one year,” he said. “So many students probably will not be taking into consideration the needs of future students, but rather their own wallets.” Students have voiced concerns about being asked to vote yes on the Student Centre expansion. One student, who goes by the name of Wilson on Facebook, posted on UTMSU’s page: “You, the UTMSU, were campaigning against tuition hikes nationwide, and yet here you are campaigning for a tuition hike?” The student continued, “The union is trying to fool students into believing the increase is lower than what it really is, and sweet-talking about additional ‘services’ to passersby […] because they know students will oppose a $75/year tuition increase and vote no.” Fees continued on page 3

Designed by Vivian Wong

Compiled by Stefanie MArotta

UTM shows its pride for LGBTQ Fourth annual Pride Week highlights“queer leaders of tomorrow” through various workshops and guest speakers Andrew Dmytrasz A Degrassi star showed her support for the fourth annual UTM Pride Week. Annie Clark, a star of Degrassi: The Next Generation, headlined the workshop on Wednesday, titled “Queers in the Media: Creating and Representing”. This event was part of a week-long event by the LGTBQ community and its allies. The theme this year was “queer leaders of tomorrow” and included various workshops and guest speakers, including the Winter Meet and Greet, the Homohop, the Pride Launch, Queers in the Media, Queer Writing 101, and the

Junaid Imran/THe Medium

Kumari Giles leads the “Storytelling through Movement” workshop on Friday. Coming Out workshop. The event was a joint project between several groups, in-

cluding OUT@UTM, UTMSU, the UTM Sexual Education Centre, St. George’s Sexual and Gen-

der Diversity Office, and the Ian Orchard Student Initiatives Fund. Yasmine Youssef, UTM-

SU’s VP equity, attended the workshop on Wednesday and commented in an email that it was one of the best-attended events of the week. It was also an opportunity for students to speak to their role models in person. In addition to Annie Clark, a publicist and a writer from the show were also present. “We are a campus built on diversity, inclusion, and equity, but also responsible for fostering a positive space for varied forms of gender expression, sexual orientations, and gender equality,” Justin Hanif, the LGBTQ coordinator of UTMSU, said via email. Pride continued on page 4

01.28.2013 THE MEDIUM NEWS

Lawsuits over data loss The personal data loss of half a million people Michael J. Watson associate news editor A series of class-action lawsuits has been filed against Human Resources and Skills Development Canada over the agency’s loss of the personal data of over half a million people. Compensation and punitive damages are being sought over the loss of a portable hard drive that stored the names, addresses, SIN, and loan information of 583,000 people who took out student loans between 2000 and 2006. The government said no banking or medical information was on the hard drive. The drive was lost in November, but the loss was not announced until January 11. Five days later, the Merchant Law Group, Strossberg Sutts, Strosberg LLP, Branch Macmaster LLP, Falconer Charney LLP, and Newfoundland lawyer Bob Buckingham all began class-action proceedings. A notice on the McMaster website states that compensation will be sought for “the breach of their privacy, damages for identity theft, and/or damages to their credit reputation, damages for the costs incurred to

prevent identity theft, damages for the time spent changing your personal information such as your Social Insurance Number, damages for emotional distress/inconvenience, and/or compensation. Punitive damages will also be claimed because the government failed to disclose the breach of privacy

“We believe the number of people affected is, at minimum, two million, as the student loan applications also contained information about the applicants’ parents, siblings, and spouses, where applicable.” ­— Bob Buckingham for two months.” The suit filed seeks $600 million in compensation. That’s approximately $1,000 per person affected by the loss. The websites of each firm have a page on which those af-

fected can join the lawsuit. Though the cases have been filed, they require class-action status to be certified by a judge before they can proceed. The McMaster site suggests concerned parties check back every three to six months for updates. Buckingham has disputed the figure of potential victims of the data loss. “We believe the number of people affected is, at minimum, two million, as the student loan applications also contained information about the applicants’ parents, siblings, and spouses, where applicable,” Buckingham said in a press statement. A spokeswoman for Diane Finley, Canada’s Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development, contested the statement. “No other individuals’ names or information were included [on the drive], such as spouses or co-signers,” spokeswoman Alyson Queen wrote in an email. A toll-free number is available to help people determine whether they were among those affected by the data loss. Free credit reports can be acquired from a credit bureau. Those concerned can also have their SIN flagged in the event of unusual activity.


»What will you vote in the

student centre referendum?

Eman Aboalya 2nd-year, life sciences

Philip Henderson 2nd-year, English

I haven’t decided yet. Some people told me if I vote yes, tuition fees will spike.

It’s hard to say. I’ll probably vote no because of the cost.

Budd Palipane 2nd-year, undecided

Katie Cory 2nd-year, biology

I don’t keep up with the politics. I know UTMSU gets paid a lot of money.

I think no, because I don’t care a lot about the Student Centre...

The Varsity proposes $1 increase UTMSU campaigns Students at all U of T campuses pay a levy for the newspaper

The Varsity, one of U of T’s main newspapers and Canada’s secondoldest student newspaper, is asking undergraduate students to vote on whether they approve of the request to increase the per-student levy that goes to fund them by $1, raising it to $3.72 per year, in addition to the annual cost of living increase. Following the procedure described in U of T’s official policy for compulsory non-academic incidental fees, and as outlined in the Handbook for Student Societies, The Varsity is holding a tri-campus referendum for undergraduates to vote online at from January 28 to 30. Varsity Publications Inc., a non-

profit organization that exists independently of the university, runs the newspaper, which is distributed to all three campuses. They get their money from the student levy, which contributes approximately 40% of the revenue, and from advertising, which contributes the remainder. When The Varsity was incorporated in 1980, the levy was $1.50, which would have grown to $4.60 now if it had kept pace with inflation. The company holds two types of financial referenda. There’s the “realdollar increase”, which is what The Varsity is holding this year, and then there’s the “index to inflation”, which was last done in 2007. The index to inflation referendum addresses whether to allow the levy should go up by whatever the Bank of Canada determines the cost of living to be,

which is typically about 2% per year. A referendum in 2007 established a cost of living increase, so that every year The Varsity’s levy goes up automatically to keep up with inflation. When the levy was indexed in 2007, the levy was $2.50. Since then, the levy has increased by three cents due to inflation. Murad Hemmadi, the editor-inchief of The Varsity, cited declining revenue as one reason The Varsity’s board of directors from last year suggested to this year’s board that they call a referendum, which Hemmadi is now spearheading. Since the financial crash of 2008, revenue has decreased by approximately 50% across the whole newspaper industry.

At least 232 die in Brazilian nightclub fire caused by fireworks

Larissa Ho nEws editor

for “yes” votes

Varsity continued on page 4

The student pointed out that UTMSU “needs 5% of the entire UTM student population to vote in this referendum to make this election valid, so even if 95% of students don’t vote, and 5% vote yes, then we all have our tuition hiked up”. After The Medium investigated why the preliminary blueprints for the proposed Student Centre expansion were not posted online, UTMSU requested permission from the university to post the sketches. After obtaining permission from the offices of the Dean of Student Affairs and Food Services, UTMSU posted the preliminary sketches on their Facebook page. There is no designated study

space in the current blueprints of the Student Centre. The multipurpose rooms would be converted into study space during exam periods. When asked why the fees are not advertised on the flyers that are being handed out by campaigners, Thompson said the purpose of the flyers was not to advertise the proposed increased fees. “The actual fee component was the first thing that went out,” said Thompson. “Normally if you want to endorse a project and get people on it, you probably start with the good, the really nice, pretty stuff. […] The flyers had a second purpose, which is to show students what the expansion is going to provide.”

Child labour uncovered in Apple’s supply chain, internal audit reveals

Wynne vows to work with opposition as Ontario’s new premier

Woman’s torso found in Kitchener garbage bin on Saturday morning

Google Earth exposes North Korea’s secret prison camps

Security guards who didn’t believe there was a fire inside the Kiss Nightclub in Brazil tried to stop people from escaping from the nightclub as a fire ravaged the building, killing at least 232 people. The fire was started during a band’s performance by a firework that hit the ceiling. The exact death toll is still unknown, but more bodies are still trapped inside the packed club.

Apple has discovered multiple cases of child labour in its supply chain, including one Chinese company that employed 74 children under the age of 16. An internal audit has uncovered 106 cases of underage labour at Apple suppliers last year and 70 cases historically. The report follows a series of worker suicides over working conditions at Foxconn, the Taiwanese company that assembles Apple products.

Kathleen Wynne has succeeded Dalton McGuinty as the premier of Ontario, taking office this Monday, and has vowed to start a new relationship with the Progressive Conservative leader, Tim Hudak. The 59-year-old said it’s “exciting” to be Canada’s first lesbian premier. but she does not see that as her focus. “I’m not a gay activist. That’s not how I got into politics,” she said.

Homicide detectives are investigating the case of a human torso being found in a garbage bin in Kitchener, Ontario. Investigators say the torso is that of a white woman of unknown age and identity. They stated that she wore a black t-shirt with the words “Forget princess, I want to be a vampire” on the front. Police say they have not recovered any other body parts.

Human rights activists are turning to Google Earth to identify the prison camps across the North Korean countryside that hold as many as 200,000 people deemed hostile to the regime. Rights groups are pushing the United Nations to open an international investigation. North Korea insists that the camps do not exist, but high-resolution imaging from outer space has disproved that claim.

Source: The Daily Mail

Source: The Guardian

Source: The Toronto Star

Source: The Globe and Mail

Source: The Telegraph

Fees continued from page 2




Free the Children comes to UTM

Students listen to the story of how Free the Children was founded

St. George paper calls referendum Varsity continued from page 3

Ayman Khan/The MEdium

Maggie Aldrich speaks to students about Free the Children and its founder, Craig Kielburger. Jericho Tan UTMSU organized a Q&A session with a motivational speaker from Free the Children, a non-profit organization founded by Craig Kielburger in 1995. Maggie Aldrich shared the history, philosophy, and goals of the organization. One of the goals is filling penny bags with $25 in pennies; each bag can provide fresh water to a person in a third-world country for life. Free the Children initiated Canada’s largest penny drive to provide funding to construct sustainable water projects in less developed countries. Aldrich shared the story of how Free the Children was founded by the 12-year-old Kielburger. Kielburger was sitting in his kitchen one morning, fliping through The Toronto Star for comics, and happened to come across the story of Iqbal Masih, with the headline “Battled child labor, boy, 12, murdered”. Masih was born in a rural village in the outskirts of Lahore, Pakistan

and at the age of four was sold into slavery. In his early childhood, Masih was restrained for six years in chains in a carpet-weaving factory for many hours as a child labourer. Masih managed to escape his captors and spoke out for children’s rights, and caught the attention of the world. But in 1995, at only 12 years old, he was shot to death in Muridke, Pakistan. The story of Masih had a deep impact on Kielburger; it motivated him to research further into child labour. Kielburger brought the article to his school in Thornhill, Ontario and gathered 11 of his grade 7 classmates to establish a group that later evolved into Free the Children. At present, Free the Children operates as an educational partner and global charity in 45 countries, with more than 1.7 million youth participating in their development and educational programs. Aldrich highlights five main points of Free the Children’s success: sustainable water programs, alternative incomes for families, agriculture and food

security, accessible healthcare, and— most importantly—building schools to provide quality education for children. The programs Aldrich described all work closely together to ease the daily problems faced by children and their families in those countries. Numerous YouTube videos show young children with their parents in Canada, demonstrating that they have donated bags of pennies to Free the Children’s penny drive donation program. Free the Children has collaborated with the Royal Bank of Canada for the penny drive. All donations can be brought to any RBC branch; deposit slips are given to donors to complete their donation via an online donation log form. Aldrich believes strongly that everyone must continue to seek their passion, educate themselves in what they strongly believe in, and not fall prey to apathy. “That tiny penny has a huge impact on our world,” said Aldrich.

“Our advertising revenue is declining and our levy is not increasing to keep pace with that, so basically we have less money, [and have] for the last few years,” said Hemmadi. Last year, The Varsity’s revenue was approximately $200,000. In 2007/08, that number was $400,000. “The second reason is we’re trying to expand what we do,” said Hemmadi, who wants to create more coverage of the Mississauga and Scarborough campuses. Last January, The Varsity launched their new website, which gives them a place to publish videos, podcasts, infographics, and other materials. However, it comes at a cost. “The dollar increase would allow us to [continue to] do that,” said Hemmadi. The average levy per full-time student for a student newspaper in Canada is $8.21, which is three times The Varsity’s current levy. “If we wanted to match other papers across the country, we’d ask for a $6 increase,” said Hemmadi. “That’s not what we want; we want a little bit more to continue to grow. We don’t want to put a much bigger financial burden on people. We do need the money, but we can make do, and we’ve been doing that for a while.” Hemmadi said that should this referendum pass, The Varsity won’t be asking for more money within the next five years, because “the increase will carry us for a while”.

The Varsity, sometimes referred to as “U of T’s unofficial journalism school”, is fully student-run.

“That’s not what we want; we want a little bit more to continue to grow. We don’t want to put a much bigger financial burden on people. We do need the money, but we can make do, and we’ve been doing that for a while.” - Murad Hemmadi Created in 1880 and now in its 131st year, The Varsity publishes every Monday during the school year and circulates a total of 20,000 copies a week to all three campuses. Students will be able to login at any time during the voting period with their utorid and password and vote on the referendum question. “Our quality determines how many people read us. The quality of our paper is tied in some way to money. The more resources you have, the better the produc[t] you put out,” said Hemmadi. “I think that’s clear in every paper across the country, and I think we’re very proud of what we do with the amount we have.”

TalentEgg helps students find jobs Pride gets “positive”

message across Pride continued from page 3

Mariam Ahmed/The Medium

UCS hosts a workshop given by TalentEgg’s content manager, Cassandra Jowett, last Tuesday. JAI SANGHA ASSOCIATE NEWS EDITOR The Undergraduate Commerce Society at UTM hosted a workshop in the Davis Building last Tuesday to help students and recent graduates find jobs. The session titled How to Find a Job was presented by Cassandra Jowett, the content manager of TalentEgg, an online job portal and resource website geared towards students. Students need to differentiate themselves from other students graduating at the same time by effectively communicating their unique experiences and talents, according to Jowett. “Sadly, everyone in this room is a clone of everyone else. You’re all graduating with the same degree, probably with very similar experience,” said Jowett during the presentation. “Probably, there are things about you that are special, but unless you tell those to employers, you all look the same on paper.”

Students have more free career-related resources available to them than any other group, and should develop a strategy to take advantage of them, said Jowett. She also gave tips to improve résumés. “If each [bullet point] on your résumé doesn’t list an accomplishment, then it probably doesn’t need to be there,” said Jowett, referring to the tendency to give detailed job descriptions of previous employment. She identified two major recruiting cycles that students should be aware of: in September companies hire students for entry-level positions for the following year, and in January they hire interns for the summer. Students should take the extra time to tailor their résumé and cover letter to individual employers, and to use social media platforms to network with recruiters and industry professionals instead of relying on email, said Jowett. “People get so many emails these days. They’re really looking to engage with students on Facebook or

Twitter—and LinkedIn,” said Jowett. “Stick in people’s mind; that’s the whole idea. […] When they get your résumé, they might connect all that extra stuff to your name.” The event was the first time UCS has collaborated with TalentEgg, and was intended to help students with the winter recruitment season, according to Fatima Tariq, the director of corporate relations at UCS, who was part of the team that proposed holding the workshop. “I didn’t want [students] to be nervous about the upcoming recruitments. I’ve been through it in the summer, and it’s not as nerve-racking a process as it seems to be,” said Tariq in an interview. She urges students to keep pushing even if they get a few rejections. “Try to learn how to improve yourself and what areas you didn’t do that great in,” she said. “Keep trying, and eventually it will happen.” Forty-five students registered for the workshop, one of many events UCS holds annually.

“Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to attend much, but I did get to attend the Pride Launch, which was a showcase of local queer artists’ work. It was really well done, and I was impressed at how bold and visible it was. It’s not often you get to walk into the CCT atrium and see it filled unabashedly with rainbows,” said James Boutilier, a fifth-year environmental management and biology student. “On the week as a whole, I think Justin Hanif and UTMSU did a really amazing job. The events were really diverse [and] educational, and went beyond being just stereotypically queer.” Kumari Giles, who organized the first Pride Week four years ago, gave a workshop called “The Stories of Our Lives: Storytelling through Movement”.

“In university we have institutionalized learning and never get to share what your own personal story might be,” she said. “Marginalized stories don’t have space in mainstream representation, and the workshop today gives those people a chance to have the space to share their story.” She commented on the difference between Pride Week now and when she started it. “Some things have stayed the same, like having events every day and having workshops, but it changes every year based on the students,” she said. “It is student-led and student-driven, and every year it changes based on the students that are there and what the needs are. But I am glad that Pride Week is still happening. I hope it continues to happen and listens to the needs of the students.”


« 01.28.2013

Editor-in-Chief » Stefanie Marotta

The proposed tuition levy increase The Student Centre expansion referendum that could nearly double the amount students pay to the student union Before I had access to the Medium office, I too used to circle the library, weaving in and out of the stacks hoping to find a piece of floor to spread out my books. In our little corner of the woods, UTM has little space in which to expand. Luckily, the new Instructional Building has alleviated some of the congestion for students looking for a place to eat lunch and cram in a last-minute study session. On the other end of campus, student accommodations aren’t as luxurious. The Student Centre is cramped. The Medium has one of the larger offices in the building, and even we don’t have enough space to accommodate all our staff and equipment. I walk past the narrow corridors of club offices and I wonder: are most of the rooms vacant because the clubs don’t regularly use the offices, or is it because the space is so small that it’s unusable? Clubs host events all over campus, from the atrium in CCT to the lecture halls in Davis (I still call it South). Do we need a larger hub for clubs and societies? Would you use the Student Centre more if it was expanded? More importantly, how much are you willing to pay for a larger building? While word has spread over the past week about UTMSU’s Student Centre expansion project, I have yet to meet a student who knows the finer details. Yes, you know they promised more study space.

Yes, you know there’s a temporary increase in tuition fees. But how much money will these promises cost? In speaking with a union campaigner, I was informed that the fee increase would only cost an extra $27 and it would be cancelled after three years. We captured this on film in this week’s feature video. When I clarified that there is also a permanent increase and that the fee she described is for one semester, not one year, she seemed confused. Students have been told that the increase is per-session, but even I didn’t really know what “session” referred to until about a week ago. The editorial team and I spent quite a bit of time looking for clarification. A session is one semester. That means the fee isn’t just being increased by $27. The tuition levy will increase to $100 for the combined fall and winter sessions—one full academic year. As I don’t know very many students that attend UTM for only one semester a year, this explanation makes more sense. Currently, UTMSU collects $25 in total from fall and winter tuition fees. That’s a $75 increase. About three fifths of that figure is temporary. The permanent increase, which will nearly double the tuition levy that UTMSU collects, will generate more than $250,000 per year in revenue for the student union. The preamble stipulates that this increase is “to maintain the operations of the

EDITOR-IN-CHIEF Stefanie Marotta

Student Centre and to fund addition programming and activities in it”. Apparently this is also for past maintenance that UTMSU could not afford. They did, on the other hand, classify the summer U-Pass project an emergency, and used the contingency fund—UTMSU’s emergency reserve finances—to pay for the program. Then why wasn’t this maintenance considered an emergency? Students have been expressing concern over the crumbling roof for years.

As for the additional fees for “programming and activities”, I wanted to know what this has to with the construction of a new section. The answer I received from UTMSU executives: this was included in the last Student Centre referendum, so they’re including it again, since “it’s nothing new”. As for the additional fees for “programming and activities”, I wanted to know what this has to with the construction of a new section. The answer I received from UTMSU executives: this was


included in the last Student Centre referendum, so they’re including it again in this one, since “it’s nothing new”. To avoid any misconceptions, I will very explicitly state that I am not against the expansion project. Where else can students go to breakdance between classes? As far as I know, this is one of the best deals negotiated between the university and the student union. The university has agreed to match the student contribution dollar-for-dollar, up to $2 million. When the RAWC was constructed, student fees contributed to two thirds of the cost. Now, with enrolment estimated to increase by 3,000 over the next three years, UTM students could find themselves sitting in cramped library stacks again. In my fifth year at UTM, I’ve never seen the campus more alive and vibrant with engaged students. But there’s a difference between engaged and aware. As you’ll see from this week’s feature video, many students know the reasons why the Student Centre needs to be expanded. Almost every interviewee cited the need for more leisure space, better service at the Blind Duck Pub, and events hosted by clubs. Their reactions became noticeably different when they realized they hadn’t seen the actual blueprints and allocation of space or been informed about the extent of the increase. An expansion project would provide a number of benefits,


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which I won’t explain because they are already splashed across posters and flyers around campus. What isn’t displayed on promotional material is the extent of the fee increase, and that’s the issue on which you’re actually voting. If you head to the polls this week, you won’t find a ballot question asking you if you want to increase study space. That’s a no-brainer. The question will ask you if you want to quadruple the fees you pay to UTMSU for three years, then go back down to double permanently. After reading about the fee increases in The Medium’s coverage last week, a commerce student took to UTMSU’s Facebook page and demanded answers. He claimed that students had been deceived. The language used in the article is very clear. It describes the fee increase on both a sessional and annual basis to illustrate the bigger picture. If students are confused, then it’s because of the way the campaign is marketed. Read the fine print before you make a decision. If you wait until you’re standing at the voting booth, it will be too late. In haste to get to class on time, you’ll check off a box when all the information you’ve received is to “vote yes”. YOURS, STEFANIE MAROTTA EDITOR-IN-CHIEF


Opinions expressed in the pages of The Medium are exclusively of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of The Medium. Additionally, the opinions expressed in advertisements appearing in The Medium are


Letters to the editor will be edited for spelling, grammar, style and coherence. Letters will not exceed 700 words in print. Letters that incite hatred, violence or letters that are racist, homophobic, sexist or libelous will not be published. Anonymous letters will not be published.



Investigating the conflict We need a balanced dissemination of factual knowledge Dear Editor, The article that was published on the front page two weeks ago [“Activist reveals hardships in Gaza”, January 14] made no attempt to offer a holistic view on a complex topic. The students quoted in the article offered evangelical praise of the presentation, yet no critical views were published, making it seem like there is consensus on the arguments being made by Mr. Fear; this is not the case. There are many students on both sides with varying opinions, and it is a perversion to present the situation as one-sided. Further, the article incorrectly associated BDS (Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions) with Israel when in fact BDS is a movement sternly anti-Israel. The article ended with a critical description of Operation Pillar of Defence, and it is here that I will begin my commentary. Since 2007, Hamas has been the governing body of the Gaza Strip (a portion of the Palestinian Territories). Hamas defines itself as being in a continuous state of war with Israel. The group refuses to recognize Israel’s right to exist. Hamas’ charter states: “Israel will exist and will continue to exist until Islam will obliterate it, just as it obliterated others before it.” Israel, the United States, Canada, the European Union, and Japan classify Hamas as a terrorist organization. The argument is frequently made that Israel is retaliating against an unarmed faction. In recent years, Hamas has been increasing the size and capabilities of its rocket arsenal, including the Fajr-5 rocket. The Fajr-5 rocket is an Iranian-made missile. It can reach over 60 kilometres, a range that allows it to threaten the lives of over 3.5 million Israelis. Since 2001, more than 12,800 rockets and mortars have landed in Israel. Since Israel withdrew from the

Gaza Strip in 2005, 8,000 rockets have been fired into Israel. According to the United Nations Charter, every state has the right to protect its citizens: “Nothing in the present Charter shall impair the inherent right of individual or collective selfdefence if an armed attack occurs against a Member of the United Nations” (Article 51). On November 14, 2012, Israel launched Operation Pillar of Defence in response to unremitting rocket attacks from the Gaza Strip. The operation had two goals: to cripple terror organizations in the Gaza Strip and to defend Israelis living under fire (more than half a million Israelis have less than 60 seconds to find shelter after a rocket is launched from Gaza into Israel). During the eight days of the operation, the Israel Defence Forces targeted more than 1,500 terror sites across the Gaza Strip.

The argument is frequently made that Israel is retaliating against an unarmed faction. In recent years, Hamas has been increasing the size and capabilities of its rocket arsenal, including the Fajr-5 rocket. It can reach over 60 kilometres, a range that allows it to threaten the lives of over 3.5 million Israelis. During Operation Pillar of Defence, Palestinian terrorist groups fired more than 1,506 rockets at Israel. Most of the rockets were

launched from within civilian households in Gaza, effectively turning their residents into living human shields. In order to minimize harm to civilians in Gaza, the IDF delivered thousands of phone calls and text messages to Gaza, warning them of IDF strikes in the area; the IDF dispersed leaflets warning the residents of the Gaza Strip to stay away from Hamas’ and other terror organizations’ operatives and facilities that pose a risk to their safety; the IDF called off airstrikes when pilots spotted civilians; and the IDF has targeted terrorists with pinpoint strikes, minimizing harm to bystanders. Hamas has done nothing to minimize harm to civilians in Israel. The number of civilians killed in Gaza during the course of Operation Pillar of Defence cannot be confirmed, but Gaza officials said 133 Palestinians had been killed in the conflict, of which 79 were fighters, 53 were civilians, and one was a policeman (source: The News International). In Israel, five civilians and one soldier were killed by rocket fire, while an additional 240 civilians were injured. Operation Pillar of Defence (and the Arab-Israeli conflict more generally) is extremely complex, and it is unlikely that a favourable solution will be achieved in the near future. However, what can be achieved is a balanced dissemination of factual knowledge (emphasis on factual) in order to provide the necessary tools for an educated analysis of the situation and not one based on propaganda. It is here that the article fundamentally fails and treats something complex as a mere happening, with all blame being laid on Israel. Stan Fedun Fourth-year, political science


Helpless at Tim Hortons Locations at UTM don’t accept the Tim Card Dear Editor, Most of my articles for this wonderful school newspaper consist of silly rants against certain aspects of campus. My articles are ultimately meant to entertain my fellow students through slight comic relief and neuroticism. But something horrible has happened to me early on this semester, and I feel the need to once again target this institution. Students often complain about certain fees that may not exactly be necessary. I don’t feel inclined to target parking, textbook, or residence fees. Not to say that others shouldn’t. But I don’t drive to school, I don’t buy textbooks, and I don’t live on or near campus. It is therefore difficult to scavenge my insides in search of angry emotion and write about such topics. I hope everyone had a good holiday. One of my most prized gifts was a $20 Tim Hortons gift card. You see, my family knows that there is a Tim Hortons at school. My family also knows that Tim Hortons is my ideal location to feed myself. Nothing beats a bagel. There I was, standing in line at Tim Hortons, more naïve than ever before. I hummed happily and clutched my new gift card close to my chest, salivating at the thought that I would be able to sustain myself for at least two weeks without spending any of my own money. When I reached the front of the line and ordered my buttered everything bagel, when I handed the worker my Tim Hortons gift card, and when he shook his head and tried to explain that this Tim Hortons didn’t accept Tim Hortons gift cards, a piece of me died,

unable to stand this horrible injustice committed against me. “But why?” I asked him. “Why not? Isn’t this Tim Hortons?” “Uhhh, I think it’s because… the student card...?” That was the explanation I received from Tim Hortons regarding why they didn’t accept Tim Hortons gift cards. After retrieving my bagel and turning around, I saw the Office of the Registrar across from me. Does UTM know that Tim Hortons doesn’t accept Tim Hortons gift cards? Is it justified, even slightly justified, that Tim Hortons doesn’t accept Tim Hortons gift cards? Writing this article right now, I feel so tremendously angry that I have a $20 Tim Hortons gift card that doesn’t work at my most visited Tim Hortons, which is coincidentally located at UTM. I am by no means cheap. I reluctantly purchase my bagels from Tim Hortons now. I use my gift card at other locations. But this issue is incomprehensible, absolutely absurd. It makes me want to cry. How can our school more blatantly rip us off ? Every time I mention to my close friends that Tim Hortons won’t accept Tim Hortons gift cards, and every time I threaten to write an article about it, they laugh and say, “That would make a funny article.” Each time I reply, “It’s not funny! I’m furious!” And I am. If you’re laughing right now, you probably don’t have a Tim Hortons gift card that UTM’s Tim Hortons refuses to accept. What a joke. Sami Karaman Fourth-year, English


« 01.28.2013

Editor » Colleen Munro

Drama students break a leg (literally?) Theatre Erindale’s new Macbeth-based comedy celebrates the perils and pratfalls of live theatre KATE CATTELL-DANIELS The Farndale Avenue Housing Estate Townswomen’s Guild Dramatic Society’s Production of Macbeth is not only a mouthful of a title but also a handful of a show. It’s a brilliant, farcical play that laughs at everything the theatre world has to offer, a play about a production of Macbeth as interpreted by a cast of nearly proper English ladies. The Theatre Erindale production, despite being designed to look ridiculous and disorganized, demands very precise performances from actors and backstage crew alike. The show is commanded by a multitude of props and set pieces, each of which is deployed with perfect timing. The severed head suspended from the ceiling would have been terrifying if it hadn’t fallen to the deck with an audible, rubbery splat at the end of its speech as the first apparition. The same goes for the daggers in Macbeth’s illusions, which nearly run the poor actress (played by Cassondra Padfield) through on multiple occasions. Farndale quickly turns into a sort of ballet of dysfunctional props and actors, all of whom try very, very hard to put on the best play they can—and, quite simply, fail miserably. And that means Theatre Erindale is doing their job perfectly. Acting Farndale requires specific technique, mostly based on impeccable timing and the performers’ confi-


The Macbeths’ banquet is interrupted by a ghostly visitor in Theatre Erindale’s latest production. dence in themselves to make it look as if there are legitimate lethal accidents occurring every 10 seconds. And every incident brings a new bout of tears, broken bones, and forgotten or grafted dialogue and speeches. There is a fine line between portraying the characters of Macbeth and portraying the Farndale Dramatic Society’s attempts at the characters, but the distinction is never lost on the Erindale actors. Farndale does not, however, function only on a superficial and amusing level. It is a meta-theatri-

cal commentary on amateur theatre and subjective adjudication. Right from the start of the show, the audience in no way attends the play they thought they were going to see. Instead, they are privy to a drama competition not unlike Hart House Theatre’s Drama Festival, but fraught with perils ranging from blind swordfights to an out-of-control wheelchair. For those familiar with Theatre Erindale’s performances, the transition to the Multimedia Studio Theatre might be a bit of a shock. But

the MiST space makes it an even more enjoyable experience. Theatre Erindale is intimate, and the MiST is even more so; the close quarters of the audience and actors prevents the actors from looking like paragons of performance and expertise, but rather makes them human. Everyone knows moments of such complete mortification that it seems as if the world will end. The brilliance of the staging is in the feeling that the performers can be reached and comforted, just as everyone wants to be when they realize their

fly has been undone the whole day. One of the strongest elements of the performance is the actors’ awareness of the fourth wall and how they play with it in their interactions with the audience. Here is a cast well-schooled in the art of improvisation, players brave enough to engage with an unknown scene partner. This is not just a one-time interaction: the audience routinely becomes part of the play. This is highlighted in the final scene, in which the play is adjudicated by the elusive Mr. Peach (Andrew DiRosa). Slowly, during his speech, the house lights are brought up, and spectators no longer have the security of sitting in the dark. It is only then that I realized just how much we had been put on the spot throughout the play. We stood for “God Save the Queen”, held onto our raffle tickets, and laughed and groaned throughout. And that made me feel that this was my play too, in part; I helped create the performance that night. “We guarantee you’ve never seen a disaster like the one perpetrated by the ladies of Farndale,” writes director Patrick Young—a very accurate description of a play bursting with vocal, physical, and technical demands. Possibly the funniest show ever to take the Erindale stage, The Farndale Avenue Housing Estate Townswomen’s Guild Dramatic Society’s Production of Macbeth runs until Sunday, February 3 at the MiST Theatre.

An unwelcome change of pace Indie rockers Ra Ra Riot take to the dance floor on third LP, Beta Love ARISTOTLE ELIOPOULOS ASSOCIATE A&E EDITOR When vocalist Wes Miles and the rest of Ra Ra Riot released their debut album, The Rhumb Line, in 2008, the contrast of the intense strings and Miles’ delicate voice showed a promising band shining brighter than the various other newcomers doing baroque pop. Each song on Rhumb felt well-constructed and cohesive, a pattern that continued on their second album, The Orchard. It didn’t see the same success, but it was still a great follow-up to a pop formula Ra Ra Riot seemed to know and understand well. It’s with the release of their third album, Beta Love, that Miles and the band choose to take a different direction, trading in their baroque sound for a screechy synth-pop noise meant to get people dancing. The opening track, “Dance with Me”, begins strong, but like many of the tracks on Beta, it feels as if it falls apart before it

truly begins. Everything here sounds familiar in the worst way: a wavering synth line to open the song, a looped beat that hovers throughout the entire piece, a glitzy little breakdown in the middle, and a redundant chorus that bleeds into the verse, until really, you realize these are the only four lines in the entire track. It’s a sound that’s been done to death by bands before, and done much better by The Killers in 2004 and Passion Pit in 2009. With songs that aren’t upbeat enough to dance to, and not unique enough to find fascinating or appealling to listen to on your own, the album feels null. Ra Ra Riot doesn’t add anything new to the vast number of lesser-known bands doing the same thing on BandCamp, or even MySpace. Barely anything on here clocks in at longer than three minutes, and for good reason; when the odd song does, it feels too long. While Miles and crew may have hoped the short

playback time would create a punchy and concise album, it comes across as an album that just didn’t have enough material to build on. The songs don’t have enough substance. Nevertheless, there are some redeeming qualities that peek out from behind the synth noise of this mess. “Is It Too Much” is a gentle track that isn’t loud enough to irritate, and while it’s not groundbreaking, it is sweet and beautiful. When the band opts for softer moments that mirror their past work, they succeed, making me wonder: why did they even feel the need to change their sound to begin with? It’s the old “if it ain’t broke” philosophy that makes Beta Love difficult to listen to. Feeling too long for a short album, not varied enough, and at moments just strange, Beta Love is forgivable; but like an old friend who you feel you just don’t have enough in common with anymore, you’re not going to be too eager to listen to what they have to say. MM½


Ra Ra Riot makes the jump to synth-pop beats on Beta Love.

01.28.2013 THE MEDIUM A&E



35 years of juried art at AGM VAM 35 offers the best of 248 art submissions from across Ontario COLLEEN MUNRO A&E EDITOR Now in its 35th year, Visual Arts Mississauga’s Annual Juried Show of Fine Arts began its run at the Art Gallery of Mississauga earlier this month. The show highlights dozens of works submitted from across the province and selected by a panel of jurors. Along with Stuart Reid and Brian Smith, Christof Migone, the director and curator of UTM’s Blackwood Gallery, is on the jury of this year’s show. This year, 248 works of art were submitted to the show, and the large selection is reflected in the quality of the work on display. Through a variety of media and subject matter, the show exhibits the many unique worldviews of the selected artists. Each viewer will be drawn to different pieces, and the gallery encourages visitors to cast their votes for the People’s Choice Award. The winner will be announced at the end of the exhibition. Meanwhile, the jury has selected a few artists and presented the other awards. The first-place prize went to Susan Campbell’s “Open House Interventions”. This unique collection of photographs highlights abandoned household items, such as toilets and furniture, found on city streets and demarcated by coloured tape. It was se-


Jessica Thalmann’s “arbeit macht frei” is one of the many pieces on display in VAM 35. lected as the winner for its “conceptual nature as an invention or intervention of urban space and overall composition”, according to the museum. Other winners include Steven Volpe’s “Self Portrait with Accomplices” (second place), Sarah Martin’s “It Was that Same Night” (third place), Julia Vanderpolder’s “Still Water” (honourable mention), and Paul McCusker’s “The Gas Bill” (Committee’s Choice Award). Perhaps the most unconventional of the winning pieces is Natasha Gouveia’s “1,496 Sta-

ples”, which won the AGM Mississauga Artist of Distinction Award. The piece certainly lives up to its title, combining a large piece of wood with simple tan acrylic paint and, presumably, 1,496 staples. Aside from Gouveia’s piece, there are few others that stray from conventional forms. One great exception is Nacho Cartagena’s three-dimensional “Artilleria Elevator”. This wall-mounted sculpture made entirely of cork evokes a whimsical Wild West-inspired, multilevel world. This fun piece is a good breather

in a painting-heavy exhibit. However, that’s not to say that there aren’t some great paintings here. One of the many standouts is Diana Hillman’s “Police Car”. This simple, small oil painting depicts a familiar scene: a police officer directing traffic at a quiet intersection. But Hillman’s impressionistic brush strokes give the painting a hazy tone and perfectly complement its rainy atmosphere. Andrew Verheockx’s “East View” takes a far sharper approach, giving a nearly photorealistic look to his urban street scene. Among the staunch

geometrical grid of skyscrapers, the one sign of chaos is the cabs whooshing by in the foreground. In bright yellow and out of focus, the taxis lend the painting a dynamic undercurrent of action. Pat Bond brings yet another flavour to the exhibition with “Rest and Peace and Happiness”. This large work shows what one can do with a marker and acrylic paint. Embracing an apparently Asian artistic influence, the piece looks like a very elaborate illustration from a children’s book that would give kids nightmares. The small woodland creatures throughout the piece wouldn’t look out of place in a Tim Burton film. Though it’s in black and white, there is an organic quirkiness to the piece that immediately draws the viewer’s attention. This gallery’s small space is used economically to fit a large number of works. It never feels overcrowded, although they have used just about every comfortably available foot of wall. Considering the variety, VAM 35 offers something to just about everybody who comes to see it. These jury-selected artists all fought for their spot, and the result is another diverse but high-quality exhibition from the AGM. VAM 35 runs until March 2 at the Art Gallery of Mississauga. Visit for more information.

Album review: Toro y Moi

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Chaz Bundick of Toro y Moi offers more of his eclectic sound on Anything in Return. PHILIPPE WITMER Indie rock hasn’t been “rocking” much these days, which is perfectly fine. But progress is always good, and it’s interesting to see how the new generation incorporates turn-of-thecentury influences like electronica and R&B. South Carolina’s Chaz Bundick, who records as Toro y Moi, made his first real impact on the underground music scene in 2010 by landing at the forefront of the synth-streaked chillwave subgenre. His 2011 album, Underneath the Pine, took a huge leap forward and left behind the aimless drift of his contemporaries by diving into deep grooves aimed squarely at the dance floor. Anything in Return, released last Tuesday, finds Bundick going further in that direction, developing his sound such that calling him

the “2010s Steely Dan” isn’t entirely out of the question. As a producer and arranger, Bundick is definitely talented. He submerges his jazzy keyboards and thick, rolling basslines in aquatic effects, setting them off against cut-up vocal samples and drums that truly kick. Add to that Bundick’s indie-kid vocals, and the Toro y Moi sound is complete. Anything in Return sequences itself fairly well, too, kicking off with a trilogy of engaging, houseindebted jams before settling into more easygoing groovers, occasionally punctuated by poppier songs, like the very ’80s-sounding “Cake”. It’s an enjoyable listen, particularly for production junkies, but the album’s excessive length is its major flaw. The slow, jam-heavy middle section is as long as an EP, and while it sounds good, it drags considerably if

you’re not in the mood. In fact, this could be said of the album as a whole. Bundick’s hooks aren’t exactly plentiful, and his lyrics are more or less there to carry the melodies. Still, even if the songwriting is lacking in some departments, it’s easy to overlook when the album sounds this good. The aforementioned opening trio is fantastic, climaxing in the tense, kind of sultry “Say That” and the synth apocalypse of “So Many Details”. Meanwhile, “Cola” offers some of the album’s prettiest melodies, while the slow strut of “High Living” opens up into a soaring chorus. Highlights like these make up for the slow spots, and on the whole, the album is unpretentious and easy to like, if not really to love. Anything in Return is ultimately an insubstantial listen, but it’s a fun, funky indie party album nonetheless. MMM½

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«ARTS THE MEDIUM 01.28.2013

Exploring the art of Hart House Monthly tours offer insight into Hart House’s extensive Canadian art collection COLLEEN MUNRO A&E EDITOR When it comes to art at U of T, many students are familiar with the Blackwood Galley here at UTM, and perhaps the various art galleries at the other two campuses. But in addition to those more formal spaces, there is plenty of art on display in the many buildings at U of T. For those interested in learning more about the university’s art collection, St. George’s Hart House offers students and members of the community a behind-the-scenes look at some of the works they display through their monthly art tours. Hart House has cultivated an extensive collection of Canadian art since the Hart House Art Committee was formed in 1922. The collection now contains over 650 pieces, and 59 of them have been deemed “national treasures”. The monthly art tours may only look at a fraction of Hart House’s purchased artwork, but they aim to please both art connoisseurs and those who are simply interested in learning more about U of T’s rich cultural history. Led by an upper-year student docent associated with the Justina M. Barnicke Gallery (which also calls Hart House its home), the tour is free and runs for approximately an hour. Starting in the basement of Hart House,

Kelly Mark’s neon artwork offers a modern slant to Hart House’s collection. the docent leads the tour group through the various spaces in the building, pointing out and discussing works of art along the way. From more traditional acrylic paintings to neon light tubes, the tour covers an impressive range of media and time periods in a relatively short time. One of the most expansive works the tour looks at is a series of 14 silkscreened posters created by the artistic duo Hadley+Maxwell, who originally hail from Vancouver. The brightly coloured, modern posters line both sides of a

somewhat claustrophobic and gothic hallway in the basement of Hart House, making for an idiosyncratic but effective setting. Hadley+Maxwell created the posters as a reaction to the student protests that wreaked havoc on Parisian society and infrastructure in 1968, and much of the political imagery from the period is on display. They combine violent, politically charged images of the protest with the upbeat lyrics of Paul McCartney’s “Silly Love Songs”, juxtaposing war and love in the aesthetically pleasing posters.


The tour then heads to the building’s East Common Room, which is an expansive, chandelier-adorned space. This room is home to three very diverse paintings that generated the most group discussion of any stop on the tour. The docent created a laid-back, welcoming atmosphere and encouraged lots of audience engagement throughout. One piece that provoked several audience interpretations was Wanda Koop’s “(Black Lines) Sightlines”. Otherwise a fairly conventional acrylic painting of a natural landscape and a

bridge, it is memorable for the thick black circle in the centre. Koop is known for exploring themes of technology in her art, and the bold black circle seems to force a distance between the viewer and the artwork. The circle was interpreted by some on the tour as the residual ring of a coffee cup, or as a sort of lens meant to highlight the bridge’s marring of the natural setting. The tour, which concludes in the Reading Room, is a fascinating look at some of the notso-hidden gems in Hart House’s art collection. Several of the artists in the collection are U of T professors, and all of the art is Canadian. The tour also highlights some of the building’s gothic revival architecture and provides historical background on the building, which was built in 1919. If your knowledge of Hart House begins and ends with the UTM shuttle bus stop, then the tour could make for an eye-opening crash course on the building’s involvement with Canadian art. And even those familiar with Hart House, who may not have stopped to consider the works that line its halls on their way to catch a theatre production or grab a bite to eat at the café, would be interested. Free tours of the collection run once a month. The next tour will be held on February 20 at 3 p.m.

Disaster without exploitation Top-notch acting and a sensitive touch helps The Impossible succeed SUKHWANT GILL

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In the past few years it seems disaster movies have been becoming more and more popular for all the wrong reasons. Numerous films have recently looked to catastrophes just for their spectacle, and have absolutely no intimacy. So when a film decides to focus on one of the worst natural disasters in recent memory, the dread that the trend will continue is more than warranted. Luckily, this is far from the case for The Impossible. The film handles the story of these characters with care, and never cheapens their journey for the sake of exploitation. The story revolves around Henry (Ewan McGregor), Maria (Naomi Watts, whose performance has been recognized with an Academy Award), and their three sons on vacation in Thailand when the 2004 tsunami hits and ravages the coast. Many directors would have opted to have the tsunami play out from afar, giving the viewer a full glimpse of the giant wave as it consumes numerous tiny CGI people. Fortunately, Juan Antonio Bayona is not like most directors, and having a real artist at the helm of this film elevates it beyond the manipulative tearjerker it very well could have been. His decision to focus solely on one character as she struggles to survive when the wave hits not only

transforms the moment into one of the most terrifying scenes of the year, it also makes it clear that the filmmakers were not trying to turn the tragedy of so many people into popcorn entertainment.

When a film decides to focus on one of the worst natural disasters in recent memor y, the dread that the trend will continue is more than warranted. The first 30 minutes alone are worth the price of admission, and the rest of the film doesn’t lose much momentum. Watts gives a powerhouse performance, and the 16-year-old Tom Holland is remarkable as her eldest son, Lucas, carrying the film for stretches where most young actors would have faltered Even during the film’s more contrived moments, where you can guess how a particular scene will end, the cast gives every moment weight, and the audience comes to root for characters who are unfortunately a bit underwritten in terms of their backstory. However, the most remarkable thing is that the film is

based on the real story of a family’s fight for survival. But this brings me to the most glaring problem with The Impossible. Like so many others films before it, it decides not to focus on the locals—the people whose homes and communities have been destroyed. Instead, they focus on the rich white family who are just visiting. Now, I understand that there are reasons why this has to happen: to secure budgeting, and to try to sell a more relatable story to the western market. I also do not want to diminish the hardships that this real-life family faced, as their incredible story was truly inspiring. The most unusual thing about the film is that the real-life family was not British, as the cast is, but Spanish. In a film made by an almost exclusively Spanish crew about Spanish people, why were they not able to cast actual Spaniards? There is certainly no lack of talented Spanish movie stars. However, most of these problems were quickly forgotten while I was watching the film. The incredibly absorbing filmmaking and gutwrenching performances more than make up for the fairly predictable screenplay and the issues with the production. The journey taken with these characters is compelling, the visuals are enthralling, and the experience, while not flawless, is one you shouldn’t miss. MMMM


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Editor » Carine Abouseif

Confessions of an impulse spender What goes on inside our bodies when we swipe our credit cards on impulse?

JILLIAN LIM ASSOCIATE FEATURES EDITOR Our spending habits can be irrational. Despite mainstream economic theories of financial decision-making as a purely rational process, most of us can admit that we’ve indulged in an extra Starbucks coffee, a designer wristlet, or a useless iPhone app for $0.99. We impulsebuy. And in a recent article published in Psychological Science in the Public Interest, Tommy Garling and his associates present compelling evidence for the irrationality behind financial decision-making: a rational approach to economics could not predict the current global financial crisis. Number-crunching alone wasn’t enough. But if university students and Wall Street traders alike make irrational spending choices, what drives these risky decisions? Why wouldn’t the rational part of our brain take control? According to Garling and traderturned-neuroscientist John Coates, the author of The Hour Between Dog and Wolf: Risk-taking, Gut Feelings


and the Biology of Boom and Bust, rational economic theorists forget one crucial thing about spending choices: we are, and forever will be, vulnerable to the biology of our bodies. And because our bodies act impulsively, we make irrational de-

cisions. “Economics has always assumed that it’s a purely cognitive activity— economics from the neck up,” says Coates in a National Post article. “I think that’s fundamentally flawed thinking. Because when we take

risks, our entire body participates in the process.” So what goes on inside our bodies when we swipe our credit cards, bet on the Leafs, or however we like to spend our money? In his article, Garling explains

that in extremely stressful market situations, a trader might lose their capacity to make “rational judgments and decisions”. We can see this as people trade to excess and as stock prices swing up and down. It’s a risk. Traders often rely on cognitive biases like overconfidence, undue optimism, or the conviction that something is a sure gain or a sure loss. In other words, traders are human. But in his book, Coates digs deeper and hypothesizes that it’s the rise of testosterone in traders that creates these swings of confidence. In the National Post article, Coates describes how he watched his fellow traders become “delusional” and “euphoric” as they were overtaken by “racing thoughts [and] diminished need for sleep, and were putting on ever larger trades with worsening risk-reward tradeoffs”. Much like when we engage in outrageous shopping sprees or splurge on an expensive item, Coates watched “normally prudent people” become “crazy”. Impulse continued on page 12

Blame the bell curve Are your grades getting curved? MARIA CRUZ STAFF WRITER The semester’s over and you’ve just had your soul crushed by ROSI telling you your final mark in a course. You were sure you’d do better. You murdered that final exam. You turn to your friend, you shake your head, and you say, “They bell-curved the marks. That’s why I didn’t do as well as I expected.” On Internet forums and in the mutterings of frustrated students, U of T is notorious for bell-curving down, but most students have never really received any confirmation of this. In fact, many of us may not even be clear on what bell-curving is. There are many ways to bell-curve grades. One of the most popular methods is to statistically determine how many people in each class will get a certain grade and then mathematically slot students into those groups. For example, a professor or department would estimate that 10% of students will get an A, 20% will get a B, and 70% will get a C. The grades the students actually received then become a ranking system. That ranking system is used to separate the students into the predetermined A, B, and C grade groups. Depending on where you stand academically, this could sound awesome or just plain cruel. According to Office of the Dean,

though, U of T does not adhere to this system and does not encourage its professors to use it either. “We feel the grades students earned should be accurately reflected in their final grade,” said UTM’s vice-dean, Kelly Hannah-Moffat.

“We feel the grades students earned should be accurately reflected in their final grade. Typically, we see grades sequestered in the A, B, C range and we ask professors to determine the percentage of grades and if something looks unusual we ask for an explanation.” —Kelly Hannah-Moffat “Typically, we see grades sequestered in the A, B, C range, and we ask professors to determine the percentage of grades, and if something looks unusual we ask for an explanation.” Hannah-Moffat expects that other

Canadian universities don’t use a curved grading system either. But Hannah-Moffat, who is also a professor of sociology, also believes that professors use their students’ grades to reflect on the course. “There are times when people write a test and everybody does awful, and you have to really think hard about if you taught the material properly—or did people not study?” she pointed out. But even in those cases, she repeated, the professor is still not required to adjust the grades according to university policy. So is avoiding bell-curving useful to students? “[Not adjusting students’ grades] is advantageous because it’s an image of their work, and people at the top end of the spectrum need to be rewarded,” said Hannah-Moffat. “I think it’s important to accurately affect the students.” Speaking to several different professors on campus, it’s interesting to see how individual departments and professors grade and how they feel about grading methods. “There’s no enforced bell curve, as I understand it,” said Ira Wells, who teaches American literature. “I don’t have to give a certain number of grades. There’s an expectation in any class: about 25% will be Cs and As. That’s not anything that’s enforced; that’s just how it works out.” Curves continued on page 12

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12 « FEATURES THE MEDIUM 21.01.2013

Class and curves Fickle Curves continued from page 11

I asked Wells how he thinks adjusting grades affects students and how he thinks they view bellcurving. “Your opinion of the bell curve is going to relate to what you think university is for,” he said. “So if you think that university is for giving everyone access to certain skills, about bringing everyone up to a certain standard, then you might not think that the bell curve is such a great idea. You don’t want to expect certain outcomes if it’s about equalization. That’s only one way of looking at what university does. The other way is to sort people out. University is a natural sorting mechanism for who is going to be where in the hierarchy. “Regardless of what I think, it does both,” he added. “If I could give As in all my classes, grades would be meaningless.” Jonathan Weisberg, a philosophy professor, said the philosophy department does not bell-curve grades. “I don’t use a bell curve specifically, but I do keep track of how many students are getting As, Bs, Cs, etc.,” he said. “I also keep an eye on statistics like the average and the median as the semes-

ter progresses, and of how many students are failing. These statistics help me understand how students are responding to the material.”

“If you think that university is for giving everyone access to certain skills, about bringing everyone up to a certain standard, then you might not think that the bell curve is such a great idea. You don’t want to expect certain outcomes if it’s about equalization. That’s only one way of looking at what university does. The other way is to sort people out.” —Professor Ira Wells Does Weisberg believe that the bel- curve is a useful tool for grad-

ing? Not necessarily. “I think it’s important to give people the mark they earned, a mark that reflects how well they’ve mastered the relevant material and skills,” he said. The departments don’t necessarily adhere to bell curving, it seems. But how do students feel about their grades? “Beyond the obvious con of being at the bottom of the bell curve, I’m curious as to what average determines if a course gets the bell curve,” said Mary Cho. “Some courses will be really hard, and if people do well, the bell curves to the expected average. I don’t necessarily have any pros or cons, but more I’m concerned with the reasons as to why a course may be bell-curved.” So we know that the university doesn’t mandate bell-curving, but we also know that some professors occasionally use it. At least we can all sleep at night knowing it won’t necessarily happen to all of us. We will, however, have to come up with another excuse when we don’t meet our own grade expectations. Maybe we can use the other old standby: “Obviously, the professor hates me.”

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Impulse continued from page 11

Coates attributes this transformation to the surge of testosterone in a trader’s bloodstream. He calls this transformation “the winner effect”. According to the winner effect, when an animal wins a fight for territory, that animal is statistically more likely to win its next fight. This is because after the first win, the animal’s testosterone level rises. This rise not only increases the animal’s lean muscle mass and capacity to carry oxygen in its bloodstream, but affects its brain as well. The surge in testosterone produces a feeling of confidence and an urge to take more risks. Andrew Sullivan, a New York Times journalist, once described the effect of testosterone on the brain thus: “My wit is quicker, my mind faster, but my judgment is more impulsive. In a word, I feel braced.” Coates’ perspective on the biology of risk-taking is specula-

tive. But it’s still easy to picture the winner effect as it plays out in our everyday lives. Consumer confidence can lead us to swipe our credit cards without thinking of the cost. It can also lead us to make bets on fantasy football teams, gamble in poker, or continue shopping at Aritzia after the first great purchase.

Consumer confidence can lead us to swipe our credit cards without thinking of the cost. But Coates and Garling suggest that an awareness of the biology behind spending may help us recognize and eliminate our irrational choices. “When you take risks,” Coates writes, “you are reminded in the most insistent manner that you have a body.”

» 13


They’ll never change me

Study says people rarely predict how much they’ll change in the future CARINE ABOUSEIF FEATURES EDITOR What was your New Year’s resolution? I want to be healthier, you say. No, I want to read more! Actually, I want to improve my work ethic. That’s one type of New Year’s resolution, but other popular resolutions are vaguer and point to a change in core values. I want to be happier in 2013, people say. I want to be more assertive. Or I want to “enjoy life more”. Now that January is coming to a close, you might be in the process of reassessing your resolutions or trying to forget them. But before you hop onto the resolution bandwagon, you might want to hear what science says about how you perceive your personality changing in 2013, and over the next few years. A study published in early January looked into how people perceived themselves as they were 10 years earlier and as they would be 10 years later. The experiment was simple. The research team put out an online survey and investigated the results of over 7,000 respondents. The survey asked respondents to rate themselves in terms of enthusiasm, extroversion, emotional stability, and so on. They then had some of the participants fill out the same survey as themselves, but imagining they were 10 years younger. This group was called the


What’s your resolution for 2023? Might be just a little too similar to this year’s. “reporters”. The other participants filled out the survey as themselves, only 10 years older. This group was called the “predictors”. Unsurprisingly, the reporters’ surveys showed how much they thought they’d changed over the last 10 years. What was surprising, though, was the predictors’ surveys.

The predictors filled out their surveys as their current selves pretty similarly to how they filled out the surveys for their older selves; that is, they anticipated that they wouldn’t change much. That means that many 50-year-olds predicted that their 60-year-old selves would be fairly the same. They thought

they would eat the same foods, listen to the same music, and practise the same hobbies. The same could be said for how 20-year-olds perceived their 30-year-old selves. The survey also took into account personality traits, and as with tastes, participants of all ages thought their personalities wouldn’t change much

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10 years into the future. For university students, that might seem a little strange. Some of us may dream of the day we’ll have a better work ethic, work harder in our fields of choice, or just get better at expressing ourselves. But maybe we secretly don’t want any of that, or don’t believe we need it. When the researchers of the experiment contemplated the possible reasons for why people predicted their personalities wouldn’t change, they said it was possible people didn’t want to change. Why? The psychologists’ theory is that we tend to think of our current selves as the best possible version. One possible reason for this vanity is that we’ve seen ourselves evolve so much over time already that it’s hard to consider any more change—even though, as 18-, 19-, or 20-year-olds, we know it’s only logical that we will change. An alternative theory for why people didn’t predict they would change much over time makes us sound a little less egotistic: it’s just difficult to imagine the kind of changes we’ll experience in the future. In the absence of any ideas, people fill out surveys as if they won’t experience any dramatic change at all. Regardless, change is coming— whether or not we expect it. With that in mind, what’s your resolution for 2023?


» 01.28.2013

Editor » Isaac Owusu

Men’s volleyball falters at home


St. George had UTM working hard at all levels, only to let them fall in front of the RAWC crowd. EBI AGBEYEGBE ASSOCIATE SPORTS EDITOR The UTM men’s volleyball team went up against St. George Black in the second game last Sunday. This game was a very competitive match from the start, and both teams wanted the win. Both teams had runs in each set that ultimately determined the winner.

St. George came out on top, winning the three sets 25–19, 14–25, and 25–16, respectively. The first set had a strong offensive showing from both teams. Good passing, efficient spiking, and good digging were the mode for both teams in the first half. Every time it looked like one team was about to go on a run, the other team responded with a mini-run

of their own. St. George edged the first set through with composure towards the end of the set. The second set was played differently. St. George began to lose hold of the efficient play that allowed them to win the first set, and UTM took full advantage of this. The set started off competitively, and then with the scores tied at 11–11, UTM went on a

14–3 run that effectively won them the set. During the set, St. George found it hard to get their serves in play, with 10 serves that hit the net. The third set went the same way as the first set, and St. George emerged with the win. UTM’s offence faltered at the wrong times and St. George turned up their serving efficiency.

UTM weren’t consistent enough throughout the game to land the win. UTM has some more games coming up before the playoffs; they need to improve their intensity on defence if they want to win this season. This display was not a good sign, but the team has time to identify their lapses before the playoffs.

Indoor soccer blues INGRID MELDRUM

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On Saturday, both men’s tri-campus soccer teams went downtown to the dome to play their second game of the season. The teams rode a bus downtown with UTM’s coed frisbee team, whose game was ruled a default victory when the opposing team failed to show up. For those unfamiliar with indoor soccer rules: there are 10 players on the field (five on each team), plus the goalies. When a yellow card is given, the team must play with four players on the field. UTM Blue played first, facing off against UTSC in the afternoon. The guys had a few more games under their belts, as they had played at a tournament the day before. They had lost all of their games at the tournament, but they were ready to redeem themselves. Immediately after the kickoff, UTSC peppered UTM’s goalie, Mike Szewczyk, with shots. Szewczyk was a wall in the net, and UTSC’s strikers could not get the ball past him. But UTM couldn’t get a shot off either, and their frustrations showed—the players yelled “Get organized!” and “Come on, boys!” Finally, Carlos Lopez netted a goal for UTM, assisted by Ryan Tawil. By halftime, the score was 1–0 for UTM. The start of the second half saw UTSC controlling most of the play, easily taking the ball from UTM

players and again blasting Szewczyk with shots. UTSC’s first goal came by accident: the ball rolled into the net off the foot of UTM defence player Daniel Araoz, making the score 1–1. Immediately afterwards, UTM’s Salem Aboghodieh scored. UTM’s lead was short-lived, as UTSC scored three more unanswered goals, making the final score of the game 4–2.

“We kept pushing back and letting them score. There were three or four yellow cards, which forced us to play short. We have to play more aggressive.” —Ryan Darryl Nu Nam Young “We kept pushing back and letting them score,” Captain Ryan Darryl Nu Nam Young of UTM commented after the game. “There were three or four yellow cards, which forced us to play short. We have to play more aggressive.” UTM Blue’s record is now 0–2. UTM White played next against St. George Red. The Eagles started off strong: they controlled most of the play, and their goalie held control. UTM had a few shots on

net, but couldn’t score in the first half. UTM’s defence was solid too, though, and they prevented St. George Red from getting the chance to cross the ball in front of the net. Eddy Dabire of UTM made some notable stops for the Eagles’ defence, and played a calm, cool, and collected game, making his skillful moves look easy. By the end of the first half, the score stood at 0–0. St. George Red came out strong in the second half, but UTM’s defence was too good for the Reds’ strikers. UTM’s goalie, Akil Ladha, made some amazing saves, twisting and turning and jumping in ways that you’d think were impossible. He saved the day whenever St. George’s strikers got through UTM’s defence of steel. UTM’s Nolan Anderson netted a goal a few minutes into the second half off a pass from teammate Thomas Bordere, and St. George answered with their first goal a few minutes later, tying the score. With the clock running down, UTM was hungry for another goal. Nolan Anderson netted his second goal by sliding into the ball. A few minutes later, the game was over; UTM White had won 2–1. The boys shook hands with the opposing team and walked off the field with smiles on their faces. UTM White has a 2–0 record now—and they’re intent on keeping up their winning streak.




What to look for in Super Bowl XLVII

Sunday will mark the first time that a pair of brothers meet against each other as coaches to decide Super Bowl. Jim and John Harbaugh lead the Ravens and 49ers. JASON COELHO ASSOCIATE SPORTS EDITOR Very rarely does a sporting event attain such status that even non-fanatics will take in the action. The Super Bowl is not only the biggest sporting event of the year, it has also become one of the biggest events of any kind, celebrated worldwide and bringing all aspects of entertainment brought together under one roof. Besides the soon-to-be viral television commercials and the highly anticipated halftime show, the game lends itself to many interesting and dramatic stories. Super Bowl 47 will

be played on Sunday, February 3 at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans, Louisiana, showcasing the talents of the AFC champion (the Baltimore Ravens) and the NFC champion (the San Francisco 49ers). As NFL fans anxiously await the glorified championship game, many are intrigued not only by the glamour of the finale, but also by all that is at stake for both teams. Inside linebacker Ray Lewis of the Ravens will charge onto the field for the final time as a professional football player, an extravagant sendoff for one of the greatest players ever to play the game. As an experienced

veteran and the leader of the Ravens since his career began in 1996, Lewis has proven time and again that he is a valuable asset to the franchise; he has been selected for 13 Pro Bowls, won the NFL Defensive Player of the Year award twice, and been named MVP of the Super Bowl championships when the Ravens won the Super Bowl in 2001. As he prepares for retirement from an illustrious career, he continues to show his leadership on and off the field. He recently told his teammates not to come into contact with the coveted Vince Lombardi Trophy in order to remain hungry for a cham-

pionship. As if to steal the thunder of Lewis’ farewell to football, the Super Bowl is playing host to an equally intriguing family reunion. Jim Harbaugh, the head coach of the 49ers, will face off against his brother John, the head coach of the Ravens. As if the Super Bowl was lacking in entertainment, the Harbaugh brothers are bound to have viewers watching the action in the sidelines, not just on the field. The Harbaugh family will have a lot to cheer about, and whatever the result, they will still be fortunate enough to celebrate a championship. In light of Lewis’s departure from

the Ravens, many are looking ahead to the future of the franchise and what’s in store for the team next season. In particular, the team is concerned with the leadership of its players to fill the shoes of Lewis, who has been a team leader for over a decade. Many are turning to starting quarterback Joe Flacco to prove that he is an elite and step up to the challenge. Flacco, who has been called out by Lewis for not being vocal during games, does not plan to change his style, but rather to continue as the silent leader of the squad. Bowl continued on page 16

Women’s volleyball defeated in straight sets

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The Eagles fought hard but couldn’t overcome getting beat in straight sets. EBI AGBEYEGBE ASSOCIATE SPORTS EDITOR The UTM women’s volleyball team played against St. George on a quiet afternoon last Sunday. It was clear from the first serve of the first set that St. George Black wanted to win this game more. UTM got off to a slow start in each set and found themselves playing from behind throughout the whole game. The first set was close. St. George started off with strong serves that UTM found hard to return. The Eagles struggled with their digs and couldn’t get their offensive players in a good enough position to score points. St. George, on the other hand, played efficiently; they dug the ball out of tough positions and set up their players in good positions. St. George built a comfortable

16–9 lead, which forced UTM’s coach, Anthony Gilroy, to call a timeout. This timeout seemed to give some life to the Eagles, and they went on a 7–2 run of their own that allowed them to cut the lead down to two points. But St. George held their composure and won the first set, 25–21. The second set was a set of runs by both teams. It started off more like the first set, with St. George taking a quick 5–0 lead, but UTM responded with a 5–0 run to tie the game at 5–5. Then St. George turned it around again with an 8–2 run that deflated the UTM team. The Eagles were getting outhustled St. George; their spikes were going out of bounds, and St. George got a few blocks on defence. A late surge by UTM brought them close, but the second set ended at 25–19. The third set went the same way the first two sets did, with St. George

starting off with a big lead and UTM lacking the firepower to bring themselves back into the game. As the set wound down, it was clear that St. George were having fun on this trip to Mississauga. The third set ended with a score of 25–14. St. George controlled the game from the get-go, and they held their composure throughout to close out UTM in the straight sets. After the game, both coaches spent time talking to their teams. “Today wasn’t our best game,” Gilroy told the UTM team. “We started off slow each set. We tried to stay in the game as much as we could, but we couldn’t. Our passing let us down today, but we’ll go right back to practice and work on it.” The Eagles came out ready to play, but it just wasn’t their day. They hope to qualify for the playoffs, and this loss will dampen their hopes a little bit.

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A preview of Super Bowl XLVII »What’s your favourite part of the super bowl?

San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick in his famous pose. Bowl continued from page 15 After having hung up his uniform in 2010 and saying goodbye to the NFL, veteran wide receiver Randy Moss made the decision to step back on the field and out of retirement, playing nine games for the 49ers and now being granted a second chance to play in the Super Bowl. This is Moss’s second appearance in the championship game, after an unsuccessful attempt in 2007 with his former New England Patriots team. Moss is being praised for his poise and composure this season, especially after his earlier temperamental mishaps. He now acts as a mentor to the younger players on the team, earning Harbaugh’s favour for his attitude and sportsmanship. Harbaugh

is encouraging Moss to play with the 49ers a second time in the 2013/14 season. Colin Kaepernick, a quarterback for the 49ers and minor celebrity among the team’s fanbase, is expected to make his first Super Bowl start, ending a postseason that saw several firsts for the young quarterback: a first postseason start against the Green Bay Packers—in which Kaepernick set the NFL single-game record for most rushing yards by a quarterback with 181 yards—and later a start in the conference championship game against the Atlanta Falcons. The famously tattooed Kaepernick, who recently filed a trademark for the word “Kaepernicking” (the act of kissing one’s bicep in celebration), will only be making

his 10th start of the year, a statistic that only adds to the anxiety of 49ers fans. Many who tune in on Super Bowl Sunday couldn’t care less about the number of yards gained or touchdowns scored; instead, they tune in to watch the famous TV ads and halftime show. It is reported that CBS is charging a record $4 million for a 30-second advertising spot, ensuring that audiences stay entertained when play is stopped, with the likes of Budweiser, Go Daddy, and Pepsi all vying to catch your eye. This year, Alicia Keys will kick off the festivities singing the national anthem, and Beyoncé will take the stage at halftime, reuniting with her former R&B group, Destiny’s Child, and her husband, hip-hop superstar Jay-Z.

Dafna Sappire 3rd-year, CCIT

Thirmizi Samsoodeen 3rd-year, CCIT

I’ve never watched the Super Bowl. What is the Super Bowl?

Meeting up with friends to eat nasty food.

Chelcie May 2nd-year, CCIT

Jean-Marc Kawaya 3rd-year, Economics

I like the performance at halftime.

The competition. It’s the best you can get in football.

Leafs or laffs? KAREEM RAMADAN Five games into the 2012/13 season, the Toronto Maple Leafs sit in an uncomfortable position: 13th in the Eastern Conference, with two wins and three losses. Five games might seem like a small sample, but it represents more than 10% of the season in the lockout-shortened season. The early narrative for the Toronto Maple Leafs is blown leads. Throughout the first five games, the Leafs have surrendered two leads after leading in two periods. Coincidentally, both times were against the league’s two New York-based franchises: the Islanders on Thursday and the Rangers on Saturday night. Apart from suspicious goaltending, the Leafs’ inability to maintain the lead is a result of poor puck possession. Early in the season, the Leafs struggled to string together passes in transition from the defensive zone to the neutral zone, leading to turnovers and sustained offensive zone time for the opposition. Improvement in this area will lead to increased offensive zone time for them and, more importantly, less time defending on their own side of the ice. As for offence, the team’s top goalscoring threat, Phil Kessel, has failed to find the back of the net, registering just two assists in five contests. Part of the problem is the adjustment to a new system and poor puck luck, but the biggest cause of Kessel’s struggles is the injury to linemate Joffrey Lupul. A season ago, Lupul and Kessel combined for more than a point per game, assisting on over 80% of one

another’s points. In the absence of Lupul, Kessel has been forced to play alongside Tyler Bozak and Clarke MacArthur, neither of whom possesses the speed, size, or skill of Joffrey Lupul. On the plus side, the Leafs’ penalty kill appears to be much improved from last season. Over the five games, the Leafs’ PK% is 84.2%—good for seventh in the NHL. In addition, the Leafs have limited their shots against to fewer than 30, which ranks in the top half of the league. The positives don’t end there. Top prospect Nazem Kadri appears to be emerging as an impact player. Kadri has five points in five games and has registered a point in all but one of the Leafs’ contests. In addition to his offensive prowess, Kadri has demonstrated an improved commitment to defence that wasn’t there in previous years. When asked for their opinion of the Leafs in these five games, fans’ opinions were mixed. “The last two games against the Islanders and Rangers were tough, but it’s important not to overreact after two games,” says UTM alumnus Moiz Badar. “I think the Leafs are still adjusting to a new system, and with that comes growing pains.” “The Leafs are the Leafs. They have been losing for eight years, and nothing has changed this season,” says Joe Sycekwski, a second-year accounting student. “Until such time as the Leafs acquire a legitimate number-one centreman and goaltender, they will continue to struggle to win games consistently.”

Vol 39 issue 15  

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