*Correction*: In the article, “Standing Tall,” we spelled Cyndy Baskin’s name wrong. In “Creating Space in the Classroom,” we spelled Markus Harwood Jones’ name wrong. We regret our errors and apologize to both Cyndy Baskin and Markus Harwood Jones.
RYERSON FOLIO MAGAZINE EDITOR’S NOTE It all started five years ago, when Folio was established by business student Trung Ho and journalism student Jennifer Tse. Since then, we’ve strived to carve out a space of our own on a campus that’s only going to get more crowded. Each semester has seen its own obstacles and challenges, some to the point when it seemed the easiest thing to do was to give up. But we made it. As Ryerson evolved, so has Folio. Over the years, we’ve shifted artistic styles and font preferences. We’ve covered everything from student elections to the campus arts scene. And like the university, we’re still a work in progress. After the successful relaunch of our annual print issue last year, we were motivated to do more and reach our full potential. To simply exist isn’t enough. There must be a constant will to innovate and experiment. I started at Folio in my first year as a contributor, eager to get experience. The following year, I stayed on as an associate editor, learning the insides of production from senior editors. I never imagined that I’d still be a part of Folio three years later and have the opportunity to act as editor-in-chief. Through my involvement with Folio, I’ve heard the diversity of voices that give Ryerson its character and heart. In this issue, we highlight these perspectives and challenge readers to look beyond themselves. In “Rethinking Campus Accessibility,” Justin Dallaire explores what it means to be a truly inclusive university. Alina Bykova captures the stories of Ryerson’s female Indigenous leaders through her photo essay, “Standing Tall.” And laughter really is the best medicine as Sarah Jackson finds out in “Not Your Average Clown School.” What I’ve learned this year is perseverance. Student-run publications, like Folio and so many others on campus, are important. This is where the untold stories are brought to surface, to provoke, to engage, to inspire. This issue is dedicated to all past and current contributors, editors, and you, our reader. Thank you for creating what Folio has become today. Thank you for believing in us. It’s been a long journey, and I can’t wait to see what the next five years will bring.
IN THIS ISSUE
Staying Afloat Beyond Radio and Sound Bridging the Gaps The Change They Wish to See From Mindless to Mindful in 12 Minutes and 27 Years Fashion Through Threads RyeRev: Mohamed Lachemi We the Rams Food For Thought Rethinking Campus Accessibility A Portrait of Post-Secondary Mental Health Creating Space in the Classroom Not Your Average Clown School True North Standing Tall Geometric Glamour Behind the Curtains at Thoroughly Modern Millie Outthinking Machines That’s the Motto Skin Deep Homegrown Mixtape Railway Romance Sea Drift The Girl on the Train
- Erica Ngao, editor
Degrassi: The Next Class Heartbreak, in Your Words
RYERSON FOLIO MAGAZINE EDITOR-IN-CHIEF Erica Ngao, Journalism ‘17
Research and copy
MANAGING EDITOR Patricia Karounos, Journalism ‘17
Alexandra Chronopoulos, Journalism ‘17 Danielle Lee, Journalism ‘17 Kevin John Siazon, Journalism ‘17 Tanya Riz Tan, Master of Arts ‘16
ART DIRECTOR Miguel Betz, Graphic Communications Management ‘17
ASSOCIATE EDITORS Arts Isabelle Docto, Journalism ‘17 Fashion & Lifestyle Kayleigh Robinson, Journalism ‘16 Fiction Jonah Brunet, Journalism ‘16 Business Andrea Vacl, Journalism ‘17 Ideas Justin Dallaire, Master of Journalism ‘17 Linda Nguyen, Journalism ‘17 Science & Tech Natalia Balcerzak, Journalism ‘16
Ebony-Renee Baker, Journalism ‘17 Emily Betteridge, Creative Industries ‘17 Alina Bykova, Journalism ‘17 Karoun Chahinian, Journalism ‘18 Justin Dallaire, Master of Journalism ‘17 Kieran Delamont, Master of Journalism ‘17 Madonna Dennis, Journalism ‘17 Celina Gallardo, Journalism ‘19 Tina Hafizy, Arts and Contemporary Studies ‘19 Sarah Jackson, Journalism ‘17 Elizabeth Kostic, Fashion Communication ‘18 Mohamed Lachemi, Interim President & Vice-Chancellor Esther Lee, Journalism ‘17 Jacqueline McKay, Journalism ‘17 Taylor Moyle, Journalism ‘17 Kristina Pantalone, English ‘18 Stephanie Philip, Journalism ‘16 Brooklyn Pinheiro, Journalism ‘17 Ellen Pitt, Journalism ‘17 Adam Prus, Media Production ‘19 Ann Rauhala, Journalism Professor Victoria Shariati, Journalism ‘19 Jaclyn Tansil, Journalism ‘18 Carolyn Tso, Business Management ‘16 David Warner, Journalism ‘17 Sam Yohannes, Journalism ‘17 Amira Zubairi, Journalism ‘17
Photo Augustine Ng, Journalism ‘18 André Varty, Journalism ‘17
EXECUTIVES OF FINANCE AND MARKETING Ahmad Hussain, Business Management ‘16 Chris Martins, Retail Management ‘17
Podcast Sabrina Bertsch, Media Production ‘18 Melinna Miranda, Journalism ‘16 Jacqueline Tucci, Journalism ‘16
SOCIAL MEDIA MANAGER Karen Chan, Journalism ‘17
Designers and Illustrators
Cover by Miguel Betz
Lisa Cumming, Journalism ‘18 Vanessa Gentile, Journalism ‘19 Lucas Lucchitti, Creative Industries ‘18 Ebony-Renee Baker, Journalism ‘17 Sumi Siddiqa, Graphic Communications Management ‘19 Evelyn Thompson, New Media ‘19 Sara Sarhangpour, Creative Industries ‘18 Seta Manukyan, Business Management ‘18 Miriam Tingle, Graphic Communications Management ‘18 Photographers Anders Marshall, Journalism ‘18 Amanda Skrabucha, Journalism ‘18 Carlo Torres, Aerospace Engineering ‘16
Ryerson Folio is brought to you by RCDS
Ryerson’s concrete canoe team puts classroom skills to test on the water By Madonna Dennis Photography by Izzy Docto and Erica Ngao
n the ground floor of Ryerson’s Monetary Times building, the spirit of competition is kept afloat by a surprisingly light figure. Three canoes can be seen, each designed to be better than the last. Foam cutouts lie on top of one canoe, ready to be assembled. Once it’s put together, the lightest mixture of concrete is spread evenly on top. In a few months, it will be in the water, carrying members of Ryerson’s Concrete Canoe team. Their goal is to design and build a canoe made of their own concrete mixture, and then put it to the test in a threeday competition.
people are like, ‘What do we do?’ And I’m like, ‘Oh my God, that’s me.’ It feels good.” Each year the competition asks teams to start fresh and awards points for innovation. This year Ryerson’s team is using glass bubbles as an aggregate, a material added to water and cement to make concrete. The fine materials they use allow the canoe to float. A regular canoe is actually hard to flip over, whereas with this one, it’s all you can do to stay upright. After a few months of planning, the winter semester is when the construction team builds the mould for the canoe. Led by another civil engineering student, Saihej Sandhu, they work off of the design from the structural team. This is Sandhu’s first year on the team, and he already speaks confidently about the process. They cut out pieces of foam and attach thin wooden boards to create the mould of the canoe. The team used a custom-made hot wire to cut the pieces, made by Sandhu himself.
Mayank Verma, this year’s project manager, says that Ryerson’s Concrete Canoe team was revamped in 2013, when four civil engineers entered the Canadian National Concrete Canoe Competition. “They didn’t win, but they still really inspired people,” says Verma. “From then we’ve been making better canoes (and) improving in all the parts of the competition.” Verma, along with two other third-year civil engineers, has been working toward this year’s competition in May. They must follow a rule book given to them at the beginning of the school year. They Sandhu says he feels satisfied which each step he finishes. start by looking at last year’s design and how they can make it bet- “I actually finished [the foam pieces] before the due date that I aster. signed,” he says. “I like that. Managing people, doing the construction itself, too. Also, I get to make new stuff on Ryerson’s money.” The structural team uses different software for every step of the creation. They use a basic tool for all civil engineers, AutoCAD, but The two teams come together on casting day, a 10-hour day where also some typically used by mechanical and aerospace engineers. the concrete mixture is placed onto the frame of the canoe. The Verma says the ability to work with different software sets them mixture is made in five-litre batches in the George Vari Engineerapart in the industry. “A lot of our team members apply for intern- ing and Computing Centre and then rushed over to the Monetary ships,” he says. “Interviewers look at that as well, that you were Times building. Last year, the team needed 65 litres to cover the part of a team. Concrete canoe is pretty widely known.” canoe. It’s then placed in a curing system, a necessary step in making good-quality concrete. It must be kept in strict conditions for But how is it able to float? The concrete mix team is in charge of almost a month. that, led by one of the civil engineering students, Madeleine Catz. The concrete has to be spreadable and light, but not too runny, and “Everything’s a learning experience. It’s intense, it’s stressful but it can’t harden too fast. at the same time it’s fun,” says Verma. Throughout the process Catz has been hard at work mixing samples and researching mate- he’s learned that there’s no room to be lazy. “Our judgement day is rials with her team. This is her second year on Ryerson’s team, but casting day — if everything goes good on that day I would consider her first time as a lead. that an achievement. We did it,” he says. For now, the team can only wait and see if they can keep their heads “I’ve never been the leader of something. This is such a big project above water. and it’s so real,” says Catz. “People depend on you. In concrete mix
Beyond Radio and Sound
How Ryerson graduate Colin Medley is helping Toronto’s arts scene thrive By Adam Prus Photography by Anders Marshall
olin Medley sits in the producer’s chair, arguably the most important role during a radio broadcast, quietly putting his thoughts and reflections together. “I didn't see myself in this role, but I’m blown away. It’s really crazy hearing what people are doing here,” he says. As a graduate of Ryerson’s media production program, Medley has worked extensively on a variety of projects and is now station manager at Ryerson’s radio network, SpiritLive. His role at SpiritLive has grown considerably since the opening of the Allan Slaight Radio Institute in November. “I think that this facility is pretty amazing and we’re only scratching the surface of what you can do here,” Medley explains. “I’m really curious to see what comes out of here.” As station manager, Medley interviews students with ideas for radio shows and ultimately decides whether they will air or not. The new radio space provides students with a much more expansive environment, in more than just a physical sense. The issue with the lack of radio space at Ryerson in recent years has not helped in attracting new voices to the airwaves.
tute has given students with keen ears and to shows when I’m not doing something. an interest in audio new opportunities to If I’m going to a show, I’m there to film it succeed in a radio broadcasting environ- or take photos,” he says. ment. It has become quite the routine for Medley, “When I was graduating last year, but he admits the prospect of documentthere weren’t too many people focus- ing a show is more exciting to him than the show itself. “If it’s a band I know, I don’t ing on radio and I think that’s going really get excited, but I always get excited about shooting a great video,” he explains. to change now” “It’s like, ‘Oh man, I'm so glad I was able However, Medley’s work goes far beyond to capture that show.” radio and sound. He played a pivotal part in producing the award winning RTA practi- Medley and his crew worked relentlessly cum project, Building Sound. His videog- on the day of Long Winter, which includraphy and editing skills were showcased ed coming in at one in the afternoon and throughout the six-part DIY documenta- staying well into the next morning. It’s dedry about a group of RTA audio engineers icated volunteer work all aimed at growing who transform an old shack into a state of the arts community and giving local talent the art recording studio. Looking back at the time, space, and respect they deserve. his time as a student at Ryerson, Medley “If I’m not at home, I spend my free time, explains, “I got to meet all the people I did whether it’s doing my photography or volBuilding Sound with. They are my close unteering my time to support bands or dofriends and we do stuff all the time now.” ing Long Winter,” Medley says.
Besides his work with Ryerson, Medley is also highly involved in Toronto’s music and arts scene. “I don’t really relax too much. I don’t spend too much time not working,” Medley says. He spends a lot of his time “not working” at Long Winter, an inter-arts festival that aims to showcase the vast spectrum of local music across a variThe hope is that the new institute will ety of disciplines. change how students feel about radio. “When I was graduating last year, there Medley is able to channel his passion for weren’t too many people focusing on radio photography and videography through his and I think that’s going to change now” volunteer work at events like Long Winter Medley says. With his help, the new insti- and shows across the city. “I very rarely go
Leaning back in his producers chair once again, Medley slowly puts his thoughts together. “I don’t know if I would have taken the chances to concentrate on making work,” Medley says, reflecting on his time in RTA. “I did a lot in the four years I was here and while not all of it was directly related to school, it’s about being in that mindset of making work.”
Bridging the Gaps How Student Life director Jen Gonzales plans to connect Ryerson students to each other and campus resources By Amira Zubairi Photography by Carlo Torres
To connect so that we together can reach our infinite potential.” When Jen Gonzales steps inside her office, this inspirational quote, resting in a white frame on the wall, reminds her why she loves coming to work every day.
Whether it’s connecting students through campus groups or building welcoming spaces on campus, for Gonzales, director of Student Life at Ryerson University, work has always been about giving back to the students. “I want to make sure that anyone I come across is empowered and connected so that they feel loved and they can be successful,” said Gonzales, pointing to her “why statement” on the wall. Ryerson is at a point of transformation. Gonzales, who began working as student life director in July 2014, is a part of this change towards a more amalgamated Ryerson community.
mentoring program to the larger Ryerson community. Currently, one of her priorities is enhancing and promoting ConnectRU, an online space for students to remain informed about campus opportunities and events.
While more students are finding unique ways to get involved on campus, it can still be challenging for student affairs to encourage longdistance commuters to do the same. These students may lack motivation to get involved on campus, or find that there aren’t enough spaces for them. Gonzales finds that the growing num- Gonzales says this is one of the biggest ber of student groups, course unions, and challenges student affairs is working on. other initiatives can be overwhelming for people who want to get involved on cam- “When people don’t see the value in conpus. The lack of communication between necting with something like ConnectRU, these groups can make coordinating events that’s obviously a challenge, and we have a challenge. She says a centralized space to make sure we’re being as open as possilike ConnectRU, which displays a calendar ble and filling in the gaps,” said Gonzales. of events and allows students to seek and track new experiences, is instrumental in While Gonzales may not get to see stuhelping people stay informed. dents very often, she regularly takes time to strike up conversations with them in her “I really love saying to students that, work space and at the Student Learning ‘Now’s the time to explore and leverage all Centre. When she’s taking a walk around the opportunities Ryerson has,’” said Gon- the quad, she gets to see Ryerson’s diverse zales. “When you’re getting ready to take community. Looking back at why Gonzathe steps to move out of Ryerson, you will les enjoys coming into work every day, she know what you love and what you don’t remembers that building connections and love, what you’re passionate about and maintaining them will always be a driving what you’re curious about, and that’s what force for her. we’re trying to do through ConnectRU.” “I love getting to know students, it’s kind Bridging the gap between various initia- of just a little snapshot of the whole stutives on campus is important to Gonza- dent body,” says Gonzales. “I always love les, but she emphasizes that it can also be connecting and getting to know what used to enhance students’ personal devel- [students’] goals and dreams are. I make opment by pointing them to the right op- a point of smiling and trying to smile at portunities and resources. This can help every student I possibly can.” students strive to be successful in many areas of life like employability, health, and personal relationships.
After completing a degree in biomedical science at the University of Guelph, Gonzales discovered her passion was to create engaging, outsidetheclassroom experiences for students. In 2009, Gonzales’ previous work as a residence life manager at Guelph helped her secure a position as a residence life education coordinator at Ryerson. She currently serves student affairs with four other directors. Together, they create rousing experiences in different aspects of university life like career development, housing and residence life, health and wellness, and learning support. “Student Life is the connecting point for all those different things,” said Gonzales. In student life, Gonzales focuses on con- “If you don’t know where to go, we’ll help necting Student Life Programs, Inter- you find where to go in order to have a national Student Support, and the Tri successful life.”
The Change They Wish to See Ryerson community members are using social innovation to create change in Toronto By Jacqueline McKay Illustration by Miriam Tingle If you go to Ryerson and don’t know what New Orleans in February. social innovation is, it’s probably because you’re drowning in it. And this all was put in motion before students could finish buying this semester’s Since Ryerson is integrated in the heart of textbooks. Toronto, it is only natural for its students to want to make the community better. Ryerson is Canada’s first Ashoka U “Ryerson likes to think of itself as the uni- Changemaker campus, putting the school versity for Toronto, not of Toronto,” said among 30 others — like Brown UniverMonica Jako, director of strategic planning sity and John Hopkins University — that and partnerships for the faculty of arts. have social innovation embedded into evSocial innovation is about using new in- erything from admissions, career services, novative thinking to get socially beneficial student community, alumni engagement, outcomes to traditional problems. At the and curriculum. SocialVentures Zone, it’s the only thing they do. Melanie Panitch, who works on social innovation and entrepreneurship out of the Part of Ryerson’s zone learning, the SVZ faculty of community services, has embedprovides socially innovative projects with ded social innovation into Ryerson’s curricaccess to funding, coaching, and commu- ulum by teaching “super courses,” which nity connections to help get them off the bring together undergraduates, graduate ground. “We’re trying to create a space students, staff from different programs, where you can think about things we ha- and faculty together in one course. Panitch ven’t tried and then try them,” said Alex has also created a new minor in social inGill, social innovator in residence at the novation, which will be available to all RySVZ. erson students starting this fall. “There’s not one single stamp of ‘this is what social In January alone, Ryerson held two Com- innovation is at Ryerson,’” said Panitch. munity Transformation Cafés, where students can listen to a panel of experts, The Projects participate in workshops and discuss socially innovative topics, and the Social Sarah Brigel, a fourth year environmental xCHANGE conference, an annual con- and sustainability student and co-founder ference dedicated to inspiring socially in- of the Microhub, has been turning waste novative ideas. into “black gold” with her vermicomposting project. After gathering organic comAnd things aren’t slowing down. post from the six bins located in Jorgensen Hall, Brigel feeds it to bins of worms to The Centre for Urban Energy has part- make castings. The castings are rich in nered with Tata Power DDL and Tech Ma- nutrients and have a high water-holding hindra in India to support renewable en- capacity making it a valuable resource in ergy generation and storage research. The an urban environment. “The end goal for faculty of community service announced us is creating a healthier community,” said that it’s hosting an inaugural social innova- Brigel. tion conference called FCS in Action: The Refugee Crisis. Ryerson took six delegates Growing up in the Jane-and-Finch area, to the Ashoka U Exchange conference in Althea Dyce saw a lot of social economic
challenges: food insecurity, kids dropping out of school, and single-parent homes. Being an entrepreneur and having a multimedia design degree from Humber Colege, Dyce took her skills and created a business that would help address issues of child food security. Dyce’s company Tee’s that Feed, in partnership with the Breakfast Club of Canada secures five breakfast or underprivileged children for every t-shirt sold. The idea is that if children don’t go to school hungry, they are more likely to be active participants in class, have better mental alertness, and be more energetic for the day. Tee’s that Feed support marginalized communities across Canada and internationally. The fair-trade, eco-friendly clothing can be ordered online and is delivered in a Tee’s that Feed recyclable cereal box. After attending the 2015 Social xCHANGE conference Barbra Lukasz’s life changed. Lukasz was placed on a team with four strangers and had 48 hours to create and pitch a socially innovative idea. The team came up with an online platform that revolutionized how volunteers, non-profits and funders connect with each other. Their project won them entry into the SVZ, but only Lukasz and Drum Smith stayed to see the idea through. Be the Change has so far worked on the O’Keefe laneway cleanup and is planning on partnering with the Ryerson Athletics’ Volunteer Experience Program called RAVE. “We just want to make it transparent and really easy and accessible for volunteers to find what they want to do,” said Lukasz.
From Mindless to Mindful in 12 Minutes and 27 Years One teacher’s experience with meditation
hen I woke up on a cold, hard, dusty floor with a man I didn’t know snoring beside me, I knew something had to change and soon.
By Ann Rauhala Illustration By Sumi Siddiqa been assigned an awkward, tiring schedule that included a day-long writing lab on Tuesdays and six hours of editing lecture/labs the next morning. Teaching days can deplete you, like being on stage. The schedule posed a challenge, made worse because I could barely sleep Monday nights. On Tuesdays, I surfed an adrenalin crest, with clear thoughts and focused lessons. By late Wednesday, I was up to my nostrils in water.
but got discouraged by how hard it seemed to be, an impenetrable process. Forget the prayer wheel. My mind spun on the hamster wheel of esoteric proclamations.
I wasn’t very good at meditating, I True, I was in a gym, and not a dive, and thought. But life’s challenges kept me the man was just a classmate, not a onesearching on and off for years. By happy night stand. But the first time I tried medcoincidence, I found a simple technique in itation, in a yoga class, I knew something a pop culture book that sparked another important had just happened. epiphany: those trivial thoughts — the ones that droned like mosquitoes as I tried That something was deep, blissful relaxBy chance, I noticed a Monday evening to ‘return to the breath’ or look at the rose ation and enveloping blue-green sleep. I, a yoga class at a recreation centre a few steps or focus on the flame — they were part of long-time insomniac, who couldn’t drink from my front door. It was a form of yoga meditation. They weren’t a sign of failure even decaf or eat a single chocolate chip that aroused my skepticism, but it was but of success. Finally, I understood that after noon, whose husband’s quiet, even cheap and close. consciously hearing and then shushing breathing blared like a bullhorn at 3 a.m., what some call “monkey thoughts” was a had fallen asleep among strangers right af- Well. At the end of that first class, I fell good sign. I began to meditate daily, startter supper. I could have slept through that asleep during the relaxation pose, despite ing with a paltry five minutes and building night and got up at dawn to milk the cows tingling legs, aching arms, and a gut reac- to 12. (I’d read that 12 minutes was the or marshal an army. tion against chanting meditations. minimal time to reap the benefits of improving the brain’s focus and attention.) And marshal I must, usually, just to sit Cue the epiphany. I attended yoga classes here and tap this out. For today I’m enjoy- religiously, slept easily and when I wanted, That practice has spurred me to explore ing another miracle: I’m starting this a full felt better, had more insights about what different forms of stilling the mind and nine days before it is due. The person who I was doing, where I was going and why. to urge colleagues, students, and friends thrived in daily-deadline newsrooms, the These early revelations seem shallow in to try meditation or mindfulness. I was person with a thousand enthusiasms who retrospect but guided me toward hewing thrilled to attend a Ryerson session on tries to pursue each simultaneously — that closer to my values. bringing mindfulness into the classroom. person has found the strength of mind to walk past the clumps of unlaundered When we meditated on prosperity, the It works. There are no calories, no bill for clothes, to resist the tempting inbox of un- instructor joked that it was okay to ask for $150 an hour, no pills, and for me, no side answered emails, to forego the easier task a lottery win. I thought, “Meh. Who needs effects, except self-knowledge and a greatof finding cheap flights to Florida. that? What is prosperity?” The answer er ability to make decisions that reflect my It’s a short answer that has taken me a arrived clearly. For me, it was friendship, genuine goals. lifetime to absorb: meditation makes life not money. easier. It has made me a happier person Although raised without theology or ther- All I have to do is to remember to breathe. and, at Ryerson, a better teacher. apy, I’d always been drawn to Buddhism. Teaching brought me to meditation. I’d Decades ago, I tried to absorb its tenets
RyeRev: Interim President Mohamed Lachemi Ryerson Revolution, “Rye Rev,” is a series dedicated to giving individuals the chance to share their thoughts on what they’d like to change about the university based on their personal and academic experiences. As a leader of our university, interim president Mohamed Lachemi shares his thoughts on the potential future of Ryerson. Photography by Augustine Ng
s a teacher, I’ve spent a good deal of time encouraging students to think bigger. It’s not a message that’s always well received or understood, and I can understand why. The looming deadline for an assignment, the upcoming exam, the demands of work and family can narrow our field of vision to the short-term. It’s human nature. But as students, as educators, and as members of the Ryerson community, we need to be aware of the profound impact we can have on the wider world, and to think more broadly about how we can shape the future. I’ll use my discipline as an example. I am an engineer. My research is in the field of innovative developments in building materials, specifically, concrete. While the formula for concrete is essentially the same as it has been since Roman times — stone, water, and binder (cement) — the production methods are now, of course, industrialized, and the impact on the environment is immense. More than five per cent of the world’s carbon dioxide emissions can be attributed to cement production. That isn’t sustainable, yet the demand for construction materials continues. What can we do? We can find ways to make concrete more durable, so we need less of it for repair and replacement. We can develop new components for the concrete formula, including using waste materials that would normally go into landfills — and there are important developments in that. By putting our minds to this significant challenge, we are making progress. I share this information with my students to demonstrate that they have the power and, I would say, the obligation to use their education and ability to go beyond the objectives of earning a degree and building a career, as important as those are. I urge you to think big. Regardless of your field of study, consider how you can use your talents and your education to change the world. When I look around our campus, I see many wonderful indications that our community is thinking big. Faculties, schools, and departments are reaching across disciplines to collaborate on solving real challenges. Our learning zones are ideal access points for students with different skills and talents to develop teams, work together, and build solutions. Hackathons and charettes provide the opportunity to collaborate on new and exciting innovations. Often, world events put the need for action right in front of us. The Syrian refugee challenge is top of mind, as the images and stories of millions of displaced people have been brought home to us. Our community has responded with leadership and commitment through the Ryerson Syria Lifeline Challenge — truly an example of thinking big. Ryerson, and you, have much to offer the world. Let’s take the time to step out of our daily routines and think bigger about how we can shape the future.
History Through Threads Ryerson’s archives document the school’s transformation through fashion By Sam Yohannes Illustrations by Lucas Lucchitti History retold verbatim can seem convoluted and intangible
n the third floor of the Ryerson Library, there is a collection of old campus apparel that weaves together the school’s backstory. Under large fluorescent light panels, surrounded by portraits of the university’s past presidents and vintage movie cameras, are fashion relics from Ryerson’s advent to garments that encapsulate the recent past. Each piece of clothing, housed in the Ryerson Archives, holds a part of the school’s history.
(1949-1951) According to the Ryerson Archives’ records, blazers, though generally
worn by students, were also the garb of choice for cheerleaders, choir and band members, as well as ushers at convocation and other school ceremonies. This navy blue blazer, cinched at the waist and decorated with gold coloured-buttons, displays Ryerson’s first crest. This particular design, which contains an illustration of the school’s founder, Egerton Ryerson, and a border with the school’s first name and year of establishment, was approved in 1949. It was also a stamp that can now be found in old yearbooks and school documents.
Ryerson, now known for its decorated basketball, soccer, and hockey teams, once had a football team. But the team, founded in the 1950s and coached by former Argonauts player Ted Toogood, crumbled due to growing costs, a lack of nearby facilities, and fleeting commitment from team members. This dark blue Ontario Rugby Football Union jacket, with gold detail, interlaced RIT (for Ryerson Institute of Technology) on the chest and ORFU on the arm, is what remains of the short-lived collegiate football team. Philip Coulter, a 1952 mechanical engineering graduate, donated the jacket along with the pigskin he played with.
(1957) This jacket with a stitched-on gold “57” adorning the right sleeve and letters
on the back that read, “Ryerson Electronics,” was donated to the archives by 1957 electronic technology graduate, John Cassidy. Over 42 years old, it has held its own through decades of wear. One of its unique features is that it is reversible: one side is navy corduroy and the other tan cotton. As a polytechnic institute, Ryerson focused on science and technical studies, introducing a number of three-year diploma programs in the ‘50s.
(1959) A dark blue cloth Ryerson Mechanical and Industrial technology jacket, which
has faded to purple from years of wear and sun exposure, is a donation from alumnus R.W. Owen for the 50th anniversary of his MIT graduating class in 2009. It dons “MIT” in gold letters on the left shoulder and a “59” on the right with “Ryerson” on the front.
(1963-1964) In the 1950s, Ryerson was experiencing rapid growth. A multi-mil-
lion dollar modernization program was created to address the expansion. This led to a provincial bill that ordered the creation of a board of governors, a new name and the impetus for reform of its model. As a result, the school name was changed to Ryerson Polytechnical Institute in 1963. The initials for the updated name are showcased on this blue and gold paneled cap with a thin brim.
(1985) A white painter’s cap with blue and gold trimming and “Ryerson” written across
the front served as a spirit cap, and also features the ubiquitous sketch of the school mascot, Eggy the Ram. Current students are perhaps familiar with the human-sized plush ram, but in the not-so-distant past, the mascot was present in a wilder form. In the early ‘60s, in an effort to bolster school spirit, members of the Student Administrative Council, now known as the Ryerson Students’ Union, allegedly purchased a ram for $25 to fill the role of Eggy. While the first Eggy lived on a pen behind Oakham House during the year, Eggy II through V lived on a farm. The live mascot made appearances at frosh, convocation, and sporting events. Between 1961 and 1991, five rams played the part. The fifth and final live Eggy the Ram died in 1991. It was around the same time that the humane society urged universities to stop the practice of using animals as their mascots.
(1988) This blue nylon windbreaker, with “Ryerson Lady Rams” and an illustration
of a ram stamped on the left side, belonged to Jean Kennedy, who was a Ryerson professor and coach of the women’s volleyball team between 1972 and 1982. Kennedy was instrumental in the growth of Ryerson athletics. In 1972, she created the Co-ed and Women’s intramural program. In the ‘80s, Kennedy served as the president of the Ontario Intramural Recreation Association. She wore this jacket in 1988 through to 1993.
(1993) A more recent piece of memorabilia is a white Ryerson Polytechnical Institute
sweater, featuring a blue, green, and red design on the front, worn in 1993. Though, it is not significant for its stand-alone features, but for the signature that sits on the upper left chest area, that of Terence W. Grier, former president of Ryerson. While Grier was serving his term from 1988 to 1995, Ryerson transitioned from a polytechnic to a university. Grier was recognized for his leadership during the period. In 1993, Ryerson gained full university status, which provided the school with access to funding to create graduate programs, carry out research, and the ability to grant degrees. Consequently, the school name was changed to Ryerson Polytechnic University and became Ontario’s first polytechnic university, according to official records from the Legislative Assembly of Ontario. In 2002, the ‘Polytechnic’ was officially dropped from the moniker.
(2000) The SuperBuild investment program was an initiative launched in 2000 by
the Ontario government to invest in the expansion of post-secondary institutions. It was also a way to address the double cohort that would result upon the termination of the Ontario Academic Credit, what many call Grade 13, in 2003. Around this time, Ryerson introduced a $96.8-million plan to build three new facilities: the Centre for Computing and Engineering, the School of Graphic Communications Management, and a Ryerson and George Brown College Centre for Studies in Community Health. This T-shirt that reads “Ryerson got SuperBuild and all I got was this lousy t-shirt (and a tuition fee increase, and a $2.3 M budget cut, and larger class sizes...),” offers a glimpse into the disapproving Ryerson student stance on the government program.
WE THE RAMS Behind Ryerson’s recent love affair with sports business By Brooklyn Pinheiro Illustration by Ebony-Renee Baker
rom the top floor of Ryerson’s Student Learning Centre, one can see the “VIEWS” billboard near Yonge-Dundas Square, a representation of Toronto’s brand connected to city key-holder Drake and the NBA team of the North. Ryerson has always prided itself on being a university in the heart of Canada’s biggest city, beating to the same drum as Toronto. As Toronto is growing its reputation within the sports world, so are we. Since Ivan Joseph was hired as director of athletics in 2008, he’s worked to bring athletics at Ryerson from nearly non-existent to an integral part of campus life. The amount of teams playing in intramural sports has quadrupled, seven of eight varsity teams made the playoffs in 2015, and the men’s basketball team ranked number one on the Canadian Interuniversity Sport rankings this year.
Complementing the athletic achievements of Ryerson students is an increase in business and academic initiatives revolving around athletics. This includes the Sports Innovation Hub (SPIN), the Ryerson Sports and Business Association (RSBA), and the creation of the sports media program. All of these illustrate how Ryerson is working to make itself a player in the sports industry. “Ryerson in itself is very unique. It’s known for connecting academics with practical,” said Joseph Recupero, assistant professor in the sports media program. “It’s not just what happens in the classroom, it’s all the extracurriculars that go on at Ryerson.” These initiatives in Ryerson athletics come at an exciting time when Toronto is building its brand and getting noticed in the athletic world. Since the Raptors’ rebranding in 2014, their value has increased from $520 million to $980 million, according to Forbes Magazine. They’ve also created Raptors 905, a team in the NBA Development League based in Mississauga that debuted in the 2015-2016 season. Toronto baseball is on the radar, too. The Blue Jays made their appearance in the 2015 playoff season memorable, increasing their value to $870 million from $610 million in 2014.
erson outside of the sports media program and a few sports business courses — one of which is spending the semester on a case study of Raptors 905. The course, called global sports marketing: the business of basketball, is taught by Bradish and Raptors executive Teresa Resch. Yet, as the industry grows and competition in the market grows, it’s the outside-of-the-classroom initiatives that are pushing Ryerson into the sports business discussion. The biggest question Stefan Kollenberg, vice president of corporate relations at the RSBA, gets asked by students is, “How do I get into the industry?” It’s precisely that question the RSBA is working to answer. According to Kollenberg, the motivation for the formation of the RSBA five years ago was to make a name for Ryerson students in a competitive growing industry. The group hosts events that give students across campus the opportunity to learn from industry professionals and network with future employers. SPIN is working towards the same goal of connecting students to the industry by becoming the top sports incubator in Canada. It’s connecting startups, including those in Ryerson’s Digital Media Zone, with the larger sports business world. SPIN launched in December of 2015 with a focus on building relationships with the larger sports industry so that organizations will have a trusted place to look to in Ryerson for new leaders in sports technology innovation.
“The industry is changing by leaps and bounds driven by technology and innovation. We can give students interested in sports “We see there’s a large growth in this country around sports me- a leg up by actually getting their hands dirty by working side-bydia, management, and sports business, so that contributes to jobs side a technology company or starting sport technology innovaand growth and lot of opportunities,” said Cheri Bradish, execu- tions themselves,” said Bradish. tive director at SPIN. When former Ryerson president Sheldon Levy hired Joseph to change the landscape of athletics at Ryerson, it was to boost up “We see there’s a large growth in this country around sports the school’s reputation. Joseph recalled how Levy told him that media, management, and sports business, so that contributes Ryerson’s academics were soaring but the school still wasn’t on anyone’s radar. Eight years later, Ryerson is now recognized as a to jobs and growth and lot of opportunities,” said Cheri home for amazing athletes and for sports business innovation.
Bradish, executive director at SPIN.
“We’re setting the leads, we’re the ones creating trends, and these students are going to continue to do that when they go out into All across the country, there are students studying sports business the industry,” said Recupero. in college and university, yet there is no dedicated program at Ry-
Food for Thought
Back home in São Paulo, he would wake up in the morning, drink a glass of milk, and then take two buses to get to his university. In the evening, he would go home to eat a dinner prepared by his mother, usually consisting of chicken, beans, rice, and potatoes. Now, for the first time in his life, he had to learn how to make food.
An international student on a year-long exchange, Silva heard about Ryerson’s Good Food Centre from friends. Upon arriving at the room, the staff members told him how the system worked and helped him. Silva remembers how he felt that day. His school in Brazil didn’t have programs like this for the By Esther Lee students. “I was excited to find that this Illustration by Sara was the system at Ryerson, and I was Sarhangpour happy to know that they support people alking through the aisles that need to eat,” he says. of No Frills, Rafael Silva spots a can of Pringles, After that, Silva started going every the first thing he recog- Tuesday. nized. Having just arrived from Brazil, No Frills was the closest grocery store Silva is just one of the many regulars to the Airbnb where he was staying, that go to the campus food bank. In reabout a 20-minute walk away. Although cent years, these numbers have grown. it was his first grocery trip, he ended up According to the Good Food Centre’s only getting the Pringles. Staying at the Hunger Report released last year, over house of his hostess, he wasn’t sure if he 400 Ryerson community members acwas allowed to use the kitchen. He also cessed the food bank between 2013 and 2014. However, while food banks didn’t know how to cook. help to alleviate the immediate needs of
A glimpse into how food insecurity is affecting students
struggling students, they fail to address the actual problem. For students struggling to make ends meet, the additional expenses needed for school means they are less able to afford other essentials, such as food. It’s important to meet the direct needs of students, but there needs to be proper representation and implementation of food policy so that in the future, students are in the right environment to grow and be better equipped to help themselves. The Good Food Centre is located on the second floor of the Student Campus Centre at Ryerson, one of the six equity services that is part of the Ryerson Students’ Union. It operates on an honesty basis, meaning that there is no specific criteria that people need to satisfy to use the services. Members sign up for a year-long membership and get 10 points each week for food, which equates to roughly three days’ worth. The campus food bank mainly has non-perishable goods, shelving cans of soup, pasta, and jars of peanut butter, but they also get fresh produce. Their food is delivered every week by the Daily Bread Food Bank. While co-ordinators write down daily
statistics and send them to Daily Bread, the food that they get depends on the amount of people using the GFC, as well as the amount of food that Daily Bread receives.
bottles of yogurt while baked goods sit beside small, square, plastic containers of salad on the second shelf. At the bottom of the fridge is the fresh produce of the week — sacks of onions, potatoes, carrots. As students come in, a student Nicola Nemy, a student co-ordinator co-ordinator cuts open bags of produce in her second year working at the GFC and pours them into a box on the table says that while they largely have enough near the door. food to accommodate the people that come in, sometimes the shelves are When it’s Silva’s turn, he carefully looks empty. “Every week, we will get a cer- at the shelves before placing a couple of tain amount of eggs and milk and dairy potatoes, instant noodles, a can of soup, and other items that go really quickly, juice, and a bag of donuts on the metal and produce as well, and so those things table in the centre of the room to be won’t last more than a day,” she says. counted. When that doesn’t add up to 10 points, he goes back for one of the Nemy has always been interested in boxes of jello — all that remains on the food issues and has experience work- shelf. ing on farms as well as volunteering at a food bank, which is why she applied In Toronto’s Poverty Reduction Strateto work at the GFC. In her role, Nemy gy, there is no specific mention of meaalong with the other co-ordinators helps sures targeted towards university stuto oversee volunteers and lead events dents. The city also has a Food Strategy like the annual Foodies Fair and Soup team that works with the Toronto Food for Cents, a bi-monthly event where Policy Council to help address concerns they sell soup for 50 cents. Nemy is also regarding the food system. helping to compile the next GFC Hunger Report to be released by semester’s Cecilia Rocha is the director of the end. While that is still being finished, school of nutrition at Ryerson and a she says that membership is up quite a former member of the Toronto Food bit from last year. Policy Council, where she helped develop the Toronto Food Strategy. Rocha “We already have over 300, close to 400 says that in Canada, a major factor that members, and that’s beginning at zero leads people to food insecurity is poverin September,” says Nemy. ty. There are also issues concerning the quality of food, how often they access that food, and the cultural appropriate“We already have over 300, ness of food. She says that it depends on close to 400 members, and that’s the population and situation, but solutions have to be in terms of context. In beginning at zero in September,” Canada, the main policy would be targeted at reducing poverty since that is says Nemy. the main cause of food insecurity. She also says that the number of people vary from day to day, from just five people some days to 25 people lined up on Tuesdays when new food arrives. This particular Tuesday is one of those busy days. The GFC isn’t even open yet, but students are already sitting outside waiting. Ten minutes before it opens, people start lining up. Soon the line stretches to the end of the corridor, almost 20 students waiting to get their week’s supply of food. Two by two, students enter the room. Wire racks line one wall and continue around the corner before hitting a commercial refrigerator with sliding glass doors. On the top shelf, there are
While he isn’t aware of any specific statistics regarding university students struggling with food insecurity, he mentions Ontario’s high tuition rates along with the rising number of campus food banks in recent years as an indicator that it’s increasingly a problem for students. In the Hunger Report published by the GFC last year based on data from 20132014, one of the three main factors that led to student food insecurity was the high cost of tuition. The other two were inadequate student loans and a competitive job market. “Students aren’t in an environment where they can afford and have access to healthy, nutritious, and culturally appropriate food and so [food banks are] alleviating the immediate need, but it’s not addressing the underlying issue,” Gravely says.
“Students aren’t in an environment where they can afford and have access to healthy, nutritious, and culturally appropriate food and so [food banks are] alleviating the immediate need, but it’s not addressing the underlying issue,” Gravely says.
The following Tuesday, the line is half of what it was last week, but the shelves are the reverse, stocked full of food with cans stacked on top of one another. Silva is back at the GFC, only this time he’s early. As one of the first in line, he is already inside the room just after 3 p.m. and emerges shortly after, groceries in hand. He misses the food from back home, the food here not as delicious or quite so salty as it is in BraEvan Gravely, the co-advocacy chair on zil, but here he’s learning how to be inthe Toronto Youth Food Policy council, dependent. says that they look at how issues of food justice, race, and other social determi- With his groceries done for the day, Silnants intersect with food security but va walks back to the place near school highlights a distinction youth face. that he shares with two other students, both also from Brazil. He has had a “I think youth are being affected by the long day, waking up early for a 9 a.m. same issues...but I think the problem is class and then studying until the GFC that their voice typically isn’t represent- opened. Sometimes, like last week, he ed,” he says. misses the opening time, but he’s usually home by 4 p.m. After unpacking his food, he checks what he has in the “I think youth are being affected house and prepares to make dinner.
by the same issues...but I think the problem is that their voice typically isn’t represented,” he says.
While Silva says that he’s still not good at cooking, he says that he’s improved. “I don’t have good cooking skills, but I’m in the process of learning.”
Rethinking Campus Accessibility How Ryerson is redefining what it means to be inclusive By Justin Dallaire Illustration by Miriam Tingle
here’s a podium on the fifth floor of the Sal ly Horsfall Eaton Centre that looks not unlike the hundreds of others on campus. From afar, it has the appearance of an Ikea stand with a fancy monitor mounted on top. In reality, it’s a prototype of an accessible podium that may rede fine the way students and teachers in teract in the classroom. And it’s only one of three such prototypes at Ryer son. On a quiet Friday afternoon, Sean Kearns stands hunched over it. As the manager of media services, Kearns can give you the short explanation of how it works, or the long one us ing tech lingo you won’t fully under stand. After a short pause, he taps on the system’s main panel, a screen the size of a small tablet; it glows back h ello. He then grabs the monitor, tug ging and tilting it in every direction, to show off its flexibility. Standing nearby, watching attentive ly, is Charles Silverman, a softspoken parttime professor of disability stud ies. He and Kearns are part of a group of faculty members that have been developing the prototype over
the last four years. Smiling, Silver man adds that the podium is height adjustable and can be unplugged and rolled across the classroom. He says it was designed to this way to “un tether teachers.”
When Kearns and Silverman, along with faculty members in disability studies and media services, began brainstorming on how to address these issues, it became evident that the standard classroom podium was in need of major upgrades. So to gether they developed a podium that is quieter, easier to read from, more moveable, and flexible. It’s a signif icant step forward in what has be come, in many ways, a neverending project.
The truth is that it does a lot more than that. The prototype was built in the spirit of universal design, a theo ry that emerged in the 1990s and has gained traction in recent years. In the education world, it goes by the name of universal design for learning, or UDL. The goal of universal design is *** to create an environment that is, to the greatest extent possible, accessi In the spring of 2012, Ryerson assem ble to everyone. bled a crossfaculty committee on uni versal design for learning. The group Beyond noncaptioned video and bar was tasked with making recommen riers to wheelchair access, there is an dations that would ensure Ryerson’s infinite number of factors that can compliance with the Accessibility render a classroom disabling. The for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, professor who narrates her lessons in which, in 2005, established province the dark, or facing the chalkboard, wide standards for accessibility in is impossible to lipread. Projectors Ontario. Ryerson had already been humming gently in the background working towards making campus ac prevent some students from hearing. cessible for three years, when it creat Courses taught using a single teach ed the Ryerson Accessibility Advisory ing method — whether it’s lecturing, Committee, but the establishment of group projects, or written assign the UDL committee marked a shift ments — deny some students the op in how the school would approach portunity to learn efficiently. disability and accommodation.
Years ago, under what is known to day as the medical model, disability was considered a deficiency or ab normality. Disablement was viewed as something that needed fixing. As such, access was a problem for the individual to sort out with disability services, which at the time, were rare. Accommodation, when possible, was the only conceivable solution to what was often considered a burden on nondisabled members of society. A lot has changed since then. Dis ability, we know today, results from the interaction between individu als and spaces that have been poor ly designed. Put differently, we cre ate disability by choosing to build stairs instead of ramps, or by provid ing written materials in print format only. In light of this modern under standing of disability, the pathway to equitable access begins with building accessibility into our designs. The key to achieving this in univer sities may be found in digital media, which Silverman says has led to a sort of “renaissance in education.” As ear ly as 1984, researchers began to see the potential of personal comput ers, like the Macintosh, in educating a new generation of students. That same year, a group of clinicians from the United States founded the Centre for Applied Special Technology, with the objective of finding ways of using new technologies to improve the ed ucational experience of students with disabilities. A decade later, CAST be gan to articulate the concept of uni versal design in a series of talks and presentations. During those talks, Anne Meyer, one of CAST’s cofounders, would grasp a piece of clay in her hands, squeezing it and shaping it with her fingers. The clay was like digital media, she would say, with all its flexibility and mallea bility — it symbolized endless possi bility. At least that’s how Silverman, who worked at CAST for a number of years, remembers it. *** You’re sitting in class and the clock
has just starting ticking. The next three hours are going to more gru eling than you anticipated. Not only are you facing the toughest exam to date — with t hatteacher — but you can feel the apprehension building in your gut. You’ll be heading to the washroom, sooner rather than later. You’ve lived with Crohn’s most of your life, so, luckily, you’re well pre pared. You deliberately sat in the back, near the door, and you located every nearby washroom on your way to class. You know this happens often when you get stressed, but the teach er? What will she say when you’re asking again in an hour? This is the example Marc Emond, manager of the Academic Accom modation Support office at Ryerson, gives when discussing the limits of universal design. “Universal design reduces barriers for all students at a very fundamental level,” he says.
“Universal design reduces barriers for all students at a very fundamental level,” he says.
learning disabilities, sensory im pairments, acquired brain injuries, ADHD, and mental health, medical, and mobility issues. By the end of April last year, approximately 2,000 students had registered for accom modations at Ryerson, and Emond says requests have been growing by 15 to 20 per cent per year, which may indicate that students are becoming more aware of the services available, or that stigma is being reduced in and outside of the university. Despite the administration’s efforts, Ryerson remains inaccessible to many students. The barriers are intellectu al, emotional and physical. For in stance, Sidney Drmay, a coordinator with RyeACCESS, says that improve ments need to be made to Ryerson’s counselling services. The school’s 14 counsellors are expected to support 38,000 students, a division Drmay says just doesn’t add up. Even when students do get the access they need, some of them have reported waiting several weeks or months for their ac commodations. The physical structure of the univer sity remains one of the biggest issues. Kerr Hall is often used as an exam ple — unsurprisingly, considering it dates back to the 1960s. However, newer buildings are at times as equal ly inaccessible, including the Student Learning Centre, which opened less than a year ago.
“But sometimes students have a need that cannot be met, even when the environment is totally aligned with universal design.” In other words: the school can build as many washrooms as it likes, but a student with irritable Just ask Jason Nolan, an associate bowel syndrome will still need to be professor of early childhood studies. accommodated. He says that, although the SLC has won architecture and design awards, The AAS office is there to fill that that alone doesn’t make it an inclu gap by supporting students whose sive space. For one thing, it’s what he situations demand extra support. Re calls a “forced public space,” not suit gardless of the nature of their dis able for people who get overwhelmed ability, students can request accom by large groups or distracted by noise modations through the AAS if their or fluorescent lighting. Nolan him conditions are documented. Elabo self wears a hat all the time, because rating on his example, Emond says a fluorescent lighting is painful to him. student who has registered with AAS could rest assured that the exam in Nolan’s attitude towards accessi vigilator is aware that you’ll be need bility comes from having spent years ing frequent washroom breaks. And, studying spaces and people’s inter of course, no one else ever has to actions with them. As the director know. of the Responsive Ecologies Lab, a research lab that looks at the social, AAS supports students who have cultural, educational, and design fac
tors at play in society, he says his job involves teasing out “hidden curric ulums,” and “unacknowledged bias es,” and “who gets left out of learn ing or social or design spaces.” His work may be tough to describe — he admits having been called a “confu siologist” — but he has a knack for seeing things that others often don’t. In a perfect world, Nolan would like to see Ryerson’s buildings retrofitted with LED lights that are dimmable. Today, some LEDs can even change colours by remote control. “We could actually get everyone in the class and think, ‘OK, what colour we would all be comfortable in?’” he says. “We could negotiate an inclusive space as well, which is pretty much impossible at the moment.” ***
design process.” When confronting a design issue, Nolan operates under the assumption that something in the environment is broken. “I’m not dis abled,” he says. “I have beendisabled. The world we live in disables me, be cause it’s designed for you. I’m not you, therefore, I’m disabled.”
Media services has been testing vari ous wireless boxes to help make that happen, including some with ad vanced capabilities and enhanced se curity features. Once integrated into the design, the wireless box will con nect an unlimited number of users to a shared monitor in the classroom.
As someone with autism, Nolan finds the neurotypical world to be a “very destabilizing space.” This had an im pact on his studies in university. He had to carve out his own curriculum, his own way of doing things.
In essence, this setup will enable students to share their digital work spaces with the class, and teachers to stream their lessons directly on stu dents’ screens. Silverman likens it to having a frontrow seat at the movies. It’s a big deal for all students, but es pecially those whose computers come equipped with assistive technologies — among them screen magnifiers, screen readers, voice recognition pro grams. They’ll be able to learn using the device that is best suited to them. Wireless connectivity will bring the podium into the realm of inclusive design, which Silverman describes as the next iteration of universal design.
For example, he read hundreds of books as a way of mastering social interactions. To this day, he still asks himself, “What would Jane Austen do?” Absolutely no one in school told him to do that, because it never occurred to them that it was neces sary. Had he known from the start, had the school known to identify his needs first and adjust his curricu lum accordingly, Nolan says he could have majored in his subject matter, Whereas universal design is limited and minored in catching up on a so to finding a onesizefitsall solution, cial and emotional level. inclusive design acknowledges that we now have the ability to create de To this day, he still asks himself, signs that can adapt in response to individual needs. “What would Jane Austen do?”
Back at his office in the Responsive Ecologies Lab at Bell Trinity Square, Nolan sits crosslegged at one of his many work spaces: a small white table with 3D printed materials — a new kind that’s more malleable and colourful than before — scattered on it. He speaks quickly and more articulately than most as he shows off his vari ous books and gadgets, among them a domeshaped robot that captures Userinitiated design helps demon the elements of its environment and strate the benefits of shifting from an transforms it into sound. accommodation model to one based on inclusiveness. The old philosophy Suddenly, he gets up and walks across was to build a university expecting the room to show his latest project. everyone to fit into it, then to accom He’s in his socks, proof of how at modate those who didn’t. The new home he feels in this room. model must attempt to build an in Nolan is working on a project called clusive university experience from Adaptive Design International for the start. Why be accommodating, which he has received a $100,000 when you can be inclusive? grant for through Grand Challenges Canada. Its goal is to create custom *** ized adaptations for children with special needs. At the moment, he’s In the coming years, Ryerson’s acces working on a device that will help sible podium prototype is bound to children communicate in any lan continue evolving. By May, 13 podi guage or dialect in the world using ums based on the prototype are ex four buttons. pected to be built and installed in the Victoria Building. The next phase The project speaks volumes about is to connect the podium wirelessly, his approach to design, called user which promises to make the class initiated design: “You look at the in room experience even more accessi dividual, their goals, their needs, their ble. interests, and that’s what drives the
As the Inclusive Design Research Centre at OCAD University de scribes it, inclusive design is taking a “onesizefitsone personalized design approach to inclusion.” And it’s all thanks to digital media. “Digital me dia is an enabler,” says Silverman. “It has opened up possibilities.” As I go to leave the classroom, I pose one final question to Silverman just as Kearns pushes a button to retract the classroom’s projector screen. It rolls up slowly, emitting a faint hum that prevents Silverman, who has a hearing aid, from hearing me. He ges tures to Kearns, but I already know what he’s going to say: something is going to need to be done about that noise. Their quest to make the class room accessible isn’t quite finished, and in sense, never will be. “The best podium,” Silverman says, “would be no podium.”
A Portrait of
Mental Health Ryerson students, an alum and an advocate come forward about what it’s like to have mental health issues in university By Ebony-Renee Baker Illustration By Miguel Betz
our years ago, a student seeking academic accommodation at Ryerson would have to walk up to their professor and give them their accommodation letter in front of all their peers. Essentially, the plan, which provides support for students with disabilities, impairments and health, mobility and mental disorders, wouldn’t be available without practically announcing, “I’m different!” to a large audience. People with mental health disorders often don’t visibly struggle like those with certain physical disabilities or impairments. So when someone is brave enough to talk about their stress, anxiety, or depression, they’re often met with disbelief.
disorders than any other age group 9. Now a third-year engineering stuin Canada — something that’s often dent at Ryerson, she says that university heightened her stress. elevated in university. Post-secondary institutions aren’t just larger than most high schools, they’re inundated with unfamiliar faces in seemingly chaotic systems. In this new arena, academic standing may take a blow with an unexpectedly heavy workload. Additionally, there’s pressure to find a social circle — and maintain it. While support is crucial, finding it is no simple feat.
In the past few years, Ryerson has seen a notable change in mental health awareness. The Ryerson Mental Health Advisory Committee was founded in 2012 to provide support and education. Bi-annual mental wellness weeks are hosted on camAt Ryerson, students silently en- pus. Disability courses, such as dure various mental health disorders “a history of madness,” are offered. amidst a society that seems to have just started taking its presence seri- But students struggling with their ously. mental health think the university could — and should — do more. The smallest of lows have the ability to challenge one’s mental well-being The Current Students drastically. Statistics Canada says that people between 15 to 24 years old Mariam Nouser, 20, was diagnosed experience the most mental health with depression and anxiety in Grade
“I wasn’t getting the grades I was getting in high school, so that kind of was a bummer. I’d be more stressed out, and I’d try to work harder. Then I’d crash and burn,” Nouser says. For the past three months, Nouser has been meeting with a counsellor while awaiting her completed assessment from Trillium Health Centre’s mental health program. “On the outside, I appear happy because it’s kind of like a front I put on. I don’t like people knowing my issues,” Nouser says. She juggles three student groups, a part-time job, and six engineering courses. While Nouser says she manages her time well, it’s still not easy. People often think she’s lying or simply don’t believe her. This ignorance, Nouser says, is one of the most prominent stigmas she faces. First-year engineering student, Carrie*, doesn’t have a mental health disorder, but has become so stressed
over grades that she often can’t get living away from home, commuting, help [students] out,” she says. “While work done or even get out of bed be- not having enough food, and inter- yes, they are investing in great things cause she cries so much. acting with professors. and I commend them for that, I really think they need to step up and “I became aware of my stress after allocate money towards expanding the first [set of] midterms,” she says. mental health facilities and expand“I failed three out of four midterms, “Not everyone is privileged enough ing places where people can just feel and I knew perfectly well what I was or wants to talk about their stuff,” safe and relax.” doing wrong.” says Davies. “Not everyone is this champion of mental health.” She also believes that hiring more After narrowly missing academic counsellors would make the current probation at the end of her fall se- The Alum lengthy wait times shorter for stumester, her anxiety really began to dents seeking assistance. set in. “What if, after all that work, Bianca*, 22, graduated from the busiI was just not smart enough, or hard- ness management program last April. Carrie* says that while there’s defiworking enough, or I lacked determi- With part-time jobs and full course nitely help at Ryerson, it’s not easy nation?” says Carrie. “What if I just loads throughout her undergraduate to find — she had to ask around ondidn’t belong here?” studies, she did well in school but line before being able to find help. was often stressed about her apart- Additionally, she says students aren’t “I spend a lot of time stressing ment, money, jobs, and personal re- reaching out because they may feel about things that don’t exist or don’t lationships. She also noticed various their issues are not serious. anxiety levels among her peers, often matter, and my mind’s stress reflex caused by grades, mismanagement of “It’s easy to think that your worries is either extreme lows or highs,” time, and finding a job after gradua- are “inferior” to someone else’s and tion. don’t deserve as much attention, or The Student Advocate it can be difficult to admit that the “I spend a lot of time stressing about stress that you are feeling is a serious Jenna Davies, a fourth-year social things that don’t exist or don’t mat- problem.” work student, recognizes that stu- ter, and my mind’s stress reflex is eidents who are dealing with stress and ther extreme lows or highs,” Bianca -various other mental health issues explains. don’t always know where to get assisAs the university and larger governtance. “It took me almost a whole year to ac- ing systems continue to build mental tually reach out to the mental health health awareness, students also have “A lot of my peers in my program department because I just couldn’t the responsibility to get educated and are very frustrated with the mental work up the nerve to call,” says Bi- spread this information. Davies behealth services at Ryerson,” Davies anca. But unlike the other students, lieves an end to stigma is the beginsays. “Not that they are inherently Bianca thinks Ryerson did a good ning of a more accessible system. bad, but in terms of looking for other job at providing her with help. In avenues to access support, there just her fourth year, the Ryerson Medical “We do have wellness weeks, which aren’t any.” Centre connected her with a psychia- is great. We [also] have a health fair trist who diagnosed her with bipolar coming up, but I don’t see a lot of So, she joined Students for Men- II disorder and provided her with the ongoing work,” Davies says. “So, I tal Awareness, Support and Health medication and support she needed. think it’s SMASH’s responsibility, but (SMASH), a student group founded also other students’ responsibility, to two years ago that operates on a peerpromote mental health awareness on to-peer basis to provide students with According to Ryerson’s 2014-2015 campus and open those doors so peoany kind of support they need, from ombudsperson report, students who ple can access the support that they walking them to class to connecting may be struggling with an array of need. It gets the conversation going,” them with health services at Ryerson. personal issues are dissatisfied with and that is the most important step. the support on campus. A lack of emDavies, an executive at SMASH, pathy among professors was one of Ryerson students can find support at meets with university administration the biggest concerns voiced by stu- the Centre for Student Development to voice students’ fears and concerns dents. Nouser also says that Ryerson or Counselling or the Medical Cenwith stress, stigma, and accessing isn’t paying enough attention to the tre, which can connect students with support. percentage of students with mental resources outside the university. health issues. Some of the biggest causes of anxiety *Names have been changed to proat Ryerson include the weight of tui- “I think the university needs to be tect the participating student’s idention costs, balancing part-time jobs, mindful of … how to sufficiently tity.
Not your average clown school The Chang School’s Caring Clowns spreading joy to Toronto’s long-term care homes
aughter can be heard spilling out of the First Evangelical Lutheran Church on Bond Street. It’s the real kind — the kind that you can’t help but join in on — and it’s coming from the Caring Clowns, Ryerson’s very own clown school. Caring Clowns is part of The Chang School’s Programs for 50+, a collection of non-credit courses for people who are retired but wish to continue learning. But these students aren’t learning how to be typical clowns. Caring Clowns teaches them to bring laughter to the residents of Toronto’s 10 long-term care facilities. Lynda Del Grande, founder and instructor of Caring Clowns, describes the caring clown’s role as an “entertainer, playmate, listener, and really, just being present for people.” The clowns meet with people who are vulnerable and unable to live in-
By Sarah Jackson Photography by Augustine Ng dependently. In some homes, whole Providence Health Care in Scarborfloors are locked down to keep res- ough, marking the beginning of her idents suffering from dementia safe caring clown journey. from harm. While it started out as improvisation, Caring Clowns is now the only pro“My father and I had been arguing gram that goes into long-term care facilities to clown. and [a clown] came around and had
this gentle way about her...”
The group of students meet Del Grande in the sanctuary of the First Evangelical Lutheran Church — they’ve had to move from their classroom in The Chang School because their laughter was disturbing the students writing exams. It’s no surprise either, as their activities often include laughing as a form of stress relief.
Del Grande created the program seven years ago. It all started when her mother was in the hospital after a fall, which eventually claimed her life. “My father and I had been arguing and [a clown] came around and had this gentle way about her,” said Del Grande, recalling the first hospital clown she ever met. “She put Tim Fitzsimmons, a six-foot-somethese stickers on my mom’s toes and thing retired principal who only has she made my father smile.” to stand up to make his presence known, has learned to love that asDel Grande has been involved in im- pect of the course. During his principrov and clowning since the late ‘80s pal days, he was often worried about and has taken almost a dozen acting making and admitting his mistakes, classes through The Chang School’s but now, he’s often the first to begin Act II program. After attending a the round of therapeutic laughing. He workshop on clowning in paediat- throws his hands over his head and ric hospitals, Del Grande contacted yells, “Oh no, I’ve made a mistake!”
and erupts into a thundering laughter In the church, the clowns-in-training that’s contagious to the whole group. sit in a circle holding onto their props, which they will use when they volun“Everyone has a clown in them. You teer in the homes. The props range just have to find it,” says Lorraine from a rubber chicken, to a miniature Cheng, a retired financial analyst, as dachshund toy, to a tiny frog whose she gasps for breath after a session of eyes pop out when squeezed. laughing. The clowns turn their backs when There are around 40 graduates of the putting on their noses and turn to Caring Clowns program who ded- face each other once they’ve transicate 12 weeks to in-class learning. formed. They silently stare at their The length of the rest of their train- prop as Del Grande instructs them ing varies with the completion of a to really think about their relationvolunteer orientation session at one ship with it. It’s an odd sight to see of the homes, and three supervised a group of people 50 and older starpracticum visits. And while many of ing lovingly at a prop, but this gives the students say that the class has giv- them the opportunity to reflect on en them incredible personal insight, what they’re doing and how it’s not it’s not all about loud and boisterous silly, but dignifying. fun. Students are taught conflict resolution strategies for situations where Taking every aspect of clowning sepatients may be irritable, upset, or riously is what differentiates clownconfused. Although they naturally ing for seniors from clowning for exude a pleasant spirit, the Caring kids. By creating this relationship Clowns also practice a deeper level of with their objects, the clowns learn thoughtfulness to have meaningful the gentleness and instinctive nature that’s foundational to how long term interactions with the residents. care homes operate.
Although they naturally exude a pleasant spirit, the Caring Clowns also practice a deeper level of thoughtfulness to have meaning ful interactions with the residents.
For example, a caring clown’s costume can be relatable to their audience. Barbara Ellenson, who graduated from the program last year, wears a red lace slip over top of her pyjamas with socks pulled up high. She explains that dementia patients
have a hard time getting dressed in the morning, hence the outfit. “They sometimes leave their room without any clothes on. So they can relate to this [outfit], but usually all they say is my socks are wrong,” says Ellenson, whose clown name is Roxie. Laura Tyson, whose clown name is Laura Doo from Saskatoon, spreads happiness through her ukulele. Dressed in a colourful men’s ‘90s shirt and a straw hat with a sunflower flopping over the side, Tyson walks down the white halls of the home strumming and singing. Vacant stares from the residents soon turn to smiles. One man even sits up a little taller as she passes and sings along to “You Are My Sunshine.” She sits down beside him to finish the song and to have a conversation about music. He’s a resident she has visited before. “By making someone happy, it’s made me more compassionate.The caring clowns have brought that out of me,” Tyson says. She waves goodbye to the man and continues down the hall, spreading a bit of music and happiness in a place craving a little more laughter.
Creating Space in the Classroom The RSU Trans Collective aims to make campus a safe space through education and communication By Celina Gallardo Illustration by Ebony-Renee Baker
t this year’s Trans Music Night, Oakham Lounge was brought to life with Kit Wilson-Yang’s soulful voice, complemented by the steel strings of her guitar. Other acts followed, bringing powerful storytelling and contagiously energetic tunes. The only thing that resonated louder than the performances were the warm and friendly voices discussing trans identity and queer-friendly spaces. Before the performers took the stage, Markus Harwood Jones, one of the co-ordinators for Ryerson’s Trans Collective, emphasized that they space they were in was a safe one by reading a statement on behalf of the Ryerson Students’ Union: “We should neither condone nor tolerate behaviour which undermines the dignity and self-esteem of any individual or creates an intimidating, hostile, offensive, or oppressive environment.” The Trans Collective aims to make all of Ryerson a safe space, shining a light on how trans students are especially at higher risk of being discriminated in classrooms. “Safety is such a complicated question, especially when it comes to safety and intersectionality,” said Evan Roy, another co-ordinator for the Trans Collective. “How do you create a safe space for diverse identities and for everybody?”
and offensive. “Even as someone who felt the need to acknowledge it, the only daunting part for me was that in trying to be inclusive, I didn’t use the wrong words. And that’s true for all of us when we’re talking about something that is new to us,” said journalism professor Lisa Taylor. Still, it’s still crucial for professors to let their students know that identities in the classroom go beyond the gender binary. Otherwise, students will be preoccupied with the fear of being misgendered. “If that is in the front of their brain, it’s a tremendous impediment to learning,” said Taylor.
Safe space is a more multilayered term than it seems. On a larger scale, according to Roy, the entire university needs to be a safe space where students won’t fear harassment or discrimination. But on a smaller scale, students need access to spaces where they can interact and comfortably communicate with members of their own community. To help remedy the lack of communication, the Trans Collective was supposed to hold a Teaching Our Teachers conference around Accommodating a diverse array of identities can be challenging, April, where students would be able to teach professors how to said Agnes Tong, a volunteer at the Trans Collective. “You don’t respect their identities during class. But the conference will not want to shut off too many voices. At the same time, you have to be happening this year because the collective did not receive the keep some voices out, since this would really ruin what it means to grants they applied for and the time constraints that come during be a safe space.” finals, said Harwood Jones. Roy found through collective meetings that most members have faced discrimination in Ryerson classrooms. Most commonly, Roy said, professors misgender students, both intentionally and unintentionally. Trans students also face marginalization through the lack of queer and trans representation in course materials. “I’d have to repeatedly ask professors to acknowledge my presence in their class, to disrupt their heteronormative, cissexist, and often otherwise oppressive teaching methods,” said Harwood Jones. “Even in classes where the profs are great, [I felt] like it wasn’t created with people like me in mind.”
The collective will still continue to work towards creating a safer campus with a series of smaller-scale workshops on how to deal with inequality on campus in March. The workshops deal with problematic professors, processes and policy, and ignorance and harassment, all important issues for students. And creating these safe spaces is crucial for members of the student group. “There are people who have said to me that, ‘I would’ve dropped out of school if we didn’t have the Trans Collective meetings,’” said Hardwood Jones.
But, according to Tong, not all professors have malicious inten- The Teaching Our Teachers conference may not be happening this tions. “I think a lot of them have good faith. They just need more year, but conversations about safer spaces between students and time,” said Tong. professors should still be encouraged, said Taylor. “People who aren’t binary have heard enough about that male and female dichotOne reason why a professor would choose not to acknowledge the omy,” she said. “They understand us; now it’s our turn to do some presence of queer and trans students is the fear of being incorrect work and understand them.”
True North By Ellen Pitt
Illustration by Evelyn Thompson
here has always been something captivating about the Canadian North. Though it may bring to mind images of an unforgiving landscape covered in snow and ice, it’s far more diverse. Rachel Boere, who spent two weeks in Nunavut this past summer, describes a landscape covered in mosses and lichen, little shrubs, and flowers. It’s uniquely beautiful, and very susceptible to the pressures of climate change.
been happening much more quickly and it’s becoming increasingly unstable.
In conversations with Inuit students, Boere learned about the impact that climate change has had on the communities. Students shared memories of going ice fishing in June when they were six or seven. Ten years later, that’s no longer possible — the ice is already iffy in May. For these communities, rapidly changing conditions mean traditionBoere is a member of Parks Canada’s Northern Engagement Outreach al knowledge is becoming irrelevant. “We’ve seen an increase in the team and a creative industries student at Ryerson. She visited Nunavut North in accidents on the ice and deaths on the ice because of unsafe as part of her work connecting Canadians with the North. The trip ice conditions that we wouldn’t see in the past,” Atkinson says. was in conjunction with the Students on Ice foundation, which provides an educational experience for youth, fostering an appreciation At the end of January this year, Mosesee Kownirk, an experienced for the culture and ecology of the North. Inuk elder, fell through the ice while hunting and died. This is the middle of winter, when ice should be at its thickest. “It sounds so corny to say that it was life changing, but to see a part of the world like that … it really changes your perspective,” Boere says. Ice cover and thickness aren’t the only casualties of the Arctic warmThe communities and ecosystems of the North are facing a very real ing. The integrity of the landscape relies on permafrost — soil and and imminent threat. According to NASA, climate change dispropor- rock that remains frozen over multiple years. It is a key part of the tionately affects the Arctic. Temperatures have been increasing twice arctic ecosystem, and is essential for land stability, drainage patterns, as fast in the Arctic compared to mid-latitude areas. This is in part be- and infrastructure. cause ice in the Arctic acts as a reflector for incoming solar radiation. As ice melts, it exposes water, which absorbs the solar radiation and At their research site in Cape Bounty, Atkinson says they have seen warms as a result. “active layer detachments,” which are large sections of soil that have detached and slid down relatively gentle slopes because they’re liqueDavid Atkinson, an assistant professor of geography at Ryerson, has fied with water from melting ice and precipitation. It not only impacts done extensive research in Northern Canada and says he is all too fa- the surrounding landscape and water sources; it impacts the commumiliar with these warming processes. “As that water warms, it creates nities that rely on them. The National Round Table on the Environa positive feedback where it’s harder to create ice the next year, and ment and the Economy’s 2011 report estimated the per capita costs of then it’s easier to melt that ice the following year.” dwelling damages by 2050. Ontario’s costs were $0. Nunavut’s costs were estimated between $1,790 to $5,698. Thick “multi-year ice” has developed over many years, which makes it strong and reliable — but it’s disappearing. The ice found in these The Canadian North is an important part of the global ecosystem, and areas now is notably thinner and weaker. Atkinson says sea ice issues a critical part of this country’s identity. Climate change has already are cumulative and can have big impacts, especially on Northern com- created feedback loops that have launched Arctic warming beyond munities. “For the circumpolar region, it’s disconcerting. But it’s even human control. The fate of the Arctic doesn’t look promising — but more so on a smaller local level,” he says. Ice loss impacts people’s it’s worth fighting for. hunting traditions and ability to travel. He adds that the melting has
Ryersonâ€™s female Indigenous leaders By Alina Bykova
Danielle Sinclair Danielle Sinclair is working on her bachelor of social work at Ryerson. Born and raised in Toronto, she is of Anishinaabe, Cree, Métis, and European heritage. Sinclair is very involved at the university and is a student member of the Aboriginal Education Council and the Aboriginal Advisory Committee for the School of Social Work. Sinclair says Ryerson should create a range of supports that reflects the diversity of Indigenous students.
Pamela Palmater Pamela Palmater is the chair in Indigenous Governance at Ryerson and an associate professor of politics and public administration. She has worked with the federal government and with First Nations communities to address issues of land development, Indigenous rights, and missing and murdered Indigenous women. Palmater sits on Ryerson’s Social Justice Committee. Originally from New Brunswick, she is Mik’maw from the Eel River Bar First Nation. Palmater says that universities need to acknowledge Canada’s Indigenous history and create more support networks for Indigenous people. “We’re all spread out across the country,” she says. “And sometimes we’re the only one in the law school, or the only one in the grad school.”
Jamie Lee Morin Born and raised in Etobicoke, Ont., Jamie Lee Morin is in her fifth year of her English degree at Ryerson. She is a student member of the Aboriginal Education Council and co-founded the Toronto Indigenous Student Writers Collective, a cross-university initiative in Toronto that encourages Indigenous writers to socialize and to share their stories. Lee Morin identifies as Métis. She says, “Don’t forget who you are and where you come from.”
Cyndy Baskin Cyndy Baskin, an associate professor of social work, has been at Ryerson since 2001. She has published multiple research articles and two novels. Baskin was a co-ordinator of The Chang School’s certificate of Indigenous knowledges and experiences in Canada. She is the chair of Ryerson’s Aboriginal Education Council and the vice president of the Native Women’s Resource Centre of Toronto. Baskin is of Mi’kmaw and Celtic nations and says that Indigenous students sometimes feel unrepresented in university because courses lack Indigenous content. “They need mentors,” she says. “They’ll find their ways to my door.”
Katherine Minich Katherine Minich is a PhD candidate at Ryerson. Motivated by her Indigenous heritage, her dissertation studies freshwater in the Arctic in an age of climate change. Minich is Inuk, born in Nunavut in the town of Pangnirtung on Baffin Island. She says her work is relevant to everyone, citing Qaujimajatuqangit, which in Inuit culture means that each individual is responsible for the land, the wildlife, and the water.
Joanne Dallaire As Ryerson’s campus elder and traditional counsellor, Joanne Dallaire’s job is to understand Indigenous traditions, philosophies and histories and to counsel students and staff. With over 30 years of social services experience, she has worked with the Toronto District School Board, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, and the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health. She is the recipient of multiple awards, most recently the Aboriginal Affairs Award. Dallaire is Cree Omeshkego and has ancestry in Attawapiskat, Ont. She says that Indigenous students should be proud of who they are and should remember that their ancestors walk with them: “Keep your eye on the prize, and although you may feel it, you’re not alone.”
Designer: Lesley Hampton Designers: Lucy Felice (left) Black Lace Gown withDi chiffon lining. Neoprene silver (right) mylar-plated cape and & Elisa and Gentile Black Lace Gown with chiffon lining.
Photographer: Editor: Stylist: Models: Makeup and Hair:
AndrĂŠ Varty Kayleigh Robinson Elizabeth Kostic Brianna Collins, Rojin Sa Stephanie Alice Pereira
Designer: Da Thao Chu
Lamb leather and wool jacket. Skirt made of leather and coat weight grey wool.
Designer: Da Thao Chu
Dress made of a silk and polyester blend and custom laser cut bodice
This year, the Folio team came across unique designers from Ryersonâ€™s fashion program whose modern aesthetic coordinated completely with the theme, fashion through shapes. The chic theme highlights the textures and patterns of the electric garments, reflecting the bold and modern interior of the SLC. We positioned models in the student space to flaunt these designs. This yearâ€™s fashion spread showcases the innovative and creative minds that Ryerson proudly presents.
Designer: Lesley Hampton Black Lace Dress with jersey lining and black pleather belt. Aluminum-plated heels.
Designers: Lucy Di Felice (left) & Elisa Gentile (right) Dresses made of contrasting organza against crepe-back satin.
Behind the curtains at Thoroughly Modern Millie Shining a spotlight on the faces that may not be centre stage in a musical production, but are as equally important By David Warner Photography by Amanda Skrabucha
t’s a rainy Sunday evening and inside a cramped room in Kerr Hall, a world is being built. The orchestra plays its first note and actors take to the stage (a space in the middle of the room where desks have been pushed aside). In an instant, reality melts away and the room transforms into New York City in the 1920s — the setting for the Ryerson Musical Theatre Company’s debut production of Thoroughly Modern Millie. Millie and company sing and dance their hearts out, the scene ends, and the invisible yet ever-important stage crew sets out to work, moving the necessary props — chairs and desks for now — in and out for the next scene. Even though it’s not an actual stage, it’s hard to spot them — it’s like a magnificent act of sleight of hand. “In a professional setting, usually it’s like you’re not as appreciated,” says Taylor Young, the production’s lead stage hand. “I think because we’re all volunteers, [everyone in the production is] grateful that we’re volunteering our time.” Young constantly clarifies what needs to go where; one error could cause the show’s world to come crashing down. If the show’s actors are the cogs that make the production work, the stage crew is the oil that ensures everything runs smoothly. A production, after all, is a complicated equation of musical cues, impressive choreography, and thin margins for error; one weak link could cause it to break. “It’s such a family,” says found-
er and president of the RMTC, Robyn Hoja, who is also serving as director for the company’s first production. “At the end of the day, this company isn’t anything without our full cast and our full crew and our full orchestra and our full production team and our full executive.” A third-year creative industries student, Hoja founded the company after finding opportunities for musical theatre on campus to be lacking, especially for non-theatre students. She formally pitched the idea to the Ryerson Communication and Design Society in her second year to unanimous approval. The RMTC officially launched in January 2015. At its core, the RMTC is about giving an opportunity to students who might not be able to participate in theatre otherwise. Overall, the production is a first for a lot of the behind-thescenes team. “I’m not a theatre person,” says scenic director Carley Crossman. “I took drama in high school, but that’s just because drama class was a fun class to take.” Crossman, an interior design student who was used to the meticulous design of film sets, had to adjust to the less detail-oriented set design of theatre. She pulls out her laptop and opens an image of a mock newspaper she made, complete with minute details. “Evan, our carpenter, he was laughing at me. He was like, ‘That’s a great film prop. Don’t know about theatre.’ I was like, ‘Well it looks great,’” she says playfully
with a shrug. By the time the team finally moves into the Betty Oliphant Theatre on Feb. 7 — less than three weeks before the show’s opening — Crossman is scrambling to get every piece of the set done. The team enlists all the help they can get, recruiting actors, stage hands, and members of the production team to help with set construction in the Ryerson School of Interior Design’s woodshop. The late arrival of supplies causes a slight snag in production, but by the end of the first construction night, the team walks out with their first scenery flat. Bit by bit, everything comes together. At the next rehearsal, more props make their way to the stage and new costumes are revealed. As the actors move from number to number, Crossman sits in the back of the theatre with her laptop in front of her. She’s glued to the screen as she plays with some text for a design she’s been working on. In the shadows of the stage’s wings, stage hands navigate through the darkness, preparing props and set pieces for whatever comes next. From Feb. 24 to 27 the audience may only see Millie and her cohorts, but they’re completely oblivious to the production’s complex ecosystem. “By no means is this a one-woman company. This is an 80-person company.” says Hoja. “Whether they realize it or not, we couldn’t do it with one less person.”
Outthinking Machines Chess in the 21st century By Kieran Delamont Illustration by Miriam Tingle
n chess, the 21st century came four years early. On Feb. 10, 1996, Garry Kasparov, dressed in khakis and a blue blazer, sat at a wooden table in Philadelphia with an all-wood chess set. Kasparov, the reigning world champion, represented centuries of chess tradition, its history. Across from him was a balding man dressed in an all-blue suit, now a footnote in chess history, for he was merely a stand-in for arguably the most important chess player since the Cold War Grandmaster Bobby Fischer: Deep Blue, IBM’s chess engine. Since Deep Blue versus Garry Kasparov in ‘96, chess has developed two distinct personalities. The first is old, patient, and musical (played by humans) while the second is quick, arithmetical, and constantly churning (played by chess engines — computer programs designed to analyze the game of chess). Whereas humans play with emotions and body language, a chess engine plays without non-verbals, and has the ultimate poker face: digitized, precise, and unfeeling, it never stops to think about what you think of its moves, or what you think it thinks about its own moves. Since 1997, the battle of master versus machine has ceased to be fair. “Humans can’t keep up any longer,” says Robert Hyatt, associate professor in computer science at the University of Alabama. “When a Grandmaster plays a computer, it’s kind of like pushing a car uphill,” he says — the question is no longer about who will win, but about the sustained human effort required for the game to even be close.
“When a Grandmaster plays a computer, it’s kind of like pushing a car uphill,” he says
It is tempting to think this schism might render human chess a dying game. I submit that the opposite is true: this schism may well revitalize chess.
won: Deep Blue was good, but the tangled pathways of the human brain were better. In the 1997 rematch, Deep Blue doubled its computing power and, for the first time in history, the human brain could no lonThat chess engines would eventually tri- ger compete. umph was inevitable, given their architecture. Most chess engines work like this: Even with computing powers exponentialthe engine will propose a move, evaluate ly stronger than humans since the 1960s, it, then run all possible counter-moves, chess engines were unable to beat Grandevaluate those, then evaluate every plausi- masters until 1997. This fact tells you all ble move it could then make, and so on. A you need to know: chess, in the human chess engine will do this for every available psyche, comes from somewhere special move on the board at any given moment, and as-yet not understood. For over half running simulations deep into the game to a century, chess engines have been able determine which move it should make. to out-think human players, but couldn’t out-chess them — the art, the beauty, the In the 1960s, computers could process appeal of the game of chess is that this dif80,000 positions per second. In 1996, ference exists at all. Deep Blue could run 100 million per second. Today, chess engines can evaluate In inferiority lies opportunity. What has billions of positions per second. (Humans been seen for some time as a game of leftare estimated to max out around one per brain calculation may have a renaissance as second.) But despite this difference, hu- a game of right-brain poetry. For a fan of man chess is special. “Nobody knows how chess, this is exciting: it has the possibilia human plays chess,” says Hyatt. People ty of ushering in a generation of creative have tried, but scholars and programmers players who won’t try to think like comalike have since concluded that you can’t puters, but distinctly unlike them. Though teach a computer to play like a human, human players have been eclipsed by the because humans are impossible to figure brute strength of computers, there is no out. The way a human makes decisions in reason to despair. The fact that humans a chess game, it seems, remains a mystery. are impossible to figure out, in chess as in life, ensures that though chess may be of That this was an advantage for humans two minds, there’s still mystery and excitewas evident, even in 1997. “[Kasparov] has ment and human beauty to be found. such intuition, such feel for the nuances and subtleties that lie in the very structure In inferiority lies opportunity. What has of any position,” wrote American colum- been seen for some time as a game of leftnist, Charles Krauthammer, after Kasparbrain calculation may have a renaissance as ov’s rematch against Deep Blue in 1997, a game of right-brain poetry. “that he can instinctively follow the few lines that are profitable and discard the billions of combinations that Deep Blue must look at.” In 1996, this was why Kasparov
That’s the Motto
e’ve all heard the numerous motivational quotes intended to inspire us; the “Keep Calms,” and the “Carry Ons”; the mottos and mantras aimed at keeping us striving for more. But why do these exist? And why do certain specific quotes or proverbs strike stronger chords with us than others?
Ryerson students share the advice that keeps them going By: Emily Betteridge Illustration by Vanessa Gentile be honest with ourselves and with others about who we really are.” – Marc Reardon, fifth-year, media production
“Don’t worry about the things you can’t change. This allows me to put things in perspective and logically reflect on whether what I’m worrying about and the energy I spend thinking about it will have any The easiest answer? Life is complicated, and these proverbs can help impact on the outcome.” – Brooke Eibbitt, fourth-year, criminology to simplify our lives. As Kelly McShane, associate psychology professor at Ryerson explains, “Advice can organize you, let you know what “Never have regrets because at one point everything you did was exare the things you can look out for — but it is kind of predicated on actly what you wanted. I used to be so hard on myself about my own you having a goal.” So ultimately, if there is a goal in place, advice can past actions; you can get into a real spiral of self-hate and low confihelp facilitate the process. dence that way. I’ve learned you can’t expect more from yourself than your best at the time with what’s available to you. So as long as you do She also emphasizes the importance of knowing yourself and the va- your best in every moment, you need never have any regrets.” – Emily rieties of advice that you gravitate toward. “Often times, I look to get Skublics, third-year, creative industries advice from people who I think are fairly similar to me … but even if they have had the same issue, that doesn’t necessarily mean that “Shine on, you crazy diamond. Is that even a mantra? I feel like I took how they would respond is within the typical range of how I would that from an Instagram caption. Either way, I adore it. It motivates me respond, because maybe they are not as similar to me as I thought they to be the best I can be, but still be who I am. You don’t have to fit into were.” a perfect image to be able to influence those around you, and those who appreciate your craziness will stick around to see you shine.” – We asked some Ryerson students to reveal the words of wisdom they Erica Naccarato, fourth-year, psychology choose to follow: McShane says, “It’s great to have a whole strategic plan for your life, “Don’t take yourself too seriously. Being worried about how others but you can’t necessarily conjure that up very quickly. So if you think perceive you, taking the words people say personally, and stressing of life advice as a mnemonic — and we know that in psychology, about events out of your control are all byproducts of taking ourselves shorthands can be quite effective for people and memory and things too seriously. When you take a step back in each of these situations, like that — a couple of words or a quote that can represent the whole take a deep breath and laugh at yourself a little, it makes it much easier detail can be quite effective for people.” She finishes, “I think more to press forward and let go of negativity.” – Emily Nicholishen, fifth- than anything, [a motto] can remind you of what your priorities are, year, biology and it can remind you of what goals you are working towards.” “A bad attitude is like a flat tire. If you don’t change it, you will never go anywhere. A person’s attitude can have a big impact on how they go about performing tasks and how they conduct themselves in everyday life.” – Anthony Cicchi, third-year, urban and regional planning
The priorities that you have, lead to the goals that you set for yourself, that lead you to finding a piece of advice to follow. There’s a reason for all the quotes that you hear. They come from individuals who have determined their priorities and set their goals, and their quoted wisdom comes from their choice to believe in something bigger than “Be real. Now more than ever we live in a world where our perception themselves, to find inspiration and passion, and follow it with ripe of ‘reality’ can be easily skewed and altered. I think it’s important to determination.
By Jaclyn Tansil Illustration By Seta Manukyan
What happens when the cost of beauty is more than retail?
acialized people are not represented equally in the fashion industry — and that extends to the beauty industry as well. My skin tone is quite fair, so I still have a number of options to turn to. However, that’s not the case for people with darker complexions. While some higher-end brands offer a wider array of shades, there’s a huge gap in affordable options between those with fairer skin and those with a darker complexion.
Sunday Aken, 19
During high school, Aken liked to experiment with makeup, but that interest quickly disappeared when she realized how difficult it was to find foundation suitable for her skintone. At a makeover event at Shoppers Drug Mart, the makeup artist struggled to find a foundation that matched her tone from the available products. Discouraged, Aken has mostly given up trying to find an adequate foundation, realizing drugstores don’t carry a match for her To explore the gap, I went to about 15 different beauty counters and higher-end brands are far too expensive. that offer both high-end and drugstore beauty brands. In my own, brief search, I discovered that about 25 to 33 per cent of foundation shades available could even be considered for darker skin These stories could literally be from anyone who has a darker tones. I asked three Ryerson students their personal experiences complexion. What this teaches all of us, especially little girls, is when trying to find makeup that matched their complexion. that fairer skin tones are still seen as the ideal of beauty in our society. The consequence that we face as students because of this Rosemond Quartey, 23 lack of representation is causing the continuation of racial biases Foundation Brand: Lancôme and discrimination. Shades: 460 Suede W in foundation, Matte Sable IV in powder makeup. Quartey was in college when she bought makeup for first time to wear on camera for a journalism class. She went to The Bay and was directed to the Fashion Fair kiosk, which is a beauty brand for people of colour. The kiosk’s designated salesperson was, unfortunately, already gone for the day, so someone from a different brand came over to help her. Or so she thought. Quartey says that after three failed attempts trying to match a shade to her skintone, the salesperson became very impatient with her. By the fourth attempt, she was told that it was the closest match she was going to get. After half an hour, Quartey felt pressured to buy it, and so she did. Having no previous knowledge or experience with makeup, she trusted the salesperson’s guidance. The next day at school, she applied the makeup and went on camera. But, later, while watching the playback she was shocked by how horribly wrong the shade looked on her. Upset, Quartey threw the makeup away and didn’t buy any again until a year later. She returned to The Bay, but at a different location, and tried a different brand. There, Quartey waited for a black salesperson, who spent more than 20 minutes working with her, making her feel comfortable. Eventually, she was pointed to the brand she uses now, and goes back to the same woman for all her makeup needs. Shantia Cross, 19 Foundation Brand: L’Oréal Shades: True Match N8 Cappuccino by L’Oréal As an aspiring dancer, makeup is an important aspect of Cross’ life, enhancing her face when she’s performing on stage. With bigger lashes, brows, and a red lip, facial expressions become more prominent. Cross was shopping at The Bay with her mom in Oshawa, Ont., and met a salesperson at one of the kiosks. Cross describes her skintone as a bit lighter than Lupita Nyong’o’s, while her mother’s is even lighter. At the counter, however, she was told her skin was too dark for Nyong’o’s shade, while it would suit her mom’s skin because it had more of a “glow.” The salesperson then completely disregarded Cross, refusing to discuss the product she was interested, and instead focused on selling it to her mother.
Homegrown Mixtape Victoria Shariati reviews four student musicians and bands you should listen to By Victoria Shariati Photographs courtesy of the artist
SYDNEY MCINNIS According to her SoundCloud, Sydney McInnis hails from the “beautiful north shore of Lake Superior.” I’ve never had the chance to visit, but I imagine it’s as serene and ethereal as McInnis’ music. The second-year Ryerson journalism student produces music that is soft yet powerful and is often accompanied by a sleepy guitar sound. However, it is McInnis’ voice that serves as the crown jewel of her songs, powering through acoustic ballads and folksy covers. Her song “Ambiguity Forever” will have you missing an ex you never had. Listen to: “Vicariously”
KRUPA, aka Chester Krupa, is a Toronto producer and sound engineer. Smooth and fluid, KRUPA’s music is reminiscent of Flume, but with an urban twist. The second-year Ryerson new media student started making music last year and has been building his audience with the help of YouTuber Casey Neistat. While KRUPA hasn’t performed at any venues yet, one of his songs can be heard in a video about New York City commutes that was featured on Fox 5 News. KRUPA’s music is what you want to listen to during a late night cruise around the city. Stuck with two more months of winter? KRUPA will provide the soundtrack for your summer daydreams. Listen to: “Intimate”
SAM CASH & THE ROMANTIC DOGS There’s something undeniably Bruce Springsteen about Sam Cash & The Romantic Dogs. The four-piece rock ‘n’ roll band is made up of Aaron Comeau, Matthew Bailey, Kyle Sullivan, and Sam Cash, who is a Ryerson arts and contemporary studies graduate. Their music is upbeat with a hint of heartbreak, tied together with plaid shirts and foot-tapping guitar licks. On March 25, the band is releasing an album called “Tongue-in-Cheek-Vows.” The record contains 11 songs, my personal favourite being the hazy and sentimental “Act Like We’re In Love.” The boys will soon embark on a tour across Canada, stopping in Toronto on April 2 at The Rivoli. Listen to: “Fall Together”
In 2013, Pet Sun stepped into the Toronto music scene looking like they just stepped out of Dazed & Confused. Stephane Senecal-Tremblay, Parth Jain, Nic Arbour, and Ryerson journalism alumnus Sam Rashid will happily share that the tale of Pet Sun started as all great ones do: the group was drinking in a basement one night when they decided to form a band. The Hamilton band is garage-rock in its purest form. Pet Sun’s music ranges from punk rock to psychedelic, complete with guitar solos straight out of the ‘70s. The band possesses an undeniable Pink Floydian aura, while their music videos are guaranteed to make you feel like you’ve been hallucinating. Their debut LP will be available March 11, 2016. Listen to: Shade Driver”
By Tina Hafizy Illustration By Sara Sarhangpour
A woman in a beige niqab with the full dress to match popping a zit for her husband sitting next to her on the subway. He glances at me apprehensively, knowing she is doing something to him that no young woman should have to double take at on the train. But she persists, and he is posed like a perched gargoyle, eyes pinching as she squeezes. After it’s done and I shed my tear for having been a victim of the exposé, he rubs the track of flesh on her brow, presses his thumb between her eyes, like a bindi. Honeymooners, they are linked like liquids, unaware of their own osmosis. My disgust turns to delectation; he kisses her cheeks in secretive snips, she smiles and darts to avoid attention. They rub hands, her arm holding his inner thigh like a butcher presses Grade-A steak, they unite foreheads, softly. He pulls out his white Samsung phone and rubs it down along her face, from forehead to chin. Her eyes are closed, drinking the texture in, following the road map he illustrates with personal pleasure. A gesture of something, some feeling more private and luminous than I could know. A modern romance? I couldn’t see it any other way. Too soon, I see her clean white Reebok sandals slowly pace out, each step thought out— perhaps she is pregnant. Her husband looks back as the subway rings its three-tone swan song to the station before doors close and stares at the blue priority seats they were just on, as if they could flip up at any moment into the wall. Or maybe he’s just drinking in the last moments spent on the makeshift loveseat he just spilled his facial juices on. I wonder if he worries that his memories, like those seats, could turn and flip up one day to make space for more. How would he take it if they did?
remember when we almost drowned in the street the night, no careful subterfuge, only blindness the sky a cascade of salt and us, mer-people, swimming and divingâ€“ flying reallyâ€“ through stop signs past dangerous intersections an arm of rain wrenched my current hand from yours and I listened to the echo of your voice calling me back, nothing but bubbles under waterlogged ears but close bubbles, following bubbles, nonetheless I squeezed my eyes shut against my peripheral as we sailed, coasted, by the house you grew up in your mother always hated me curtains shift in the steady glow from the window and I blow air through my nose in contempt shin-deep in seaweed you sloshed toward me, bare fins brushing slimy bangs from gills with a steady, webbed palm voices rough with grit, we stared, scaly, breathless
Sea By Kristina Pantalone
Illustration by Sumi Siddiqa
I lay still long enough for sleep to take me to you. I dream we’re on a boat in Venice, speeding down the canal so fast the banks are blurred. You crouch by the humming motor, holding your brush. There are hundreds of low bridges that come up over us as fast as a blink. I don’t see “Keep playing please.” You do, plucking away at your guitar, backlit by the sum- them because I’m facing you. You say, “Duck!” and I do. mer sun rising outside your window. The blinds slice the light, projecting pinstripes on your unmade bed where Lately I’ve been sleeping more and more to see you withyou sit, tangled in the tousled sheets, in boxers and socks. out having to lie about it. I say, “for a nap,” out loud and If I were behind you, I’d see the sun stripes on your bare hear your name in my head. My dreams of you whet my back, the shadows against your skin like cold prison bars. insatiable appetite for your body. And, in them, you never grip too hard. A warning. But my chin is on the edge of the bed, the rest of me on When I wake up, Jake has scooped me close against him the floor beside. I’ve got goose bumps and the nerve to in bed. Since we moved in together I’ve slept through crawl up near you and kiss you behind your ear so gentle dinner at least three times a week. At first he’d try to wake me up, a few months in he’d kiss me crazily until I you quiver. I don’t see the bars on your back. had to get out of bed to make him stop, and we’d share We’re under each other in turns. a bottle of wine. Now, he comes home from work, eats Home, alone on my bedroom floor, I’m immobile in a a can of chickpeas, and watches the news on full volhaze of guilt. I press my face to the turquoise carpet so ume. Then he comes into the bedroom, makes sure I’m hard the fibres bloom between my eyelashes, trying to in bed, and holds me until he falls asleep. It’s the only push you out of my head. Seeing a discarded sticky note way he knows how to love me. To him I’m alive but nevunder the bed, I reach for it to read what’s written: er awake, just a breathing, unconscious body. Good artists exist simply in what they make, and conse- I slip out from under his arm and I’m out the door. quently are perfectly uninteresting in what they are. Oscar Wilde. I crumple it and shove it in the pocket of In from the cold, the warm light of your house invites me in. You’ve got one wrist down the sleeve of your coat like my jeans. You’re a painter, and you make me keep secrets. I wonder you’re leaving. The other hand rests on the old, wooden if that makes you an artist or uninteresting. According to banister that leads to the basement, to bed. Wilde, if you’re one, you’re the other, too. You see my eyes wander down the stairs. By Stephanie Philp Illustration by Seta Manukyan
“Oh,” you say. “I thought we were going out.” Last night I sent you a text saying I was afraid to be alone with you. You said let’s talk about it, come over. So tonight you’re being good, playing it up, tricking me. You don’t want to leave. “No, it’s all right,” I lie. “We can stay.” Your coat slips off and you hang it up. “You wanna drink?” I take my coat off too, nod, then remove my shoes. Just coming inside strips me a little, gets you closer to my skin. There are spice jars on the kitchen counter, and I play with the arrangement of the oregano and cinnamon while you rifle through the liquor cabinet. When the drinks are ready, you lead me over to your record player. You tell me to pick one, looping your arms under mine and pressing your chest firm against my back. I say, “You pick.” And you do, so close against me I feel you in my marrow. It makes me sick, but I don’t push away. I let you soak me up. When you take hold of my wrists and twist them behind me I pretend I asked you to. Pressed into the wall, I close my eyes so I don’t have to look at my reflection in yours. You carry me upstairs and, face-down in your pillow, I draw your smell in breath by breath. I let you have me, let you punish my body for being anything but yours. When you’ve had enough you flip me over and hit me, hard. You say, “If you’re scared then stay away,” and then you get dressed. I leave in a hurry, my socks forgotten in your sheets. I feel for the sticky note in the pocket of my jeans, but it’s gone, too. In the morning Jake shakes me lightly. “You hungry, Chip?” I’m not. Jake starts cooking when I don’t answer. He puts some music on, and I start to hum — it’s the same song we listened to last night. I feel myself drifting to the place in my head where it’s OK to want to be with you, where it feels good to know you have me, that I’m yours. It doesn’t matter that no one knows; it doesn’t matter that it hurts. I convince myself it’s good. I think you want me more than you hurt me. I think your grip on me keeps you grounded, and I like being your rock. Jake puts a plate in front of me. I don’t remember getting up. I can’t even look at him. “Eat up!” he coos. But I can’t. I pull my shirt sleeves over my raw wrists. It’s yours. It still smells like you. I trace the grain of wood on the kitchen table while Jake tells me about yesterday at work. I hear bits of it, “Chip, believe me … didn’t come in today … coffee on a client....” But my focus on the wood grain is intense, and I block him out completely. I start shaking — I don’t want to, but I do. I try to breathe, slowly, and to imagine myself as part of the wood, inside the table, something still and calm. Jake is staring, his eyes bulging out like a goldfish’s. My fingers have left the table and my nails are on my wrists. I’m humming louder, burrowing into my soft skin, trying to scrape off every inch you’ve touched. Jake has seen me drift, but never
said the word “sick” out loud. He grabs me like you did last night, but he isn’t harsh. He carries me outside and straps me into the backseat of his car. “You’re gunna be OK, Chip,” he says, kissing me on the forehead. “We’re going to make sure you’re OK.” Paramedics in the ER try to strap a barf box to a drunken man’s chin, but the guy thrashes and jerks and ends up wearing the thing as a hat. Jake stifles a laugh and looks at me. The skin on my face is too taught to smile. It’s salty too, from tears, and maybe I’m sweating, but Jake lets me lean on him anyway. The nurse calls me over to a cell-like room, crayon markings on the blank cement. Jake isn’t allowed to come this far. A woman opens the door and starts asking questions without listening to me. Without checking my pulse or looking me in the eye she says, “What’s wrong?” again and again. “Pain” I say to her. “I’m,” heaving like I’m going to throw up, but I’m empty. “I’m in so much pain.” “What’s wrong?” “I can’t explain.” “Try.” She sounds bored. “I can’t anymore. I don’t want to try.” I rock with my knees pulled up to my chest. There are two drops of blood from my wrists on my white canvas shoes. “It hurts.” I’m sobbing deep, sorrowful moans. I’ve become a wild animal, and I want a cage. A cage so I can be controlled, so I have something to point my finger at when I die. “Pardon?” I don’t “want to die.” “Do you have a plan?” she asks, not looking up from her clipboard. I “don’t” want to die. “You don’t have a plan?” Heave. “Do you?” Heave. “Do you go to school?” Nod. “There are counsellors there who can help you. You can go home now.” But I can’t because I need my cage. I need you, with bars on your back — need our surreptitious nights to engrave every word you mutter onto a bead and then string those beads together, wrapped around my soul, binding me to you. She leaves, so I do too, alone and heaving wet, deep, throaty coughs. Her words hang in the air, echoing planplanplanplanplan. Back in the waiting room, Jake catches me and sits me down, my knees too wobbly to stand. Tucking my hair behind my ear, he lets me fall against his chest and holds me until my shivers subside. I won’t go to you because I don’t want you to see me like this. I don’t want you to know I’m not strong enough to hold you up. When I wake up in the morning Jake’s arms are tight around my chest. He holds me in his sleep and, for once, I don’t leave.
Degrassi: Next Class By Taylor Moyle Illustration by Lisa Cumming
anadian drama series Degrassi deals with sex, drugs, and some good ol’, juicy high school drama. Cool, right? Degrassi: Next Class was picked up by Netflix after the Degrassi most of us grew up with, The Next Generation, was cancelled in its 14th season. I got through the 10-episode first season of the new iteration to find out what’s new in the halls of Degrassi High.
The quick answer: don’t watch this show if you’re over the age of 16. You definitely have better things to do with your life, like read a textbook for class, or watch a show more worthy your time. Sadly, I can’t even call this show a guilty pleasure because instead of laughing at it, like I did during the first few episodes, watching it felt like a boring chore. The 10 episodes each have their own themes and can stand on their own, but each episode is also connected by an overarching narrative. The cast is too big for its own good, making it hard to recall names. I had to take notes on each character in order to even attempt to remember them, for example, black-hair guy was Tristan, Glasses was Maya, and the angry gamer guy was Henry … I think? Next Class follows the lives of characters that, for the most part, are all kind of lousy teenagers, but what else is new? They don’t know what consent or feminism is, but at least the show tries to teach them these things. Maya is really the only main character worth rooting for. The rest are bad people who cheat on each other, embarrass one another, or are just plain mean. The show also deals with other tough life experiences, like not having a big enough butt, faking a butt pic, posting it on social media, then stuffing your butt with tissue to make it look bigger. This is an actual thing that happens. Maybe the show is trying to address a larger issue, like insecurities with body image, but it lacks depth, choosing to go no further than photos of butts. The acting ranges from terrible to OK, apart from a few cringe-worthy crying scenes. The show looks fine and the themes it deals with are admirable. It’s an educational show for teenagers, showcasing consent, feminism, sexism, drug abuse, sexually transmitted infections, Islamophobia, and other things most people should understand before they turn 18. Being gay is, for the most part, a very normal thing in the show. It’s dealt the exact same way as other relationships on the show. I respect what the show is trying to do, but there is an element that feels inauthentic — mostly with attempts to modernize the show. Mentions of “Hasteygram,” the show’s version of Instagram, and other social media knock offs are mentioned almost too frequently to the point where it seems forced. One character also says the line “hashtag blessed,” so yeah, that’s a thing.
Next Class is more Degrassi. It’s kind of edgy, but tries too hard. If you’re reading this, it’s most likely not for you. And it doesn’t have to be — but that doesn’t mean you should spend your time watching it.
The Girl On the Train The Girl On the Train shocks, but fails to make lasting impression By Karoun Chahinian Illustration by Lisa Cumming There’s a girl; she’s on a train; and a lot of murderous, deceitful, and abusive events take place in between points A and B. Paula Hawkins takes readers on a suspenseful, page-flipping journey in her popular thriller, The Girl On The Train. Rachel Watson’s marriage dissolves after she finds a series of emails revealing that her husband, Tom, has been unfaithful. With Tom now living with his mistress and their baby, she is forced out of the quaint house of her dreams by the railroad. When she eventually loses her job because of her struggle with alcoholism, Rachel gets into the habit of riding the train to London everyday. With no destination in mind, she spends her days drinking, gazing out the window at the houses on her old street. One particular house and one particular couple, who she mentally refers to as Jess and Jason, capture Rachel’s attention. After she sees “Jess” kissing another man, Rachel is stunned, and soon finds out that the woman — who is actually named Megan — has gone missing. While the novel starts simply, Hawkins teases readers through alternating points of view, revealing more and more pieces to the puzzle as characters and plotlines begin to overlap. Kind of like Gone Girl, but not. Hawkins’ writing style is quite poetic. The imagery of the intersecting train tracks reinforces the interconnecting narratives of each character, which slowly become clear as the mystery progresses. And having Rachel spend most of her time on the train, observing others, emphasizes how there is some form of a relationship between everyone. The author also expertly crafts a suspenseful tone through the use of choppy, fragmented sentences. The disjointed quality is almost unsettling, forcing readers to keep reading and fill in the blanks for themselves. While the writing seems staccato-like at some points, Hawkins contrasts it with the use of detailed imagery, incorporating multiple senses — like sight, smell, and touch — to distract from plotholes and bringing incomplete stories to life. The writing is beautiful at times, but the novel still lacks emotional depth. It does a great job at keeping readers interested through teasers and cliffhangers that compel them to turn the page, but that isn’t always enough. The Girl On the Train is not a bad novel, and maybe it won’t make for a bad movie in October 2016, but the “mysterious missing character” plot line has been kind of overdone over the past few years. Hawkins should have approached the story with a fresher perspective in order to make it stand out more in the array of subway-advertised popular fiction.
Heartbreak, In your Words I never thought that after a three year relationship, I would get ghosted. A perfect relationship ended just like that. I was confused and angry. I tried to make things work but it just kept getting away from me. The first six months were the hardest. I was always thinking about her, hoping that she would come back. I never stopped loving her, but why try so hard when it isn’t going anywhere? I realized it was up to myself to make the situation better. Let it go. Holding on was just too difficult. Don’t change who you are. There is someone out there mature enough to be with you, but you have to be patient. Go out and do the things you love, even if it’s by yourself.
Saying, “I love you,” only to hear static on the other line is a terrifying silence. My body became home to that type of silence for many months. At first it haunted me, but then it freed me. It’s that type of silence that forces you to dig deep inside yourself and ask the questions you’ve been hiding the answers to. Sometimes you need that sort of thing even if it’s the last thing you want. I know I did. I feel like heartbreak was one of the best things that’s ever happened to me. True, I fell down, but in the process I stumbled across a piece of who I was, a piece I’ve since grown to love. I think it’s pretty ironic that losing my first love led me to experience real self-love for the first time. I’ll always love her for that.
Through the glare of my computer screen, you told me it was over. I remember retreating to my car and screaming. For a long while after, my voice grew quiet. I felt so small, sad, and insignificant. I still do. Losing my first love, and my best friend. The one who bore witness to my character in its entirety. I gave everything in me, and a little more. I know that I wasn’t enough for you. My body tightens at the very mention of you, and I still can’t say your name. But thank you. For everything in you that you gave, and for allowing me to deliberately love. I am a better person for it, and that will never leave me.