December 7, 2015

Page 1

vol. cXXXvi, no. 11

T he UniversiTy


ToronTo’s sTUdenT newspaper since 1880



Alcohol on campus: the sobering truth


U of T lacks comprehensive

Some creative writing on the eve of exam season from The Varsity staff on the topics of stress, fear, and redemption PG 12

policy on alcohol in residences JACK O. DENTON


pricing for insurance remains competitive,” Coleman told The Varsity, adding, “one of the best things they offer is their open and accountable culture of reporting, meaning that the UTSU board would always be more aware of how the health and dental plans were performing, instead of being in the dark.” The UTSU’s board was hitherto uninformed about the deficits. Previously, the UTSU relied on Morneau Shepell for brokerage; their agreement with Morneau Shepell was terminated last year and the union began to deal directly with the insurance provider, Green Shield. Green Shield is a not-for-profit company that provides health and dental coverage to the UTSU members. The company works with the National Student Health Network, one of the services offered by the Canadian Federation of Students (CFS). $100,000, or one per cent of the premiers paid by stu-

dents, goes to CFS-Services. This is in addition to the membership fees that the CFS already collects from the UTSU. Coleman also told The Varsity that StudentCare also offers other services to students, such as “[allowing] students to get pharmacy discounts at Shopper’s Drug Mart (as opposed to the CFS service of discounts at independent pharmacies, which are harder for students to find).” Coleman also pointed to the fact that StudentCare’s communication team “would allow us to provide flyers on health plan coverage in multiple languages, a huge improvement for international students who may have to explain coverage to their parents,” while the CFS only provides material in French and English. As of press time, the CFS did not respond to a request for comment.

For many students, the consumption of alcohol is a central component of recreation and relaxation. There is a distinct culture tied to university drinking — the red solo cup and drinking games like beer pong are intimately linked to generic images of college life. Alcohol culture, however, manifests at different college residences in a variety of ways. Despite having an extensive alcohol policy related to the promotion and sale of alcohol at university sanctioned events, the University of Toronto has no overarching policy on the possession and consumption of alcohol in residence buildings. New College, the second-largest college on the St. George Campus, and home to approximately 880 resident undergraduates, has strict policies on alcohol. The college lists misuse of alcohol as a major offence, alongside acts such as “inappropriate disposal of human bodily waste” and “causing damage to or stealing residence property.” The residence agreement to which all New College residents must consent, lists underage drinking, serving alcohol to underage students possession of funnels or other drinking paraphernalia, and drinking games, as behaviours that are prohibited. New College also cracks down on party culture, which is not exclusive to alcohol. It is considered a minor offence to have a party, defined as: “any combination of two of the following three criteria: i) five or more individuals in one room ii) the presence of alcohol iii) significant noise.” New College takes the strictest stance on alcohol of all the colleges, stifling not only recreational alcohol consumption, but also that of socialization in residence as a whole. The Residence Life Office at New College did not respond to The Varsity’s request for comment. Trinity College’s drinking culture stands in stark contrast to that of New College. The college can apply for a permit that allows them to hold events serving alcohol in a cordoned-off area. Upon acceptance to Trinity, all first-year students wishing to go to events at which alcohol is served are required to attend an alcohol education seminar, held during Orientation Week.

Continued on PG 3

Continued on PG 7

Now and then

Cancer genes identified



UTSU loses $1.6 million on health and dental plan Board uninformed about deficit for years TOM YUN


The University of Toronto Students’ Union (UTSU) has lost more than $1.6 million on its health and dental plan over the course of six years, according to an investigation by StudentCare. StudentCare is an insurance broker that focuses exclusively on student health plans. “They’ve been engaged by the executive to essentially get a handle on what’s going on with our student plan,” said UTSU president Ben Coleman during a November 28 UTSU Board of Directors’ meeting. Lev Bukhman, CEO of StudentCare, and Sophia Haque, director of partnerships & development, were also present for the meeting, at which they delivered a presentation on their findings. “StudentCare will be working with the UTSU as a broker, helping to ensure that

7 december 2015

INSIDE Minding what matters: PART III In the final instalment of our series on mental health on campus, we look at the importance of self-care Editorial PG 11

Two writers recall the story of Rochdale College, one of the St. George campus’ darker histories Arts & Culture PG 14

Moffat Lab uses CRISPR tech to “turn off” cancer genes Science PG 18

Treading water

Top Blues Women’s water polo waits for recognition Sports PG 21



M O N DAY 7 D E C E M B E R 2 015

Issue 11 Vol. CXXXVI

21 SUSSEX AVENUE, SUITE 306 TORONTO ON M5S 1J6 (416) 946-7600

PHOTO OF THE WEEK thevarsitynewspaper @TheVarsity the.varsity thevarsitynewspaper

MASTHEAD Alec Wilson Editor-in-Chief

James Flynn Managing Online Editor

Sarah Niedoba Managing Editor

Margaux Parker Creative Director

Sean Smith Senior Copy Editor

Iris Robin News Editor

Victoria Wicks Comment Editor

Alex McKeen Features Editor

Jacob Lorinc Arts and Culture Editor

Nadezhda Woinowsky-Krieger Science Editor Emma Kikulis Sports Editor

Lisa Wong Design Editor

Mallika Makkar Photo Editor

Julien Balbontin Illustrations Editor

Kaleidoscope view of Con Hall. MALLIKA MAKKAR/THE VARSITY

Shaq Hosein Video Editor


Damian Klambauer Web Developer

Mubashir Baweja Associate Design Editor

Teodora Pasca Associate Comment Editor

Nathan Chan Associate Photo Editor

Jaren Kerr Associate Features Editor

Elham Numan and Diana Pham Associate Illustration Editors

Corey Van Den Hoogenbend Associate A&C Editor

Salvatore Basilone Associate Video Editor

Shahin Imtiaz Associate Science Editor

Sonali Gill and Ariel Gomes Associate Senior Copy Editor

Vacant Associate Sports Editor





Lead Fact Checkers Ujwal Ganguly, Corinne Przybyslawski Copy Editors Sophia Savva, Alexandra Grieve, Jacob Lorinc, Mercedes Killeen, Alex McKeen, Jaren Kerr, Isabela Borges, Ariel Gomes, Ujwal Ganguly, Alex Howie, Emma Kikulis, Adit Daga, and Mariya-Kvitlana Tsap

contemplating self-harm of any kind, don’t brush it

need one, you probably need one.

off. You shouldn’t have to experience these thoughts;

Pace yourself. If you don’t schedule down time, even

you are worth more than those thoughts; you deserve

during the crunchiest of crunches, you risk burning

a better university experience than one in which you

out early.

et i a day or a

are plagued by these thoughts, during exam season

20-minute coffee break with a friend, don’t forget to

or not. If you’re thinking about hurting yourself, even

en if it’s ust one hour of

Eat. Forgetting to eat because of studying will

dons, doctors, administrators, and professors are

concentration. Getting up to grab some food is

literally being paid to ensure that your grades re ect

Cherlene Tay Business Associate

The Varsity is the University of Toronto's largest student newspaper, publishing since 1880. The Varsity has a circulation of 20,000, and is published by Varsity Publications Inc. It is printed by Master Web Inc. on recycled newsprint stock. Content © 2015 by The Varsity. All rights reserved. Any editorial inquiries and/or letters should be directed to the sections associated with them; emails listed above. The Varsity reserves the right to edit all submissions. Inquiries regarding ad sales can be made to ads@ ISSN: 0042-2789


your abilities as best they can. 8.

Prioritize. This can sometimes mean choosing a two

you work afterwards.

per cent late penalty and a good night’s sleep, over

Dispel intrusive thoughts. If your brain is trying to

an all-nighter.

remind you of something important, write it down in a


You can always access resources. If you need help,

make you tired and irritable, which will affect your

crunches, and you’ll be surprised how much better

Designers Kitty Liu, Cheston Sin, and Laura Wang

Michelle Monteiro Advertising Executive

hypothetically, reach out to a trusted source for help. 7.

a perfect amount of time for a break in between


Keep an eye out for harmful thought patterns. If you’re

Extensions can always be granted. If you think you

put the books down as often as you can spare.

Devika Desai, Emily Johnpulle and Tom Yun Associate News Editors

Parsa Jebely Business Manager

Know your rights. Doctor’s notes exist for a reason.


Prioritizing can also mean putting your social concerns

place that you’ll remember and deal with it later. If your

aside. You do not have to spend four hours listening

brain is trying to make you feel anxious about the fact

to your friend complain about her girlfriend problems

that you didn’t wash your hair this morning, remove

at this exact moment. Explain to her gently that your

the thought from your mind and deal with it never. In

energy is focused elsewhere at the moment. If she’s a

the words of Rory Gilmore, “Who cares if I’m pretty if

good friend, she’ll understand. You can eat ice cream

I fail my finals ”

and complain about your love lives (or lack thereof)

Remember that your physical health can and will affect

after your BIO120 exam is over.

your mental health. Not sleeping is no way to live, and

10. You are worth more than your grades. You are a person,

having to write exams is not a good enough reason to

not a number. No matter what happens, you’re going

put up with something that you normally wouldn’t.

to be okay.

M O N DAY 7 D E C E M B E R 2 015



UTSU’s health and dental plan accrues hefty deficit o er si years CONTINUED FROM COVER

STUDENTCARE’S ANALYSIS The agreement that the UTSU has in place with Green Shield is a refund accounting system, also known as retention accounting. This means that if the premiums paid by students are greater than administrative costs and the claims paid by Green Shield, then the surplus is transferred to the UTSU’s reserve funds at the end of the year. If the costs and the claims are greater than the premiums paid by students, the UTSU is then responsible for paying the deficit to Green Shield. “[On] the risk spectrum, [retention accounting is] a significant dial forward because in a retention accounting plan, the UTSU as the plan sponsor, as the policy holder, as the contract holder, is actually ultimately responsible for the financial performance for the plan,” said Bukhman during his presentation to the UTSU board of directors. In 2010, the UTSU had approximately $1.2 million in its reserve funds, and according to Bukhman, these funds have been exhausted. In five of the past six years, the plan has caused the union to run a deficit, incurring losses totaling more than $1.6 million. The UTSU still owes $154,000 to Green Shield. Bukhman attributes this to a rising number of claims on the plan. Dental claims, in particular, have increased by 60 per cent over the past five years. He noted that a rate of utilization is not inherently a bad thing, and the problem lay in the refund accounting system that has been put in place. “We want to draw a very clear distinction between encouraging students’ use of the plan and having a high level of utilization is different from having a financial risk model that the UTSU chooses to put in place to manage that claim experience,” explained Bukhman. In order to pay off the debt owed to Green Shield and accommodate the rising number of claims, premiums have increased by 31 per cent over the past five years, from $216 to over $282. “[The UTSU has] had to increase premiums substantially to try to make up for that loss,” Bukhman told The Varsity, “b ut despite the increases, they still incurred more losses.” Furthermore, Bukhman said that he did not see any evidence of a competitive bidding process for quotes on premiums or evidence that the UTSU considered other underwriting methods over the past 10 years. According to Bukhman, a request for quote (RFQ ) process is “a standard and a prudent practice to make sure that you have a cost competitive,

and [you’re] accountable to your membership in making sure you sort of have the best possible deal for them.” “As far as we can tell, the plan has been renewed every year with Green Shield, the insurance company, without an exploration — first of all, looking elsewhere for other possibilities — or exploration of alternative underwriting methods or packages.” GOING FORWARD Aside from the health and dental plan, the UTSU also offers accidental death & dismemberment (AD&D) insurance, as well as travel insurance, through Western Life. Bukhman explained that switching the AD&D and travel plan to StudentCare’s plan in January would save the UTSU around $20,000. “[It] isn’t earth-shattering but it’s better than having to pay that $20,000 for no extra reason,” said Haque. Bukhman, however, advocated against changing the health and dental plan in the middle of the year. “Tens of thousands of students use the plan all a time,” he said. “Changing insurance companies is operationally disruptive.” For the future, Bukhman told the board that the UTSU should consider a fully insured plan, under which the UTSU would only be responsible for paying the premiums and the insurance company would only be responsible for paying out claims. “It appears to be in our analysis that refund accounting has not been so far to date a phenomenal choice for the UTSU,” explained Bukhman, “and perhaps, you can look at the pros and cons of other models, particularly, fully insured, which would be a model that minimizes — in fact, has no liability — for the UTSU at all.” Bukhman also encouraged the UTSU to engage in an RFQ process. This, according to Bukhman, “ensures for students that all the homework has been done, all the diligence has been done to make sure they have the lowest cost plan and the best services.” Coleman confirmed that the UTSU would be transitioning to StudentCare’s AD&D and travel packages at the start of the next semester, and that the union will conduct an RFQ process over January and February. Bukhman stated that more analysis still needs to be done, especially regarding the claims data. Bukhman also suggested collecting feedback from students in order to “make an informed decision about what kind of a model, potentially what kind of insurance company you’re working with going forward.” With files from Ahmed-Zaki Hagar



UTSU board impeaches KPE director Office ceiclace

lilant a cei a

imceliciceant lntntceimnt

The UTSU’s AGM on October 7 is among the meetings that Manalo is accused of having missed. MALLIKA MAKKAR/THE VARSITY


The University of Toronto Students’ Union (UTSU) has impeached Ernest Manalo, the director for the Faculty of Kinesiology & Physical Education (KPE). The impeachment vote took place at a meeting of the UTSU’s Board of Directors on Saturday, November 28. The motion for Manalo’s impeachment was originally scheduled to be the fifth item on the agenda, but the board voted to move the motion up and address it first. According to the motion, moved by e ngineering director Carlos Fiel, Manalo has failed to attend a total of five board meetings since the start of the academic year, including the October 7 Annual General Meeting. The motion also alleges that Manalo has missed committee meetings, attendance of which is part of his role on the Professional Faculties Committee. Neither Fiel nor Manalo responded to The Varsity’s request for comment. The motion accused Manalo of failing to relay information from the UTSU and to inform his constituency or their student government, the Kinesiology and Physical Education Undergraduate Association, about his absences. The UTSU bylaws state that a director’s failure to attend three consecutive meetings or a total of four board meetings, including the Annual General Meeting, is equivalent to vacating their position. Members of Manalo’s constituency, according to the board package, were said to be “frustrated and uninformed” by the director’s absence at the meetings and the subsequent lack of involvement and representation. “The UTSU board has often been criticized in the past for not taking absences seriously, and [thinks] this strikes a different tone where the expectation for representatives are much higher,” said UTSU president Ben Coleman in an email to The Varsity. Abdulla Omari, UTSU director for UTM, requested that the board consider tabling the vote to the Board of Directors’s meeting in January to allow Manalo to assess his capacity to hold office before voting on impeachment. “We take representation seriously, but at the same time, as a board, we take fairness seriously,” Omari said. “One month’s time is enough to allow the individual to decide whether or not they can fill the capacity [and] to allow the board to evaluate whether or not

they are filling capacity and acting on the concerns. I don’t think it’s fair to impeach someone when they were told the concerns an hour ago and formally read the concerns four days ago [in] the board package.” However, Coleman remarked that he believed that this sentiment would have been “unlikely to lead to a different decision, as the information presented was already compelling.” The board rejected Omari’s motion to table the vote and, after an in-camera session that lasted half an hour, proceeded to a secret ballot. Several minutes later, UTSU speaker Brad Evoy announced the vacancy of the KPE director’s office. Manalo was absent from the room at the time. “This is not a time to rejoice or celebrated,” UTSU executive director Tka Pinnock said to the board shortly after the voting results had been announced. A second vote to destroy the ballots took place afterwards, and passed. This is not the first time this year that Manalo has been up for impeachment. A Board of Directors meeting held in September had the same motion on the agenda, after Manalo missed every summer meeting. Victoria University director Auni Ahsan moved the motion at the time. At the September 20 meeting, Manalo explained that he had scheduling conflicts due to working two full-time jobs. Having to undergo medical treatment and not having access to his UTSU email were among the other reasons he gave for non-performance. Ahsan later withdrew his motion. “It was very specific concern of not attending the summer meetings. The discussion was ‘were you showing up? Yes? No? Why?” Omari said, addressing differences between the most recent impeachment vote and that of September 20. “This discussion has been significantly different, going to the very core of representing the membership.” Manalo represented over 1,000 students. Last March, He campaigned for the KPE director’s office with the Change UofT slate. Although he lost to independent candidate Ryan Schwenger, his opponent was disqualified due to exceeding the campaign spending limit. Schwenger’s appeal was rejected and Manalo was announced the winner of the election. The UTSU is currently accepting applications on its website to fill the vaccancy. Disclosure: Abdulla Omari also serves on the Board of Directors for Varsity Publications Inc.



M O N DAY 7 D E C E M B E R 2 015


Student-to-faculty ratio consistently high at U of T Ontario universities report the worst ratios in Canada Applied Science & Engineering (4,919:214) 23:1 Architecture, Landscape & Design (601:18) 33:1 Arts & Science (23,862:663) 36:1 Dentistry (398:43) 9:1 Kinesiology & Physical Education (960:21) 46:1 Law (583:51) 11:1 Medicine (4,295:172) 25:1 Music (576:31) 19:1 Nursing (356:17) 21:1 OISE (1,077:102) 11:1 Pharmacy (1,017:30) 34:1



U of T



12,155 : 226 54:1

11,131 : 205 54:1

2013–2014 Full-time

Average total U of T 62,033 : 1,969 32:1

undergraduates : faculty ratio SOURCE: U of T FACTS & FIGURES



Ontario universities have the worst student-tofaculty ratios in Canada, and the University of Toronto is among them. U OF T BY THE NUMBERS According to the most recent comparative data on student-to-faculty ratios from 2012, the number of full-time students to full-time faculty members at U of T is 27.9:1—the second highest ratio among its peer universities in Canada, including University of British Columbia, University of Alberta, McGill University, and Dalhousie University. Fulltime faculty includes those in the tenured stream, non-tenured stream, and teaching

stream. The university also measures studentto-faculty ratios with ten publicly funded universities in the United States. Compared to its peers south of the border, U of T has the highest ratio of 35.6:1. However, the methodology used excludes medicine and counts a greater number of full-time students. When compared with the student-faculty ratio data that has been made available since 2004, U of T has consistently generated a higher ratio than the Canadian peer mean. Between 2004 and 2008, the Canadian peer mean has fluctuated between 21.3:1 and 22.6:1 while U of T remained between 26.5:1 and 27.4:1. “Given the stand for greater access to post-secondary [education],

U of T has expanded enrolment by 23,000 students in the last 12 years alone,” said Althea Blackburn-Evans, director of news & media relations at U of T. “Today, across our three campuses, we enroll 84,5000 students... because of our size, our studentto-faculty ratio will always be higher than that of other schools.” However, these ratios vary from division to division. Currently, the Faculty of Law has a ratio of 10:1, the second lowest ratio of any law school in North America and the lowest in Canada, while the Faculty of Applied Science & Engineering has a ratio of 19.2:1. The Faculty of Arts & Science has 25,848 undergraduate students and 944 faculty members.

ONTARIO BY THE NUMBERS Rabble reported that enrolment at Ontario universities has increased by 71 per cent in the past 14 years; however, the number of faculty has increased by 31 percent. Currently, Ontario’s student-to-faculty ratio is 29:1 while the average in Canada is 20:1. Members from the Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations found that in order to meet the growing need for professors, Ontario universities need to hire 8,500 new faculty positions by 2020; however, it would require heavy funding from the Ontario government — $173 million per year. It is unclear if Ontario will be able to meet this need when, compared to other Canadian provinces, it currently provides the lowest funding per student.

M O N DAY 7 D E C E M B E R 2 015




“Trust no one”

The Citizen Lab’s Ronald Deibert and the biggest machine ever built

Deibert is a member of a very exclusive club with access to the complete Canadian archive of the Snowden leaks. Regarding the responsibility that accompanies that access, Deibert distinguishes between two considerations, although he is quick to qualify that they “aren’t ranked.” He adds, “so you’re thinking of the public interest, first and foremost, so, what in here is critical for the public to know and needs to be in the public domain?” Deibert continues, “then, secondly... is there information in here, that if it were published, would put somebody’s life at risk, or do harm?” Upon further consideration, he concludes that “around protection of the source, Edward Snowden put out certain obligations to the journalists and that extends to the people who consult on it, how to treat the material and report on it.”



Spanning a series of glass-doored rooms in the spire of the Munk School of Global Affairs’ location at the former Dominion Meteorological Building, Ron Deibert’s Citizen Lab bears a tongue-in-cheek resemblance to images of Jeremy Bentham’s Panopticon. The irony is not lost on Deibert; as he is quick to remind us that the building is at least architecturally, if not practically, an observatory. As the culture wars rage against a backdrop of classified information leaks — brought to light courtesy of the Internet and insiders-turned-whistle-blowers — the work done by Deibert and his lab ranks among the most important currently conducted at the University of Toronto. THE HOTHOUSE The Citizen Lab, according to its website, is a “‘hothouse’ that combines political science, sociology, computer science, engineering, and graphic design.” This Swiss Army knife of a research group has tasked itself with the tall order of monitoring, analyzing, and ultimately, affecting how political power is exercised in cyber-space. The nature of the lab’s work is multifaceted and draws from a variety of resources. Their goal is to redefine “interdisciplinary” research, which as far as Deibert is concerned, is largely misappropriated as an educational buzzword. “I see what we’re doing as ‘field building’” Deibert suggests. “There is a problem, in my opinion, with the way that universities are structured around disciplinary silos, and you often hear a lot about interdisciplinary research, but usually that means little more than there is an office with a sociologist next

to a computer scientist. But here, there is truly interdisciplinary research going on; the way we approach the topics, the methods we employ, it’s all a mixture, it’s like alchemy,” he says. RISKY BUSINESS This kind of work does not come without risk; we need look no further than Edward Snowden’s forced relocation to Moscow, or the subsequent maltreatment of the journalists who abetted him, to see that. Deibert perceives the risks of the Citizen Lab’s work fitting into two categories; the first of which is what Deibert terms the “obvious physical risks that we face that have to do with the fact that we are pulling back thick drapes around agencies who would rather stay behind those curtains.” These investigations, says Deibert, are a particularly “dangerous thing when you’re dealing with some nasty countries.” The second category is legal liability. On that note, Deibert’s primary concern is focused on the companies that are the subject of the lab’s research. He sees Canada as being a particularly “plaintive friendly environment” for defamation and libel suits, which only reinforces the importance of making sure the work is as “rigorous, transparent, and peer reviewed as possible.” That looming threat of litigation was realized in the aftermath of the lab’s report on the breach of an Italian company called Hacking Team. Hacking Team first drew the Citizen Lab’s interest as a developer of “offensive security” technologies. Earlier this year, hackers breached the firm’s protective measures and released a trove of documents that confirmed suspicions about how the firm produced software and sold it “to several governments with repressive human rights records, such as

Ethiopia.” This software was being used to spy on journalists in, “Sudan, Saudi Arabia, Kazakhstan, and more,” Deibert explains. “All of [Hacking Team’s] corporate data was put on the public domain after the breach, and in the correspondences of the company executives they actually contracted a company to silence us through litigation. They actually say, ‘how do we shut the Citizen Lab down?’” SECURITY Much of the reporting the Citizen Lab does is on “nasty countries,” at least insofar as freedom of information is considered. Some of the most recent reports — “almost all of [which]” are available on the lab’s website — bear titles such as “Iraq Information Controls Update: Analyzing Internet Filtering and Mobile Apps,” “China’s Great Cannon,” and “The Blocking of Vimeo in Indonesia.” Deibert states that the Citizen Lab takes the safety of their researchers, many of whom are working abroad and in conflict areas, very seriously. “We have a whole protocol that we think through very carefully that deals with security in risky environments,” he says. In order to manage that risk, the lab contracts the services of Morgan Marquis-Boire, one of their fellows. Marquis-Boire, a former Google security researcher, hacker, and journalist, is the director of security at First Look Media and publisher of The Intercept, the post-Snowden online home of journalists Glenn Greenwald and Laura Poitras. Marquis-Boire’s added value is significant, considering that he was the one who “actually came up with the protocol of how to actually secure the [Snowden documents].” It is no surprise that Marquis-Boire found a place for himself at the Citizen Lab, or that he and Deibert became acquainted; after all,

EDUCATION Among the chief concerns of those who study the Internet is the relative lag in consumer awareness. Deibert points out that, “for most people, the beginning and end of their experience is their screen in front of them, when in fact it is just the tip of the iceberg, and really the interesting stuff, especially from a perspective of how power is exercised and how freedom and liberty are protected, happens beneath the surface in the kind of bowels of it all. There is a subterranean realm to the machine.” For those as involved and as knowledgeable as Deibert and his peers, opportunities to edify the public are everywhere. Aside from the mundane drudgery of digging up information on everything from South Korean mobile applications to wearable technology, Deibert sees the education of a train of undergraduates, post-doctoral fellows, and other researchers, as being “critical” to the work. Interestingly, Deibert and his peers sometimes find themselves at odds with the institution that houses and facilitates them. He famously refuses to use Blackboard in his teaching, favouring an embedded forum on the Citizen Lab’s website, a choice that follows a personal aversion to proprietary software. “I try to avoid it,” he says. Those criticisms extend to the sharing of private data, whether it belongs to students or faculty, in a variety of other veins. “I think it would be good for the University of Toronto to issue a transparency report. Only one other university in the world has done that. How often does law enforcement come here and ask for data on faculty or students?” Deibert seems conflicted about whether people should generally be optimistic about the Internet, or if a healthier cynicism than we currently exhibit is warranted. He explains: “the way I look at this machine is that we’ve created, this wonderful thing that can be terrific for lots of goals we have, you know, throughout history, goals that we’ve had as a species, this wonderful mechanism of information storage and exchange, but we haven’t thought through all the downsides to it and the unintended consequences to it are getting more and more serious, on multiple levels.” What really worries him is the observation that “most people in my conversations are completely oblivious to it and don’t really care.” When asked if he had anything in particular that he wanted to share, Deibert offered the following tidbit: “Trust no one.”



M O N DAY 7 D E C E M B E R 2 015


Students rally for pro-choice e

group holds first demonstration on campus



On a quiet Friday afternoon, drivers on St. George street honked in support of the prochoice view as they read a sign asking them to “honk for choice.” A pro-choice demonstration on December 4 garnered much attention from passers-by, including honks, cheers, and stares. Despite the chilly weather, participants showed their support for bodily autonomy by peacefully protesting against anti-choicers with self-made signs in addition to signs provided by Planned Parenthood. The demonstration began at noon with approximately nine participants, eventually growing to 15, with individuals coming and going as time passed. Some of the signs read “choice is ours,” “choice is yours,” “freedom is choice,” and “information not sensation.” Demonstrators also brought information on sexual education, the truth about abortion myths, where to get free condoms, and how to contact Planned Parenthood. Teodora Pasca, a second-year criminology and ethics, society and law student, and Emily Posteraro, a third-year biodiversity and conservation biology student, are co-founders of Students For Choice, organized the protest. “I personally noticed frequent pro-life protests on campus this year, and was surprised that there was no collective effort to counterprotest,” said Pasca. “I think it’s extremely important to speak up against anti-choice dialogue, given that many women under a variety of circumstances are still fighting for reproductive rights, including access to abortion services. We also wanted to express support and compassion for women who, having undergone difficult experiences, may have felt shamed or degraded walking by antichoice protests on campus,” she added. At around 2:00 pm, pro-life campaigners assembled a line along St. George street, holding large signs approximately three feet in

height. These signs were graphic and depicted a mutilated fetus within the womb, an aborted fetus in a gloved hand, and an ultrasound of a fetus at 10 weeks. Posteraro said that she felt that the pro-life demonstrators employed shock tactics when promoting their views on campus and held up a sign saying, “Dear Students For Life: SHAME on your SHOCK TACTICS.” Students For Life did not respond to The Varsity’s request for comment. The two groups eventually interacted. Although Pasca did not personally engage with the pro-life protesters, she said that she had spoken with them in the past. “[The] dialogue has for the most part been respectful,” she said. Pasca however, also said that the two sides may have irreconcilable differences. “I feel it is extremely difficult for two groups who feel so strongly on either side of this issue to really come to any sort of agreement.” Pasca explained that she was pleased with the demonstration and that it engaged students whom she had never met before. “[Individuals] were encouraged to participate in any way they wanted to or felt comfortable. As a result, quite a few students who I had never personally met showed up to help, which I was very grateful for,” she said. “When dealing with such a sensitive issue, I think it is important to make a statement of solidarity that comes directly from the community, which includes involving students of all genders and backgrounds, and encouraging dialogue and sharing if they feel safe doing so,” she stated. Pasca said that she would encourage any students who are pro-choice to come out to future demonstrations. “[This] is an extremely important issue that we can no longer keep quiet about,” she said. Disclosure: Teodora Pasca is an associate comment editor for The Varsity. With files from Iris Robin Students congregate for the pro-choice demonstration on St .George Street. NATHAN CHAN/THE VARSITY


Trinity College joins Lifeline Syria Challenge U of T community participates in Syrian Refugee Welcome Party, Scholars-at-Risk NATALIE BOYCHUK VARSITY CONTRIBUTOR

December 9 will mark the beginning of the Trinity College community’s efforts to respond to the Syrian refugee crisis. A meeting, aimed at increasing student involvement in the Lifeline Syria Challenge, will be held. Lifeline Syria, a non-profit organization in the Greater Toronto Area, recruits support teams to assist the 1,000 refugees who will arrive from Syria over the next two years, in line with Prime Minister Trudeau’s Liberal government’s election promise. The Lifeline Syria Challenge will involve the University of Toronto, Ryerson University, OCAD University, and York University in sponsoring 75 refugee families. Among the University of Toronto’s teams is Trinity College. Trinity’s staff and faculty will be involved in the financial and housing aspects of the resettlement process. They have made a call for

students to donate and to join support teams for the cause, regardless of Arabic-speaking ability. “[The] humanitarian crisis in Syria has emphasized the critical role and responsibility we all share as part of the global community,” said Trinity College provost Mayo Moran, calling on students to participate in the initiative. Joining the Trinity’s team heads is alumna Leen Al Zaibak, who will be speaking to the community on how to get involved. For Al Zaibak, the project hits close to home. After working in Syria on a project targeting atrisk youth, Al Zaibak was forced to leave the country as the war broke out. Through her feelings of frustration at the political situation and the astounding violence in the country, Al Zaibak formed the NGO Bridges (Jusoor) with a group of friends. “I’m such a proud Canadian and I felt that my country’s response was shamefully inadequate,” Al Zaibak said. The sudden demand

for action, according to Al Zaibak, speaks to the nature of the Canadian public. She also believes it is important that Trinity College is the first of the colleges to become involved, which speaks to its history of leadership. The program is one of a number of ideas generated within the University of Toronto community, which also include a Syrian Refugee Welcome Party and the Scholarsat-Risk program. The welcome party, spearheaded by the non-profit DawaNet and TorontoMuslims. com, is not directly affiliated with the university, but has become an important event for students at the St. George campus. Mira El-Hussein, a first year student who will be attending, commented that, “It could have been any of us. We’re the upcoming leaders, teachers, doctors, politicians, and the world is being faced with a huge problem, so it’s within our best interest to do something about it.”

Fourth-year student Mohamad Hamieh noticed after visiting Lebanon that while many people have been accepted into the country, the institutions in place there are not sufficient for life improvement. It’s clear that University of Toronto students are demonstrating that they want to be involved in helping Syrian refugees. Similarly, the Scholars-at-Risk program is U of T’s attempt to contribute to an environment where everyone, regardless of their situation, has opportunities for education. The scholarship uses an adjudication process in order to select vulnerable students for housing at Massey College on campus. These initiatives arrive late in the crisis. “Yes, it did take four years. And yes, it did take the picture of a three-year old washing up on the shores of Turkey to kind of wake our consciousness, but at least we woke up. And we woke up in a really big way,” said Al Zaibak.

M O N DAY 7 D E C E M B E R 2 015



No universal campus alcohol policy CONTINUED FROM COVER

The Office of the Dean of Students keeps track of which students have attended the session in order to admit them to events throughout the year. Adil Abdulla, chair of the Trinity College Meeting (TCM), expressed concern with the enforcement of the college’s alcohol policy. “People are meant to check for ID when they sell those [drink] tickets... I don’t really think anybody checks,” he said. “There some events where everybody gets alcohol, there are no checks for it whatsoever, and it is totally free.” Abdulla also revealed that the TCM can access about $160,000 of the college’s residence fees, $22,000 of which is projected to be used on alcohol for licensed college, this year. This spending implicitly incorporates the provision of alcohol into the college’s mandate, making alcoholic events central and prevalent. There is an inconsistency in the willingness of the college’s administration to intervene in student life and private spaces. Victoria University has regulations that govern students’ private property as a form of alcohol policy, stipulating in its residence handbook that residents may “not have, obtain, or make a fake ID — if [they] have one it can be confiscated and legal action may be taken.” Melinda Scott, dean of students at University College, indicated in an interview with The Varsity that the

college does not take a punitive stance on alcohol. “It is not our practice for residence staff to conduct random checks of student rooms,” Scott said, adding, “[we] also know that there are some who will choose to consume alcohol regardless of their age. For this reason, we try to balance sanctions for underage drinking with education about the responsible use of alcohol.” Woodsworth College, the largest college at U of T, takes a similar approach to UC. “Generally we take an educational approach, encouraging our residents to make responsible choices should they choose to consume alcohol, while noting that it is not a requisite part of attending university,” said Steve Masse, assistant to the dean for residence life. Like all colleges, the consumption of alcohol is not permitted in public areas, which include hallways and common rooms. “[When] a resident is found to be in violation of some part of our alcohol policy, they are assigned an educational sanction that encourages reflection and healthier behaviour in the future. This approach typically proves quite successful at altering problematic behaviours,” said Masse. The expression of alcohol culture varies widely across the residences at U of T’s colleges. The reasons for the inconsistency between alcohol policies at different colleges remain unclear. It is clear that the experience of those in residence is shaped greatly by the subtleties in alcohol policies that govern that culture.


Faculty of Music Undergraduate Association undergoes major levy restructuring Two new funds established, fees reduced by $300 annually DEVIKA DESAI


Members of the Faculty of Music Undergraduate Association (FMUA) have voted to approve the creation of an Endowment Fund and a Special Projects Fund. The referendum was held between November 23 and 27 and was intended to change the FMUA’s levy structure and to evaluate student support for a fall reading week. The vote resulted in a $300 yearly reduction of the student fees paid to the FMUA. “As per our bylaws, all the levies have [met] the 60 percent threshold. As such, student fees paid to the FMUA will drop from $600 per semester to $450, resulting in a $300 yearly reduction per student,” read part of an email circulated to all FMUA members at the end of the referendum. A proposal for the FMUA to lobby for a fall reading week also passed, with 205 votes in favour and 16 opposed. Mathias Memmel, FMUA co-president, stated that one of the issues with the old levy structure lay in “a discrepancy between the FMUA’s budget planning process... and the faculty budget planing process with the provost’s office. These schedule differences resulted in the Faculty Admin [sic] implicitly allocating funds before consultation was had with the FMUA. While I don’t think this was done maliciously, it put the FMUA in a situation where it was not completely autonomous in its budgeting process,” explained Memmel. According to Memmel, the goal was to put the control of the funds back into the hands of the students. “The previous levy structure essentially gave all our union fees directly to the faculty. The [FMUA] had no control over the money,” said Jacob Abrahamse, a U of T music student, regarding the old levy structure. Abrahamse believes that the referendum results are a positive change from the old system. “[The changes allow our] money to be managed by our own union and not the faculty,” she said, lauding the allocation of funding towards mental health and a student resource centre. Memmel said

that the province’s definition of co-curricular services and spaces was also an issue. “For the Faculty of Music, co-curricular spaces include the theatres and performance venues. This is... inherent mislabeling, one that plagues all music institutions across the province, that we don’t want to reinforce,” Memmel explained. While he acknowledges that such venues are necessary to the operation of an applied music program, he commented that labelling them as ‘co-curricular’ is comparable to “slapping co-curricular labels on the applied components of other programs [such as] dental chairs at the Faculty of Dentistry, gymnasiums and pools at [the Faculty of Kinesiology and Physical Education], labs at Engineering etc.” Under the new levy structure, students no longer fund theatres and music venues. Instead they must seek funding from the province, reducing the amount that students have to pay. “Correctly labelled or not, these facilities are clearly curricular in nature and since they can’t be run in the [current] budget model, the funding has to come from the province. By no longer funding performance spaces, we were able to reduce the overall amount [paid] by students to the association by 25 percent,” Memmel explained. He believes that this new system contains a higher level of transparency and allows for a more efficient allocation of funds towards student projects. “In terms of the funds from the Special Projects Fund and the interest gained from the endowment they will be allocated to member and faculty submitted projects,” he stated. Memmel added that the FMUA now holds the ability to approve projects conditionally, solving a previous problem regarding the group’s control over their budget. Abrahamse still supports the complete elimination of the student levy. “[As]it stands, little of the money was and will [sic] benefit all students equally,” he said, referring to the allocation of $224,409 in the 2014–2015 academic year towards the production and staging of opera. “However, the Opera is primarily for graduate students and a small number of third-year and fourth-year vocal majors.”


Colleges crack down on alcohol in very different ways. MALLIKA MAKKAR/THE VARSITY



M O N DAY 7 D E C E M B E R 2 015

Special General Meeting Member-Submitted Motions Thursday January 28, 2016 | St. George Campus (Room will be posted on | 5:30pm-10pm Registration starts at 4:30pm

AGENDA: ’ Call to Order ’ Welcoming Remarks ’ Approval of Agenda ’ Consideration of Member-Submitted Motions ’ Motion to Approve Computerized Voting (Petra) ’ Motion for Paper Ballots (Botero-Gutierrez/Yussuf) ’ Motion for Membership Accountability and Bylaw/Policy Changes (Celestial/Blay) ’ Motion for Accessibility for Professional Faculty Students on UTSU (Li) ’ Motion for Endorsement of Black Lives Matter – Toronto (Noor) ’ Motion on Prevention of Sexual Violence (Siddiqui/Yussuf) ’ Motion to Stand in Solidarity with CBUSU (Singh/Gomes) ’ Motion on UTSU Clubs and Service Groups (Siddiqui/Pournajar) ’ Motion on CFS Membership (Spagnuolo/Campbell) ’ Motion on an Accessible Computer Lab for the St. George Campus (Alaei/Pal) ’ Motion on Ethical Divestment (Swirsky/Sivapragasm) ’ Motion on Justin Bieber (Shihipar)

Â’ Approval of Bylaw Changes Â’ Amendment to Bylaw X-5: Removal of Executives (Policy and Procedures Committee) Â’ Creation of Bylaw XVII: Equity, Civility, and Safety (Member motion: Omari)

Â’ Non-Binding Motions Â’ Motion to strike for Free Tuition (Rising)

For the full text of all the resolutions to be considered at the meeting, please consult the University of Toronto Students’ Union Website at Every member at the University of Toronto Student’s Union1 can participate in this meeting. Accessibility Wheelchair accessible. If you have any accessibility requests, require ASL interpretation, childcare, or have other inquiries, please contact Ryan Gomes, Vice-President Internal and Services, by January 21 at or 416-978-4911 x240 Instructions for Voting by Proxy If you are unable to attend this meeting, and wish to give another person the authority to vote for you, please complete an online proxy form at https:// by Monday 25 January at 5pm. You can login to the online proxy system starting Monday 18 January at 9am. The UTSU proxy system is online. Please note that due to the regulations applicable to the Canada Not-For-Profit Corporations Act, the member who is giving the authority to vote to another member must initiate the process. Further instructions on voting by proxy will be available at

Save Time and Pre-Register Want to avoid the line-up at registration and have your name printed on your voting card? Our preregistration will be available for individual members between 18 January and 22 January, 2016. If you cannot pre-register, you can still register at the door. 1. Members of the UTSU include: Â’ Full-time undergraduate students at the St. George and Mississauga campuses Â’ Toronto School of Theology students Â’ Transitional Year Program students Â’ Students on a Professional Employment Year (PEY) program

Â’ /RX]c`\[S\b


7 December 2015

Our future is in free trade he benefits of the rans acific artnership cannot be ignored LI PAN


Students often adopt anti-capitalist views. This is reasonable, considering we do not yet have a stake in the system, and corporations rarely share our values. However, this is no reason to reject all that is related to capitalism and the wholesale free market. Doing so only stifles necessary debate, and inadvertently puts our future at risk. In a recent article in The Varsity, Malone Mullin criticized the upcoming ratification of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). By immediately seeing investorstate dispute settlement (ISDS) through the lens of a struggle of the powerless masses against multinationals, the author fails to grasp the subtleties of this debate; there is a lack of recognition that the TPP is largely beneficial to all of us. Investor-state disputes arise when a state changes its laws or nationalizes assets that previously belonged to foreign corporations. Trade deals often include clauses that provide for such cases to be heard in international arbitration tribunes. To call such arbitration procedures “thinly veiled extortion” is an unfair claim against the multinationals and against ISDS. Take, for example, the Exxon and Venezuela case. Last year, Venezuela was ordered to pay $1.6 billion for nationalizing Exxon’s Cerro Negro project in 2007. On the surface,this may seem like a case of capitalism run amok, but in fact, even Ven-

While many are protesting the Trans-Pacific Partnership, we should be cautious of categorical condemnation. SUM OF US/CC FLICKR

ezuelan officials called the outcome a triumph. After all, the facilities had cost Exxon $3.1 billion to build and run, and were probably worth a lot more than the compensation awarded. Without ISDS, it would have been difficult for Exxon to obtain fair compensation. The point is that there is often a fair and legitimate use for ISDS. The fact that multinationals sometimes abuse the system is certainly no reason to get rid of such procedures altogether. Rather, it is a call for limitations on the use of ISDS. There are many such limitations in the TPP; for instance, TPP explicitly excludes the use of ISDS by tobacco companies who have previously used it as an intimidation tactic against governments trying to protect public health.

In any case, neither ISDS, nor free trade for that matter, is the main goal of TPP. TPP’s real promise lies in the liberation of trade in services. This is, without a doubt, beneficial to the future of most Canadians, and especially so for students. Currently, 76 per cent of the Canadian population is employed in the service sector, but international trade in services is miniscule in comparison. Services like haircuts are obviously difficult to export, yet with improvements in information technology, services in finance, engineering, education, and health care are becoming increasingly exportable. For example, hospitals in the future could outsource patient

monitoring to nurses in Malaysia, or diagnostics to technicians in India, thereby reducing their provisional costs. Similarly, Canadian doctors in the future could give video-conference consultations to patients in Mexico, who may not otherwise have access to specialized medical expertise. Right now, regulatory barriers are preventing this type of beneficial exportation from happening. In many countries, before foreign companies can start supplying a service, they are required to build local data centers, show software source codes to government officials, or establish joint-venture or local offices. The TPP bans these requirements, and many others, in order to encourage international trade in services.

As students, we belong to a globally connected future. Many of us are studying to one day become bankers, lawyers, engineers, doctors, or consultants. These are all professions that will be changed by the TPP 10 years down the road. The liberation of trade in services that the TPP promises will expand our horizons and allow us to offer our services in foreign markets with ease. As future consumers, we will also benefit from the lower prices in health care and financial services brought about by increased global competition. Many will undoubtedly raise the objection that more trade liberalization will lead to job losses. Just as in the case of ISDS, this is a valid concern, but far from a knock-down argument. Previous trade policies offer many examples of instances when job protections are not worth it when accounting for the harm to consumers. For instance, the Japanese car import quotas in the 1990s cost US consumers $6.5 billion, or $250,000 per job saved. Free market initiatives like TPP often provoke scorn from students. This is a mistake, and does not move the debate anywhere. The TPP may in fact turn out to be crucial to ensuring a better future. Li Pan is a fourth-year student at Trinity College studying economics and mathematics.

Alone but ne er lonely Travelling solo can be a necessary and c cc a ce mcea ceaice REBECCA OSTROFF VARSITY CONTRIBUTOR

When I was young, I was always the kid waiting by the side of the pool while the rest of the swim class jumped in. Only after I had confirmed that nobody had drowned would I actually venture in myself. Social situations are similar for me. I have to energize myself mentally for interactions by first observing other people’s interactions. In fact, a huge first step in managing my social anxieties was to accept the fact that I am an introvert. Contrary to common misconceptions, this does not necessarily mean that I am

anti-social, lonely, sad, or shy; rather that I need solo, contemplative time in order to feel ready to tackle the world. For some, 'tackling the world' is intended to be a social or shared experience. But when I got on a plane to the UK, I knew I wanted something different. I am currently attending a study abroad program at the University of Leeds, and have made a habit of venturing out on my own every weekend to hike, relax, or simply explore a new European destination. I wanted to immerse myself in new cultures and experiences independent of other people’s preferences and biases. I also craved a well-rounded, self-reflective education beyond the classroom. Don’t get me wrong — traveling is stressful. Yet going to a new place on your own can actually be more

empowering than overwhelming. Stress can be managed when accomplishing concrete goals without the pressure of dealing with other people’s travel itineraries. There is nothing more satisfying than figuring out how to buy train tickets in a different language, and getting lost but being able to find your way back to safety. When first embarking on my trip, I was particularly interested in the empowerment that accompanies being in a new place, where nobody owes anyone anything. I am one to ruminate obsessively over social interactions, questioning whether I had said the wrong things, laughed too loud at a moderately funny joke, hijacked a conversation unintentionally, and, of course, whether everyone I had spoken to now hated me. The fact that I would have to encounter the same people with

whom I had interacted on a daily basis just fueled the rumination. When traveling, the effects of “social mistakes” do not hold the same weight. I feel freer to open up to people, and as I’ve done so, they’ve learned more about me. I have also learned a tremendous amount from them, and even though some of the connections I’ve made may be shortlived, they have been more genuine and meaningful than I would have thought possible. For U of T students, the approaching winter break brings about a craving for distractions from the stress of exams and coursework. Keep in mind that you can use this time to discover the best way to refresh yourself for a second semester. This might mean spending time with family and friends, plowing through extracurricular reading lists, or finding a space to be alone.

There is no need to feel guilty about taking time to discover a method to make you feel like you’re at your best. Not only will this bring your goals closer within reach, but it will also make you more open, enabling you to connect with and help others. If you are inclined to start planning a study abroad experience, know that it is absolutely acceptable to fly solo. While loud nightclubs and parties energize some travellers, others, like me, feel the most alive on long, quiet train rides through the Alps. This discovery alone has made my trip truly worth taking. Rebecca Ostroff is a fourth-year student at University College studying drama and psychology.



M O N DAY 7 D E C E M B E R 2 015


Strong women make strong leaders

Soothing student sorrows

We should commit ourselves to making gender parity in politics a reality AMBER NGUYEN/THE VARSITY

How mindfulness meditation can positively impact your health MANUEL AUGUSTO VARSITY CONTRIBUTOR




At the conclusion of the marathon federal election campaign of 2015, the change in the direction of our government was monumental; namely, Parliament shifted from a Conservative majority to a Liberal one, with the Liberals starting the race with under forty seats in the House of Commons. However, the momentum for women in the House of Commons has been more glacial than staggering: only 88 women were elected on October 19, representing a meager one per cent increase from the 2011 numbers. Having worked on the national campaign for the Conservative Party, I got to witness this dearth firsthand at all levels of political participation. It ranged from candidates looking to get elected, to volunteers helping them along the way. The situation for women in politics is far from ideal. When asked to offer their support, potential female volunteers replied that they would have to ask their husbands before committing to coming into the campaign office. In different circumstances, I encountered female friends who refused to run in order to avoid the intense scrutiny that would be directed at them and their families. When trying to identify the reasons for the lack of female participation in politics, it is easy to default to speculating about a toxic culture that upholds an 'old boys' club, or to the lack of strong role models for young women considering candidacy. However, my experience working on the Conservative campaign proved both of these theories to be patently untrue. On the campaign trail, I have received mentorship and encouragement from men and women alike, and am incredibly grateful for the opportunities I have been given. At no point have I felt any semblance of a glass ceiling. Further, I had the chance to hold positions of

leadership such as coordinating the national phone banking effort, and felt like my opinions had both value and impact. Gazing upward, I saw incredible female mentorship and leadership, such as Jenni Byrne, the national campaign manager for the party, or candidates and champions like Lisa Raitt, who was running for re-election while balancing a family life. Only decades ago, seeing such strong role models in any party would have been next to impossible. I urge any young woman who is hesitant about any sort of political involvement to recognize that this field has become more favorable to their presence today than virtually any time before in Canadian history. This rosy picture notwithstanding, why has progress for women in politics moved so slowly? The reasons most reflective of the current political situation are the everpresent, and constantly scrutinizing media circuit, and a lack of individualized approaches toward female candidates. The media is often significantly harsher on women than men, focusing on physical appearance and romantic or family life in lieu of professional accomplishments for elected officials. Little attention is given to dealing with issues of childcare and family life, to the grim reality that the life of an elected Member of Parliament involves spending weeks at a time away from home, or to legislation targeted toward improving the life and status of women. What's more, there is also the issue of not taking an active effort to correct preconceived beliefs that women often hold about politics and public service. The majority of outreach parties focus on prospective voters and donors, rather than correcting a disparity within the candidate pool. A gender-balanced political system that adequately represents the composition of the Canadian population may one day become a reality, but the work to be done along the

way is up to all of us to take on. More women in the House of Commons would mean a different and nuanced perspective on the issues currently being discussed, new topics that have previously been left untouched being brought forward, and a system that better represents Canadian concerns overall. We must ensure that the progress that has been achieved up to this point — albeit slowly — continues. This can be achieved by women themselves putting their names forward as candidates for the party of their choice; moreover, on a community level, we must all support and respect the women who choose to do so. If you are a young woman hoping to get involved in Canadian politics, or to ameliorate the current gender gap, I encourage you to get involved with the U of T Equal Voice Chapter, an organization dedicated to getting more women elected to all levels of Canadian politics through mentorship, support and training. Check us out at our website or on Facebook at Equal Voice - University of Toronto. We often host events on campus with Members of Parliament or politically influential women, and frequently cooperate with the partisan campus chapters to create more opportunities for women to get politically involved. Alternatively, you can get involved in the partisan campus political group of your chosen stripe; as a member of the University of Toronto Campus Conservatives, I know firsthand of the great fundraising and advocacy work they do. Above all, the important thing is that you take action to correct stereotypical beliefs about women in politics, and embrace the notion of gender parity in Parliament. Because if not you, then who? Daryna Kutsyna is a third-year student at Trinity College studying international relations and history. She is the co-president of U of T’s Equal Voice Chapter.

The pressure that accompanies university exams can be both excruciating and debilitating. Fortunately, U of T offers plenty of resources to help students destress. These include puppy therapy, massage sessions, and yoga. Intense university schedules can limit the number of activities students are able to attend. As a result, students find themselves juggling classes, work schedules, studying, and engaging in extra-curriculars, instead of using these resources. In order to tackle the issue of stress, the root causes must be addressed first. One of the major motivators of students’ misfortune is the tendency to procrastinate. Procrastination is a habit that a majority of students are guilty of. Most students, however, are unaware of the reasons why they procrastinate to begin with. The belief is that the more distractions there are, the more likely one is to procrastinate. However, it is actually how the brain views the task at hand that hinders the studying process. If you sit down to study for an exam, and instead find yourself heading over on Facebook and checking the latest posts on your timeline, or scrolling through your Instagram feed, it is not social media itself that is the problem. In fact, the stress accumulated from negative thoughts, or apprehensions, about upcoming evaluations has a bigger role to play. As a result, students tend to flock to other, less important tasks, subconsciously avoiding thoughts of the upcoming deadline. An effective approach to clear these thoughts and affirm a better mind-set is through the practice of mindfulness meditation. Mindfulness is the non-judgmental nature that characterizes a deep awareness of the present moment. Mindfulness meditation offers plenty of benefits that are essential not only for your academic career, but also for your mental health. Studies show that mindfulness meditation improves cognitive functioning and memory; it increases focus and reduces the likelihood of mind-wandering. An analogy that helps illuminate the effect of mindfulness meditation is to consider the brain as a

snow globe. The thoughts that occur within the brain — in this case, the snowflakes — are the result of the snow globe shaking. What mindfulness meditation does is simply set the snow globe down, allowing the brain to release the unnecessary, destructive, and paralyzing thoughts that affect both your grades and your mental health. When mindfulness meditation is practiced for 12–15 minutes daily, within weeks, you will be surprised at the improvements. You will find thought-patterns sharpening into focus, ameliorating your ability to study, as well as your stress and anxiety levels. Research suggests that along with the increase of endorphins and regulation of emotions and sleep patterns, mindfulness meditation also changes the brain's structure by increasing signal connections, improving and working to prevent depression and anxiety. There is a stigma often associated with meditation due to misconceptions, particularly its religious or spiritual connotations. Others may feel that meditation requires excess time and effort, or that it is simply an unusual thing to do. On the contrary, mindfulness meditation is essentially the focus of the body’s breath — it allows you to patiently let go of any unwanted thoughts that intrude into the mind. Although meditation in general is embedded in Buddhism, and has historical roots in religious practice, meditation does not affect, and is not impacted by, your religious or spiritual beliefs. Although some may find meditation difficult at first, it is crucial to be perseverant and self-compassionate throughout your efforts. If, by any means, you find it difficult to begin the practice on your own, the Health and Wellness Centre offers beginner meditation sessions throughout the academic year, where students are able to drop-in and learn the basics. It is crucial that students take advantage of the resources they have available to them. When it comes to mental wellness, mindfulness meditation is a valuable tool. Manuel Augusto is a second-year student at Woodsworth College studying sociology, Buddhist psychology and mental health.

EDITORIAL 7 December 2015



2013, The Toronto Star published the results of a study conducted by the Canadian Association of College and University Student Services measuring the mental health of more than 30,000 students at 34 colleges and universities across the country. Eighty-nine per cent of the participants felt “overwhelmed by all they had to do” and 86.9 per cent reported feeling “overwhelming anxiety.” Terrifyingly, nearly 10 per cent of those surveyed had “seriously considered suicide”. Over the past several years, society’s understanding of mental health has dramatically expanded to incorporate a wide range of innovative approaches to treatment and prevention. Much of this work has been developed on university campuses. In an effort to measure this progress, as well as analyze where we as a post-secondary educational community can still do more, The Varsity’s Editorial Board has elected to publish a three-part series on mental health on campus. This is its third installment.




THE INDIVIDUAL Upon being asked for his best life advice, Daniel Handler — also known as Lemony Snicket, author of the popular children’s books A Series of Unfortunate Events — replied: “One hears it a lot on airplanes: Make sure you have your own mask on, before helping others with theirs.” This suggestion is certainly useful for many students, particularly during exam time, but also more broadly in the context of increasing mental health issues on campus. With only 24 hours in a day, fitting in the boundless opportunities available to us on campus and beyond presents us with an inevitable zero-sum game; we can only do so much with our time. It is necessary, then, to prioritize our activities to ensure our efforts are best spent on what is most important to us. Unfortunately, in an environment that glorifies good grades and stacked LinkedIn profiles, we slip into the thinking that we should give up sleep, a homemade meal, or some exercise for that extra five per cent on a test. This 'grades-over-everything' mentality has the potential to manifest in a dangerous cycle of allnighters, caffeine highs, and irregular meal times. But we are more than our GPAs, or the number of lines on our résumés, and we certainly don’t need to sacrifice our health. It is perfectly fine to take a break, slow down, and put your health first. In fact, these things are necessary for us to achieve everything else we want in life. Our mental well-being is just as important as our physical health. This idea of self-care seems rather obvious in writing, but perhaps it is its banality that allows it to go forgotten so often. In the midst of rising reports — both academic and anecdotal — of the increased presence of mental health issues on campus, it bears repeating that there is absolutely nothing weak about acknowledging that coping with school can be incredibly hard, and that your mental health is suffering as a result. In reality, this recognition is the strongest thing you can do — it allows you to create strategies and seek help in order to cope, recover, and ultimately flourish. U of T’s giant, decentralized bureaucracy is daunting, but there are a number of helpful resources to support students’ self-care. Yoga, meditation, and mindfulness based cognitive therapy workshops are offered at the Health & Wellness Center, Multi-Faith Centre, and Hart House, while there are a variety of free drop-in activities available at the Athletic Centre and Goldring. While they are certainly not meant to substitute medication or professional help, actively cultivating healthy habits goes a long way towards de-stigmatizing mental health and creating an environment we can all thrive in. This is not to deny the subsequent difficulties that are inherent to living with mental health diagnoses. Certainly for some, it can feel impossible to keep functioning when parents are far away, deadlines are constant, pressure is rising, and the campus health services have waitlists leading on into next semester. It is important, however, to remember that you deserve the help you need and want, and that you are surrounded by peers and professionals who are familiar with and just as susceptible to these issues as you are. The track record may not be pretty, and systematic change may be slow — but there is hope that support can and will be found when we most need it. With the recent integration of Counselling and Psychological Services with Health & Wellness, we can be cautiously optimistic that U of T is genuinely attempting to respond appropriately to our multi-faceted and complex mental health needs. Once we have our own masks own, we also each have a role to play in this change. As the saying goes, individually we are one drop, but what is an ocean but a multitude of drops? While the institution and broader community are breaking down structural barriers to mental well-being, we each have a responsibility to disrupt the norm of a sleepless, exhausted student, while offering encouragement and reminders to our fellow peers to stay mindful our of mental health. Only with this interrelated action can the entire system progress towards a kinder, more understanding setting.

The Varsity's editorial board is elected by the masthead at the beginning of each semester. For more information about The Varsity's editorial policy, email




Re: Ontario universities struggle to identify under-represented groups “Great topic! Would love to hear more about the specifics on how U of T attempts to reach out to these under represented groups on campus, prior to enrollment. Great piece though!” — Milen Melles (from web) Re: UCLit releases mental wellness handbook “Such an amazing initiative! So proud of the UCLit and Matt Thomas for pioneering the project, and to the UCLit for being a definitive voice on such a difficult subject.” — Rachael Rishworth (from web) Re: Soylent meets mixed review “The taste of Soylent can be best described as regular flavored Cheerios with milk. The macro on it just really isn't worth it - I'd end up scooping in a serving of protein powder to make it work. I think they actually lowered the protein on it recently. Definitely not a meal replacer for athletes.” — Rock Li (from web) Re: Content and its creators “Holy split infinitives Batman! Also, while the Internet might be one vehicle to success, nothing substitutes the good ol' fashion real life, undigitized experience. That's the criticism against millenials, that they lack worldliness and initiative. Many are pretty sheltered and overly sensitive. I guess that's an obvious outcome from a life so saturated with virtual, digitized experiences.” — Art Buchwald (from web) Re: Bruce Kidd installed as vicepresident, principal of UTSC “He is a good man, but he did not want Varsity Stadium to become the home of the Toronto Argonauts, which is a shame because it would be much better than BMO.” — Robert Bruce Maule (from social media)


Re: To the right, to the right “In the past – even the recent past – to stick to conservative values, namely, to emphasize the importance of tradition and the danger of social change, was a safe yet unethical option. Today, we live in dangerous times precisely because it is increasingly appearing that our traditions are no longer safe as they used to be. We live in a time on the brink of ecological catastrophe, in the grips of yet another crisis of capitalism, and in countries ruled primarily by vested corporate power, with governments acting like unions for the majority of people whose voices in the political process has become severely marginalized. There is no more time for the safe “small steps forward” that Jeffrey Chen claims are a hallmark of conservatism... Possibly the biggest problem I have with the article “To the right, to the right” is that it sets forth this dogmatic belief that to be a conservative today is to be surrounded by enemies. Now, it is important to distinguish between the Canadian political party the Conservatives (which, previous to the merger of the Reform party and the PC party actually had many populist and socialist policies) and what Chen calls conservatism, or a belief in tradition and incremental social change along with an emphasis on personal freedom. Certainly after the recent election there has been a general disdain for the Conservative party, but as for Chen’s conservatism, I think more than ever public opinion is on his side. ...I would like here to assert strongly that conservatism is rampant in our society today, and if we really care about the future of our country, it is time that it were openly challenged.” — Tommy Wattie (from email)

Letters to the editor should be directed to Please keep letters to 250 words. Letters may be edited for length and clarity.


The Insomniad


Playoff Season Sports pundits often say that the playoffs are a new beginning; a new season with higher stakes, increased intensity, and a time when legends are born. At the risk of sounding dramatic, that is how I personally imagine exam season — especially as an upper year student. All your hard work (or lack thereof) during the semester means little once exam time arrives. It’s much more likely that you’ll bomb an exam than pass with flying colours, and while a good mark on an exam can give you a boost, a bad one can make your precious pre-exam grade plummet. Exam season is not just about studying; it is about strategic studying. With multiple exams in tow, students must decide when to start studying for their last exam, when as many as four final tests precede it. The time comes when you can only read two of the four readings you never did, and you may as well flip a coin to pick which one is most useful. One must also choose the ideal study spot. Will the steady hum of a coffee shop maximize your focus? Are the comforts of home too comfy? Should you leaf through your notes at Robarts, amongst thousands of panicked students with their law school aspirations on the line? Do you vary your study spot for variety and freshness, or opt for the same location for the sake of consistency and routine? The decisions you make can decide whether you spend your summer in Santa Monica or Sid Smith. The exceptional thing about exam time is that, with so much certainty — you know when your exams are, and what the most part, what will be on them — there is a lot of room for surprises. Maybe you’ll catch a cold right before your most important exam, causing your tears to run into your snot, declaring that you Kant do it. Maybe you’ll discover a new TV show that demands binge watching, which will have you watch your GPA drop in a few weeks. Maybe you’ll get it together — but probably not — and park your phone for the duration of exam time, and dedicate your life to your studies, like all upstanding U of T students are meant to. Every exam season is different. Sometimes you’re exhausted from a grueling semester, and, at others, you’re driven and ready to eat a thousand Scantrons for breakfast. I would have thought that, by now, as a seasoned undergrad, I would know how to tackle the most nerve wracking time of year. My plan of attack changes each December or April. The only thing that stays the same is the suspense that haunts me in the following month, waiting to see if I came out a legend or a loser. — Jaren Kerr

Despite this being my fifth year of having to take fall semester exams, I still feel like I’m hit in the face with Anxiety, and it’s ever-present companion Insecurity, the moment the calendar flips over to December first. This is not to say that stress is not already creeping up in the back of my mind throughout November (starting around midterm week). By the time the last week of classes comes around, my body is usually too exhausted to manage stressful situations any more, and my mind reacts with immediate panic far more easily than at other times during the year. My main mechanism to handle anxiety late in the semester is to stay at home and only engage in relaxed activities, as well as to sleep as much as I humanly can. I often find, however, that isolating myself does nothing but leave me feeling left out. I see the events for parties, socials and exam destressors pass by my Facebook feed one by one, but the amount of energy I put into contemplating whether I can afford to leave the library and attend one is just a needless addition to my stress levels. I think it’s important for myself, and those who can relate to this, to remind ourselves that this is all temporary, and that this experience of feeling isolated, no matter how overwhelming, is simply a consequence of an already exhausted mind. Every fall, invasive stressy thoughts leave my brain alone the moment my last exam is done with just as quickly as they came. I think that the reason exam period makes us all feel helpless, is largely because the prospect of being evaluated on our progress inevitably leads to thoughts about our future and where we’re headed. The future, however, is something that’s so far away and out of our control that it is no surprise when these thoughts leave us feeling helpless and out of control. Accepting these feelings and learning how to manage them is something that takes practice. And although every exam season demands that I put this effort in, every exam season I also get a little bit better at it.

Sleep, goddess — sing to me of the deep sleep, Or rather lack thereof, which plagued those students, Those champions of essays, those slayers of labs, Those heroes who set out to solve all math problems. Whether tucked into their beds or at their desks, Hypnos refrains from visiting. The grains of sand Which compose the song of slumber lay stagnant In the king of sleep’s domain, surrounded by Dream haunted poppies. Their heads hang heavy And eyes seal shut in eternal hibernation, Unlike the crimson eyes which gaze out the window, Searching for Hypnos to quell their desire. As Apollo peaks over the edge of the world, His brilliant rays piercing through the curtains, The English student stumbles out of bed. A stack of books sits upon the night table, Colourful slips of paper peering out the sides. Pages of an essay wait patiently For her to retrieve them from the printer. Like a sloth, she crawls towards the bathroom, Her long limbs moving listlessly forward And her unkempt hair hanging by her face. A single glance at the clock is all it takes To transform our sloth into a warrior As she takes the up toothbrush with the fury Of a thousand ships. Neither teeth nor gums Can escape the deadly assault of toothpaste And bristles coupled with the flow of the sea, Its waves crashing against the cavern’s soft walls. Yes, goddess, sing to me of the long nights Which our warriors power through, fighting Those deadly assignments and endless readings, As though the great hero Heracles himself Taking on those twelve deadly ordeals, Emerging early morning, triumphant, Albeit with bloodshot eyes and drowsy minds. — Natasha Ramoutar

— Nadezha Woinowsky-Krieger

π Has a look, a stare, Expectant of crisis. Exams, six exams, Hurtling blatantly towards ruination. She is not modelled, this season, To attack with new vim. Hindered now in present, Surviving since — By grasping upcoming good, A promising outlook, A future premature, She longingly, laboredly can proceed. — A piem by Ariel Gomes MIRKA LOISELLE/THE VARSITY

season make you feel? Superwoman All of the note-taking dexterity, time management skills and study tips I have ignored for the entirety of the semester are finally going to be put to good use. I will be able to justify that “me-time” I took a few weeks ago, those concerts I went to on Friday nights and the Netflix binges that unexpectedly devoured a couple of my Saturdays. This is when I will be at the library when its doors open with a double americano in hand, prepared to stay until close. I will have my backpack of books and my reusable bag overflowing with food for lunch, dinner and snack time. I will kick my ass in gear, because exam season is here. It all seems like a great plan until I show up at the library two hours after opening, which prompts my stress response to kick in because I have just lost two hours of prime study-time. And then, around 3:00 pm, I start fading. The eyes become heavy, the mind begins to wander, and I realized I have just spent 25 minutes exploring the “Browse” section of Spotify looking for a perfect study playlist. I just lost another 25 minutes. Panic-mode ensues. But it’s okay, because I still have one day until my first exam. And that will be a productive day where I can focus and study my ass off, reviewing everything I need to slay the exam. This is my exhausting train of thought before every exam. It’s a roller coaster of stress and emotions, where, one minute I feel secure in my knowledge and the next moment I panic, because I feel that I have not fulfilled the arbitrary amount of study-time I decided was required to do well. Despite this ride making my stomach flip and causing the occasional tear to break through, there is one feeling at the end of exam season that makes it all worth it. It reassures me that I know more than I think I do. That it’s okay to take “me-time” and naps if needed. That I am hard working. That I am meant to be at U of T. It makes me feel like Superwoman. Like a sleep deprived Superwoman, who should probably exercise more and eat better in the midst of studying. But nonetheless, Superwoman who kicked her ass in gear and made it through exam season relatively unscathed. — Victoria Banderob

Immunity and Bagels It was April of 2013 at Margaret Addison Hall. All year long, I had been granted some uncanny immunity to heavy term work. I had managed to avoid every round of midterms and finals throughout both semesters, but all that glistens is rarely gold in the soul-crushing institution that is this university. My ‘immunity’ was but a classic case of freshman naïveté — one that was swiftly overturned by a particularly rude awakening at about four am on the sixteenth of April that year. I was apparently not very savvy when it came to public, electronic announcements made by the university. I hadn’t bothered to look up that I was scheduled for a European history exam until about five hours prior to the exam itself, purely out of curiosity. I braced myself. My first academic transgression was about to detonate and smear failure all over my transcript, and I had no one but myself and the Brunny to blame. I sat at my desk with my lips pursed, as I cracked the spine of my textbook for the first time since I had purchased it. I hadn’t gone to a single lecture all year. An upper year had given me her notes from two years ago. The professor was known not to change his course material, and her notes were every lecture, verbatim. That didn’t stop my eyes from glazing over. The excuses began to pour in. I needed coffee to study. I needed a bagel to study. I needed someone to talk me out of my anxiety to study. In the free-spirited mentality that underlaid about 95 per cent of the past year, I took another two hours to justify some shape or form of procrastination as ‘mental preparation’ for studying. Things were going so well. In the end, I did pass the course. I swear to this day that it was as a result of my valiant artistic efforts on the exam. I spent the entire hour that I was condemned to that examination room by drawing cats all over the question sheet. It either tickled someone’s fancy, or there was a colossal misprint on my transcript, because I finished European history with a B. Lesson learned, though — check Portal. — Corinne Przybyslawski


Examination, December 2013 i. He was sick. drunk I gave him my bed; he gave me his words — mixed with bile. (I thanked him). ii. He apologised one time too many. “I am sorry,” I find myself saying. iii. The smoke of my breath clouded my judgement. neither of us will find answers at the of a burned-out cigarette. iv. iced rain on my window echoes the sound of your fingers tapping, to be let in, like a hail of bullets, on my skin. — Iris Robin



7 December 2015

1968-1975: The Rochdale years Rochdale in 1969. PHOTO COURTESY OF UNIVERSITY OF TORONTO ARCHIVES

orty years after its closing

Rochdale today. AMY WANG/THE VARSITY

ochdale alumni re ect on the college



t some point midway through the seventeenth century, British philosopher Thomas Hobbes pointed out that, “in the state of nature, life is nasty, brutish, and short.” Little did he know that 300 years later, the quote would ring especially true in the context of a controversial educational initiative here in Toronto. Rochdale College, an "experiment in student-run alternative education" located on the outskirts of the St. George campus, aimed to strip bare the constraints of regulated society, and to coexist peacefully as a sub-community with minimal rules and regulations. The institution soon discovered that human beings, in their ungoverned, freest, anarchistic form, are doomed to fail. 341 Bloor St. West is now the home of the Senator David A. Croll apartments, but, midway through the twentieth century, the building was inhabited by an influx of youth intent on participating in an experiment in free education. “Rochdale was founded to be an educational utopia, releasing students and teachers from artificial restrictions and quantitative assessments,” says David Sharpe, author of Rochdale: The Runaway College. “That purpose shifted immediately after the doors opened, and became replaced with an organic radical absence of purpose.” Of the 5,000 residents who called Rochdale home over its seven years, many bought into the optimism of social experiment; in their youthful idealism, residents of Rochdale be-


lieved in a free lifestyle bordering, perhaps on anarchy. As such, the college took on a sub-society of its own, fabricating makeshift forms of self-government, policing, and judicial systems within the building. Rochdale even housed its own nursery school, and provided medical care to its inhabitants in the Rochdale Free Clinic. In the college's early years, there was little reason to leave. Patrick McDonald arrived at Rochdale in the fall of 1969. He had been working at fisheries in Gaspé, Québec in the summer, and was looking for a place to stay in Toronto. Without any knowledge of the Rochdale experiment, he rented out an apartment on the east wing, only to find himself surrounded by hippies. “I got a job at the Ramsay Wright building working for an animal behavior professor, so it was a very convenient two-block walk,” he says. McDonald and the other Rochdale inhabitants were looking for the “university residence experience.” The apartments were more like dorm rooms, the floors functioned as their own communities, and when it came to paying rent, well, you just kind of ignored it. McDonald adapted to the college life rather quickly and took up various courses that were offered on the premises. “Japanese [class] was once or twice a week, and so was guitar,” McDonald says. “I took some astronomy lessons on the roof as well.” But, before long, the college took a downward spiral. As Sharpe notes, “these freedom-seekers ranged from

profound to profane, from high-minded to simply high.” Many interpreted freedom as the freedom to use, abuse, and deal drugs, and soon rumours surrounding the prominence of illicit activities in Rochdale tarnished the college’s reputation. Tony O’Donohue, the city councilor of the area at the time called Rochdale “an 18 story flop house.” McDonald recalls “a lady around 40 [years old] who took one of the rooms off the kitchen.” He remembered that she had a drug addiction, but he hadn’t realized to what extent. “One day, she wasn’t around, but we heard her little kitten crying from her room. That was unusual, so we checked the door, and then called emergency services. She took an overdose of something. I believe it was one of her daughters who came to grab her stuff.” Attending Rochdale College meant that you also had to live in Rochdale College. As Rochdale gained notoriety for its dirt-cheap rent and easy access to drugs, the college’s population increased. But where did these people come from? Now one of Toronto’s wealthiest, bourgeois neighborhoods, Yorkville was once a hippie-filled, lower class area during the 1960s. The neighborhood was known to be a hotbed for criminal activity, so when a police raid forced the inhabitants out of Yorkville, many of them fled to Rochdale — thousands jamming themselves into a place designed for only 800. It was then that Rochdale descended into a building full of crime and unruly behavior. A series

of suicides, overdoses, police raids, and general rebellion characterized the building as the antithesis to the cultural atmosphere of Toronto at the time. Dorothy Robertson, an ex-resident of Rochdale who moved into the building after returning from Woodstock, insists that criticisms of Rochdale came from people who misunderstood the college’s purpose. “The average Torontonian believed what they were told,” she says. “They were terrified by this change that they couldn’t understand: the counterculture. They thought what all straight establishment people thought of freaks. We terrified them with our freedom.” The people initially drawn to Rochdale were the people looking for a sense of community and a sense of purpose outside the typical workday. Looking, as Robertson says, “to find a new way of being, to raise [their] consciousness, to find [themselves] and grow.” Ultimately, Rochdale was shuttered not because of its illegal goings-on, but because of financial troubles. It was taken over by the City of Toronto and turned into the senator David A. Croll apartments: subsidized housing for seniors. As a token of commemoration, “The Unkown Student” statue sits outside where the college once was. When Rochdale was in operation, the statue faced towards the building, its back to the street — a sort of shunning by Rochdalians of the rest of the world. Today, the statue has been turned to face towards the street. It’s a poetic gesture that serves as a reminder of the building's turbulent past.

M O N DAY 7 D E C E M B E R 2 015



What we said in 2015 The Varsity weeds through the memes to determine the best Internet slang of the year COREY VAN DEN HOOGENBAND ASSOCIATE ARTS & CULTURE EDITOR

It’s been lit, 2015. You’ve brought us a new Prime Minister, The Pan Am Games, and the redemption of our prodigal son, Justin Bieber. You've been the host of a wonderful epoch in Internet culture, which has graced us with a new, on-fleek lexicon. With the year’s end almost upon us, here at The Varsity we saw it fit to count down our favorite buzzwords and expressions that best capture the U of T student experience in the past year. 10) AF Who needs adverbs like 'very,' 'really,' or even 'hella' to emphasize how drastic something is, when we can simply throw two letters behind the adjective in question? Used in a sentence: Ten buzzwords? That’s excessive af. 9) #COMETOGETHER The mass Jays hysteria that spread through the entire Toronto consciousness earlier this year was complimented by the hashtag that perfectly encapsulated the city’s love for our favourite baseball birds. Used in a sentence: heading down to the SkyDo — err, Rogers Centre. #ComeTogether 8) (STU)DYING A term that U of T students are all too fa-

miliar with. In the height of exam season, it’s hard to tell whether our late night Robarts study sessions are ensuring our bright futures, or accelerating our inevitable, stressinduced demise. Used in a sentence: I’ll be up all night stuDYING for tomorrow’s final… 7) NETFLIX AND CHILL Ah yes — the quintessential booty call in disguise. The best part about this meme-inducing, Halloween-costume-inspiring phenomenon? Everyone knows exactly what you mean by suggesting a Netflix and chill. Used in a sentence: Sup bae, Netflix and chill? 6) DRAKE/NORM KELLY/6IX GODS & GODDESSES Ever since he left the city you, Started saying 6ix and going out more, Retweeting city councilors you’ve never seen before, Used in a sentence: I study at the University of the 6ix 5) "INTERESTED IN GOING" This new Facebook event response option is perfectly suited for the indecisive twentysomething-year-old living in Toronto. Those

ridiculous garden parties and battle re-enactment events you all said you were going to last summer, but when it rolled around you stayed in playing Rocket League with your roommate? Facebook has just the thing. Now you can be a part of the event without being held accountable for actually showing up! Used in a sentence: ‘Eat Chocolate Cake and Listen to Adele for 60 Hours?’ *Interested in Going* 4) #SQUADGOALS This prominent 2015 hashtag helped us articulate our envy. Admittedly, our cliques look a lot less cool than Batman, Wonder Woman, and Superman do in the latest Batman v. Superman trailer, or even Taylor Swift's celebrity militia in the video for “Bad Blood” — but a squad can dream, can’t they? Used in a sentence: Suicide Squad? More like Suicide #SquadGoals. 3) CREDIT/NO CREDIT What most students ultimately took away from last winter’s TA strike was the ability to credit/ no credit any courses they saw fit. This meant that you could take a required course, receive the credit, but not have your final grade affect your GPA if you did poorly in that class. It was a wonderful time to be a lazy student.

Used in a sentence: …I can redit/no credit ANY class? 2) #UOFTEARS The final hashtag on our list is a beautiful one. It boils down the despair, anxiety, and sense of hopelessness we’ve all felt the night before an exam, or paper is due into one, tragically relatable saying. Used in a sentence: When your break from studying for exams is spent writing one of your exams #UofTears 1) LISTICLES The list article, or ‘listicle’ as we in the business call it, has become the darling of Internet-based publications. Whether recapping the highlights of the prior night’s award show, or counting down the best episodes of an obscure Canadian television program, your news feed — the ultimate procrastination destination — has been hijacked by these convenient clickholes this year. Used in a sentence: A list? That’s how he ended the article?!

A light in the dark The AGO’s latest exhibit highlight J.M.W. Turner’s obsession with depicting sunlight ELIZAVETA MIRONOVA VARSITY CONTRIBUTOR

Turner's paintings are notoriously bleak. COURTESY AGO

J.M.W Turner: Painting Set Free is the latest exhibit to feature at the Art Gallery of Ontario. It is a collection of more than fifty pieces of Turner's artwork which showcase his later, experimental works. A talented landscape painter, Turner’s romantic style of painting persisted even as he changed the medium in which he worked. Where he missed the mark, however, was in capturing the attention of his viewers. Turner visited Switzerland, Italy, and France, and created basic watercolor compositions of Lake Geneva and the waterways of Venice. The colors in paintings such as "Fisherman on the Lagoon, Moonlight" and "The Dogano, San Giorgio, Citella from the Steps of the Europa" are calming, but not particularly unique. The exhibit spends a lot of its energy focusing on a very similar kind of painting presented in different color schemes, which unfortunately fails to captivate the audience's interest. However, as you stroll through the exhibition, a gratifying change is revealed at the introduction of Turner’s oil and canvas paintings. In contrast to the watercolor pieces that showcase Turner’s basic depictions of European landscape, the oil paintings are more complex. His obsession with light is intriguing, and the circular motion of the paint brush perfectly complements the faded saintly fig-

ures, noticeable in "The Angel Standing in the Sun." Equally astounding is the "Shade and Darkness — The Evening of the Deluge." At first sight, the painting portrays an abstract source of light; however, as you near the painting and begin to examine the details, you notice the faint outline of human and animal figures swirling around the center of the canvas. Many of Turner’s naval portraits also incorporate this recurring theme of light. His two famous paintings, "Snow Storm" and "Peace – Burial at Sea," are spectacular examples of the balance between tranquility and chaos. The dark scenes of an aggressive sea are interrupted with a gleaming and soft touch of light. The brush strokes are undefined and unpredictable, which makes you wonder what Turner’s intentions were when creating his pieces. While segments of the exhibit can be tedious, Painting Set Free is worth attending for the moments of reward that come with the occasional Turner ‘masterpiece.’ While Turner certainly isn’t for everyone, the representation of light that runs through his paintings showcase a captivating progression of the British painter’s career. J.M.W Turner: Painting Set Free runs until January 31, 2016 at the AGO



M O N DAY 7 D E C E M B E R 2 015

“As it appears from the outside” Shay Salehi gives The Varsity a tour of her studio in Guelph CORINNE PRZYBYSLAWSKI VARSITY STAFF

Salehi's artisan bowls earned her the Riedel Award in Venice. CORINNE PRZYBYSLAWSKI/THE VARSITY

Generation Y is lauded for its ability to create unique career paths from within an over-saturated market. Given the preeminence of the Internet, the monetization of any skill becomes dependent upon a person's ability to manipulate their network and online resources. However, despite how conducive digital marketing can be towards success, some traditional values still linger. Memorability and shock value still maintain their natural attractions. The initial impression a product makes on its audience is paramount. Memorability is key when attempting to reach external communities. Such is the case for Guelph-based glass artist, Shay Salehi. Salehi has gained local and international acclaim for her pâte de verre bowls. The bold and distinctive pigmentation of her work has earned her the Riedel Award in Venice, and the One of a Kind Show Craft Community Award. At 22, Salehi proves that creative expression can be fulfilling, both individually and financially. About an hour outside of Toronto, the closeknit atmosphere of Guelph is obviously the city's central charm. Though Shay now misses the GTA, she notes that Guelph has served

as a good platform for her to debut as a visual artist. She is approached by at least six different people between the station and her studio, and she laughs that in Guelph, “Everybody knows everybody’s business almost immediately — there are no secrets here.” She says the supportive community that exists is crucial to establishing a career. As a result, a career in the arts “is not necessarily as inaccessible as it appears from the outside.” Shay shares Alleyway Studios with several other artists. Some are practicing glass, some are practicing sculpture, and one is soon to be practicing photography. She leads me past a space laden with sculptures, paintings, and various products created by the studio's creative residents. In Shay’s own space, the shelves are adorned with several of her pâte de verre bowls — “forms that are either older, or that have not yet been placed in galleries.” Seated at the work desk that occupies the majority of the first room in her studio space, Shay begins to walk me through her creative process. She explains that her bowls are the result of “fusing,” which involved taking “the glass to a hot enough temperature” so that

Alleyway Studios is home to a number of artists. CORINNE PRZYBYSLAWSKI/THE VARSITY

“the beads will attach to each other.” This is what gives her bowls their distinct opacity and brittle texture. Traditionally, pâte de verre requires a mould and powdered glass, and the pigment is to come from the actual glass. When asked about how she came across this method, she explains that pâte de verre is something that she was taught in school, but what gives her traditional approach a marketable advantage is the spray painted pigment she applies to the glass. The type of glass she uses is “not traditional for pâte de verre, and comes in a powdered form.” She calls the medium “impact beads,” which are typically used on roadways to create a reflective surface for vehicles maneuvering in the dark. The key ingredient that Salehi integrates into her unconventional process is eccentricity. She says that although she is “not good at flame working due to it being more meticulous and detailed,” she was drawn to glass-working nonetheless. To make her pieces, she uses “a balloon, dip[s] it in wax, pop[s] the balloon, and [is] left with the wax form.” Once she has her wax form, she

manipulates the formation to clean it up and form a plaster mould of the shape. Once the wax has been steamed out, the hollow shape that she is left with allows her to “pack glass into the plaster mould, throw it into the kiln, and fuse it together.” “At first I wanted to learn how to make pipes and bongs but as I got into school, I drifted away from that because there was so much more to the medium,” she says. According to Salehi, the reality of being a practicing artist is that “if you’re doing it as a job, you have to sell stuff.” In her experience, “People just wanted to buy it, and I saw nothing wrong with that,” which left her with an apartment and a studio paid solely off the income from her bowls. The striking pigment and texture of her bowls leaves the glass to look like a CGI-rendered object. Shay Salehi is an example of how eccentricity will distinguish an artist within the creative community, and as a result, a self-awareness of it arguably becomes the more valuable asset.

Salehi's artwork ranges from pottery design to glass-blowing. CORINNE PRZYBYSLAWSKI/THE VARSITY

M O N DAY 7 D E C E M B E R 2 015



Seasonal drollery Second City’s Unwrapped features U of T graduate Brandon Hackett ANDREW FRIESEN VARSITY CONTRIBUTOR

Second City’s Unwrapped is an annual occurrence. The sketch comedy show satirizes the banalities of the over-saturated yuletide cultural traditions we are bombarded with during the holiday season. Not only does the show poke fun at the tackiness of holiday songs, the pressure of socializing at workplace Christmas parties, family feuds, and seasonal romance, but it cuts a little bit deeper as well. This year’s performance highlights the distance we can feel between each other during a time of the year in which we’re supposed to embrace our time spent together. I had the opportunity to chat with cast member Brandon Hackett, a U of T graduate, about his journey into the world of comedy. Hackett graduated from Victoria College where he began his foray into sketch and stand-up at The Bob Comedy Sketch Revue. “When I first started out in university I was looking for a place to make friends, and [I] got accepted to The Bob and did that for four years,” Hackett tells me. “I began to do some comedy outside of school, and when I performed outside the confines of my peers, I got an inkling that this is what I wanted to do.” Nonetheless, Hackett had a few reservations, and remained undecided about his future career path. “I didn’t realize comedy was a thing you

Unwrapped is Second City's annual holiday performance. RACHEAL MCCAIG/THE VARSITY

could do as a career. I came to university thinking I would just study literature then figure it out, but eventually I started doing other shows and classes [at Second City] and got hired after I graduated their two-year program.” A particularly memorable skit incorporates Hackett portraying a holiday crooner in the same vein as Bing Crosby or Bobby Vinton. Glass of whiskey in hand, Hackett begins singing about

Christmas-time, but slowly switches up the lyrics of the song to incorporate Hanukkah, Kwanza, and a plethora of other religious ceremonies and celebrations. The challenge was to be as ‘politically correct’ as possible, and to be as inviting and considerate as he could be. Eventually the song became a praise for the secularization of all holiday traditions. The skit nods to fervently opinionated Christmas spirited consumers, and

it’s hard not to think of the Starbucks ‘War on Christmas’ debacle while watching. The sketches escalate, and before you know it, cast member Lindsay Mullen is acting as a sloshed Virgin Mary praising her son Jesus, intentionally embarrassing him while inadvertently embarrassing herself in the process. To make matters more hilarious, Jesus, in this case, was a member of the audience. The inebriated Mother Mary exhibits the typical colloquialisms and mannerisms of a middle-class suburban mom who has had one too many glasses of wine. Unlike theatre production, Second City’s performances are written primarily by the cast. “[The cast] creates a concept, improvises and re-improvises the concept, we talk about it a lot to figure out the point of view and how to heighten the speed or the idea a bit more,” Hackett says. “There are 6 brains working on one thing, which makes it a gradual process that is discovery based.” The communal process creates an entertaining show that combines the humour of every cast member. During the show, it’s not difficult to see the actors bouncing their varying comedic styles off one another. Unwrapped runs at the Second City Main Stage until January 1.


Optometrist Complete eye examinations

Dispense Contact Lenses & Glasses

Gentle, Caring & Compassionate Dentistry HEALTHY TEETH = HAPPY SMILE


Find us at:

720 Spadina Ave, Unit #401

WORK YOUR DEGREE WITH A POSTGRAD Our postgraduate certificates help you accelerate your career by providing specialized training that builds on your previous degree or diploma combined with the opportunity to gain practical experience taking on real-world challenges.

315 Avenue Road Floor 1, Suite 2, Toronto (Between St. Clair & Dupont) FREE PARKING 416.926.0123

7 December 2015








CONNECT CARS FOR SMART CITIES Shahrokh Valaee, a professor at the Department of Electrical and Computer Science, will be discussing developments in vehicles and research related to enhancing communication in vehicular networks. Monday, December 7, 2015 12:30 pm - 1:30 pm George Vari Centre 245 Church St. Admission: Free with registration

INTRO TO WEB DEVELOPMENT Bitmaker is hosting a hands-on introductory workshop to web development. Its open to the public and teaches the fundamentals of HTML+ CSS Monday, December 7, 2015 6:30 pm – 8:30 pm 220 King St. West Admission: Free with registration

DARK MATTER AND THE DINOSAUR Moffat, Chandrashekhar and Aregger from the Moffat Lab. PHOTO COURTESY OF MOFFAT LAB

of s o at ab has successfully mapped almost all of the genes necessary for cell sur i al in the human genome SHAAN BHAMBRA VARSITY CONTRIBUTOR

Last month, scientists at the Moffat Lab announced to the world that they had achieved something that for years had been thought to be impossible. Using new gene editing tools, scientists successfully turned off genes in five different cancer cell lines, in order to determine what combination of genes allow cancer cells to thrive. The data published in Cell, has found a set of approximately 1,500 genes essential for the survival of cancer cells. In order to achieve this, the Moffat Lab needed to switch off nearly 90 per cent of all genes in the human genome. This work has relied on the new gene editing technology known as CRISPR-Cas9, developed by Dr. Feng Zhang of MIT, who visited U of T in October. The new technology has reinvigorated molecular genetics, starting a race between

competing labs worldwide to use the technology to determine which genes in the human genome are necessary for cell survival. To make their work comprehensive, the lab switched genes off in five different cancer cell lines. A cell line is a collection of cells derived from a single type of cell — for example a cancer cell — where all cells contain the same genetic makeup. Cell lines are useful because they allow researchers to study a given cell on a mass scale. Brain, retinal, ovarian, and two colorectal cancer cell lines were studied. The team, led by U of T associate professor Jason Moffat, found that each type of cancer had a unique signature of genes supporting its survival. This finding is especially exciting to the world of biomedical research, because it indicates that the future of cancer treatment may be tailored to a specific cancer type or genetic variant.

Megha Chandrashekhar, a PhD student in Dr. Moffat’s lab and contributing author to the paper containing the published results, notes that “what makes our [lab’s] study more interesting is the identification of sets of genes specifically required in certain cancer cell types but not in others. These contextspecific essential genes make ideal therapeutic targets. Targeting these genes should kill only the cancer cells but not the normal healthy tissues.” Currently, chemotherapeutic methods utilize widespread toxicity, killing cancerous and non-cancerous cells alike. With the new findings from the Moffat Lab, the future of cancer-treating drugs may be less toxic, and more effective. It is very likely that drug-development researchers will use the findings from the Moffat lab to investigate the effects of experimental drugs on specific cancer types.

“We can identify unique drug targets that are cancer type specific. These novel targets might be proteins whose functions are completely unknown or proteins whose function we understand, but we would have never thought would make a suitable drug target in cancer therapy,” Chandrashekhar said. “Once new drug targets are identified, one can develop small molecule drugs or antibodies that inhibit that protein and selectively kill cancer cells.” The results also demonstrate the ability to connect drugs to treating specif ic cancer types. The paper showed that a common and inexpensive diabetes drug has the capacity to target brain and colorectal cancers. If an inexpensive and ubiquitous drug may be a solution to certain cancers, cancer-attenuating medicines may be widespread in the developing world.

Hosted by York Science Forum, the talk features physicist Lisa Randall from Harvard University and her book Dark Matter and the Dinosaurs. A panel discussion between York University physicists Sean Tulin and Wendy Taylor will follow Randall’s talk. Friday, December 11, 2015 6:30 pm – 9:30 pm 789 Yonge St. Toronto Reference Library Admission: Free with registration


Dr. Nader Behdad, an electrical engineer will discuss miniaturizedelement frequency selective surfaces in design. Behdad will discuss principles of operation of MEFSS and present examples and applications in microwa e lenses, re ectrarrays, and polarizing converters. Friday, December 11, 2015 4:00 pm 40 St. George St. Bahen Center for Information Technology RM: BA1210 Admission: Free with registration

M O N DAY 7 D E C E M B E R 2 015



A bloody business e

study redefines ho stem cells ma e blood


Thanks to advances in technology and testing methods, the half-life of facts in science seems to get shorter and shorter. Certain dogmas are being challenged and occasionally overturned. In a finding published earlier this month in Science, Dr. John Dick and his team from the Princess Margaret Cancer Center, which is affiliated with the University of Toronto, have discovered a new explanation for understanding how stem cells make human blood. The new findings suggest that the textbook view of blood development, set from the 1960s onward, may not have existed at all. “What we find [instead] is that the decision by the stem cell to become a mature blood cell happens very quickly, they don’t go through a slow gradual process like what was thought before,” said Dick. The conventional theory was that blood stems cells had to go through intermediate steps in order to become mature blood cells. In an interview with University Health Network (UHN), Dick uses the metaphor of the glass prism and white light to describe blood cell development. “You have white light shining through the glass. Blood stem cells are like the white light. They have all the colors of the rainbow in them, and as they become

more and more specialized, the colors of the rainbow get broken off one at a time, and at the bottom you have all of the colors that represent the different types of blood cells.” In addition to the faster transition from stem cell to mature blood cell, their findings also propose that the process of blood development differs in the fetal and adult stages. “In the adult, there is this two-tiered development system, where the stem cells are multipotent, but the progenitors are unipotent and don’t have the intermediate stages,” explained Dick. “This decision to become a mature blood cell comes right out of the stem cell compartment.” In contrast, his team reports that in the fetal stage the stem cells and progenitors are a more multipotent system. This redefined model sets the stage to further the understanding of a variety of human blood disorders. Dick uses the example of aplastic anemia, where the body doesn’t produce enough new blood cells because of improper bone marrow development. “Aplastic anemia has not been properly clarified,” he said. “What we have realized is that some progenitors are still around in aplastic anemia, so using this new model they could be potentially ‘guided’ to become mature blood cells right out of stem cell compartment. That is something we wouldn’t have known using the old textbook view.”

The new discovery may change how we think about blood forever. NEETA LIND/CC FLICKR

What’s the buzz? tudent bee eeping club elcomes ne

or er bees

Keepers and their bees are hard at work on campus. MATTHEW FOK/THE VARSITY



You may or may not have been aware that the U of T community is buzzing with a significant bee population — as well as a human one. The presence of our fuzzy friends, however, is no reason for alarm. The bees are maintained by the U of T Bees Education Enthusiast Society (U of T B.E.E.S.), a student club whose goal is to educate students and the community on beekeeping practices and the crucial role that bees have in a healthy ecosystem. U of T B.E.E.S. currently manages four hives on top of the Faculty Club building and three hives on the roof of Trinity College. “[U of T B.E.E.S.] provides an opportunity to educate communities outside of [the] U of

T student body,” says Naomi Alon, the U of T B.E.E.S president. “Having that open outreach allows for U of T to establish themselves as more than a postsecondary school and more of a part of [the] Toronto community.” The new Worker BEES program by U of T B.E.E.S. is an opportunity for more students to attend workshops, speeches, and meetings held by The Urban Toronto Beekeepers Association. The club also hosts lip balm making tutorials, documentary viewings, and hive tours during the warmer seasons. “[Worker BEES] gives access for young people to look into a whole new industry and problems in ecosystems and agriculture and it is also a networking opportunity” says hive manager officer, Theri Reichlin. Spring and summer are when the U of T B.E.E.S. are the

busiest. Training begins for new students on the basics of urban beekeeping, such as hive maintenance and honey extraction. Although the U of T B.E.E.S. is a lighthearted group where students can share their love of bees, the meetings also emphasize the importance that bees play in the environment and the agricultural district. There is speculation that a type of insecticide called neonicotinoid is to blame for the mass decline in the bee population in North America. This is known as colony collapse disorder, when most of the worker bees of a colony disappear. Alon says that “it is in [our] best interest to acknowledge the role that bees play as a keystone species in the ecosystem.” Bees play an integral, niche role as pollinators in food

production and security in North America. It was noted at the last U of T B.E.E.S. annual meeting that the decline in the bee population is not only an environmental issue, but also an economic and agricultural one. U of T B.E.E.S. is among one of the first urban beekeeping student clubs in Canada. During the peak seasons in the summer, there can range between 60,000 and 80,000 bees per rooftop colony. Alon’s favourite aspect of the club is that it provides “an opportunity to learn about food production and how bees are an integral component to agriculture.” For more information on how to get involved with the U of T B.E.E.S, you can visit their website.



M O N DAY 7 D E C E M B E R 2 015

U of T Commemorates HIV/AIDS U of T International Health Program holds commemoration at Hart House for lives lost to HIV/AIDS SHAAN BHAMBRA VARSITY CONTRIBUTOR

As of 2014, approximately 37 million people with HIV. To provide an opportunity to discuss their struggles, the U of T International Health Program (UTIHP) and Global Health Engage — a subgroup of UTIHP — hosted a commemorative panel on World AIDS Day last week. Last year, U of T commemorated World AIDS day by lighting Hart House up with red lighting. This year, the panel featured talks from various Toronto-based HIV activists and experts, including Dr. Phillip Berger, medical director of St. Michael’s Hospital’s Inner City Health Program; Alison Symington, Co-Director of Research & Advocacy at the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network; and Dr. Ann Stewart, the medical director of Casey House. Other speakers present

were Dr. Sumeet Sodhi, a senior scientist at Dignitas International, and Nicci Stein, the executive director of Teresa Group. One of the more inspiring talks at the event was delivered by the youngest speaker of the group, Muluba Habanyama. Muluba explained during her speech how she lived the first 22 years of her life with the secret that she was born HIV-positive. Muluba lost both of her parents to HIV/AIDS, and after feeling frustrated with having to hide her status, announced to the world her HIV-positive status at a World AIDS Day event last year. Today, she is a public advocate for reducing the stigma around HIV, and is also a journalism student at Sheridan College. The UTIHP World AIDS Day event also featured musical performances from U of T students, and was preceded by an NGO fair, with representatives from a variety of HIV and global health-related U of T clubs.

Hart House commemorated World AIDS Day with a panel of multiple speakers. VIA UOFT CCGHR/FACEBOOK





Going to a competitive school like U of T causes students a lot of stress, which can be visible on their skin. Previous research has made an association between skin conditions and stress. Due to a small sample size, however, these studies are limited. Researchers at the Lewis Katz School of Medicine (LKSOM) at Temple University wanted to pursue the issue further, so they conducted a cross-sectional study during the fall of 2014. Five thousand undergraduates were surveyed to report their perceived psychological stress and any skin complaints. The final sample contained 422 students divided among three groups: low stress, moderate stress, and high stress. Results showed that students who were under high stress on a regular basis suffered skin problems more often than students who were under low stress. These symptoms include pruritus (itchy skin); alopecia (hair loss); oily, waxy or flaky patches on the scalp; hyperhidrosis (troublesome sweating); scaly skin, onychophagia (nail biting), itchy rash on hands; and trichotillomania (hair pulling). Dr. Gill Yosopovitch, the chair of the dermatology department at LKSOM, says, “Our findings highlight the need for health care/ dermatology providers to ask these patients about their perceived levels of psychological stress. Disease flare or exacerbation while on treatment in the setting of increased stress may not necessarily reflect treatment failure.” The results can be valuable to dermatologists who treat undergraduate patients, as it may help them to better diagnose and treat skin conditions.

Dr. Millica Radistic, a professor at U of T’s department of Chemical Engineering, has successfully grown beating heart tissue using electrical stimulation. The heart is about the size of a dime and was developed using a type of human stem cell called pluripotent stem cells. These stem cells have the potential to differentiate into different cell types in the body, including heart cells, which Radistic has successfully grown into working, beating tissue. With timed application of growth factors these undifferentiated stem cells are programmed to turn into premature cardiomyocytes, otherwise known as heart cells. Although at this stage the heart cells are still not fully developed, Radistic explains that these immature cardiomyocytes are digested and placed in little wells in a specially designed bioreactor. One the cells are in the bioreactor, electrical stimulation of increasing frequency is applied. “We keep stimulating it at [a] faster and faster rate,” says Radistic adding that, “this is almost like a gym for the cell.” The electrical stimulation procedure results in more mature heart cells. It is possible that these heart tissues will replace animal cells in pharmaceutical testing. “When [pharmaceutical companies] have new drugs, they are only 75-90 per cent sure about the drug safety before they go into human trials,” Radistic explains. “We believe that arrays of human heart tissue could help in both safety testing and also in discovery.” “We grow millimetre-scale tissues, something like the size of a quarter or dime, and then these little pieces of tissues could be used in future studies, translational studies.”

Nobel Prize winning economist Joseph Stiglitz once said, “There is great divide in America. And we probably shouldn’t count on the rich to donate their wealth.” A new study by researchers from U of T’s Rotman School of Management and Stanford University found that those with higher incomes are less generous than those with lower incomes when they live in places with high income inequality. The results come from a survey of around 1,500 people in the US playing the “dictator game;” participants were given raffle tickets which they could decide to donate. People earning more than $125,000 in states with more income inequality were significantly less generous than similarly high-earning residents of states where there was less income equality. The generosity of people earning less than $15,000 did not vary. A further experiment, where 700 people were given false information regarding the inequality in their home states, revealed similar correlations between perceived inequality and generosity amongst the rich. The researchers think this arises because people in unequal societies may feel more entitled to their income or try to rationalize their position. They also believe that progressive taxation and other policies that equalize income could possibly foster more generosity among high earners.

Scientists at U of T recently identified the first Canadian fossil to belong to the Dimetrodon family. They are creatures that, despite their dinosaur-like appearance, were more closely related to mammals than to reptiles. Surprisingly, the fossil itself is not a new discovery; it was dug up in 1845 by a farmer on Prince Edward Island. Joseph Leidy of Philadelphia’s Academy of Natural Sciences believed the fossil was the jaw of a dinosaur and named the species Bathygnathus borealis, describing its “deep jaw” and northern origin. The scientific community has long suspected Bathygnathus was not a dinosaur, but rather a member of the Dimetrodon family. The fossil’s status was not confirmed until Kirsten Brink, then a PhD candidate at UTM, realized an analysis of the teeth within the fossil could potentially identify it as a Dimetrodon. Brink’s team used a CT scanner at the Princess Margaret Hospital to take images of the interior of the fossil. After processing the images at Carleton University, they found that the fossil contained Dimetrodon’s distinct “steak-knife” teeth, allowing Brink to positively identify the fossil as a member of Dimetrodon. As a result, Bathygnathus borealis has been renamed Dimetrodon borealis, merging two previously distinct groups and forming a distinctly Canadian contribution to paleontology and phylogenetics.

— Sudipta Saha

— Andrew Kidd

— Jasmine Chopra

— Nyima Gyalmo


7 December 2015

The Blues’ women’s water polo team win consistently, but are underrepresented in campus media. PHOTO COURTESY OF VARSITY BLUES

A long road for Blues water polo Women’s water polo consistently win big, so why doesn’t anyone care? ADIT DAGA


After winning their third straight OUA championship, earning five banners in eight years, the Varsity Blues’ women’s water polo teams’ large success and lack of recognition is a perfect example of how the U of T community routinely fails to rally around athletics teams. George Gross, the team’s coach, explains that this is due, in part, to a lack of awareness. “I think that we have what [is] considered a ‘minor sport’ on the North American college radar so, by definition, our sport does not get a lot of media coverage even on the campus. So the first step is to increase the regular coverage in The Varsity and get the results off to the radio station on campus and the next part of it is to have our players start initially being a little more committed to getting the friends of theirs that aren’t in water polo out to watch them play.”

At second glance, this is a larger problem. Rosalee Lorraine Brown, one of the team’s veterans explains the stigma around water polo at the university itself. “The stereotype is that ‘we don’t win anything’ every banner ceremony I’ve been to, the women’s golf and field hockey teams have been there too. I’m sure the ceremonies for spring are similar. But no one realizes it. So here I am tearing my hair out about how many Instagram posts the football and basketball teams get during their training camp and the hype around each game with a mascot and all... and then how we get a shoutout on Twitter if we’re lucky.” The team couldn’t be performing better. Brown days that, “we have a team cohesion that’s pretty unique. We’ve been fortunate enough to get along with each other generally. We have some true talent and many years of experience between us

as well. It’s just a ton of fun, we have a blast together.” The OUA Championship this weekend highlighted the team’s younger talent. “Megan MacCormac, [a first-year] from Ottawa. She scored a hat trick in the semi-final and two goals in the final and she picked up a lot of the slack when Emily Bidinosti went down with an injury. And as well Ana Miroslavic who is our centre check, centre defense she had a very strong year shutting down the opposing teams’ forwards, as well as scoring lots of goals on the counter attack,” describes Gross. Despite these great accomplishments, Brown can’t help but contrast water polo’s significance in Canada to the attention the sport draws in the US. “The water polo culture in California is very different,” she says adding that, “the community is a thousand times bigger and you get lost in the crowd.

Here everyone knows one another. That isn’t always necessarily a good thing though, I like not knowing any of our opponents. I miss polo at home, there’s something about playing in outdoor pools that reminds me of my passion for the sport.” But if this season has demonstrated anything, it’s that the team is one to look out for. “We’re going to improve our recruiting again,” reflects Gross. “We’re in the midst of a very aggressive recruiting campaign so that’s the first step we need to work on. The second part will be taking the players that we have and integrating them so that they play more rhythmically as a unit.” Looking at the bigger picture, the team one day hopes to compete outside of just Ontario. “We’ve [OUA coaches] put together a plan a year ago and that is geared around adding three women’s teams within five years.”



M O N DAY 7 D E C E M B E R 2 015

Quidditch through U of T Captain Sarah Basciano talks broom sports, stereotypes, and Harry Potter EMMA KIKULIS SPORTS EDITOR

U of T is home to a plethora of teams, but there remains a stigma about what constitutes a sport. Earlier this year we covered Torontula, our university’s very own women’s ultimate Frisbee team who — despite winning a national competition — have had a hard time defending the legitimacy of their sport. The Centaurs are U of T’s Quidditch team and have faced similar struggles in finding recognition on campus. Captain and president of the Centaurs Sarah Basciano, is in her final year at the Faculty of Music. Sarah spoke to The Varsity about her hopes for the sport, where she sees Quidditch going at U of T, and its place on the world stage. The Varsity: How does one get into Quidditch? What is the selection process like, and are there any sports that are good precursors? Sarah Basciano: “I used to play baseball, volleyball, and basketball. I played [baseball] for eight years and it was actually during frosh week [that] my friends sent me an invite on Facebook and on the day of were like ‘yo I’m going to Quidditch tryouts’ and I was like that sounds like the best thing ever, and I went and instantly fell in love with it. [Quidditch is] definitely competitive. We had tryouts... I think we had about 60 or so [students] out [this year]’s a fun process.”

TV: Do you find that there’s one position that people are more inclined to try out for, like the seeker? SB: “No, actually. It’s pretty spread out. Probably the least popular is the seeker, not because its least liked, just because it’s least understood... People love seeking once they get into it, it’s just hard to get into because it it’s hard to understand how it works.” TV: How is the season going so far? SB: “So far we’ve played three tournaments. We went to Waterloo for the first, Guelph for the second, and we just went to Queen’s... Quidditch Canada puts on some more official tournaments later on in the season so we have regionals and nationals coming up next semester. Those are in Montréal and Kingston... We’re a very new team this year, we had 17 new people and only 11 vets. I think we have more strength this year and more size, as well as speed — which we’ve had in previous years — so I think we have the ability to be really good. Right now, I just need them to have experience playing together to learn how to work with each other...we’re doing really well but we’re not a top team yet.” TV: Do you consider Quidditch a sport? Why do you think the broader community largely disagrees with classifying Quidditch as a sport? SB: “Oh yeah, definitely! How we usually describe it is a mix of rugby, dodgeball, bas-

of T s uidditch team hopes to host its first tournament ne t semester. PHOTO COURTESY OF U OF T QUIDDITCH TEAM

ketball, and wrestling. Nobody really knows what Quidditch is... A lot of people don’t understand, they think it’s just a bunch of nerds running around with a broom between their legs and having fun. It is fun, but it’s also really, really competitive. The first question you always get is, ‘how do you fly?!’” TV: Do you want people to associate Quidditch with Harry Potter? SB: “There are a lot of Quidditch players that don’t know Harry Potter, people who haven’t read the books at all, because they just like the sport itself. You get half and half, so some are hard core Harry Potter fans and that’s why they play the sport... and some people are like

‘what’s Harry Potter?’ I’m not like hard core, but I do enjoy Harry Potter. The seventh book and the fourth movie [are my favourite].” TV: Where does Quidditch go from here? World championships? Olympics? CIS? SB: “I think it’s going to take a long time, but I think it could happen. Quidditch is only a decade old at this point, so I think it really could get into the Olympics, but there’s a lot that would have to happen. Maybe in like 20 years we can see it there. It should be varsity, I think it could definitely happen, and I don’t know why it hasn’t yet. I guess people are so like weirded out by it, they don’t get it, yet they think of it as a club rather than a sport.”

Sports’ impact on the broader community The benefit of sports surpasses individual physical feats CODY MORRISON VARSITY CONTRIBUTOR


More often than not, the media present the physical, mental, and social benefits of competitive or recreational sports as the reasons why athletes play. What often goes unnoticed in the world of athletics is the strong impact that sports teams, leagues, and individual athletes have on the community outside the rink, court, or pitch. Professional sports organizations like the NFL, NHL, and MLB give millions of dollars annually to various national and local charities through various funds and foundations. Toronto — home to local favourites such as the Maple Leafs, the Raptors, and the Blue Jays — makes significant financial contributions to local charities. In the last 15 years, the Leafs’ Fund and the Raptors Fund (hockey and basketball fundraising organizations) have raised over $30 million through initiatives for at risk groups since their establishment over 15 years ago. In 2014, Jays Care Foundation (the Blue Jays baseball fundraising organization) raised over $400,000 for various Toronto youth initiatives. In addition to the millions of dollars given to charities by these athletic organizations, many individual athletes on these teams volunteer their time to various communities. It is not uncommon to see Leafs, Jays, and Raptors players spending time at Toronto’s SickKids Hospital, signing autographs for and playing games with the children. Giving back isn’t just for the big leagues though. U of T’s very own Varsity Blues are certainly not new to the idea of giving back to their community.

Recently, the Varsity Blues’ women’s hockey team hosted a Holiday Toy Toss event at their game on November 27. The toy toss marked the fourth anniversary of the event for the hockey program. This program collects hundreds of toys and food items for the University of Toronto Students’ Union (UTSU) food bank, which helps families and individuals in need at the St. George campus. For the Varsity Blues Athletes their commitment to their community goes beyond individual events that take place just a few times a year. Earlier this month, the U of T Athletic department launched the Blues Buddy Up program. The program, which was created and designed by varsity athletes, is based on the BLUES philosophy: Believe, Learn, Understand, Excel, and Succeed. It places student athletes in elementary schools around the City of Toronto to mentor kids in grades four through six, with the goal of developing the children’s leadership and interpersonal skills. In an interview with the Blues’ on November 2, Beth Ali, director of intercollegiate and high performance sport and acting assistant dean of U of T’s Faculty of Kinesiology and Physical Education, praised the program saying, “To see [Blue’s Athletes] give back to the community this way is the definition of leadership.” Ali couldn’t have said it any better. The demands on student athletes to devote time to their respective sport is often a large commitment in itself, but giving even more time to help their local community is nothing short of impressive.

M O N DAY 7 D E C E M B E R 2 015



Sliding rocks down ice What Canada’s other winter sport is, and is not, all about ALEX MCKEEN FEATURES EDITOR

As winter dawns, so too does the season for one of Canada’s lesser known winter ice sports: curling. A couple of weeks ago, I found myself walking through campus with a curling broom in hand. I had to rush from a meeting on campus to my game that evening. My bizarre load was met with more than a few strange looks as passers-by cocked their heads in order to read the brand name off the side of the device. From their looks of bewilderment, I ascertained that most people on campus that day had no idea what my curling broom was, and those that did were probably perplexed by the fact that I was hauling it around, despite there not being a curling club in near proximity. Regardless of the perceptible lack of enthusiasm among the younger generation, curling continues to be one of the sports that Canadians regularly excel at. The Canadian men’s team has brought home gold for the past three Winter Olympic Games, and the women have placed third, second, and first over the same time period. Even more impressive is the fact that, throughout all of these victories, Canada was represented by completely different


teams of four. It is arguable that the Canadian championships are more competitive than the world championships. This may compel any reasonable person to conclude that Canadians are badass at this sport. But is it really a sport? Isn’t it just darts on ice? These are questions curlers hear all the time. And, from what I’ve heard, their responses tend to be the same: once you try it, you’ll love it. Until then, here are some mythbusters to get you started. Myth: The aim of curling is to throw the rock as close to the centre of the rings (the button) as possible. Fact: Much of the confusion surrounding curling has to do with scoring. It’s easy to understand why. Each sheet of ice on which curling is played is adorned with two sets of concentric circles (the rings) that resemble targets or dart boards. A game of curling consists of a set number of rounds (ends) in which 16 rocks are thrown, eight by each team. Scoring does not occur until after all 16 rocks are thrown. The rock that is closest to the button scores one point. The team that threw that

rock may score one additional point for each rock that is closer to the button than the other team’s closest rock. Myth: Some people throw, some people sweep. Fact: At first glance, it would seem that the four players on each curling team have clearly distinguished roles: one athlete throws, two athletes sweep, and one person yells loudly (hurry hard!) from the other end. Actually, every person on each team throws two rocks, in a predetermined order according to each player’s position on the team: lead, second, vice, and skip. Because of the way the scoring works, the skip has the most important position, and this is the person who directs the team from the other end of the ice. The two people of the lead, second, and vice who are not throwing, sweep the rock. Myth: Sweeping a rock directs it one way or another. Fact: This is a very common belief about curling that has, until recently, held no ground. Curling ice is textured in order to create friction, which allows the rocks to curl in the

direction it was released. All sweeping does is heat up the ice in order to reduce friction along the rock’s path. This has two effects: it causes the rock to decelerate more slowly, and it reduces the rock’s curl. The skip calls for sweeping in order to adjust for the line and weight of the rock. Recently, the Hardline curling company came out with icePad technology brooms, which supposedly allow sweepers to manipulate the direction of the rock when sweeping. This has caused an uproar in the curling community, with veteran athletes saying the technology compromises the integrity of the game. Myth: All curlers drink a lot of beer. Fact: This is probably not true of Olympic or tournament curlers, but at your average community weekend bonspiel (curling tournament) expect pints and people in equal proportions. It is also considered curling etiquette for the winning team to buy the losing team a round of drinks after the game.

Staying healthy, active, and (relatively) sane during exams Don’t let your health fall by the wayside this December




Exam season never ceases to bring out the worst in many U of T students. We’re cranky from lack of sleep, dehydrated and malnourished from nights spent pounding Red Bulls and eating food truck meals; and are generally in pretty rough shape. The last thing any exam-riddled undergrad wants to hear is that they should be prioritizing their health, but you should. You might not have time for an hour workout, or home cooked healthy meal, but take heed of some of these tips and you’ll make it through your exams in peace, not pieces. 1. FOCUS ON COMPOUND WORKOUTS Forget the isolation exercises — it’s crunch time, which means you can’t afford to spend an hour doing bicep curls. Compound exercises incorporate two or more major muscle groups at a time, meaning you get to simultaneously save time and

stay fit. Some of the best compound exercises include: the bench press, deadlift, and squat. While some other effective compound exercises include pull-ups, dips, and bent-over rows. 2. TAKE THE STAIRS Gym not your thing? Not to worry, you can still squeeze in a mini workout without even knowing it by taking the stairs at the various libraries on campus. This might even work to your benefit at Robarts because the 45-year-old elevators are still being serviced, which can find you waiting up to 15 minutes for a car, or force you to sneak a ride on the forbidden staff elevators. Walking up a flight of stairs burns roughly 10 calories which, admittedly, doesn’t seem like much, but do it a couple of times (especially if you’re up on 13), and you’ll have put in a pretty good workout. If your bag is too heavy, you’re too tired, or some other excuse, at least try taking the stairs down.

3. RUN IN THE MORNING Not only is running a healthy habit to pickup, but it can also be especially useful in helping clear your mind before a day of studying. Exam time is hectic. Running will help give you peace of mind, and allows you to plan out the rest of your day before it actually starts. If you prefer to run indoors, the AC field house track is open to all U of T students for dropins. The track may be closed on some days for track meets. Details can be found on the Faculty of Kinesiology’s website. 4. TAKE ADVANTAGE OF DE-STRESSORS With the calming power of puppy rooms and therapy animals, de-stressors have become a regular feature on campus during exam season. Woodsworth and UC host pet therapy sessions throughout the academic year for stressed students to chill out and pet a dog. The Arts and Science Students’ Union (ASSU) hosts its annual “Exam Jam” in Sid Smith on December 10. A space for all stu-

dents, the jam consists of specific class review sessions, study spaces, a photo booth, caricature drawings, and massages. If that’s not enough, there will be free food and snacks on specific days of the event for you to stuff your face (and pockets). 5. PUT DOWN THE SWEETS Eating a bunch of sugary snacks may seem like a good idea at first, but not only is this an ineffective way of keeping your hunger in check, snacking on junk food will also affect the amount of energy you have to focus. If you want to be efficient, make sure you eat meals high in protein and fibre in order to keep you full for longer. Drinking a lot of water also helps. Avoiding snacking for good is the best way to save your diet, but if snacking is something you want to do, then make sure to put down the candy and granola bars and instead choose healthier alternatives such as nuts, veggies, and fruits.

M O N DAY 7 D E C E M B E R 2 015



THIS IS KIND OF A BIG DEAL This offer is brought to you by the people behind the Toronto International Film Festival.

Buy one student-priced ticket to a regular screening at TIFF Bell Lightbox and get a second ticket free.


TIFF prefers Visa.

Films. Exhibitions. Events. Daily. Only at TIFF Bell Lightbox, 350 King Street West SEE WHAT’S ON AT TIFF.NET/STUDENTS One coupon per person. Redeemable at the Steve & Rashmi Gupta Box Office at TIFF Bell Lightbox. No cash value, no substitutions. Must present a valid student identification card to redeem this coupon. Only valid for regular-priced, non-festival screenings at TIFF Bell Lightbox. Valid December 1, 2015 to February 29, 2016.

®/TM Toronto International Film Festival Inc.