Issue 20, (Volume 144) (March, 4, 2024)

Page 1

Ode to jazz: Three jazz students discuss Toronto's music scene

THE VARSITY The University of Toronto’s Student Newspaper Since 1880 Vol. CXLIV, No. 20 March 4, 2024
page 10 & UTSU candidate profiles pages 4-6


Sarah Artemia Kronenfeld


Caroline Bellamy

Creative Director

Andrea Zhao

Managing Editor, External

Shernise Mohammed-Ali

Managing Editor, Internal

Mekhi Quarshie

Managing Online Editor

Ajeetha Vithiyananthan

Senior Copy Editor

Kyla Cassandra Cortez

Deputy Senior Copy Editor

Jessie Schwalb

News Editor

Selia Sanchez

Deputy News Editor

Maeve Ellis

Assistant News Editor

Eleanor Yuneun Park

Comment Editor

Georgia Kelly


Alice Boyle

Features Editor

Milena Pappalardo


Salma Ragheb

Science Editor

Kunal Dadlani

Sports Editor

Arthur Dennyson Hamdani

Design Editor

Kaisa Kasekamp

Design Editor

Zeynep Poyanli

Photo Editor

Jessica Lam


Olya Fedossenko



e Varsity would like to acknowledge that our o ce is built on the traditional territory of several First Nations, including the Huron-Wendat, the Petun First Nations, the Seneca, and most recently, the Mississaugas of the Credit. Journalists have historically harmed Indigenous communities by overlooking their stories, contributing to stereotypes, and telling their stories without their input. erefore, we make this acknowledgement as a starting point for our responsibility to tell those stories more accurately, critically, and in accordance with the wishes of Indigenous Peoples.

First Nations House attends 19th annual Strawberry Ceremony

Attendees grieve, condemn violence against Indigenous women, girls, 2SLGBTQ+ people

Content warning: This article discusses antiIndigenous racism; violence against Indigenous women, girls, trans, and Two-Spirit people; and death.

“We should not judge anyone for where they live, or what they do, or what they have in their pocket, or what they have in their body. It’s not up to us to decide someone else’s life journey. But we can’t leave them alone. We need to spread the love as soon as possible,” said Mi’kmaw Elder Wanda Whitebird, addressing the crowd gathered for the 19th annual Strawberry Ceremony in Toronto.

No More Silence — an organization founded in 2004 which aims to commemorate missing and murdered Indigenous women, girls, trans, and Two-Spirit people, and to engage in community-led activism against gender-based violence — organized the February 14 event.

Attendees from U of T’s First Nations House — which led a walk from its location at 536 Spadina Avenue to the event in front of Toronto Police Headquarters — were among the 155 Indigenous people and allies who honoured Indigenous women, girls, trans, and Two-Spirit people at the ceremony and drew attention to their overrepresentation in Canada as victims of violence.

Violence against Indigenous women, girls, and 2SLGBTQQIA people

Statistics Canada’s 2018 Survey of Safety in Public and Private Places found that more than six in 10 Indigenous women reported having

experienced physical or sexual assault; in particular, Indigenous women with a disability and those who have lived with homelessness experienced assault at higher rates.

The National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, launched by the Canadian government in 2016, released a report in 2019. The report implicates “colonial violence, racism and oppression” in causing the disproportionate violence against Indigenous women, girls, and 2SLGBTQQIA people and argues that the violence directed against them constitutes genocide.

The report discussed how patriarchal structures imposed by settlers, forced sterilization, destruction of culture through the residential school system, and economic marginalization all contribute to these patterns of disproportionate violence.

Along with facilitating spaces for grief, No More Silence collects the stories of murdered women; advocates for building crisis response alternatives to the police; supports Two-Spirit, trans, and gender non-conforming people; and pushes for a harm reduction approach to issues such as homelessness, drug use, and trade sex.

Since last year’s ceremony, No More Silence added the names of three more Indigenous women who were murdered or died after they went missing to its community-run database: Jenna Ostberg, Jocelyn Greene, and Mackenzie Moonias.

The Strawberry Ceremony

The Toronto Council Fire’s Indigenous Residential School Survivors group opened the ceremony with the Cherokee Morning Song.

One of the speakers at the event read a speech on Joyce Carpenter’s behalf. Carpenter told the story of her daughter, who passed away in 1992. She wrote that when the police found her daughter’s body, they classifed her death as ‘accidental.’ Carpenter believes they made racist assumptions about her daughter and the circumstances of her death.

“It seems the cops have tunnel vision when it comes to [the] deaths of our girls,” wrote Carpenter. “They absolutely need training to be more considerate and compassionate when it comes to working with families who have lost loved ones.”

Carpenter mentioned that in many cases, police fail to investigate the deaths of Indigenous women, girls, trans, and Two-Spirit people.

At the ceremony, volunteers distributed a strawberry and a cup of water to each participant. Water, Whitebird said, is “the most powerful entity” since it comes from nature and nourishes all forms of life on Earth. A strawberry — which, Whitebird explained at last year’s ceremony, is considered a woman’s medicine in many Indigenous cultures — is called ode’min in Ojibwe, which comes from the word ‘ode,’ meaning heart. The strawberry also represents a young girl’s transformation into a woman.

Another key event moment was a performance by a group of young girls from Wandering Spirit School, led by Anishinaabe Indigenous language advocate and grandmother Marie Gaudet.

“Nineteen years we’ve been coming here,” Audrey Huntley, co-founder of No More Silence, told the crowd. “We won’t stop coming until the violence stops.”

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A Comment article published in Issue 19 entitled “Opinion: Research at academic institutions must be aware of its broader societal impacts” has been amended for clarity. e article originally stated that “[i]n Mozambique during the late 1980s, the oversaturation of NGOs completely stripped the nation of political sovereignty and the ability to pursue economic development policies that advocate solely for capitalism and market economies”. In fact, it should have referred to the ability of the nation to pursue economic development policies outside of capitalism and market economies.
First Nations House leads walk to Toronto Police headquarters. COURTESY OF AUDREY HUNTLEY

SCSU holds executive debate for upcoming spring general elections

Students had a chance to voice concerns over candidates, Regenesis UTSC levy

a u ano

UTSC Bureau Chief

During a February 29 debate, candidates running to be 2024–2025 executives for Scarborough Campus Students’ Union (SCSU) on the ELEVATE UTSC and IMPACT UTSC slates expanded on their platforms and answered questions submitted by students about their plans if elected.

Student environmental group Regenesis UTSC also answered questions about its proposed student levy, which students will vote on whether to approve during the upcoming elections on March 4–6. Some students raised concerns about the proposed levy, noting that the SCSU Vice President (VP) Operations Akaash Palaparthy described the Regenesis UTSC budget as “rudimentary.”

Multiple candidates mentioned Scarborough Campus OUT (SC:OUT) — a club on campus that promotes awareness and advocates to combat 2SLGBTQ+ issues at UTSC. After the debate, in an interview with The Varsity, SC:OUT accused candidates of using equity “buzzwords” without recognizing the group’s advocacy.

The debate

The debate, held by the SCSU, took place from 5:00–7:00 pm on the 1265 Bistro stage. Before the debate, the SCSU held a Q&A session with Regenesis UTSC from 4:00–5:00 pm regarding its proposed levy. The SCSU invited students to submit questions in advance for the executive candidates and for Regenesis UTSC if they had concerns regarding the levy.

The last time an executive debate was held at UTSC was during the 2019 elections, and was hosted by The Underground — the UTSC student publication.

The questions from students ranged from how each slate plans to balance advocacy for internal

and external issues, to how they plan on dealing with the UTSC administration on protests.

“It was such a good experience because we’ve been fnding the opportunity to openly talk about our campaign points and to talk about our vision for the year, to really try and get the community engaged and answer some questions as a team together,” Hunain Sindhu, presidential candidate from the IMPACT UTSC slate, told The Varsity

Last year’s SCSU election had a voter turnout of less than four per cent. SCSU President Amrith David hopes to see more engagement this year, he told The Varsity. “I really think most of us are getting involved, most of us are fnding interest in the work we’re doing.”

The SCSU livestreamed the debate on its Instagram page. David mentioned that over 40 people listened to the livestream, and students in the audience packed the 1265 Bistro stage to the point where there weren’t enough chairs.


Candidates from the debate referenced SC:OUT during the debate, discussing the club’s events. However, Raahi — the health and safety coordinator and co-president of SC:OUT, who requested we not use their last name for safety reasons — told The Varsity that the group had reached out to both slates in the past and “the responses have always been either cold or non-existent.”

Aanya Shina, VP equity candidate for ELEVATE UTSC, specifcally spoke during the debate about the group, characterizing it as a space “where students of the LGBTQ community can go and inherently be themselves.” Raahi criticized this, saying Shina didn’t discuss the group’s political work advocating for 2SLGBTQ+ issues.

“What we need the SCSU to be is an inherently political organization as well that supports this advocacy work, because they are running for

The Varsity ’s TL;DR for planning out your U of T degree
Information and tools that help students understand and track their undergraduate

It can feel like university is all that matters to students. How many years will it take to complete a program? What courses are necessary? How can struggling students track everything? What obstacles might they encounter?

As you start frantically planning for the next year, The Varsity’s got answers to all your burning questions below: about the length of a degree, work experience, and how to play everything out.

Your degree’s duration

To complete a program at U of T, a student must complete 20 credits. Semester courses provide students with 0.5 credits, whereas yearly courses account for 1.0 credits. U of T recommends that students whose GPA is over 1.5 take 2.5 credits per fall and winter semester, which equates to fve courses each term. However, depending on an individual’s capabilities, the minimum number of credits a student can take in a semester is 0.5, and the maximum is 3.0.

U of T also stipulates that students can take 0.5 to 2.0 credits during the summer.

A student who completes 2.5 credits per fall and winter semester can graduate in four years.

positions that are where they’re supposed to be political organizers. It’s not us that’s supposed to be reaching out,” they said. “Even in this forum, they mostly talked about buzzwords such as inclusivity, diversity, equity… despite there [not] being any conversation around what SC:OUT actually does.”

Shina responded in a message to The Varsity that she still believes that SC:OUT is a space that helps students on campus. She spoke to members after the debate and “took full responsibility” for not being aware of their political alignment. “I am still genuinely sorry that my words did not do complete justice to who they are as a group,” wrote Shina.

Raahi also said that, although candidates promised to fund the group in their platform, no candidates had reached out to SC:OUT to ask about what funding it needs. The group gets its funding from the Student Life Program, not the union.

“Overall, we are not in need of money, we are in need of advocacy, and specifcally, we are in need of people giving a shit and not in a wave a happy little rainbow fag [way],” said Gillian Nightingale, the group’s fnance coordinator.

The group also said that the debate didn’t allow them sufcient time to ask candidates questions because it ran out of time.

Regenesis levy

Regenesis UTSC president Harry Xu highlighted the importance of the levy for the club’s programming during their Q&A session. The stipulations of its levy proposal state that starting fall 2024, full-time students would pay a fee of $7.23 per session, and part-time students would pay $3.62. The proposal also says that students will be able to opt out of


Those who desire to fast-track their graduation can do so by taking summer courses and possibly reduce the number of semesters they need to complete their 20 credits. Taking fewer courses per semester will increase the number of semesters you end up needing to graduate.

How does work experience work?

Though most students will have to fnd work experience independently through social media and networking, U of T has some programs for those who qualify.

Currently, only students enrolled in the information security specialist program, bioinformatics specialist program, and computer science specialist, major, or minor programs can apply for a Professional Experience Year (PEY) co-op placement at UTSG. A PEY provides second-year students in the mentioned programs with the opportunity to gain paid work experience for over 12 months. To do so, a student must be enrolled or have completed one of the following software design courses: CSC207 at UTM; CSC207 at UTSG; or CSCB07 at UTSC.

Students who secure a PEY begin working after they complete their third year. It is only after a student fnalizes their co-op do they return to full-time studies to conclude their fourth year. As

the levy.

Palaparthy mentioned during SCSU’s February board of directors meeting that Regenesis UTSC’s budget was very rudimentary. Xu said that since students have the right to opt out of the levy, depending on how many people opt out, the group doesn’t know what its budget will look like.

Regenesis UTSC submitted a motion during the SCSU’s Annual General Meeting last November to lower the voter turnout required to pass a referendum vote from 10 per cent to three per cent of the student body. The motion was struck down. Xu added that this proposal was “100 per cent” correlated with their current levy.

“We hope in the future that we’ll be able to provide better services,” said Xu. Regenesis UTSC is hopeful to receive more funding for its initiatives on campus, including a free store, an item library, and a bike centre. Xu also mentioned that students can refer to their op-ed on why Regenesis UTSC needs the levy.

Marlon Mortilla, a third-year double majoring in public policy and city studies with a minor in bioethics, spoke to The Varsity regarding his concerns about the Regenesis UTSC levy.

“For me, it was kind of weird to see SCSU put [the Regenesis levy] forward to referendum. Because if it was bad in the frst place, shouldn’t you have the discretion to kill that motion,” said Mortilla.

Voting for the spring general elections will take place from March 4–6 from 10:00 am to 6:00 pm in the Instructional Centre, Student Centre, and Bladen Wing hallway.

IMPACT UTSC did not respond to The Varsity’s request for comment in time for publication.

such, their graduation will be delayed by one year. Therefore, students who engage in a co-op opportunity can expect to graduate in fve years. Some fourth-year courses additionally provide academic internship opportunities. UTM’s website says academic internships typically last over 100 to 200 hours. For example, students in the Digital Enterprise Management program at UTM can apply for CCT410, which is a half-year internship opportunity. However, due to entrance limitations on these courses such as instructor permission, only a minimal number of students are eligible for entry.

Students who complete academic internships do so throughout their semesters, therefore, they

can still expect to graduate after four years.

Planning your degree

Students can rely on the Academic Calendar and the Degree Explorer to determine what courses they need and when to take them.

UTM’s list of programs, UTSG’s programs of study, and UTSC’s prowgram search tabs provided by the Academic Calendar can help students choose their programs. These resources provide details on the frst, second, and higheryear courses required for graduation. Similarly, the Degree Explorer helps students understand what courses will be necessary to make up the degrees they may be interested in. MARCH 4, 2024 3
JAYLIN KIM/THEVARSITY Hunain Sindhu, presidential candidate for IMPACT UTSC, speaks to students regarding how the slate plans to address protests on campus. JAMES BULLANOFF/THEVARSITY


worst point it’s ever been,” third-year international relations and public policy major and history minor Jake Barton told The Varsity. “So that’s why I’m running.”

Barton hopes to advocate for students by engaging with the university, as well as provincial and federal levels of government. His priorities include pushing the university to require that professors release a certain amount of students’ grades before the deadline to declare a course credit/no credit, improving “land use” to increase housing availability, and lowering campus food prices.

Along with advocacy, he pledged to increase fnancial support for unhoused students and create a separate social media account devoted to promoting events by UTSU-recognized clubs.

Barton specifcally pointed to his experience as director of operations for the non-partisan organization the Young Politicians of Canada — which connects students to civil education opportunities — because, although he also serves as president of the U of T New Democratic Party, he sees the job of UTSU president as doing “what’s best for students, [which] does not follow one partisan line.”

with a focus on data science. His campaign focuses on four things: student representation, afordability, revitalizing the UTSU student club membership, and improving U of T’s food services and student safety.

In an interview with The Varsity , Mansour said he likes being active in a community but couldn’t do so during his frst year because of COVID-19 restrictions. It was only during his second year, when he became a New College residence don, that he got involved with a student community. “[Having seen students’] experience[s] on a daily basis and getting to hold one-on-one chats and foor-wide and residence-wide meetings with them… that really stands out,” he said.

“The current deal that students get when they come to university… I think that deal is undoubtedly at the



Thompson said that, as VP PUA, he advocated

Elijah (Eli) Miller-Buza — a second-year student double majoring in peace, confict, justice studies and geography — serves as an executive member of Enactus, a student group aimed at using business for social and environmental change. He also

To encourage transparency and engagement, Barton hopes to increase tabling around campus, require professors to mention the UTSU in course syllabi, and make orientation “huge.”

through multiple national student associations to secure more federal funding for housing. He pointed to the extra $15 billion in additional funding the federal government committed this fall to its Apartment Construction Loan Program — which the government recently announced it was opening to organizations building post-secondary residences — as a success he contributed to with that advocacy.

He hopes to leverage this funding to build three new residences in three years: two built and operated by the university and one by the union itself.

Thompson is committed to getting students a universal pass that would allow them to board any Toronto transit, and introducing a co-op grocery on campus.

He also aims to get rid of the pay-by-weight and declining balance models at dining halls and hopes to deliver free long-term mental health services for students. Furthermore, he cites a need for regular UTSU event programming — such as a concert during orientation week — that will get people excited to be a part of U of T.

Thompson also advocates for greater transparency and action surrounding fossil fuel divestment and wants the UTSU to create a dedicated advocacy fund for student groups involved in activism.

The overall message of Thompson’s platform? “Build a better, brighter U of T.”

worked on Munk One’s Case Competition event.

Miller-Buza’s campaign focuses fall under the acronym HATS: housing, accessibility, transit, and safety.

In terms of housing, he wants to lobby the government to support universities in building more housing and provide further support to students who don’t live in residences.

To improve accessibility, he wants to make sure Accessibility Services is “more transparent and more accountable.” He hopes to streamline the process of signing up for Accessibility Services by creating a UTSU information portal that compiles all resources in one place.

For transit, he’s interested in “getting students places faster” and pushing the municipal government to expand the TTC youth fare to all undergraduate students.

Finally, Miller-Buza plans to improve road safety by working with the municipal government to add time to the crosswalk in front of Sidney Smith. To address the recent voyeurism incidents at New College, he hopes to work with U of T to install new full-height doors in the bathrooms — something that the university already committed to doing in an email to New College students.

For Miller-Buza, “this campaign is about doing well for students, looking out for the interests of students, and making sure they’re heard.”

Shehab Mansour is a third-year Rotman Commerce fnance and economics specialist


Mansour said that his residence don position prepared him for this candidacy because he worked with activist and advocacy campus groups as well as the food services at New College. He emphasized that he wants to listen to students’ recommendations through a centralized student recommendation system — although the union already ofers an anonymous feedback form on its website. He also plans to change the club recognition process and the available club support.

Avreet Jagdev — a third-year student doublemajoring in political science and critical studies in equity and solidarity and minoring in women and gender studies — believes that, when it comes to advocacy, the UTSU has been “letting students down.”

Jagdev also ran for this position last year and is the founder and president of Students For Choice, an abortion rights advocacy club. She also serves as youth chair for the Ontario NDP, a national organizer for Amnesty International, and has been involved in organizing Palestinian advocacy around campus.

Her platform has two prongs. The frst is “standing for students,” which means meeting students’ needs for housing and tuition afordability, food security, and health and wellness by better funding student services and opposing OSAP cuts.

The second is “fghting for what’s right” — which, to Jagdev, means taking a frmer stance on advocacy for Palestine, climate justice, and gender-based violence. She thinks that the UTSU has demonstrated a lack of principle around these issues, opting for the most comfortable routes when it could be putting its power and resources to better use.

senate executive at Victoria University.

Shah’s campaign primarily focuses on improving the management of fnancial reports and leadership. In an interview with The Varsity , he said that he aims to “shift the mindset from increasing fees just to meet student needs to thinking about what we can do with the existing resources.” Shah hopes to advocate additional investments in career development programs, sustainable campus initiatives, and mental health insurance coverage.

Additionally, Shah has committed to launching a “UTSU digital transformation project” that will improve student accessibility to university events and streamline operations by creating a mobile app and website revamp.

Concerning transparency, Shah said he plans to establish an external audit system — although the union already conducts an external audit each year, which it presents at its annual AGM. Shah also hopes to reduce the barriers between students and the UTSU’s fnancial reports by utilizing layman’s language to explain fnancial jargon.

Dhir Shah, a third-year student specializing in mathematics with a major in economics, is an active member of the Victoria University Students’ Administrative Council as the current chief returning ofcer. He is also a

“It’s really important that an operations director create an environment where people feel safe and they can freely raise their hand and say, ‘I disagree’,” he said.

With fles from Caroline Bellamy. 4 THE VARSITY NEWS
News Editor
Jessie Schwalb
Arts and Culture Editor
Milena Pappalardo
year, Aidan Thompson — a third-year student studying international relations and English — served as the UTSU's VP PUA. He told The Varsity that he hopes to continue his work with the union on matters of community-building and afordability.
THOMPSON Kyla Cassandra Cortez Deputy Senior Copy Editor Selia Sanchez Deputy News Editor Devin Botar Associate News Editor
Dennyson Hamdani Design Editor


Having served as the union’s 2023–2024 president and 2022–2023 VP student life, Elizabeth


Shechtman told The Varsity that, as VP fnance and operations, she’d want to carry the projects she’s already started “to that fnish line.”

A third-year double-majoring in economics and bioethics, Shechtman’s campaign focuses include increasing the union’s revenue by hiring a fund development coordinator who can liaise with sponsors and by raising funds that the union can use in providing services. She also aims to have a credit union take over the Student Commons space currently occupied by the Royal Bank of Canada — which contracted to rent the space until 2026 and which student activists have criticized for its fossil fuel investments.

Shechtman hopes to host town halls so the UTSU can connect with students outside of its annual general meetings and increase transparency through social media posts that explain the union’s policies and the fees students pay.

She argues that her knowledge of the union’s policies and fnancial situation helps her understand issues and policy ideas. “Putting all of that big picture together, I think, is the most important,” she said.

Disclosure: Elizabeth Shechtman was an associate news editor for The Varsity in the 2021–2022 school year

Sakeena Mohammad — a third-year student studying public policy, political science, and French — served this year as a UTSU executive assistant to the president and as a thirdyear representative for the Public Policy Student Association.

In an interview with The Varsity , Mohammad emphasizes safety advocacy as a primary campaign focus, highlighting the importance of creating a secure campus environment in light of recent voyeurism incidents. She also hopes to advocate for tailored programming to further support underrepresented groups, particularly international students.

Mohammad seeks to initiate dialogue with student clubs and cultural organizations to address shared challenges collaboratively. She aims to proactively engage with registered clubs under the UTSU, prioritizing meetings with the presidents and chairs of cultural and religious groups to develop policies refecting their values.

For Mohammad, “the U of T identity should be all of our student identities merged into a mosaic rather than being shoved away.”


Serenity Tuyet Mai Bui — a second-year majoring in bioethics, sociology, and buddhism, psychology, and mental health (BPM) — told The Varsity that she decided to run because she wants to help solve the issues that students have brought to her in her current role as a director on the UTSU’s board.

Bui currently serves as event coordinator for the Vietnamese Student Association, which she says has given her experience with planning and logistics. If elected, she pledged to focus on simplifying and promoting the processes for accessing funding and connecting with clubs on a “personal level” through more frequent check-ins and ofce hours where she can receive feedback.

Bui also aims to work with the TTC to implement a lower or subsidized fare given the high cost of living students face. She said that, at this point, doing so would be much more “feasible” fnancially than alternatives such as a full U-Pass like the one implemented at UTM.

Finally, Bui hopes to keep students involved by partnering with the colleges to run events during the day while students tend to be on campus and increasing tabling around campus.

“Being involved in the community has been really important to me,” she said.


Aviral (Avi) Dhamija — a fourth-year double–majoring in philosophy and international relations — hopes to expand the UTSU’s scope to focus on structures that contribute to


As a student in the professional faculties, Erica Nguyen — a third-year specialist in visual studies at the Daniels Faculty of Architecture — thinks a lot of these faculties are overlooked.

Nguyen is new to student politics, but she’s interested in the position because of her



Alongside organizing with progressive campus groups Students Mobilizing Against Systematic Hardship and Tkarón:to Students for Palestine, they told The Varsity about their experience producing a podcast series called UnCover that delves into equity issues on campus.

Dhamija noted that the current room booking policy presents “one of the biggest immediate material hurdles for any non-UTSU related club or political organizing” because groups often struggle to fnd spaces without long waits and high fees. Along with changing this policy, they also aim to partner with and create mutual aid networks where students can share food.

Dhamija’s concerns encompass those beyond the U of T campuses, saying that students play a “toxic role” by driving up prices for other Torontonians and that the university’s reliance on donor funding has “corrupted” it.

To support clubs, they want to create a public archive where groups can contribute research, zines, and information about how to navigate U of T’s bureaucracy.

“Every single student group should be wanting to talk to the UTSU, and the UTSU should do that by providing them a service,” they said. “And if they don’t want to talk to UTSU… that says something about the UTSU.”

experiences as a visual studies student. Over the past year, she says she’s been learning a lot more about the UTSU. She feels like many of the union’s services for the professional faculties are underused because students don’t know about the benefts they’re paying for. She wants to raise awareness of those benefts and services so students can use them.

“Being part of the [professional faculties] allows me to advocate and understand the issues that are happening,” she said in an interview with The Varsity. “I’d really love to foster… connections with the other student unions and be able to bring those issues to light.” If she’s elected, she hopes to coordinate with student unions across the professional faculties, including lesser-known unions, to amplify their voices and help get sponsorship for student aid programs.

Nguyen’s campaign is focused on student aid across the board — she also wants to advocate for resources for students in unpaid placement programs in faculties like Pharmacy and Nursing. She wants to be able to hold more events, such as networking events, especially for “less represented faculties” on campus. She doesn’t have specifc plans for how to resolve the disputes that have come up in the past year between the UTSU and the Engineering Society, but she’s hoping to “keep a good relationship” between them in the upcoming one.

Paul Gweon — a second-year student pursuing a double major in political science and philosophy — has been involved with the Woodsworth College Students’ Association, where he transitioned from a community outreach and sustainability director to an upper-year students’ director in April 2023.

In an interview with The Varsity , he said that a key focus of his campaign is implementing a grocery rebate program to alleviate students’ fnancial burdens. Recognizing the challenges many students face in afording groceries, he hopes the rebate system will provide signifcant support to improve students’ overall wellbeing and academic success. “Not everybody uses public transportation, but everybody eats,” said Gweon.

Gweon also seeks to advocate for enhancements to transportation options, including TTC passes, bike-sharing programs, and rideshare initiatives.

Regarding orientation week, Gweon recognizes the overwhelming nature of the experience and proposes a more spaced-out approach to events. By extending the duration of orientation activities over two weeks and providing accessible online and in-person information sessions, Gweon aims to alleviate the stress of information overload and facilitate a smoother transition for incoming students. MARCH 4, 2024 5
Kamilla Bekbossynova UTM Bureau Chief Jessie Schwalb News Editor Sarah Artemia Kronenfeld Editor-in-Chief SERENITY TUYET
Bekbossynova UTM Bureau Chief CANDIDATE FOR VP



Third-year pharmacology and global health double major Tala Mehdi told The Varsity that her campaign is centred on prioritizing student clubs, specifcally new ones and those promoting diversity and inclusion, through increased funding and resources.

Since elementary school, Mehdi has been involved in student council positions. She is the current St. Michael’s College Student Union’s VP student organizations, and is the founder and president of the Arab Student Association at UTSG. “[Having been] on both sides of it — being in and leading a student club, while also supervising other student clubs around me — [these positions] gave me more of a holistic perspective on what needs to be done more for students and student clubs on campus,” she said.

Mehdi plans to bring back the tri-campus parade at U of T, to better organize the layout of the UTSU clubs fair during orientation week, and to promote a UTSU concert.



For the past two years, Lellow Sedio — a second-year student majoring in book and media studies and double-minoring in BPM and creative expression and society — has worked for the university as a Student Programming Assistant, where she had experience speaking with students one-on-one and creating programs catered to their needs.

Sedio recognizes the need for accessibility improvement in a few areas; she would like to broaden the extent of the UTSU’s current mental health insurance and ensure students with dependents and mature students are provided with resources tailored to them. If elected, Sedio hopes to help negotiate a transit fare discount through a U-Pass program and increase the accessibility of funds to student clubs.

Sedio also stresses the importance of outreach to frst years. She explains that orientation week feels like a hectic rush, and afterward, “it’s like every man for themselves.” Sedio hopes to improve orientation week to avoid new students feeling like they’re “rushing through it.” She also proposed that the UTSU coordinate with the colleges to ofer more major campuswide events throughout the year, such as gala events.



Hunar Miglani is a frst-year student who plans to major in political science and economics



with a minor in psychology. She has interned with LaunchX — an organization that promotes entrepreneurship among youth — and through that, has connected with other students from all around the world. She was also secretary general of her high school’s Model United Nations team and the president of the school’s mock trial club.

As VP student life, Miglani would like to help integrate international students into the campus community by hosting cultural functions where students from diverse backgrounds can share their perspectives and represent themselves. She believes this would help make U of T a more vibrant, tolerant space where every student can reach their fullest potential.

Miglani also aims to make transit more afordable by subsidizing students’ Uber or rideshare costs, adding that UTSU’s current rideshare program is inadequate because it only ofers four dollars of two rides a month. The UTSU introduced and then prematurely end its rideshare pilot program earlier this academic year after the program ran out of money.

Miglani wants to increase awareness of the union, claiming that the greatest barrier that prevents students from taking advantage of UTSU services is that they don’t know the services exist.

Anna Xiao — a frst-year student studying physical and mathematical sciences — currently serves as a frst-year representative at the UTSU and has prior experience hosting and planning school events, including concerts and carnivals.

Xiao described her campaign focuses as “multidimensional.” If elected, she plans on holding carnivals during reading week and planning student-led lectures. She hopes to improve the living environment for students by working with the U of T administration to postpone construction on campus to the summer instead of during the school year and by developing questionnaires for students to voice their ideas.

She also plans to set up suggestion boxes around campus for students to express how the UTSU can improve its work. For upcoming events, Xiao wants to send emails to students and set up posters to advertise future activities.

Xiao says, “I really want the students, like me, to be really proud of our identity as U of T students.”

Voting will be held March 4–7

e UTSU president is the main spokesperson for the union, directs the union’s priorities, and leads the executive team.

e UTSU VP nance and operations oversee the union’s budget, administers programs such as student aid and the health and dental plan, responds to UTSU employees’ needs, and ensures the union makes any necessary updates to policies.

e VP public and university a airs coordinates the union’s advocacy, represents the union in UTSU committees, and liaises with other universities and advocacy groups.

e VP equity ensures that the UTSU’s practices are equitable and runs events and campaigns aimed at encouraging equity on campus.

e VP professional faculties liaise with and ensure that the union’s activities take into account students at professional faculties at UTSG, including Applied Science and Engineering, Architecture and Visual Studies, Dentistry, Kinesiology and Physical Education, Music, and Nursing programs.

e VP student life plans and runs events, including orientation, and manages the club recognition process, including administering funding and resources to clubs.

From March 4 at 9:00 am to March 7 at 5:00 pm, UTSG students will be able to cast their votes online to determine who will govern the University of Toronto Students’ Union (UTSU) for the 2024–2025 school year. Full-time UTSG undergraduate and Toronto School of eology students; students in the transitional year program; and students in professional employment year programs can vote online at all hours through

Along with voting for executive positions, students can vote on Board of Directors members and whether to approve two proposed fee increases: one for the UTSU’s Student Aid Program and one for the University of Toronto Sexual Education Centre, which promotes safe sex practices. UTSU candidates participated in an all candidates debate this week, which you can access on e Varsity's YouTube. 6 THE VARSITY NEWS
Milena Pappalardo Arts and Culture Editor Devin Botar Associate News Editor Selia Sanchez Deputy News Editor Kyla Cortez Deputy Senior Copy Editor

Op-Ed: The case for supporting the Regenesis UTSC and Graduate fee levy referenda

Save money and help the environment

The Scarborough Campus Students’ Union is holding a referendum on whether to approve student fees to support Regenesis U of T with the Scarborough Campus Students’ Union on March 4–6. The University of Toronto Graduate Students’ Union is also holding a referendum on the same topic for graduate students at all three U of T campuses during their general elections.

In the face of escalating environmental and climate crises, the role of individual and collective action has never been more critical. As members of the U of T community, we are uniquely positioned to lead by example, fostering sustainable practices and innovations that can ripple out into the wider world.

This is why the upcoming student fee levy referendum in support of Regenesis UTSC, an environmental student organization branch, is not just a matter of campus politics but a pivotal opportunity for students to contribute meaningfully to the global fght against environmental degradation.

Supporting this referendum is essential for two primary reasons: it is a direct action against the environmental and climate crisis and ofers a sustainable and cooperative model that will save students money while promoting eco-friendly practices.

Taking action on the environmental and climate crisis

First and foremost, the environmental and climate crisis demands urgent action. The science is unequivocal: the climate crisis is accelerating, devastatingly impacting natural ecosystems, biodiversity, and human societies. By supporting Regenesis

UTSC through the fee levy referendum, students invest in a group dedicated to implementing tangible, local solutions to global problems. Regenesis UTSC organizes and supports waste and carbonreducing initiatives such as free stores, borrowing centres, growing and distributing local food, and supporting cycling to reduce our collective carbon footprint and foster a culture of environmental stewardship.

The projects and initiatives spearheaded by Regenesis UTSC have the potential to signifcantly reduce waste, promote biodiversity, and decrease greenhouse gas emissions on campus. By voting in favour of the fee levy, students are not just supporting an organization; we are making a clear statement that the U of T community recognizes the severity of the environmental crisis and is willing to take concrete steps toward mitigating it.

A cooperative model: saving money through sustainability

The second argument for supporting the Regenesis fee levy referendum is rooted in the economic benefts it ofers students through a cooperative, or collectivist, model. This approach is not only about being environmentally responsible but also about creating a more equitable and fnancially sustainable campus environment.

By contributing a small fee, students can gain access to a range of services designed to save money while promoting sustainability. These services include the opening of a new, more expansive Free Store space at UTSC — in addition to its current space. The current Free Store space is behind the Residence Centre

and provides free clothing, books, household items, and more.

A levy would provide the fnancial means of acquiring and maintaining a larger space for the Free Store’s service. In addition, Regenesis UTSC provides free and low-cost bike repair services for the warmer months. Our future services will include cheap produce and groceries, and a borrowing centre, where students can borrow for free power tools, event and media equipment, board games, and more.

These services embody the essence of a cooperative model, where resources are shared and managed for the collective good. The Free Store allows students to give and take items without monetary transactions, reducing waste and the need for new purchases.

Similarly, the borrowing centre will loan items like media equipment, board games, tools, and more to further help reduce unnecessary consumption. Bike repair services encourage cycling, a sustainable mode of transportation, by lowering the barriers to bike maintenance. Access to cheap local produce directly tackles the issue of student food insecurity and the culture of disposability, respectively.

Utilizing one or more our services will save the average student far more than what they contributed through a levy fee. For example, instead of purchasing a pair of jeans from Value Village for $25, you can get a free pair of jeans from The Free Store.

Critically, this model demonstrates that sustainability and fnancial savings go hand in hand. By pooling resources and sharing services, we can reduce individual expenses while also diminishing our environmental impact.

It’s a practical application of the principle that collective action can lead to collective beneft, both economically and environmentally.

Taking action together is how we make change!

The Regenesis UTSC fee levy referendum represents a critical juncture for our campus community.

It is an opportunity to afrm our commitment to environmental sustainability and to embrace a cooperative model that benefts us all. By supporting this referendum, we are not just funding an organization; we are investing in a sustainable future and in a model of community that values cooperation and mutual aid over individualism and competition.

Let us come together as a community to support the Regenesis UTSC fee levy referendum. In doing so, we take a stand against the environmental and climate crisis and move toward a more sustainable, equitable, and fnancially responsible future. This is our chance to lead by example, to show that action, no matter the scale, can make a diference. Vote YES for Regenesis UTSC, for our planet, and for our future.

Aneesah Rahaman is a frst-year student at UTSC pursuing a Master of Environmental Sciences. She was Vice President, Operations of Regenesis UTSC for the 2022–2023 academic year.

Pascal Cheung is a fourth-year student at UTSC studying environmental biology. He is Vice President, Internal Afairs of Regenesis UTSC for the 2023–2024 academic year.

You — the hero — are on a quest to reach the top foor of the peacock-shaped castle named Robarts. Your inventory is full. In your adventurer’s sack, you fnd your magical grimoire containing your life’s work — your MacBook with lecture notes — and your gift from the God of Song — your trusty headphones. You are ready to slay the demon king — the 3,000-word essay — that is terrorizing your world and preventing you from watching anime and going out with friends.

The old, wise man with a grey beard drops you of on St. George Street from his iron chariot — your Uber. As you wander through the concrete streets flled with non-player characters (NPCs), you are stopped in your tracks. Chance encounter! A wild pack of U of T zombie students appears.

You escape but only after being bitten and inficted with a status ailment: League of Legends addiction. As you reach the cobblestone corners of Robarts, you can’t help but go online and waste hours playing video games. A warning message pops up: “You are slowly transforming into a video game zombie.”

This narrative isn’t some Dungeons & Dragons hook: it’s a common U of T student’s experience with online gaming. In routine life at U of T, students are consuming more and more video games and indulging in excessive online gaming. Particularly, I fnd this gaming culture that has infltrated classrooms concerning. This phenomenon has had a zombie-like efect on students. In my view, excessive online gaming has plunged U of T students into a toxic cycle of procrastination and apathy where they ignore school work and other priorities.

This zombifcation is clear in U of T’s physical and virtual spaces.

Physically, if you head over to Sidney Smith Commons, Robarts Library, or any campus space,

video games have taken over. It’s likely you’ll see students clicking away at League of Legends, Team Fight Tactics, Genshin Impact, and more. Online gaming, in my view, has also crept inside the classroom. From my experience, if you go to the back of a lecture hall and take a glance at students’ laptop screens, you’ll probably notice a nightmarish sight: half the class is playing online chess and trying to raise their rating points.

Virtually, U of T gaming Discord communities — online spaces to connect and organize gaming sessions — have been growing. For example, I’ve witnessed the University of Toronto Smash Ultimate Club Discord recently experience a revival and teem with activity.

At the baseline, video games are healthy in balanced doses. They have a mixed bag of benefts and uses: a destresser after a long day of lectures and work, a practical tool for creativity and brain stimulation, a way to connect with other likeminded people, and more. Chiefy, online gaming is bona fde fun — a form of entertainment that perfectly blends storytelling, strategy, competition, and social interaction. The online relationships and lifelong friendships formed through gaming communities are invaluable.

Excessive online gaming, however, is dangerous and unhealthy. I contend that U of T’s student body — flled with young, malleable minds — is at risk of zombifcation. As students consume more video games, they develop a common list of symptoms: anxiety, brain fog, lethargy, lack of motivation, and procrastination. Put diferently, they reach a state of constant procrastination and being tired all the time. The “just one more game” mentality turns into a fve-hour gaming session and an energy and motivation drainer.

There’s science behind this video game zombifcation. I’m worried that I may be seeing some U of T students beginning to show signs of internet

gaming disorder (IGD). Characterized as an addiction and mental disorder, IGD is recognized and inked in the ffth edition of The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders — the American Psychiatric Association’s medical bible for mental health professionals. Among other symptoms, an IGD diagnosis means a person possesses a gaming preoccupation, continuously increases their time spent video gaming, and harms their work and education because of video games.

There are two likely causes behind excessive gaming: the extremely stimulating nature of online games and the release of dopamine associated with gaming. Neurological research shows similar changes in the brain when comparing the efects of online gaming to addictive substances. IGD leads to anxiety, insomnia, depression, irritability, and the endangerment of academic or work functions. In other words, excessive online gaming leads to zombifcation — a crisis I see currently taking over U of T students.

It may be easy to scof at online gaming and label it negligible and inconsequential to students — as just a simple, childish pastime. But when you walk into your lecture hall and witness the dystopian scene of endless screens; when you walk around campus and see U of T’s video game

zombies like it’s an episode of The Walking Dead; when you watch friends slowly fall into a cycle of procrastination and apathy; when you start seething with a quiet rage as you lose another League of Legends game, and you end up listening to the clicks and clacks of your mouse and keyboard until rays of sun food through your window — at that point, you will realize the dangers and toxicity of excessive online gaming.

Every U of T student is the main character in their Pokémon RPG (role-playing game) or Baldur’s Gate campaign. In any student’s quest to reach the Robarts Castle or slay that 3,000-word demon king essay, they don’t deserve to be zombifed. Life between lectures shouldn’t be defned by excessive online gaming, procrastination, and apathy — it should be a healthy, moderated space where students can safely and soundly be the main characters of their own U of T RPGs.

James Jiang is a fourth-year political science specialist student at Trinity College. He is the Life Between Lectures columnist for The Varsity’s Comment section.

Comment March 4, 2024
of T
Excessive online gaming can lead to a zombie-like state of procrastination and apathy
Columnist Supporting the Regenesis UTSC fee levy referendum helps create a sustainable future. COURTESY OF REGENESIS UTSC Students are consuming more video games and indulging in excessive online gaming. STEPHANIE XU/THEVARSITY
students must not become video game zombies
James Jiang Comment

Students should care about Alberta’s attacks on trans rights

Folx, it is time to get angry

Content warning: This article discusses homophobia, transphobia, self-harm, and suicide.

On January 31, Alberta’s Premier Danielle Smith released a video on her social media accounts. Over seven minutes and 28 seconds, she detailed a set of proposed policies that attack the rights of transgender, non-binary, and gender non-conforming youth. Spanning from healthcare to education to sports, the policies are violently transphobic and queerphobic.

Doctors, federal politicians, and civil society organizations criticized the proposal almost immediately. Two Mount Royal University professors published an article in The Conversation, labelling Smith’s ideas “the most extensive, draconian and unbalanced proposals of any conservative province to date.”

Policies based on misinformation

2SLGBTQIA+ people in Canada are already more likely to experience sexual assault, employment discrimination, and other forms of violence than cisgender and heterosexual individuals. The

with the exception of those who’ve already commenced their treatment at this time.”

Smith claimed there is a need to prevent “irreversible” harm when children are not mature enough to make their own medical decisions.

Puberty blockers are medications that temporarily halt the production of sex hormones to pause puberty. They allow young trans and gender non-conforming people to delay puberty and consider their options. While Smith left the impression that puberty blockers are irreversible, a 2020 review of academic literature on them afrms the efects are largely reversible and the medications have few side efects.

In contrast, puberty into a body that is misaligned with one’s gender is irreversible due to the development of secondary sex characteristics. According to Professor Travers at Simon Fraser University, “Most children who have been assigned female at birth and take hormone blockers will not need top surgery. Meanwhile, children who have been assigned male at birth and take hormone blockers won’t need to later mitigate or reverse characteristics spurred by puberty: a deeper voice, facial hair, and a visible Adam’s apple and other results of male puberty that cannot be reversed.”

Access to puberty blockers is lifesaving. Health researchers have documented that they de crease suicidality and improve mental health.

Smith promised to ban top and bottom gender reassignment surgeries for anyone aged 17 or under. Anyone aged 15 or under will require parental consent to alter their name or pronouns in school, and parents will be notifed of any name or pronoun changes for those aged 16 and 17. The proposal will also require parental opt-ins for any education about gender identity, sexual orientation, or human sexuality in K–12 classes. Further, the proposal seeks to prevent trans women from participating in female sports leagues.

Professors Corinne Mason and Leah Hamilton

Young people should not be demonized for who they are and forced to live in gender presentations misaligned with their identities.

Many trans and queer youth face rejection by their families. They are at increased risk of homelessness, domestic abuse, and being put into foster care. The Trevor Project, a nonproft focused on preventing suicide among 2SLGBTQIA+ young people, found that 35–39 per cent of trans and non-binary youth in the US will experience homelessness or housing instability. The situation in Canada is similar; 25–40 per cent of 2SLGBTQIA+ youth experience homelessness.

When family members are not accepting, schools may be among the only places trans, non-binary, and gender non-conforming kids can express themselves. A 2018 study in the Journal of Adolescent Health found that every time trans youth can use their chosen names in one additional context, such as in school, it causes a 56 per cent decrease in suicidal behavior. However, the threat of being outed to one’s parents by school teachers or administrators could force many children to remain fully in the closet.

A far-reaching trend

Of course, these policies are proposed in Alberta — a province that might feel far from U of T. But, such policies are a growing trend in Canadian provinces and American states.

Pediatric medical practitioners have voiced concern that barriers to care will put trans

Other aspects of Alberta’s proposed

at Mount Royal University, in their aforementioned article in The Conversation, explain that Smith’s justifcations for these policies spread misinformation and ignore expert opinions. Bottom surgeries for gender reassignment in Alberta are already restricted to adults. Premier Smith’s suggestion that there are risks associated with inclusion and afrmation for trans kids in school is false. Education experts agree that robust sexual education is necessary to protect youth from abuse. Contrary to Smith’s claims, many scientists have found that trans women and girls have no biological “competitive advantage” in sports.

Each of these policies raises a unique set of risks and harms. Take, for example, the restrictions on pronoun and name changes. They would require school staf to out trans, non-binary, and gendernonconforming adolescents to their parents when students alter their names or pronouns.

Smith suggested that cases in which parents reject their children are rare. This is not accurate.

We can use curbs to shape the future of accessibility and mobility

Enhancing access and mobility through street curbs

The curb is an often overlooked feature of street design, but behind its unassuming presence lies the intermediary between pedestrian and driver, automobiles and bipedalism. Curbs are the mediator of urbanity — marking boundaries, dictating movement, and ensuring safety in a realm where vehicles might meet human vulnerability.

But what happens when this aspect of road planning is neglected? How might we better utilize curbs to increase street safety for all transit modes? Better curbs, to me, start from building them for pedestrians who use them instead of constructing them with only cars in mind.

Deterring speeding vehicles

Think of curbs as trafc whisperers that use their cues to keep the streets orderly. This is what their purpose should be. However, curbs have often been built to the convenience of cars, with wide angular designs and inaccessible ramps. So what can we do to make roads safer using curbs?

The frst solution is easy: make dangerous driving harder.

the intersection, reducing the crossing distance for pedestrians and providing a safe waiting area before crossing the street.

“The road is explicitly designed to help its users — whether they’re pedestrians, cyclists or motor vehicle drivers — know where to go and how to behave,” said Benjamin Wolfe, assistant professor of psychology at UTM, for the Toronto Star

Further, bike lanes that separate cyclists from both pedestrian and vehicular trafc through raised lanes or bollards, which are trafc posts, along those bike lanes provide a clear and safe path for cyclists. Additionally, curbs at intersections can be designed with gentle angles and wide-radius corners to facilitate smooth transitions for cyclists and minimize the risk of collisions with turning vehicles.

Curbs at Dutch intersections often feature rounded corners known as “corner refuge,” which help to slow down turning vehicles and improve visibility for pedestrians and cyclists. By decreasing the turning radius, these rounded corners encourage drivers to make slower and more controlled turns, reducing the risk of collisions with vulnerable road users.

standard for “vehicle entrance[s] in combined curb[s] and sidewalk[s]” describes that when a segment of sidewalk contains a vehicle entrance, one side of it can have a maximum slope of 10 per cent, and the other side of the sidewalk can have a slope of two to four per cent that must create a fat space for about 3.5 feet.

Essentially, by City of Toronto standards, sidewalks only have to be fat for less than four feet at a time! These types of sidewalks can be found all over Toronto: just walk by any residential area on Ossington. This makes for a hostile walking environment for wheelchair users, people with visual impairments, children, and older folk.

The city’s standard also overlooks that, as far as I’ve seen, many roads are now almost all bordered by paved driveways, requiring a downward slope convenient for cars but inconvenient — or even hostile — to pedestrians.

By keeping curb heights consistent, the city can ensure a predictable and accessible environment for everyone — whether they are in a wheelchair, an older person, a child, or with a stroller. It’s all about creating a harmonious streetscape where everyone can move freely and safely, without fear of tripping or stumbling.

Recently, both Saskatchewan and New Brunswick imposed policies restricting pronoun and name changes in schools. In September 2023, Ontario Minister of Education Stephen Lecce was asked whether Ontario would follow suit. He responded that parents should be “fully involved” in their children’s “life changing” decisions. What is happening in Alberta can happen in Ontario.

This is unacceptable. Young people should not be demonized for who they are and forced to live in gender presentations misaligned with their identities. Alberta’s proposed policies are regressive and dangerous. They must be met across Canada with the outrage they deserve.

Folx, it is time to get angry.

Amalie Wilkinson is a fourth-year student at University College studying international relations and peace, confict and justice studies. Xe is a member of Climate Justice U of T and co-host of the Queers Hug Trees podcast.

For someone with a visual impairment, these tactile cues serve as vital navigational aids. By feeling the warning strips and detectable surfaces with their feet or cane, people with visual impairments can orient themselves within the environment and understand the intersection’s layout. With tactile cues in place, everyone, regardless of the situation, can navigate the intersection with greater confdence and ease.

Tactile roadmaps for navigating busy intersections allow everyone to travel confdently and independently. It’s a small touch that makes a big diference, turning a potentially daunting journey into one of safety.

The growing role of curbs in cities

I know some people may be wondering how large trucks can turn with corner islands and smaller lanes: that is, if Dutch intersections and trucks can ever exist simultaneously. I’m not too sure. Still, I’m more concerned with road safety between standard vehicles, pedestrians, and cyclists: a problem that causes 19 per cent of fatalities in Canada for pedestrians and cyclists.

The International Transport Forum’s 2018 report, “The Shared-Use City: Managing the Curb,” claims that cities across the world should move away from the idea that curbs are “static and infexible installations and more as highly fexible and self-solving puzzles.” When cities prioritize features that enhance safety, accessibility, and functionality, they send a message that they value the needs of all citizens, regardless of their abilities.

Dutch intersections are Netherlands-inspired junctions with an emphasis on transit separation, priority signalling for cyclists, and pedestrian protections — one of which is, at the time of writing, undergoing construction on-campus at Bloor and St. George. These intersections often feature corner islands, which are raised platforms located at the corners. The islands extend the sidewalk into

Accessibility and mobility

You might have felt a “roller coaster efect” while walking along Toronto’s streets — a common phenomenon where the height of the sidewalk drops at the entrance of a traditional driveway.

Picture a sidewalk that slopes down to be level with the road. The City of Toronto’s ofcial

I would also like to mention tactility and accessibility — like clearly detectable surfaces, an example being textured surfaces — which make life easier for everyone, but especially for people with disabilities or impairments. The City of Toronto defnes a tactile walking surface indicator as “intended to be detectable underfoot when walking or by a long white cane.”

Emily Carlucci is a third-year student at Trinity College studying political science and English. She is the Urban Planning Columnist for The Varsity’s Comment section. 8 THE VARSITY COMMENT
Alberta’s proposed policies are regressive and must be met with outrage. COURTESY OF WINTERFORCE MEDIA AND WINTERE229 CC WIKIMEDIA COMMONS

Support for Syria after last year’s earthquakes is hindered




A year after the deadly earthquakes, who are we really punishing?

On the dawn of February 6, 2023, an earthquake shook the ground in Northern Syria and Türkiye with a 7.7 magnitude, killing over 50,000 people and injuring thousands more. A few hours later, another earthquake with a 7.6 magnitude followed, causing more damage.

While politicians raced to publish words of comfort and support, their movement to action was rather slow. Most prominently, United Nations (UN) Secretary-General António Guterres released a statement saying that the UN was ready for action when called upon. However, as organizations began to collect donations and few into Türkiye, the public seemed to have forgotten the severe economic sanctions placed on Syria: a reality that continues to be relevant a year later, and that Syrians cannot forget.

Economic sanctions: More sufering than beneft

Economic sanctions are imposed by government and multinational bodies on a country to impede them from pursuing specifc economic or political actions. Sanctions can include a ban on weapons, freezing assets the target country holds under the sanctioning country’s jurisdiction, fnancial restrictions, and more.

Syria was frst sanctioned and labelled by the US as a “State Sponsor of Terrorism” in 1979. This identifcation is assigned to states that allegedly support terrorist groups. Sanctions by the US intensifed in the following years and peaked at the onset of the 2011 Syrian War.

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, a civil war is “a war between opposing groups of citizens of the same country.” Consequently, I don’t refer to it as the “Syrian Civil War” because the war surpassed the involvement of only civilians and the ruling party. The confict was fuelled, funded, and prolonged by the involvement of multiple parties including Iran, Russia, US, Türkiye, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia.

prohibiting trade with specifc companies. The EU’s sanctions since then in response to the Syrian government’s political repression of civilians, who protested in 2011 en masse against President Bashar al-Assad’s corruption. In August of the same year, the US heightened sanctions against Syria to include restrictions on imports to Syria, on the selling of Syrian petroleum, and more.

Although the sanctions have failed to stop the ongoing violence in Syria, they remain in place and cause more harm than good. The COVID-19 pandemic and the 2023 earthquake underlined the detrimental outcomes of these sanctions on internally displaced refugees and civilians. Basic necessities have become hot commodities people can only dream of, and classic Syrian dishes have now become sacred memories, as some can no longer aford to eat them. Syrians struggle to make ends meet after being isolated from most of the world, with the exception of Russia.

The devastation in Syria has moved beyond politics and is now a humanitarian crisis awaiting the response and collective action of the international community.

while the need for support increases. Most notably, the Syria Humanitarian Response Plan recorded a 62 per cent decrease in funding in 2023, and that number is expected to decrease more in 2024. Furthermore, the World Food Program announced that it would end its ‘general’ assistance program in Northwest Syria due to funding shortages. The lack of funding is forcing some people to burn plastic for warmth in Idlib because wood is too expensive. The reduction in funding deprives numerous individuals of sufcient support, exacerbating the existing gap in assistance and putting lives in danger.

Moving forward

negatively impacted. Therefore, there needs to be a commitment to focus on long-term solutions that help those impacted and support them out of a state of war.

Last year, UN experts and some religious groups such as the Middle East Council of Churches called to lift the West’s sanctions on Syria entirely to support civilians and remedy the harm that the sanctions inficted. However, those calls have been met with silence. In fact, the Syria Response Director at Save the Children, Rasha Muhrez, shared in an Al Jazeera article that her address to the UN Security Council fell fat when she urged for a diferent approach to support Syria.

Food accessibility is not the only issue. Syrians lack access to electricity, which limits their access to warmth. In some regions in Syria, civilians only have access to less than half an hour of electricity every 24 hours. The shortage has people relying on older methods like vintage kerosene stoves to keep light in their households.

Removing sanctions on Syria would alleviate price hikes, allow for ease of transportation, and allow for the import and export of goods to generate both money and support for people in the country. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees estimated that over 6.98 million internally displaced people in Syria, who are mainly women and children, do not live in stable conditions, and 15.3 million are in need of humanitarian support.

These calls to action must become tangible commitments to support those living in dangerous situations. As heads of state and governments prepare for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) Summit in September, it is their opportunity to remedy their negligence and lack of long-term support for the past couple of years. Removing sanctions can bring Syria one step closer to the international community’s SDG commitments of eliminating poverty and hunger, educating more children, and establishing peace, justice, and strong institutions.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that people have the right to a “standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing, and medical care.” If states believe this to be true, how are the sanctions invoked on Syria justifed?

The advocacy work is there, as humanitarian aid workers continue to plead with the international community to do something. There needs to be a global commitment to protecting and elevating Syrian lives out of poverty, instead of sending empty condolences to afected families.

In 2011, the European Union (EU) sanctioned many members of the Syrian government, military, and intelligence personnel by freezing

Civilians are sufering, with no end in sight. Although the US Department of Treasury announced a six-month suspension of the sanctions in February 2023, it was only to help with earthquake aid. This is yet another short-term solution the US chose to follow. One year later, the impact of the earthquake still points to the need for a more sustainable solution.

The devastation in Syria has moved beyond politics and is now a humanitarian crisis awaiting the response and collective action of the international community. It is up to global leaders to respond to the dire situation in Syria by removing sanctions to uphold the right to life of millions of people.

Removing sanctions and normalizing relations with the government should not be a way to forget or condone the harm inficted on civilians during the war. Instead, it’s to protect and honour the lives of those who are left. It is clear the current sanctions are not working, with

Basmah Ramadan is a second-year Masters of Global Afairs candidate with an emphasis in Global Policy. She is the president of the Muslim Students’ Association and the Director of Internal Afairs of the Masters of Global Afairs Students’ Association. MARCH 4, 2024 9
their assets, banning imports,
International aid continues to decrease
civilians most
ere must be a global commitment to protecting Syrian lives, not empty condolences. COURTESY OF SALEM MOHAMMADI CC WIKIMEDIA COMMONS

Ode to jazz

Student Perspectives of the Toronto Scene

I met Jordan Middleton at a forgettable frat party, of all places. He wore his distinctive long hair loose, and had on a leather jacket, and I impulsively told him that he gave of Pat Metheny vibes. Neither of us expected each other to be into the same type of music, but when my comparison to the acclaimed guitarist broke the ice, the party became less forgettable. Friendship ensued.

Middleton, as I soon learned, is a jazz musician; a hell of a sax player. Over the months following our encounter, I was a regular attendee of his gigs. A frst-year student at U of T’s jazz program in the Faculty of Music, he introduced me to several other musicians from the university. I can confdently say that the level of musicianship in this institution has never failed to impress me — an admittedly harsh critic — and as a fellow student, I feel compelled to share this blossoming cohort of artists and their work with you.

It’s likely that you’ve never really ‘gotten’ jazz. Maybe you tried putting on Miles Davis’ opus, Kind of Blue, while studying for your economics class, but it never clicked. I, for one, didn’t really understand the appeal until a couple of years ago.

Those of us who listen to jazz don’t blame you for this. It’s true, the style hasn’t been part of the Western cultural zeitgeist since the 1970s — which, for some of us, may even be before our parents’ time. “Elevator music,” is what I used to call it.

Jazz, as a form of musical expression, insists on being listened to live. Improvisation and spontaneity are, for me, the most important and defning features of this style of music. Watching it happen 10 metres away from you — in a small-

but-crammed bandstand, musicians half making it up as they go, communicating through subtle glances and minimal gestures — is what makes it truly magical.

Like all great art, it will take efort to grapple with. Still, I promise that once you’ve made it through that initial hump — when you get acquainted with listening to those two-or-threeminute-long solos, or when dissonant chords no longer scare you — then you’ll feel the true, spiritual, and emotional power of jazz. Then you’ll get it. Although the music is evidently past its heyday, as enjoyers of good art, it’s our responsibility to engage with it and, ultimately, have fun doing so.

River, Alberta. On a Thursday evening, as he nibbled at a slice of lukewarm New College Dining Hall pizza, he told me, “It’s pretty much Canada’s biggest city. So many great people play here; Kelly [Jeferson], especially, is just a monster. And, all the good musicians in New York come down here to play.” Jeferson, a professor at U of T’s jazz program, is one of Middleton’s heroes on the saxophone.

Liang has been playing professionally for over two years and performs at least twice a week. As I indulged him with a pastrami sandwich and black cofee, he broke down the scene for us: “In New York, they have many micro-scenes, right?

“Jazz, as a form of musical expression, insists on being listened to live.”

Weather Report: A description of the downtown scene

Allow me to introduce Eric Liang and Adriana Malandrino to you. The former is a second-year, seasoned jazz pianist; the latter is a third-year vocalist. Along with Middleton, my interviews with these talented musicians form the backbone of my research into the vibrant Torontonian jazz scene.

Although shadowed by New York City — the mecca of jazz music since the 1930s — Toronto, with its distinctly urban environment, has attracted some serious talent. This is what allured Middleton to study here and leave middle-of-nowhere High

But in Toronto, the micro-scenes are even smaller, almost venue specifc.”

In my experience, such is true. At the Tranzac, for example, you’ll surely fnd experimental, contemporary music; whereas at a place like The Emmet Ray, the vibe is all about indie musicians and small combos. “If you want to go hear some jazz — defnite, capital ‘J’ jazz — you gotta go to The Rex or The Jazz Bistro,” said Liang, enthusiastically.

“Alone Together”: Audience and alienation

At The Rex, near Osgoode station on the Yonge–University subway line, is where I saw Liang frst perform. His demeanour was akin to that of

the great pianist Keith Jarrett: he couldn’t help but bounce around his chair and vocalize as he banged at the ivory! Liang and his band played bebop, a traditional form of jazz that emerged in the ’40s that is especially rich in harmony and features mind-bendingly fast melodies.

For most of the gig on that cool Wednesday night, I forgot that everyone on stage was only in their early 20s — all while a third of the audience were visibly three times as old. When I interviewed Liang on the following Friday, we bonded over the fact that I recognized a cheeky quote to the melody of “Windows” by Chick Corea during one of his solos. Pianist Corea’s work will always be near and dear to my heart because his 1973 record, Light as a Feather, was the frst piece of jazz music I listened to religiously.

It took a while for me to get to this level of jazz literacy, to be able to spot the nuances and references. Much of people’s frst experiences with the music are more like a scene Malandrino described: “I brought my sister to The Jazz Bistro, and I think she felt like it was a secret club that she wasn’t a part of,” she recounts.

In my experience, this can be chalked up to the fact that, unlike most contemporary genres, jazz is studied academically. It’s very common to go to a show that is full of jazz students who, for the most part, are already well-versed in the vocabulary and culture. Malandrino put it this way: “If someone is just playing a bunch of licks that are familiar to other jazz musicians [in the crowd], [the average listener] is like, ‘why are all these people going ooh every two seconds?’”

Indeed, the dichotomy of player and listener is something a working musician has to wrestle with deeply. For Middleton, however, it’s simple. He says, “It’s a team efort. The audience has to

e saxophone, Jordan Middleton's instrument of choice. AVERYN NGAN/THEVARSITY

enjoy it, and I also have to enjoy it. Well, I guess I don’t have to enjoy it. If there’s enough money, I don’t have to enjoy it.”

He tells me about an audience horror story: “It was a party gig for some corporation. There were six of us, and we were just playing in a living room. And there was this guy sitting on the couch right next to us. And he was like, pretty drunk.”

“He thought he was vibing with us — but he was just being a fucking drunk guy. In between songs, he kept telling our bass player something like [in a gravelly voice], ‘Just improvise some, some funky shit!’ I was like, ‘… I don’t know what that even means. We’re just gonna play our Christmas music now.’”

“Straight, No Chaser”: The ugly side of the industry

Fun and games aside, jazz is far past its days of wine and roses. This I learned from Liang’s somewhat jaded view. He said, “Lately, I’ve been feeling very grim about [the scene in general]. There doesn’t seem to be a demand for the type of music that I want to play the most. Straight-ahead, swinging jazz, it doesn’t really sell.”

He told me about the good ol’ days when venues like The Senator were lauded for frequently hosting international acts. About The Emmet Ray, he said, “They used to provide a guarantee of $100 for every musician; but now when you play there, you can sometimes expect to make no more than seven dollars for a two-hour set.”

Not only is the genre slowly waning, but historically, so have the very artists playing the tunes. It’s a well-known stereotype that jazzers have selfdestructive tendencies. There’s a history in jazz of widespread habits of heavy drug usage, glamorized by some artists as ways to increase creativity. Musicians such as Charlie Parker, Miles Davis and Chet Baker only deepened misconceptions surrounding drug use in jazz.

“Wake up at noon, practice for the gig, eat takeout, go play the gig, get fucked up afterwards. Rinse and repeat… That’s the lifestyle trap

of working only at night,” said Liang. He says he hadn’t expected this sort of conduct to be so commonplace.

Although many musicians don’t like to talk about this component of their job, Liang explained that peer pressure is frequent because being “part of the group” will get you more gigs. Finally, he asserts, “Musicians are great in spite of their [vices], not because of them… You really don’t want to fall into the jazz lifestyle; you want to be a good jazz musician. How to navigate that, I think, is a challenge for everyone.”

Substance use disorders are one of the two most contentious topics in my research into the jazz scene, the other being the historical underrepresentation of women in the worldwide jazz scene. I asked Malandrino about her experience as a woman in this ridiculously men-dominated feld.

“It’s defnitely been a rollercoaster. You can feel it when all the guys are hanging out, and they don’t want to include you,” she said. She expressed that this could be because there are no more than fve female students in her graduating jazz cohort.

Malandrino explained that many women in the jazz community are invited to perform at a gig by musicians who are primarily interested in developing a romantic relationship with them. “I feel like I always have to prove myself because you never know someone’s true intentions when they’re asking you to jam,” she adds. Malandrino maintains that this behaviour causes some performers to lose confdence in their musicianship.

She concludes, “At the end of the day, I’ll take every opportunity and think of it as something that will take me forward and help me as a musician.”

Cookin’, Relaxin’, Workin’, Steamin’: Portrait of a student musician Gigging life is also a very stressful existence. “The most important thing is just not fucking up in rehearsal. [Not] too much at least,” said Middleton.

Jazz musicians must learn the chords and lyrics of songs before rehearsal. If not, according to Middleton, you’ll get fred. “People don’t have time for that,” he said. “That’s the pressure of jazz.”

“To be an artist versus being a working artist are two diferent skills,” said Liang, who’s played a plethora of gigs — from loud clubs with musicians in their twilight years to soulless commercial events to the Toronto International Film Festival. I had asked him about the non-musical skills a jazz musician needs in their toolkit. “Having enough of an ego to understand the value you bring to the music as a musician for hire, but also having a small enough ego to always wanna grow and respect the people you work with,” he responded.

Liang has three criteria for deciding on whether or not to accept a gig: music, money, and hang — as in, whether it’s a good setting to hang out. At least two of these should be satisfactory for him to accept the gig. That being said, he told me in a dry, ironic tone, “I’d take any job if it pays $1,000 in one day, even if it’s shit hang and shit music.”

Middleton echoes Liang’s words about the additional soft skills needed to be a working musician. He said, “You have to be able to hang, bro. What that means is that you have to be fun to be around.”

In the grand scheme of jazz history, this notion is fairly recent. Middleton claims that in the twentieth century, so many of the greats were notorious for being disrespectful addicts. Today, however, a rude jazz musician will be replaced by someone equally profcient at their instrument but a nicer person. “You can’t be a dickhead — not that that’s a good thing to be in general — but you can’t be afraid to get your hands dirty, to approach people, and to be a part of the culture,” he said.

And, like everything in the twenty-frst century, jazz has gone digital. “The amount of times I’ve wanted to delete Instagram — but I’m like, I can’t,” complained Malandrino. “People’s gigs

are posted there, their playing, you know? Deleting Instagram is not realistic; if you want to promote yourself as a musician, it’s impossible.”

A lot of the best experiences in live music that I’ve had have been brought to me through the almighty power of the Instagram algorithm. A pay-what-you-can, late-night, free improvisation show at the Tranzac comes to mind — spoken word meets modular synthesizers plus a bona fde jazz quartet. There were as many musicians on stage as audience members, and apparently, the musicians had never played with each other before. Bizarro, niche things like that you can only learn about online.

A Love Supreme: Concluding remarks

At the end of my interviews, I let the musicians relay one fnal message to you, dear reader. The following are their chosen epitaphs.

“Don’t play jazz if you want to be rich,” said Middleton, “And go see more jazz, because there’s a lot of good shit in Toronto.”

“[Jazz] is the reason I wake up in the morning,” said Liang. “I wake up because I want to fucking play music. And I think life would be pretty meaningless without it... Don’t be afraid to love what you love. Love it unapologetically.”

Finally, Malandrino, who adamantly believes that The Varsity readers have the power to support live music, said: “Don’t be scared to come out to venues. Everyone is so accepting, and what we want, more than anything, is for people to come and know the music. We do not want jazz to die, we want it to thrive… Live music, I’m telling you, is one of the most amazing things. When you’re there, it’s just so… happy.”

You can check out these artists’ Instagram to catch them playing around town: Middleton at @jordanmiddleton_music, Liang at @yzeric.liang, and Malandrino at @amalandrino.

Here’s the go-to Instagram page for fnding cool shows to go to in Toronto: @jazzintoronto.

“Don’t be afraid to love what you love. Love it unapologetically.”
Eric Liang is a second-year jazz pianist. ASHLEY JEONG/THEVARSITY
Malandrino grins at the camera before going on stage. AVERYN NGAN/THEVARSITY Adriana Malandrino is a third-year vocalist. AVERYN NGAN/THEVARSITY Jordan Middleton, rst-year jazz student, performs at the Emmet Ray. AVERYN NGAN/THEVARSITY

Navigating a world where accents impact employability

Vijay Ramjattan on how Canadian employers respond to racialized accents

On January 25, U of T students and faculty participated in the lecture “Hearing Employability, Hearing Race” delivered by Vijay Ramjattan. The Department of Language Studies organized the lecture as part of the series “Jackman Humanities Institute Annual Seminar on Multilingualism: Refecting on a Global Reality through Time, Space, Mind and Text.”

The series began in September 2023 and will run until April, with seminars addressing multilingualism in various felds of study and from differing viewpoints.

Ramjattan’s talk drew on his 2022 study, “International students and their raciolinguistic sensemaking of aural employability in Canadian universities.” He argued that the expectation that international students “sound Canadian” risks naturalizing racism. He also examined the narratives around which students make sense of these expectations around linguistic employability.

How accents become racialized Ramjattan shared his experience growing up in Canada with a Canadian accent but explained that his accent is often heard as “non-Canadian” due to his racialization. Hearing “race” in the way someone talks, Ramjattan argued, is not a neutral or apolitical phenomenon — rather, it is infuenced by social relations.

Most importantly, Ramjattan said, this process includes the power of colonial histories, white settlers, and the “myth of multiculturalism,” which serve to mask this power. Thus, an international student may be perceived as less capable of communication or less employable

if their accent is not perceived as “white.” Because “employability” is a vague concept, international students are left concerned about how they should sound to be deemed employable.

Ramjattan describes this process as “raciolinguistic sensemaking” — an intertwined process of race and language that serves to make racist perceptions seem natural. In other words, Ramjattan explained, the process “deems the linguistic repertoires of racially minoritized communities as inherently defcient no matter if they match those of privileged white people.” For many international students, Ramjattan argued, this process can start while they are in university.

Emphasizing that the process is structural and ideological rather than specifcally targeting a person or specifc groups of people, Ramjattan said, “Raciolinguistic sensemaking was facilitated by the students’ everyday experience on their respective campuses.”

Sounding ‘Canadian’

In interviews with international students, Ramjattan recounted that he observed two seemingly contradictory narratives on what “sounding Canadian” means to them: either the speaker mimics “white” accents, or they retain their native accent due to Canada’s supposed value of multiculturalism.

One student described being hired over a friend with an identical resume and skillset, the only diference being that this friend’s look and pronunciation were “more Persian.” Another talked of being told to get rid of their accents in a panel discussion about job-searching.

However, one student noted that the diversity of their university and the fact that their professor had a strong accent inspired them not to view their accent as a problem and to speak freely. Another shared that their faculty explained how students need not change their accents and that there are diferent ways to pronounce words in diferent countries.

Ramjattan remarked that while the narrative around multiculturalism and diversity may be salient in certain contexts, given the overall environment of the Canadian university and especially the job market, this narrative can be naïve or overly optimistic. The support of multiculturalism in Canada is essentially a myth, he said, due to the continued existence of systems of oppression that maintain white settler power.

He listed several other problematic examples of raciolinguistic sensemaking, such as the predatory nature of the “accent reduction” industry or bias in recruitment due to language perception.

To counter these efects, Ramjattan proposed “listening counter-pedagogies,” which are practices of teaching how to listen and approaches to communication that train both the listener and the speaker rather than placing the burden of “fxing” accents entirely on the speakers. He also emphasized the importance of addressing peoples’ accents and language use in anti-oppression policies and believes that these recommendations should be made in the wider labour market, not just at universities and niche workplaces.

Behind the Madison Avenue Pub’s iconic reputation

U of T students have been frequenting the pub just north of UTSG for generations

Get of at Spadina station and turn left on Madison Street. Walk in through the alleyway and head up the red staircase. Try not to get lost as you look for a washroom.

The Madison Avenue Pub, better known amongst students as “the Maddy,” is one of the most popular hangout spots for U of T students. Located on 14 Madison Avenue, this pub is only a short walk away from campus and has achieved iconic status within the U of T community for its music and unique interior design.

The Varsity spoke with manager Steve Dumbrova about the Maddy’s enduring popularity with students. The main reason for this reputation, he believes, is all the diferent themed foors within the pub.

Comprising six British-style pub counters inside three Victorian mansions, the Maddy has many diferent foors, seating sections and patios, which gives it a maze-like feel. Students can “hang out at the piano bar,” “go to the dance foor and go crazy,” or “go upstairs to play a game of pool,” Dumbrova described.

Toronto’s melting pot

Self-described as “Toronto’s melting pot,” the Maddy is a good place for students to create new friendships. The Varsity spoke to U of T student Lauren De Luca about her experiences at the Maddy. De Luca stated how she went to the pub for the frst time last year after she began in-person learning. She was struck by the multiple foors and crowds of students, which made for an “exciting and fun atmosphere.”

Aside from the nightlife, the Maddy hosts a range of other events, including “Greek

life night” on Mondays and chess nights on Wednesdays. Soccer fans can also come to watch Champions League matches — especially Manchester United (ManU) fans, since the ofcial ManU Supporters’ Club of Canada has designated it as Toronto’s ofcial ManU home base. As a Barcelona fan myself, watching soccer at the Maddy can be quite painful.

Dumbrova also noted that students can look forward to a live band play during Saint Patrick’s Day weekend later this month.

A community staple

The Maddy has been serving students for generations. The pub was frst opened up by owners Dave and Isabel in 1983, initially to serve the Annex, but became an instant hit. With their growing popularity, Dave and Isabel began buying out the diferent foors — Steve recounts how the piano bar used to be a dentist's ofce — before also buying out the neighbouring houses.

De Luca also explains how she frst heard of the Maddy from her parents, who frequented the pub in their own days as U of T students. De Luca said that her parents recall how it was the go-to spot to hang out after late classes.

Food and Drinks

The Maddy’s menu has a diverse array of meals. Patrons can get the Blackened Salmon for $19.47 or the voodoo chicken for $13.93, amongst other mains and shareables. The food is also relatively cheap. For example, the classic pub burger and salad at the Maddy cost $14.15, whereas insurance provider Apollo estimates that the average meal at a Toronto pub or restaurant is roughly $25. Dumbrova also recommends the butter chicken poutine.

However, the Maddy is probably best known for its drinks menu. There are various beer cans and bottles, along with draft beer. Some of the more interesting cocktails include the Blue Hawaiian and Love Potion, each for $11.85. There’s an assortment of red and white wine for those feeling more fancy. The menu also includes a “TMU” shot and a “UofTEA” shot in case students want to drink their pain away. I have not yet tried the U of TEA myself, but I may or may not do so after fnal exams.

Dumbrova explained that the Maddy team is always monitoring social media for the latest trends — for example, when Kendall Jenner’s 818 tequila came out, it became an instant bestseller at the Maddy. Tequila, in general,

remains Maddy’s current most popular drink. Dubmrova said the bar goes through “about 65 bottles of brand tequila” weekly.

How does the Maddy stay proftable with low prices and no entry fee? Dumbrova said it comes down to keeping their stafng efcient. “We’re careful with labour, we watch everything,” he said. For example, he makes sure not to have too many staf working when the pub is not busy. Dumbrova also pointed to keeping their menu small to give the pub fresh ingredients and lower prices.

Altogether, the Maddy is a hallmark of the U of T student experience — and who knows, maybe I’ll get to watch Barcelona lift the Champions League trophy there someday.

March 4, 2024
Business & Labour
e Madison Avenue Pub is better known among students as “the Maddy.” CAROLINE BELLAMY/THEVARSITY

Arts & Culture

March 4, 2024

El Mocambo: The catalyst for young Toronto musicians

What makes this venue important for Toronto’s musicians and music lovers?

Found at Spadina Avenue and College Street, El Mocambo is one of Toronto’s most famous music venues. Since 1946, this venue has featured a variety of performers, from rock bands to comedians to rappers, ofering city folk a lively nightlife hub.

According to El Mocambo’s Executive Director Mike Chalut, the venue has long been a central gathering place for U of T students to enjoy live performances. The venue has collaborated with the university for Frosh weeks, music events, and more. “Everybody has an El Mocambo story,” said Chalut in an interview with The Varsity Giving publicity to rising artists is their specialty. The Rolling Stones (who performed under the name The Cockroaches), Steppenwolf, Ramones, and Cheech and Chong are just a few names that have performed at the iconic joint. Even Jim Carrey performed here before gaining fame. Despite these dazzling acts, the venue remains dedicated

to platforming local musicians and incubating potential. “Our whole thing is to help emerging artists,” explained Chalut. “You play at the El Mocambo [and] all record labels [will] know… ‘Maybe this guy’s the next big thing.”

“We always make sure that our emerging artists are treated like true rockstars here,” said Chalut. “That’s our mandate. Because we want them to remember us. It’s for selfsh reasons. We want them to say, ‘I had my frst big show at the El Mo.’”

There is defnitely precedent for big groups getting their start at El Mocambo. For example, U2 performed a gig at “El Mo” in 1980 for just $500 — as seen by the vintage booking sheets posted on the bathroom walls. Now, a single ticket to one of U2’s stadium concerts can go for well over $500.

The bathrooms’ booking-sheet walls also serve as a public record of El Mocambo’s history. The sheets feature the artists, the songs they were performing, and how much they were paid. “Bathrooms tell a story,” said Chalut.

The emerging artists wall is where performing artists write their names and make their mark. For example, 18-year-old Toronto rapper KALAN, whose show I attended on February 10, wrote his name on it to mark his El Mocambo show.

Chalut discussed his thoughts on the music industry’s current state, and challenges for both El Mocambo and the venue’s artists.

“The biggest challenge is how live music has changed so much. You can’t go to a concert anymore for twenty-fve bucks. To have a big act here, you must charge a thousand dollars a ticket, and then you limit your audience,” he said.

“I wish the music industry would be more supportive of the music industry… The industry needs to support the artists more because it’s hard for artists to make a go at anything because everybody wants a piece of the pie. It’s not about the artist’s actual talent. That’s where the music industry’s been lost. If someone’s really good, then they should be shining, bright like a diamond.”

The business

In 2014, the venue found itself on the brink of bankruptcy. Luckily, Michael Wekerle from Dragons’ Den swooped in at the last minute and purchased El Mocambo for $3.8 million. He originally wanted to just purchase the iconic neon “El Mocambo” sign but ultimately decided to just

buy the whole place and save it from going out of business. The angel investor transformed El Mocambo through a 30-million-dollar, four-year renovation process.

If the venue had shut down, it would’ve been almost “75 years of music history lost,” according to Chalut. Instead, the refurbished El Mocambo was ready to open a few days before the COVID-19 outbreak.

Chalut said the venue keeps him occupied. “My day-to-day job here is 24 hours a day, because you never know who you’ll book. Whether it’s a big artist, an emerging artist, [or] a U of T event.”

The community

Chalut said that the team has had “zero turnover” since reopening after COVID-19 and its big renovation. El Mocambo’s technical and production director, Andre Doucette, also chimed in about his experiences working at the venue. “It’s like a dream. We get to work with the best equipment there is in the world. We get to work with amazing talent and amazing patrons.”

Today, live music is still El Mocambo’s bread and butter. However, it has branched out to new avenues to adapt to the times, like live podcasts, book launches, and other events to help boost local creatives. The venue is busy — and El Mocambo loves being busy.

SMC’s production of Legally Blonde brings the house down Omigod, you guys: If there ever was a perfect production, this one qualifes
Vivian Zhi Varsity Contributor

Although I had hoped more people would wear pink to the opening night of the musical Legally Blonde, the excitement in Hart House Theatre rivalled that of a sold-out viewing of Barbie at the height of its popularity. From February 15–17, the St. Michael’s College Troubadours’ production — directed by Nicolas Cikoja and Emma Kidd — delivered wildly exuberant performances afrming that being true to yourself never goes out of style.

In Legally Blonde, Elle Woods (Lizzie Song) attempts to win back her ex-boyfriend, Warner (Aiden Oh), by following him to Harvard Law School. With the support of her friends, she discovers her potential as a lawyer along the way. This show is campy in the best way possible. With its slightly ludicrous plot and upbeat pop music, Legally Blonde is a very unserious show that lends itself well to the Troubadours’ dramatics.

One of its strengths derives from its stellar cast. Song’s Elle commands your attention — and not just because she’s wearing fabulous bright pink

outfts. She brings out Elle’s buoyancy and lovability, which instantly compels you to root for her character. Her portrayal of a defeated Elle during the song “Legally Blonde” genuinely brought tears to my eyes, as it hurt to watch Elle’s optimism leave her body.

Joseph Chiu as Emmett Forrest was equally endearing with his adorkable charm. Song and Chiu’s chemistry was undeniable, which made watching Elle and Emmett’s friendship blossom into an earnest romance delightful. Speaking of romances, the relationship between Elle’s hairdresser Paulette (Cass Iacovelli) and gender-bent delivery girl Kyle (Nina Katz) was a crowd-pleaser if the roaring cheers from the audience were anything to go by.

Of course, the show would not have succeeded without two vital cast members: dogs Harley Parsons and Trixie, who respectively played Bruiser Woods and Rufus. They deserve the highest praise, the best treats, and plenty of belly rubs. Who’s a good doggo? They are, oh yes they are.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the ensemble

numbers, which were the highest points of the show. The cast looked like they had a blast performing them — and we did too! The ensemble created the chaotic fun integral to Elle’s “personal essay” in the song “What You Want,” and impressively managed to maintain a clear singing voice while jump-roping during “Whipped Into Shape.”

I’d like to tip my hat to the Greek chorus of Delta Nu sorority girls, who consistently brought their vibrant harmonies and lively choreography to the stage.

I wish the microphones picked up the cast’s voices better, as I occasionally had difculty hearing them over the orchestra, and I noticed the solos of ensemble members especially got the short end of the stick. All things considered, though, not being able to make out all the words didn’t impede my enjoyment of the performance. The cast’s energy and enthusiasm made up for it, and I admire how the orchestra was able to fll the theatre with music that had me tapping my feet to the beat.

The cast’s energy is not the only thing that stood out: the production’s use of its set and props was thoughtfully considered and executed. The moveable pair of doors quickly and seamlessly

transported characters to diferent locations. The law students’ red books that doubled as snapping shark jaws in “Blood in the Water” were a clever detail. The joke with the vibrator in “Chip on My Shoulder” was hilarious; however, as my friend pointed out to me during intermission, the positioning of the moveable door props blocked the view of some audience members, and may have caused those on the right side of the theatre to miss the joke.

What made Legally Blonde such an enjoyable viewing experience was watching Elle grow as a person and triumph over her struggles and detractors. She learns that she can take on any challenge, all while staying unapologetically true to herself. This production conveys the musical’s celebration of individuality with infectious optimism, reminding audience members that anyone can overcome obstacles and fnd their way in life with a little bit of pink and a lot of determination.

Disclaimer: The chair of The Varsity’s Board of Directors, Paul Meyer, was the Music Director for Legally Blonde.

e iconic El Mocambo sign. CHRIS ZDRAVKO/THEVARSITY Elle Woods (Lizzie Song) and Emmett Forrest (Joseph Chiu). COURTESY OF DUA SIDDIQUI Toronto-based rapper KALAN performs onstage at El Mocambo. CHRIS ZDRAVKO/THEVARSITY Uptight law students yapping at Elle Woods. COURTESY OF DUA SIDDIQUI e El Mocambo main stage. CHRIS ZDRAVKO/THEVARSITY

If you go to Mars, Jefery Hofman says, “Don’t forget your MOXIE!”

Former NASA astronaut speaks on the limitations of Mars rovers and the benefts of integrating humans

In the realm of space exploration, the use of both robotic and human endeavours has been pivotal in expanding our understanding of the cosmos.

On February 9, U of T’s Astronomy & Space Exploration Association held its 20th Annual Symposium in the Mechanical Engineering Building on the St. George campus. This year’s theme was “Mars: The Quest for Human Habitat.” At the symposium, Jefrey Hofman — a former NASA astronaut and currently a professor of aeronautics and astronautics at Massachusetts Institute of Technology — discussed the use of rovers on Mars for geological experiments and the constraints faced by researchers.

Many robotic missions carried out by NASA, especially by Mars rovers like Perseverance and Curiosity, have demonstrated remarkable capabilities in exploring distant planetary bodies. These rovers, equipped with sophisticated scientifc instruments, have provided invaluable data about the Martian surface, atmosphere, and geological features. However, despite their successes, rovers often operate at a fraction of their full potential due to several constraints.

Limitations of remotely-managed rovers

As Hofman discussed, taking humans to Mars involves supporting astronauts for seven to eight months aboard a suitable spacecraft. The red planet’s air pressure is similar to Earth’s

pressure — at 100,000 feet above sea level. Water does not exist as a liquid at this level, and altogether, this makes Mars very difcult for humans to explore. Rovers allow scientists to study places they cannot physically reach yet.

The speed that rovers work at, the limits of human intervention from laboratories on Earth, and their costliness are all signifcant restrictions to the capabilities of these machines. A rover operation generally involves a large team of scientists and engineers analyzing data and making decisions concerning the next steps for data collection, which is very time-consuming and costly — it takes about a day and a half for signals to be sent between the rover and Earth and millions of dollars for each launch.

Hofman mentioned a quote by Steve Squyres, the principal investigator for two other rovers, Spirit and Opportunity, saying: “As a feld geologist, if I’d been in a spacesuit on Mars, I could’ve done what my two rovers did in the course of a long weekend.” Plus, each of these missions intakes a huge amount of materials and consequently releases equivalent, or larger, amounts of emissions.

The cautious approach to operating rovers stems from the risks involved in their missions. Rovers must navigate challenging terrain, avoid getting stuck, and withstand harsh environmental conditions without obtaining damage that would require human involvement to be repaired. For instance, if a rover were to get stuck in the sand, there would be no one there to dig it out. Therefore, the rovers’ teams

on Earth carefully navigate these machines across the Mars terrain and around rough surfaces, dragging their capabilities far below their true value.

A bit of MOXIE to get humans on Mars

Hofman is the deputy principal investigator of MOXIE, an experimental rover instrument on Perseverance, the rover that was launched in 2020. The Mars Oxygen In-Situ Resource Utilization Experiment can create up to 10 grams of oxygen per hour using carbon dioxide in the Martian atmosphere. It splits oxygen from the carbon dioxide using an electrolyzer.

MOXIE was created as a source of oxygen for future explorers on Mars to breathe and burn as fuel. It’s a small-scale demo version of a converter that will eventually support a small crew. As Hofman said, “MOXIE was put there to study MOXIE.” By including MOXIE on the rover, NASA was able to confrm that we can make oxygen on Mars.

Hofman proposed that human presence

on Mars could enhance the efciency and effectiveness of exploring and understanding the environmental conditions of Mars. Humans can operate in real-time, allowing for immediate problem-solving and decision-making. As mentioned before, humans can also intervene whenever a rover encounters a blockage, increasing the machine’s lifespan and range of exploration.

Moreover, humans on Mars could facilitate the rapid implementation of new experiments or upgrades to rover equipment. This would enable rovers to be updated with respect to everevolving scientifc priorities and technological advancements, maximizing their scientifc output and greatly benefting the development of scientifc research in space.

Hofman hopes that space discovery techniques will be developed in the upcoming years to enhance space exploration and fnd a more efcient means of data collection and analysis. Uncovering the wonders of the cosmos will depend on combining robotic and human eforts as we push the boundaries of space exploration.

On encoding poetry into a bacterium, literally
How Christian Bök’s Xenotext challenges the boundaries of information and collaboration

“Must the universe be so pitiless as to immolate all its ofspring at birth?”

From the beginning, I was haunted. Canadian poet Christian Bök’s book of experimental poetry, The Xenotext: Book 1, begins by immersing you in the world of “The Late Heavy Bombardment.” Bök envisions an “omnicide,” the destruction of all life. He summons monsters from the depths of the ocean, the fres of war and Hell, and galactic events that could wipe out life on Earth if not for coincidence. Xenotext is a text that will be read in two settings: now and forever from now.

How Christian Bök encodes his poem in biological information

“DNA is an actual casino of signs, preserving, within a random series of letters, the haphazard alignment of acids and ideas.”

DNA and RNA are both grouped into “codons,” which are groups of three nucleotides each. A nucleotide is a type of molecule that forms DNA and RNA, consisting of a sugar, a phosphate, and a base with nitrogen. In living organisms and even viruses, genetic information in DNA is transcribed into RNA, which is then translated into proteins.

There are 64 possible codons that each correspond to a single amino acid, the building block of proteins. Bök randomly chose 26 codons and assigned each to one of the 26 letters of the alphabet, allowing him to use codons to construct words and sentences.

Using the codon alphabet, each letter in Bök’s poem “Orpheus” corresponds to a DNA codon.

Bök assembled a DNA sequence enciphered with these letters of the poem and inserted it into an E. coli bacterium. When the E. coli transcribed the DNA into RNA, Bök read the RNA transcript as the second poem, “Eurydice,” using the same letter-codon pairings he’d originally assigned.

In Greek mythology, Orpheus and Eurydice are wed until a snakebite kills Eurydice. When he sees Orpheus grieving, Hades, the god of the underworld, allows Orpheus to take Eurydice from the land of the dead under the condition that he wouldn’t look back at Eurydice. Upon seeing the land of the living, Orpheus looks back at Eurydice in joy. Then, she disappears.

Bök’s challenge is one of both bioengineering and cryptography: he must simulate the DNA to RNA transcription on his supercomputer to see if it can produce a meaningful “Eurydice” sonnet from the RNA transcript that corresponds to his “Orpheus” DNA sequence. He then sends the results to a lab to test on a live bacterium what he had simulated on his supercomputer. He has already tested it on E. coli because it’s easier to work with, but the ultimate goal is to do this in D. radiodurans, which is one of the most radiationresistant organisms — a “deathless bacterium.” This is the biogenesis of art — but what about the art itself?

Today, I sit at my desk and turn the pages. Hopefully, when you and I are both long gone, someone will take a second look at the proteins that certain D. radiodurans produce and will be able to regenerate “Eurydice.”

The Xenotext itself is a collection of sonnets written such that it can be enciphered into the DNA and still produce a meaningful message with the RNA result. Bök created this project

with the hope of preserving the information forever, or at least in a forever that is meaningful for humanity.

“Colony Collapse Disorder”: A small apocalypse

In The Queer Art of Failure, Jack Halberstam advocates for “creative anthropomorphism,” subverting the “singularity of the human” by writing stories about “real or fantasized beasts.” Bök takes this to the extreme, dedicating the second chapter of Xenotext to bees. It is named “Colony Collapse Disorder,” after the horrifying “pandemic syndrome” in which worker bees leave their hives without returning — an apocalypse in miniature.

Although several factors might contribute to colony collapse disorder, the article cited by Xenotext proposes that neonicotinoids, a group of pesticides, may aggravate it. The subsequent poems don’t just observe the bees but are from the bees’ perspective. Sonnets 6–10, entitled “On the Armies of the Realm,” show bee civiliza tion in terms that would put Sparta to shame, describing orphaned children enlisted in the “army,” participating in riots, crusades, and despotism.

Bök places sonnets about Virgil’s tales of bees from The Georgics after this set of po ems — in Bök’s imagining, bees fght, labour, and lounge as the Roman poets do. Is what Bök is doing creative anthropomorphism? That is one way of looking at it — his sonnets about bees envision non-human animals with the trap pings of civilization, both good and bad.

However, in the philosopher-biologist Donna Haraway’s Staying with the Trouble: Making

Kin in the Cthulucene, she rejects anthropocentrism entirely, instead suggesting, among other things, to think of both ecology and art through the concept of ‘sympoiesis’. Haraway defnes sympoiesis simply as “making-with.” One of her most vivid examples of sympoiesis is the relationship between the Hawaiian bobtail squid and its symbiont, Vibrio fscheri, which infects juvenile squids so that they can develop a luminescent pouch necessary for hunting. This is a “sympoietic collaboration.”

Bök is also working sympoietically with bacteria. Rather than sustain life, Bök wants to sustain information, and, maybe more importantly, sustain poetry. He collaborates with the bacterium, working on “Orpheus” while the bacterium will, eventually, spit out the “Eurydice” RNA transcript, which will be made into proteins, hopefully outlasting our civilization through galactic chance.

Unlike the real Orpheus, I hope that Bök

Science March 4, 2024
Je rey Ho man, a former NASA astronaut and current professor at MIT, discussed the limitations of Martian exploration at ASX’s 20th annual symposium.
Christian Bök enciphers bacterial DNA with his poem and the bacterium responds with an RNA transcript which Bök decodes into another poem.

Growing organs (almost) from scratch

U of T researchers are working on growing kidneys, lungs, and more in the lab to address the organ donor shortage

Each year, hundreds of Canadians die waiting for an organ transplant. Organ recipients often have to wait several years to receive an organ. The problem is acute, and it’s not going anywhere.

One solution to this crisis is to create new organs and tissues. From coating pig kidneys with human cells to bioprinting new skin for burn patients, researchers at U of T are approaching the problem from a myriad of angles.

Background: Organs from stem cells

Decades ago, scientists thought the creation of new organs for transplant fts squarely within reach. James A. Thomson and colleagues at the Wisconsin Regional Primate Research Center at the University of Wisconsin-Madison frst isolated human embryonic stem cells in 1998. Certain stem cells can make copies of themselves and specialize into any cell type in the body, like blood or kidney cells.

In their paper, Thomson and colleagues proudly declared that “the standardized production of large, purifed populations of… human cells… will provide a potentially limitless source of cells for drug discovery and transplantation therapies.”

While certain transplantation therapies, like bone marrow transplants, are now commonplace, growing organs in a lab has proven more difcult. So, scientists had to start small. In 2013, Takanori Takebe and colleagues at Yokohama City University Graduate School of Medicine created 3D liverlike structures from stem cells that recapitulated the function of the liver in mice.

These structures have become a powerful tool in research and are similar to 3D structures of cells

scientists call organoids. But creating organs from the ground up, particularly at the human scale, isn’t always practical.

This is especially true for kidneys, the most greatly needed organ for transplant. “[The kidney has] such a complex microarchitecture, where the urine fltrate has to go through each nephron, and then into the ureter,” explained Tonya Bongolan, who completed her doctoral studies in biology studying kidney regeneration at U of T last year under the supervision of Professor Ian Rogers — whose lab studies stem cells and the formation of organs — in an interview with The Varsity

Decellularizing organs

After years of research, the Rogers Lab has now ‘decellularized’ and ‘recellularized’ a whole mouse kidney, which functions much like a kidney in a body. In the Rogers Lab’s studies of recellularized mouse kidneys, the kidneys fltered proteins and glucose, producing a urine-like substance.

To decellularize an organ means to remove all of the cells, leaving behind only the extracellular matrix, the organ’s structure without any of the cells. The extracellular matrix contains specifc molecules and proteins that provide structure to the organ, facilitate cells’ movement, and tell unspecialized cells what to become.

As the decellularization process proceeds, a kidney loses its pinkish colour and becomes “ghostlooking,” Bongolan described. After decellularization, scientists can recellularize — or add new cells to — the kidney using human adult primary renal epithelial cells, a type of kidney cell. This allows for kidneys from pigs to be decellularized, recellularized with human cells, and transplanted instead of having to create a kidney from scratch.

Scientists at the Tissue Repair and Re generation Lab at the University Health Net work (UHN) perform similar research about the lungs and trachea, which present unique chal lenges. For instance, entirely decellularizing tracheal tissue can compromise its structure. To combat this, Fabio G. Aoki and colleagues at the Tissue Repair and Regeneration Lab at UHN and U of T only partially decellularized tracheal tissue. Using this method, the tissue retains its integrity and supports the attachment of cells.

Zooming out of decellularization, The Burn Research and Skin Regeneration Lab at Sunnybrook Hospital — led by Dr. Marc Jeschke, a U of T professor in the Department of Surgery, Department of Immunology and the Institute of Medical Science — has worked on improving outcomes for burn patients. To treat patients with large burns, Richard Y. Cheng and colleagues at the lab, and at U of T’s Institute of Biomaterials and Bioengineering, designed a handheld device that creates skin precursor sheets, essentially printing a skinlike material on the spot. These sheets were composed of fbrinogen — a protein that can recruit host cells that heal burns — and mesenchymal stromal cells, cells isolated from bone marrow, adipose, and other tissue sources that help with infammation, the immune response, and healing.

The out-of-body experience of livers

Moving to the liver, Dr. Nazia Selzner, a transplant hepatologist in the Multi-Organ Transplant Program at UHN, works with the ex vivo, or “outside of the body,” platform. The platform allows scientists to maintain organs, like livers, outside the body by pumping blood through them, setting the appropriate temperature, and overall mimicking the body’s environment.

“[The liver] feels very happy because it’s outside the body, but it has the impression that it is within the body,” said Dr. Selzner in an interview with The Varsity. Currently, the ex vivo platform allows scientists to check whether a donor’s liver is functioning well enough to be eligible for a transplant.

In the future, the ex vivo platform could help scientists do even more. As researchers fnd ways to extend the amount of time organs can be kept outside of the body, new avenues could open for treating diseased livers and re-transplanting them. “For example, if a liver is too fatty, we can de-fat it on the machine, and then use it for transplant. If there is cancer, you can treat the cancer and then re-transplant it,” explained Dr. Selzner.

Researchers still need to overcome challenges before many of these technologies can reach the clinic. For instance, despite success in the decellularization feld, many current methods aren’t able to get rid of all of the cellular material on an organ, creating a risk of transplant rejection, when a transplant recipient’s immune system attacks a transplanted organ. Whether this will be an important problem clinically is an open question.

For now, thousands of people continue to wait for organ transplants. “I believe that clinic-wise, solid organs [like the kidney] are going to be the fnal frontier,” said Bongolan. We’re closer to that frontier now than ever before.

The journey through the history of quasicrystals

U of T physicists’ recent discoveries about the nature of these structures

Quasicrystals are solids made of conductive metals like aluminum, copper, and iron and are used in many practical items, like non-stick frying pans, needles, and LED lights.

Recently, U of T physics professor and researcher Sergio C. de la Barrera and his colleagues from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) discovered a way to create superconductive quasicrystals.

Properties of quasicrystals

Quasicrystals have properties of both crystalline structures, like diamonds, and amorphous structures — structures without an atomically defnite form — like glass. Like crystals, the atoms of quasicrystals are organized into patterns. Like amorphous solids, those patterns do not repeat.

Regular crystals exhibit two-fold, three-fold, four-fold, or six-fold symmetry at the atomic level. This means they can be divided into equal halves in two, three, four, or six ways. Quasicrystals can additionally exhibit fve-fold, ten-fold, or twelve-fold symmetry.

Because of their unique properties, quasicrystals are both durable like metal and brittle like glass. In metals, the atoms are stacked on top of each other in organized layers, allowing for malleability. If pressure is applied, the atoms can “slip” between each other instead of cracking.

In contrast, glass atoms are spread out unpredictably, making the substance non-malleable. Because the atoms cannot “slip” between each other, too much stress will cause glass to break since it has no other way to release this energy. Quasicrystals have some level of atomic pattern, giving them the durability that metals have, but quasicrystals cannot bend like metals can, making them brittle like glass.

The hunt for quasicrystals

Scientist Dan Shechtman discovered quasicrystals in 1982 while researching aluminum and manganese at the National Institute of Standards and Technology in Maryland, US. Shechtman and his team melted the two metals together and rapidly cooled them back to a solid to create a mixture of metals called an alloy.

After viewing the alloy under an electron microscope, Shechtman noticed it exhibited ten-fold symmetry, writing “10-fold???” in his journal notes. As mentioned prior, this does not happen with crystalline structures like metals.

This is the frst known record of quasicrystals. Shechtman later won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 2011 for his discovery.

Simultaneously, from the late 1970s to mid’80s, physicist Paul Steinhardt hypothesized the existence of quasicrystals with fve-fold symmetry without knowing about Shechtman’s research. At the time, it was accepted as a fact that crystals could only exhibit two, three, four, or six-fold symmetry. Steinhardt deemed the idea of quasicrystals’ existence “the second kind of impossible,” which became the title of his 2019 book about his journey to prove the existence of naturally occurring quasicrystals.

While hunting to fnd natural quasicrystals, Steinhardt only encountered two. One was in the Museo de Historia Natural de Florencia in Italy. He and his team traced its origins and found another natural quasicrystal in the Kamchatka Peninsula, Russia. Steinhardt named the quasicrystals icosahedrite and decagonite, respectively.

New discoveries in quasicrystals

Quasicrystals are normally poor electrical conductors, despite being made of conductive metals like aluminum, copper, and iron. Atoms have electron rings around them, and for a material to conduct electricity properly, the outermost rings must have

space for electrons to move. Good conductors also need the atoms to be close to each other so that electrons can jump easily from one atom to the next.

Quasicrystals are normally akin to semiconductors, like silicon, tin, and selenium in their conductivity. In a 2023 Nature study, U of T and MIT researchers created ‘superconductive’ graphene quasicrystals, or quasicrystals that allow electricity to pass through with no resistance. Graphene is a material extracted from graphite; it is made of a single layer of rings of carbon.

The researchers applied twistronics to their work to make their semiconducting quasicrystals. Twistronics is a scientifc feld involving rotating atomically thin layers of materials to manipulate the fow of electrons in the material. This was one of the key elements of the researchers’ discovery.

The U of T and MIT scientists started by twisting three graphene layers and used two twist angles to form two moiré patterns. In photography, moiré is a visual efect where patterns overlap with each other and create a wave appearance. The term

moiré in physics refers to an image resulting from two similar or identical patterns overlapping each other.

In this case, it applies to the graphene sheets stacking together. The stacking of graphene sheets gives a moiré visual efect. To the researchers’ surprise, the moiré system they used created a quasicrystal. By twisting the graphene, the physicists were able to alter the electronic system of the material such that its conductivity changed.

The researchers then tuned the ‘moiré quasicrystal’ to make it superconductive, which means it can transmit current with no resistance at specifc temperatures.

After thorough research on the phenomena, the group believes they are gaining a stronger grasp on the new superconductive quasicrystals. Their research expands what is known about quasicrystals, and how they can be used to better conduct electricity. Future applications could extend to camoufage technology, and thanks to the new research from U of T and MIT, to improving electronic devices.

Multidisciplinary talks at the TEDxUofT Catalyst Conference 2024

On body image disorders, paying attention to students, kindness in academia, and the mental health component of well-being

On January 28, the Isabel Bader stage was transformed. The iconic red carpet was rolled out for TEDxUofT — a student-run youth organization — as it held its annual conference. This year’s theme was “Catalyst.” The event consisted of talented speakers sparking conversations about research and inspirational experiences.

How environmental factors afect body image

The frst speaker was Victoria Gracie, a body positivity activist. She shared her personal experiences as a person with body dysmorphic disorder (BDD), and how it led her to The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH). She now serves as the co-chair of a CAMH research advisory committee on BDD and anorexia nervosa.

She used her own powerful story as a former ballerina to discuss BDD. Approximately 1.7–2.9 per cent of the world’s population and more than fve million individuals in the United States alone struggle with BDD daily.

Gracie delved into the history of body image in her compelling TEDx talk. While it may seem that the pressure to conform to certain body ideals is a recent phenomenon tied to infuencers on platforms such as Instagram and TikTok, Gracie pointed out that this is not the case.

Body dysmorphic disorder is a mental health condition in which a person spends a considerable amount of time worrying about their appearance and body image. Often, when a certain psychiatric condition is in the public eye, scientists will dedicate a subfeld of study to address its prevalence. This is why “military psychology” and even “ergonomic psychiatry” exist. However, despite the widespread nature of body image disorders, Gracie explained that there is currently not sufcient study dedicated to “body image psychiatry.”

Gracie emphasized the importance of addressing this gap in research. Scientists observed diferences in brain activity in individuals who sufer from BDD and similar disorders.

People with BDD experience diferent emotions and have an altered perception of faces because individuals with BDD perceive visual information diferently than those without BDD.

Furthermore, disorders associated with body image and self-perception, such as eating disorders, are often associated with psychiatric conditions like obsessive-compulsive disorder. So, there is undoubtedly a psychiatric component to these afictions. Gracie’s research aims to identify the environmental factors that contribute to these disorders to work to improve the lives of people with BDD.

On the importance of giving students attention

Another notable speaker was Jessica Lim, copresident of both UNICEF U of T and U of T’s Psychology Student Association. She focused on another psychiatric concept: attention and its transformative power.

The American Psychological Association (APA) defnes attention as a state in which our cognitive resources are focused and ready to respond to stimuli. Lim suggested that receiving attention from others can spark curiosity and lead individuals to modify their behaviour.

Although the ideas Lim discussed may be applied to several settings, she focused on the importance of students receiving attention within a classroom. Specifcally, she illustrated how teachers can provide sufcient attention to their students by sharing her experiences as an elementary school English teacher in South Korea.

The frst anecdote Lim shared was of a seven-year-old student who was disruptive to her class. Upon inquiring about this boy’s home life, she discovered he was not receiving enough attention due to family difculties. Lim tried to give him more attention in the classroom — for example, she observed his interest in drawing and implemented this into the school curriculum by having students draw over letters of the alphabet. Consequently, the boy’s behaviour improved in the classroom and at home. He was redirected from destructive habits by receiving much-needed attention.

While this story is certainly idealistic, it is also incredibly unrealistic to focus on every student in this way. Lim addressed this by using a second, broader example. Lim also noticed that her students loved to sing but did not know the words to several childhood classics, such as “Let It Go” from Frozen . She paid attention to this shared interest and had her students learn song lyrics. As a result, the students’ confdence and engagement in the class improved along with their language profciency.

Practicing kindness while pursuing academia

Bill Ju, a professor in U of T’s Department of Human Biology, started his presentation by encouraging us in the audience to engage with the people next to us, which resulted in a cascade of smiles in the room. In his talk, he emphasized that educators are often entrenched in the academic world, forgetting a crucial part of preparing students for the real world.

Beyond textbooks and exams, he encourages the spread of values between students, with kindness taking the spotlight — something we should all be passing on whenever and wherever the opportunity arises.

Professor Ju explains that when we encounter someone who is stressed, we also get stressed by their infuence, which negatively affects our moods. Similarly, spreading kindness to the next person could positively afect them. Rather than maintaining a poker face, choosing to share a smile with the person beside us creates a more positive atmosphere, which he believes we should maintain within the academic environment.

Despite students being stressed and engaged in constant competition, making an effort to share lunch with someone new, ofering a smile to a classmate, or even giving a spontaneous high-fve to a passerby down the hallway can signifcantly brighten someone's day.

Professor Bill Ju teaches us that small acts of kindness make us seem more approachable to people who don’t know us. He envisions making a change for the world that involves integrating kindness into the educational landscape.

Jessica Lim delivered pointed anecdotes on the importance of attention for students. YUHUAN XIE/THEVARSITY

About the mental component of physical health

After an intermission, Dr. Sarah Lidstone took the stage, challenging dualism — the theory that the body and the brain are distinct and separate. She started with an interesting activity that got us moving one of our legs and keeping the other on the ground. She concluded the activity by highlighting that even though only one of our legs was in motion, both were essential for coordinating balance. Dr. Lidstone debriefed that the purpose of the activity was to unlearn the notion that the mind and our physical self are disconnected.

Dr. Lidstone is a neurologist specializing in movement disorders and an assistant professor at the Temerty Faculty of Medicine. She aimed to investigate the impact of assistance from experts in neurology, psychiatry, and physiotherapy on patients with movement disorders to gain multiple perspectives on a patient’s experiences.

She presented video clips depicting patients before and after receiving treatment from these specialists, highlighting their progress in recovery. Dr. Lidstone emphasized the importance of the interconnections between the mind, body, and brain and how their physical improvement was directly linked to their mental state.

Dr. Lidstone also raised a pointed critique of the healthcare feld, specifcally toward how healthcare workers frequently brush aside patients’ complaints about their mental well-being, as they are seen as problems that another person can’t physically see. However, she emphasized that integrating mental and physical health is crucial to enhancing motor control.

The conference was overall quite enlightening. Gracie and Lim both skillfully pulled from their personal experiences to inspire change. They are actively propelling forward research that may address important social issues. By viewing situations through a scientifc lens, they were able to use empirical studies to enrich the lives of many, acting as catalysts for sparking conversations. Professor Ju spoke about the relevance of being kind to students and future educators, and Dr. Lidstone spoke about treating your brain and body as a whole and learning that they are in constant communication.
Hannah Shaw Wilson & Aida Qazi Varsity Contributors Victoria Gracie, a body positivity activist, took to the stage to discuss the history of body image. YUHUAN XIE/THEVARSITY Neurologist Sarah Lidstone talks about the mental component of motor disease. YUHUAN XIE/THEVARSITY U of T professor Bill Ju discusses the importance of kindness in academia. YUHUAN XIE/THEVARSITY


Emily Cleghorn: A dazzling display of elegance on the ice Cleghorn discusses the charms, challenges, and victories of fgure skating

In the enchanting world of fgure skating, the rink is a stage where every movement is a delicate dance. As the arena lights shine and the crowd holds its breath, Varsity Blues fgure skater Emily Cleghorn can be seen gliding across the ice with poise, her blades slicing through the shimmering surface. But beyond the twirls and jumps, there lies a story of passion, grace, and dedication.

Currently, in her third year at U of T, Cleghorn is double majoring in criminology and sociolegal studies as well as peace, confict, and justice studies with a minor in political science — all the while nurturing her afection for skating as the cocaptain of the Varsity Blues fgure skating team.

Early beginnings and family infuence

For Cleghorn, fgure skating has long been a familial tradition and legacy. With her mother as a coach, her grandmother serving as a judge for a short period, and her older sister also being immersed in the sport, skating ran in her blood. “I started skating when I was two years old,” said Cleghorn. “It wasn’t really a choice of mine when I was younger, but I am so happy they put me into it. It’s become quite a lifelong passion of mine.”

Despite initial reluctance, Cleghorn found empowerment through fgure skating during her youth when she discovered its capacity to provide solace during challenging times. “Being able to rely on something that was solely under my control was really great,” refected Cleghorn.

Former Canadian fgure skater Joannie Rochette, who had competed in the 2010 Winter Olympics shortly after her mother’s passing, served as a heartfelt source of inspiration for Cleghorn. “I just love that aspect of being able to see someone that was going through so much and still accomplishing their goals. It was probably the most inspirational thing for me,” Cleghorn said. It reinforced her belief in the resilience and

strength that skating could ofer, even in the face of adversity.

From childhood passion to Varsity success Competitive skating became a signifcant part of Cleghorn’s life. Despite the difculties that the COVID-19 pandemic posed on training and competition, joining the Blues fgure skating team brought new successes and rewards to her career.

“I tried out for [the] U of T [team], kind of on a whim, because I knew a few girls that had been on the team in previous years, and [I] was a little unsure on how it would go… but it ended up being a second family for me,” Cleghorn recalled. She emphasized the support and camaraderie among teammates and coaches ofering a sanctuary amidst life’s stressors.

With the team, Cleghorn has seen some remarkable achievements. She fondly reminisced about her most memorable achievement in her career — the triumph at her frst Ontario University Athletic (OUA) Championship in 2022, where the team secured the gold medal.

“I’d never competed in Varsity fgure skating before and I’d also never competed at a pairs event, so I was completely unknown to what we’re going into,” said Cleghorn. “But the older skaters on the team really supported me all the way through… It made me fall in love with university skating and the team, and I knew from that point on that there was no way I would ever want to not be on the team while I was here.”

After being six-time OUA Champions, the Blues fnished third last year. That result was tough on the team, but Cleghorn and her teammates stood strong, driven by their determination to reclaim the podium as they gear up for the OUA Championships on March 5.

Inhale courage, exhale fear

For Cleghorn, mental preparation is as crucial as physical training. While she recognized her ability to excel under pressure, mastering this skill

Jürgen Klopp’s everlasting Premier League legacy

Liverpool FC’s climb back to the top of world soccer

After nearly nine years with the job and eight major trophies won, Jürgen Klopp will step down as Liverpool manager at the end of the season, having ushered in a glorious era worthy of the clubs’ greats.

Merseyside mediocrity

On October 4, 2015, Brendan Rogers was sacked as manager of Liverpool FC. Only 18 months earlier, he seemed destined to win Liverpool their frst league title in over 20 years, only for an infamous slip from Steven Gerrard to end those dreams.

Gerrard’s legendary status was forever tarnished, destined to be remembered for one fatal slip. That same summer, the club’s golden boy Raheem Sterling moved over to Manchester, and Gerrard himself traded his dreams of a title with his boyhood team for the beaches in LA.

It seemed the Liverpool glory days under Bob Paisley were long gone, where winning was a foregone conclusion. The miraculous night in Istanbul — where Liverpool vanquished the mighty AC Milan after being three goals down in the 2005 Champions League fnal — might have been from another life. Now, it was mid-table mediocrity for the Merseyside faithful.

presented initial struggles along the way. “I used to get stressed about falling on jumps because I transitioned from free skate to dance over my university career,” Cleghorn said.

“We came and saw this poster that said, ‘Inhale courage, exhale fear,’ and before every skate, we hold hands with whoever you’re going on the ice with, take one big inhale, and then scream. It really helps release all the tension because you just relax. So it’s become a pre-competition tradition for any event that you do while you’re on the ice,” said Cleghorn. Embracing the “Inhale courage, exhale fear” ritual before performances has allowed her to harness her inner strength to thrive under pressure.

Cleghorn also emphasized the signifcance of striking a balance between academics and training while prioritizing a healthy mindset and lifestyle. Currently grappling with a back injury, she stressed the importance of not exceeding one’s limits, advocating for rehabilitation and focused recovery in times of injury to be more balanced and healthy.

“Planners are the most helpful thing… being able to visual ize it really helps you plan out your time,” she added.

“There are also a number of Varsity accommodations. I feel like a lot of students are re ally scared to ask for extra time or help when they’re having trouble battling. And that’s where you get into trouble because you let things go.”

Glide and shine

Looking ahead into the future, Cleghorn aspires to attend law

But then came their saviour — a man chosen because the math said he was the one to bring back the good times. Klopp was the one to fx it all.

Heavy metal football

Klopp inherited a mediocre squad, littered with mid-table level players like Joe Allen and Steven Caulker — an eighth-place fnish in his frst season was no surprise. But season two is where the fun begins; winger Sadio Mané and midfelder Georgino Wijnaldum came in, and Liverpool fnished fourth. In his third season, right-winger Mohammed Salah joined and now the Klopp style of soccer took shape, drilling into them his tactics of gegenpressing.

Gegenpressing refers to an attacking style of play in which a team will ‘counter-press’ the opposition. When the team loses the ball, rather than falling into a negative defensive shape, the team goes on the ofensive, pressing the opposition to regain the ball instantly. Resulting in the defense playing a high line as the team pushes forward as one to regain possession, removing the traditional idea that the team who has lost the ball is most vulnerable.

Klopp called this “heavy metal football,” and the results showed the kind of fair Mick Jagger would approve of. With Salah, Mané, and Roberto Firmino — the last in a free-roaming ‘false nine’ role — leading the line, Liverpool scored 89 goals in the 2018–2019 Premier League season alone.

school at U of T or York University, with a focus on forging a path in international or criminal law. Her experience as a Varsity athlete has instilled in her a strong work ethic and time management skills — qualities that will serve her well in her future endeavours.

Refecting on her journey from a budding skater in Courtice, Ontario, to the co-captain of the Varsity Blues fgure skating team, she encouraged novice skaters to embrace opportunities and seek mentors who foster growth. Whether that means joining a local club or aspiring to Varsity-level competition, she highlighted the importance of diligence and a positive attitude in realizing one’s dreams on the ice.

As she embarks on new paths upon graduation, Cleghorn fnds comfort in the tight-knit bonds she’s formed during her time as a Blue. Her enduring friendships and shared experiences within the team have ofered her a support system in Toronto, serving as pillars of strength.

ance and purpose and see an individual whose passion for fgure skating transcends the ice. As

sue her dreams, she serves as an inspiration to all who dare to strive for excellence, both on

Virgil Van Djik marshalled the defence with skills that were more beftting of a midfelder — like his ability to read the game and have composure on the ball, allowing the team to build out and attack from the back. Elsewhere, several upand-coming goalkeepers have been inspired by Liverpool goalie Alisson Becker’s incredible ball control and decision-making skills. Under Klopp’s wing, Andrew Robertson became one of the world’s best left-backs, and despite his occasional defence defciencies, right-back Trent Alexander-Arnold has outstanding attacking skills similar to David Beckham.

Many other managers have sought to emulate Klopp. Graham Potter tricked Chelsea into giving him 25.4 million CAD thanks to his similar “possession-based” style of football, and Luis Enrique won the treble with Barcelona, playing equally as directly and ambitiously as Klopp.

Ending a drought

After watching their fercest rivals, Manchester United, take 13 league titles and the nouveau-riche Chelsea and Manchester City taking a few themselves, it was fnally Liverpool’s turn in 2020. After a season in which they dominated rivals, scoring for fun and enjoying a 44-match unbeaten run, the rock and roll concert was in full force at Anfeld. Klopp had done the impossible job — after 30 years, he brought the English league title back to Merseyside.

There were a few lows throughout his tenure, like the injury crisis of 2021, which was so dire that the haphazard Ozan Kabak played actual Champions League minutes. Yet in the nine years since Klopp took over, the lows were few, and the highs encapsulated the beautiful football

that made his teams so exciting. The Premier League is now losing a true legend in the departure of “the normal one.”

March 4, 2024
Emily Cleghorn glides across the ice with the Varsity Blues. KUNAL DADLANI/THEVARSITY Klopp leaves Liverpool and the Premier League as a legend. COURTESY OF STEFFEN PROSSDORF CC WIKIMEDIA COMMONS
Hughes Varsity Contributor

Russell Stewart: Meet the Varsity Blues’ midfeld maestro

Stewart shares his and the men’s soccer team’s goals for next season and beyond

While he’s now a midfelder on the Varsity Blues men’s soccer team, Russell Stewart’s soccer journey started at the young age of four, as an avid Lionel Messi admirer. Yet, he was also following in the footsteps of his father — a semiprofessional soccer player in Jamaica. With both these role models, Stewart fell in love with the beautiful game.

Stewart, who learned soccer while playing alongside his brother, is now a third-year kinesiology major, an ambitious and hardworking Varsity athlete, and a dedicated team player.

The 2023 season

During the vigorous 12-game and six-week-long Ontario University Athletics season, Stewart and the rest of the team strive to deliver their best performances on the feld. This past season, the team has had each other’s backs, even in the most challenging times.

Undoubtedly, essential games may keep them on the edge, but Stewart informed us how the team calms their nerves. “There’s always music playing on our speakers, just to get the energy up — good vibes,” Stewart said. After a home win, the team goes to celebrate at the pub, Duke of York, as they did after a win against the Trent University Excalibur on September 24, 2023.

Stewart stepped up for the team in that game, since the team’s usual captain and assistant captains were out injured. “Before the game, the coach came up to me and said that I’d be the captain for that game,” Stewart said. “So before the game, I knew it was going to be an important game for me.”

He displayed his remarkable performance when the team won the game 3–1, scoring two of the Blues’ goals. Nevertheless, Stewart believes “it wasn’t really much of an individual efort.” The assist from forward Andrea Schifano for his frst goal and the defense and tackling from forwards Kingsley Belele and Michael Maslanka for his second goal contributed to Stewart’s success.

While the previous season for the Blues ended at the second round of playofs, Stewart and the rest of the team are working toward one collective goal for the next season: making it further to reach the nationals hosted in Oshawa this year. Moreover, Stewart looks forward to achieving this with the returning players and new promising recruits.

Personal growth

Stewart shared the key to his constant growth in the game. “I think what really helped was the ofseason… [training] with our coaches. They really helped build [up] diferent little things that [are] very hard to build in the season.” Training thrice a week, accom panied by his participation in exhibition games, has helped him build mobility, strength, and speed — skills that are all essential for soccer.

However, this ofseason train ing not only helps develop his physical skills but also his cogni tive abilities, particularly his agile decision-making skills, which are essential for a midfelder who needs to assist his team defen sively and ofensively.

Additionally, in a game like soccer, which revolves around players tackling one

another to assert dominance over the ball, the threat of an injury during the season is a constant. Thus, his focus on gym training allows him to stay healthy and work on injury prevention.

Life outside soccer

When he is not playing soccer or training in the gym, Stewart can be found studying in the blue and white room, in Robarts Library, or if he feels more social, in the Clara Benson building. “[It’s good to] lounge there sometimes. It’s more of a social spot but when there aren’t as many people it should be a really great place to study,” he said. For food, Stewart recommends grabbing the bagel breakfast sandwich at the Exchange Cafe, which he recently discovered. A few other spots on Stewart’s go-to list are Scotty Bons and Jerk King on SpadinaBloor.

Balancing his academic work while being an athlete has its challenges. However, Stewart overcomes them gracefully, saying the key for him is time management. On away games, their travel days start with a morning training session, lunch, travelling together on the bus, and a team meeting. With a hectic schedule like this, Stewart said he manages to get

“fnding those little times where you have like an hour or two between meetings or travel.” Despite everything, his attention on game days is always locked only on soccer.

Nevertheless, soccer remains a key goal for Stewart in the future. Addressing his future endeavours, Stewart hopes to get drafted in the Canadian Premier League-U SPORTS draft. With his mindset and skill set on and of the pitch, it certainly seems like a possibility.

Lewis Hamilton’s shock move: Swapping silver for scarlet at Ferrari in 2025

As Hamilton revs up for a Ferrari adventure, Mercedes faces the challenge of replacing a legend

As the calendar page turned to the dawn of a new month, the morning barrage of Formula 1 (F1) notifcations from your go-to sports apps on February 1 likely had you checking the date to see whether it was April.

In what will go down as one of the most shocking driver moves in F1 history, numerous media outlets reported that Lewis Hamilton — the most decorated motorsport athlete of all time — would be leaving the Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team at the end of 2024. Following 12 seasons alongside the Brackley-based outft, the seven-time world champion will join Scuderia Ferrari on a multi-year contract in 2025. Hamilton has won six of his seven drivers’ titles and eight consecutive constructors’ titles with Mercedes between 2014 and 2021.

Hamilton signed a brand new two-year deal with Mercedes in August 2023 that was meant to run until the end of the 2025 season. But Hamilton activated a release clause in the contract, allowing him to jump into a trademark Rosso Corsa race suit and steer for the Prancing Horse –– a dream come true, apparently, for the century race winner.

“I feel incredibly fortunate, after achieving things with Mercedes that I could only have dreamed of as a kid, that I now have the chance to fulfll another childhood dream. Driving in Ferrari red,” Hamilton wrote on Instagram to his 36.3 million followers.

Although he created the most dominant F1 driver-team partnership with the Silver Arrows, Hamilton has failed to tally a single Grand Prix (GP) victory since the ground efects rule change in 2022, which introduced a new generation of F1 cars. Hamilton’s last time on the podium’s top step was at the inaugural Saudi Arabian GP –– the 2021 season’s penultimate race.

With Mercedes seemingly falling short of meeting the 39-year-old’s waning expectations to produce a title-winning race craft, it grew apparent that Hamilton would eventually turn elsewhere in the hopes of securing a recordbreaking eighth drivers’ championship. Now that we’ll see the 104-time pole sitter sporting red in 2025, it’s worthwhile to look at the ripple efects of this blockbuster transfer.

New team, familiar faces

When he arrives at his new team, a few familiar faces will welcome Hamilton in the paddock. Frédéric Vasseur — the Italian manufacturer’s team principal — worked with Hamilton when he raced for Vasseur’s ART GP team. Under the Frenchman’s leadership, Hamilton won his Formula 3 Euro and GP2 Series championships.

Hamilton is also close with the Maranellobased squad’s president, John Elkann. The two met at a Google event in Italy many years ago and have remained in contact ever since.

Additionally, at Ferrari, Hamilton will pair up with Charles Leclerc. The Monégasque pilot has long been complimentary of Hamilton’s illustrious career.

“If I say yes, I imagine it being the title of every newspaper. But I mean, Lewis is such an incredible driver and has achieved so much in the sport. So, I think anybody on the grid will love to have Lewis as a teammate, as everybody will learn a lot from him,” expressed Leclerc in 2023.

Who replaces Hamilton at Mercedes?

Over half of the F1 grid will see their contracts expire at the end of the 2024 season. This means that the Silver Arrows have a large pool of free agents to select from when determining who will fll the shoes of their poster child.

Hamilton is replacing Carlos Sainz at Ferrari –– the only non-Red Bull GP winner in 2023. Sainz could go straight to Brackley and efectively elicit a straight swap deal. He is an attractive option, given his experience and proven track record of consistency during his short stint with Scuderia.


Other potential alternates for Hamilton include Aston Martin’s Fernando Alonso, former Mercedes junior program driver Esteban Ocon, and Formula 2 prodigy Andrea Kimi Antonelli, among others. Ultimately, whoever the German manufacturer decides to sign will face a tall task when placed in one of the most coveted seats in motorsports.

Money talks

Due to his sponsorship package, the commercial value of Hamilton’s Ferrari deal is more lucrative than any other signing in history. On top of a 100 million Euro yearly salary, Hamilton’s switch to Ferrari increased the company’s value by seven billion USD and contributed to a 10 per cent increase in the share price –– a record high on the New York Stock Exchange. It’s the end of an era for Mercedes, and the start of a new one at Ferrari. Regardless of the outcome, the partnership of F1’s most successful driver and team is taking shape — and it still doesn’t feel real. MARCH 4, 2024 19
Stewart prepares to strike at the Trent Excalibur goal. SEYRAN MAMMADOV/THEVARSITY Stewart celebrates the big win. NEIL PATEL/THEVARSITY

The Varsity ’s Weekly Crossword — You had me at hello

Check out answers to the previous crossword online at

The Varsity is very excited to announce it will be hosting its Spring Art Gallery on March 27 where student artists will have the opportunity to showcase and sell their art! It will be held in Student Commons Room 500, in the southwest corner of the UTSG campus.

We are currently open for submissions. We are accepting pieces in fve categories and are looking for pieces that embody the concept of spring

— whatever that means to you. Our submission categories are illustration, photography, artisan, video/animation, and multimedia/fne arts.

If you are interested in joining us, submissions are open until March 15. To submit please email submissions to prior to the deadline, with a subject line of Holiday Art Gallery Submission: [category]. Everyone who is selected will hear back by March 20.


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