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Anyone can contribute to The Underground. The process of writing for The Underground is very simple; send a short message to editor@the-underground. ca with your intent to join our writer’s list. Thereafter, every month, our content and online editors will send out a list of article topics (called skeds) for you to pick from. You don’t have to write for every issue – when you want to write is completely up to you. You can reply back to those emails and let the editors know which topic you want to write about. If you have an idea you would like to pitch to a section, just email the editor in question or catch them at our writers’ meeting. Our writers’ meetings are held 24 hours before skeds are sent out, so join us if you would like the first pick at articles. Information on our writers’ meeting is available with our publication schedule on our website.

We are a student publication and so, like you, we too have other deadlines and commitments to attend to. Please stick to the dates prescribed by your editors. Regular delays in your submission will be noted and in the case of frequent delays you will be placed under review and your opportunity to contribute to the publication in the future will be compromised. Additionally, if you fail to submit an article, you will be placed under review.

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Pick a topic you are interested in; don’t just write for the sake of writing. We provide plenty of opportunities for you to have a word with our editors regarding your writing style, topic or any other grievances. If you do not use the services we offer yet still send in weak articles, we reserve the right to not publish your work. Please allow at least 2 business days for our editors to get back to your inquiries, suggestions and comments. Again, we are students. You may direct any questions to editor@the-underground.ca.


CONTENTS

NEWS 6 RECAP: SCSU’S ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING AND BOARD OF DIRECTOR’S MEETING 8 Q&A: FUSION RADIO REFERENDUM ARTS & LIFE 10 FOOD TALK: STUDENT RES EDITION 11 IS CO-OP WORTH IT? 12 GUESS WHO:UTSC EXAM SEASON EDITION 14 HOLIDAY GIFT GUIDE: UTSC EDITION 16 BLACK MUSLIMAH MAGIC 18 HOLIDAY HOROSCOPE FEATURE 20 WHERE DO WE STAND: UNPACKING HEALTH AND WELLNESS AT UTSC SCIENCE & TECH 24 CONSOLE CONUNDRUM 26 SUSTAINABILITY CORNER: A VEGAN HOLIDAY 27 /R/UOFT: JOIN THE #DISCUSSION! 28 GETTING OFF THE GRID 30 THE HOLIDAY BLUES 32 IS THE NEWEST TECHNOLOGY A LUXURY OR A NECESSITY? 34 LOOKING INSIDE BLACK MIRROR SPORTS & WELLNESS 36 WHAT A YEAR: UNFORGETTABLE SPORTS MOMENTS OF 2016 38 FEMALES AND SPORTS OPINION 40 BALLON D’UH: NEW NAME, SAME OLD FACE


“ O NE , O N E C O C O F U L L B A SK E T ” - JA M A I C A N P R O V E R B M E AN I N G , “ D O N O T E X P E C T TO ACHIEVE SUCCESS O V ER N I G H T ”

CONTACT THE UNDERGROUND 1265 MILITARY TRAIL, ROOM SL-234 SCARBOROUGH, ONTARIO M1C 1A4 (416) 287-7054 EDITOR@THE-UNDERGROUND.CA

ISSUE/ 04 D E C EMBER

Perhaps this might be an understatement, but this has been a long year. Dotted with high and low moments, we have overcome difficult situations and events by harnessing the ability we have to pick ourselves, and one another, up. On one hand, our resilience has been inspiring, and on the other, the perpetual cycles of resistance we have to engage with are draining. Without running the risk of sounding cliche, a new year approaches us and it’s easy to get lost in the repetitiveness tradition of wishing good tidings for the new year. I can’t give much advice past what I’m sure most of you already know or have heard before, but it’s imperative that you keep pushing through. Not that you have to wait for any particular moment to work on achieving your goals, but there’s something cathartic about using the new year to demarcate the beginning of the end. It’s a universal signifier of what’s to come and, for some of us, the necessary thing we need to kickstart ourselves into doing exactly what it is we need to do. Whether you subscribe to this or not, I truly wish the best in accomplishing future hopes, dreams and aspirations. Happy holidays and new years from The Underground to you.


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SCSU’s Annual General Meeting and Board of Director’s Meeting Marjan Asadullah, News Editor

Nida Zafar, News Associate

Board of Director’s Meeting The Scarborough Campus Students Union held its Board of Directors meeting on Oct. 26, 2016. The meeting was in session as 14 newly-elected members for their respective academic departments, were present as the official members. Once settled, VP of Equity, Nafisa Mohamed, read the equity statement, followed by the student union’s president, Jessica Kirk, who gave a rundown of the approval of minutes, approval of CRO reports and the ratification of new members. Sitharsana Srithas, VP of External Affairs, updated the members on the Fight the Fees rally that took place on Nov. 2. Afterwards, all the directors gave a brief update on changes and decisions made by their department for improvements around campus. Yasmin Rajabi, the VP of Operations, gave a presentation of the budget for the SCSU, speaking to both current and expected expenses for the remainder of the academic year. Thomas Wood, VP of Academics and University Affairs, updated members about the events SCSU is thinking of having to help students de-stress from the hectic school year. Annual General Meeting At the Annual General Meeting on Nov.16, Kirk spoke about the success of the Fight the Fees campaign as well as the National Day of Action. The SCSU has been vocal, both on and off campus, about the high tuition fees students in Ontario pay. The National Day of Action campaign was an organized rally to fight for free education. Next, the receipt for the 2016-2017 SCSU Audited Financial Statement motion was approved. The financial statement included a independent auditors report, and the statement of financial position. The statement was discussed to get the opinions of the directors on operations and changes that are and will be made to the net assets and cash flow during the 2016-2017 academic year. The full financial statement is set to be made available

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on SCSU’s website. Kirk then talked about the lobby document, a list of demands for the university presented to UTSC’s upper admin. Some of the notes included in the document were the calls to action from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Report, mandatory equity training for staff and faculty, transit issues, and more student space. Kirk mentioned that the executives had proactive conversations with the administration and are continuously following up with them to make sure that they follow through on the discussions. Kirk continued by talking about the Council on Student Services (CSS). Students part of CSS discussed how services can be improved in the Student Center, such as Health and Wellness, as well as how students can make more use of the Academic Advising and Career Center. The SCSU worked with these students as well as student unions, departmental student associations, and equity service groups to make a report on concerns with the Draft Sexual Violence Policy. Some of the concerns included the investigation processes and the language used in the policy. Rajabi then talked about some of the things she had done around campus. She mentioned new microwaves had been purchased and should be installed soon. She further agreed to put two microwaves in heavily used areas, as well as add microwaves to different locations around campus. Rajabi also acknowledged student concerns on the rising cost of parking at UTSC. She said, “It’s an important cause, as parking is really expensive. Strategy wise, I can’t do this on my own.” She suggested that a full strategy be made up, as just asking university officials to decrease parking rates won’t work since the university will not easily forgo places where they can make money. Next, Srithas spoke about transit issues at UTSC. She, alongside other SCSU members have been talking with TTC officials to increase bus services at UTSC. Now, the TTC has implemented changes that allow the 198 Rocket Express bus, that had been running every 12 minute to be running every 10 minutes. Srithas says that they will continue to talk about transit issues with officials. VP Campus Life, Trina James,

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shared the events that took place on campus so far, which included the clothing drive that had all proceeds go to the Yonge Street Mission. James highlighted past collaborative events with various associations on campus like karaoke night with AOA (The Association of Accountancy) and the annual UTSC on Ice with the athletics department to get students excited about the upcoming activities on campus. Wood spoke about events and forums that took place under his portfolio. The academic forum, a meeting that took place in October, was created so students could meet with SCSU executives. The students could discuss academic concerns, issues, and experiences based on the barriers to education that they face, including the lack of study space at UTSC. Wood plans to increase the frequency of this forum by hosting one every month. Finally, VP Equity, Nafisa Mohamed talked about her ongoing work on campus. This includes attending the Racialized and Indigenous Student Experience Summit (RISE). Mohamed, along with three other students, attended the summit where the aim was to have students come together and develop a common vision to combat racism and colonialism. Mohamed also highlighted UTSC’s involvement at the Canadian University Queer Service Conference (CUQSC). SCSU sent four representatives to CUQSC consisting of one representative from the Racialized Student Collective (RSC), Scarborough Campus: Out, the Women & Trans* Center, and another student who was not affiliated with a group or club on campus. At the conference, the representatives were able to network, attend workshops, and be part of a much larger discussion on how to create safer spaces on campus. There was also a motion for Haitian Relief that was submitted by Caribbean Connections on behalf of their Outreach Director Dominic Stephensons. Stephensons said that Haiti is in need of food, water, and medical equipment. This motion was approved, and $500 will be donated towards the cause. The SCSU encourages all students to talk to them about any issues, events, donations, or problems with study spaces.

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Q&A :

Fusion RADIO Referendum Marjan Asadullah, News Editor The Scarborough Campus Community Radio, better known as Fusion Radio, has won its referendum. They requested an eight dollar increase for their current levy which brings their $4.85/per student fee to $12.85/per student. The levy increase will go towards improving equipment in the studio, employment opportunity, engagement with students on campus with contests and prizes and overall outreach to audiences listening to the station. This will be in effect as of Sept. 30 of the 2017-18 academic school year. The voting referendum was held on Friday, Sept. 30, 2016 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. in Bladen Wing. Out of over 12,000 eligible student voters at UTSC, only a total 59 people voted, with 42 voting ‘for’ and 16 voting ‘against’ the increase. This referendum wasn’t an ordinary one, however. The fact that only 59 UTSC students voted on a decision that affects the entire student body going forward is telling on one hand, of the general apathy on campus, but on the other hand, speaks to how even a small number of students can make such a huge decision for an entire student body. Ramisa Tasfia, the president of Fusion Radio, spoke to us about what this means for Fusion Radio, as well as the students at UTSC. The Underground (UG): Tell me about yourself and what your role is in the station? Ramisa Tasfia (RT): I am Ramisa, currently the President of the Board of Directors at Fusion Radio. As President of the Board I have many duties ranging from overseeing station operations, finances, staff, events and our high school co-op students. I am also the Marketing Director for Fusion Radio. I manage our social media accounts with the help of other staff, promote our events and services, event coverage, and more. www. the-underground.ca

UG: You obviously know that Fusion Radio led its referendum, won it, and ultimately will have the levy increased from $4.85 to $12.85. What does the station plan to do with that increase?” RT: While we did have a majority ‘yes’ votes for our referendum, it is not “ultimate” that we will get the increase. We must present our results, referendum process and information on our expansion plans to the Campus Council. Nevertheless, I do feel positive and hopeful that we have worked hard to follow the Handbook for Student Societies, our by-laws, and referenda/plebiscite policies in conducting our referendum this year. The increased fees will be allocated towards new jobs (i.e. news contributors, increased rewards for radio show hosts, sound and production engineers), more events and news coverage, as well as bigger and better campus events. This increase is necessary for our growth; I know that with a bigger budget we will be able to meet the needs of our campus community. Members that attended the referendum information meeting were very supportive of our expansion plans. Our team is determined to make the most of a bigger budget and have a radio station that Scarborough can be proud of. UG: Out of over 12,000 eligible student voters, only 59 people voted in total. Do you think this was a fair election? RT: I do agree that our voter turnout was low; however, our team has worked hard to promote our referendum. We have made use of many platforms to promote our referendum. We put posters around campus via the SCSU, tabled in the Student Center. We promoted all over our social media platforms, and even got [UTSC’s] DECEMBER 1 - JANUARY 4, 2017

Twitter and Facebook pages to share information about our referendum. Outside of this, the National Campus Community Radio Association has supported and acknowledged our efforts, promoting our referendum on three or four different occasions. Though we have worked hard to promote on many platforms, the voter turnout was admittedly low. Yes, it does mean that only 59 students voted. Though this is a small ratio compared to the entirety of the UTSC campus consisting of about 13,000 students, I do not consider it a bad turn out. We had roughly the same number of students come to vote at our Board of Directors elections, and I have seen similar patterns of small voter turnouts at other student society elections at UTSC. We’ve talked about our referendum over the air and have been transparent with our community about the entire process. UG: Do you think the levy increase will also increase student engagement with the station? RT: Absolutely! There is so much to look forward to with a bigger budget. I look forward to increasing our DJ Rewards payouts so that our Radio Show hosts can make more money! This will also encourage more students to host radio shows for some extra cash. I look forward to having more staff, as well as hosting more events. A bigger budget will allow us to do more for our community. Having been president of Fusion Radio for two years, I have had many students ask me why Fusion Radio hasn’t been able to host more events, contests and giveaways. I have had many campus clubs ask for sponsorship opportunities. We have previously sponsored dance teams and musical events. We have also had many students apply for our scholarships. I also had many students ask for job opportunities at our radio station. The best way for me to meet the needs of those students is to request for a fee increase, which is what our team has gone forward with. VOLUME 36, ISSUE 04


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Food Talk: Student Res Edition Sam Natale, Staff Writer Students at UTSC have many issues with the food options on campus. More often than not, it’s for good reason; however, a particular group of students have a slightly different experience than most with eating on campus: those who live on residence. Students who live on residence do not have to rely on campus food for most meals; unlike many other universities, UTSC’s residences have full kitchens in each unit,

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both in the townhouses, and Foley Hall. Thirdyear student Bobby Hristova, who has lived on residence for three years, says, “When I first moved to residence, my experience with cooking was minimal, but I was eager to learn and improve my culinary skills. I like having the kitchen, because it allows me more freedom than a [meal] plan that I’m forced to use.” Having kitchens included in residence units means that students are not forced to purchase a mandatory meal plan like at many other universities with traditional, dorm-style residences. Second-year student Tijuana Turner prefers having a kitchen over an enforced meal plan. She says, “It’s not fair that students would have to buy something that they won’t use or that doesn’t fit their needs.” Third-year student Selin Eksioglu previously had a meal plan and says, “A meal plan is worth it, it’s pretty good. But it’s too much money. Even with eating most of my meals on campus, I had a lot of money left over. You are better off learning how to cook, because food options aren’t great on campus.” When it comes to UTSC’s meal plan program, Hristova believes that there is room for improvement. “If our meal plan was similar to other universities, which include a cafeteria, people would enjoy it much more,” he suggests. “Other universities have much better quality meal plans than we do.” Meal plans are also not particularly helpful for those looking to eat healthily on a regular basis. “The only places that are ‘healthy’ are Booster Juice, which only has a few options that are actually good for you, because most drinks are loaded with sugar, and La Prep, which is arguably the most expensive place on campus -- we need more healthy options and variety,” HrisDECEMBER 1 - JANUARY 4, 2017

tova explains. Eksioglu adds that while the Marketplace has healthy options, such as fruit and pasta, there is still limited selection. “[UTSC] needs to have one place that cooks healthy meals and vegetables and gives you a decent portion of it,” she says. Having a kitchen is extremely useful when it comes to late night eating; many of the food vendors on campus close as early as 8 or 9 p.m. As university students, it is not always realistic for us to have eaten dinner by this time, considering that some classes don’t finish until 10 p.m. Late night studying also has students staying on campus until midnight or later. This problem is heightened for students on residence. “As a resident, I’m living on campus. That means 24 hours, seven days a week. Now, I will admit the hours have improved, but I still only have three or four options to get food [late at night],” Hristova explains. “I can’t just order pizza all the time if I don’t have groceries. For the price residents pay to live on residence, let alone eat on campus, and [the price that] the general student population pays for food, Aramark should have enough money to improve our options, the quality of our food, and the hours of service.” Turner recalls her own experience saying, “On the weekend at 2 p.m., I’m still sleeping. So if I wake up at 3 o’clock and you close at 2 o’clock, I have to starve unless I can cook,” she says. She adds that the hours of the Marketplace in particular aren’t flexible enough to actually eat there. Frank Peruzzi, the Assistant Director of Food Partnerships at UTSC says that determining which hours to have vendors open is “a science.” He adds that they receive hourly reports describing when students are eating at each vendor and how much is being spent. In terms of pricing, he states that “Aramark is the highest paid food service on campus and they are unionized, so it’s hard to lower prices too much.” Residents have a unique experience of eating at UTSC; when campus is your home, you become more invested in the selections provided to you by the university. There is constant balance struck between buying a meal plan or not, cooking or ordering in, or running to the food vendors before they close. Although there may be a learning curve, most come out knowing the ins and outs of how to eat well on campus. VOLUME 36, ISSUE 04


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Sumaiya Zahoor, Contributor The co-op program at UTSC is what distinguishes the campus from the other two U of T campuses. After all, the program offers students a unique opportunity to receive paid experience in their specialized fields, while in completion of their studies at UTSC. As well, depending on a student’s chosen field, co-op students pay an additional fee to have access to the co-op office’s many resources; however, the question still remains: how valuable is the UTSC co-op program, given the price tag that comes with it? Public policy co-op student Nikki Brown* says, “I only came to UTSC because I was accepted in the co-op program. I would have otherwise gone downtown [UTSG].” As for management co-op student Lisa Johnson,* it was the co-op program UTSC offered that cemented her selection over “programs in the city such as Rotman [&] Schulich.” Second-year public policy co-op student Rodney Smith* argues that the quality of services provided did not meet his expectations. Smith says, “[I] expected to have [the opportunities] laid out for me, rather than competing for something I paid for.” To elaborate, Career Services Management (CSM) is the job portal UTSC co-op students are expected to use to apply for jobs. The advantage is that some of the jobs posted there are accessible exclusively to co-op students. While this does provide co-op students with a greater job selection, there are also disadvantages. For Johnson, “CSM has many great employers listed, such as the big four accounting firms, major banks and midsized firms; however, being U of T, I would expect a greater caliber of employers.” “There are many great jobs,” according to third-year management student Michelle Trent*; however, Trent elaborates that some of the job listings only “Seem great on paper, [when in fact the job] is not what it seems to be.” For some students the three job-applications per week rule is unfair. As Brown puts it, the expectation is, “We should apply for jobs, even if we don’t like it -- I thought this was just www. the-underground.ca

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unfair.” Another student, public policy alumni Nishat Hoque argues that the job hunt was indeed worthwhile. She shares, “It let me think outside of my field, which is a broad field to begin with.” Hoque also adds, “My work-term itself was very rewarding and taught me a lot. I found that we, as co-op students, were given a lot more responsibility and area to grow.” As a co-op student, one is expected to pay additional school fees to access certain services provided through the co-op office. Brown feels that the co-op fee is ‘ridiculous’, considering you don’t get your money back if you don’t get a placement. According to Smith, the mandatory sessions were “So pointless [but] the seminars we did outside of class were a bit useful. Otherwise the classes themselves were all about dress code.” Once again, Johnson says that the money co-op students make during their work-term makes the extra fees they have to pay worth it in the end. Ingrid Matthews*, a fourth-year biological sciences student says, “The co-op program is not necessary because the jobs they post are also available for non-co-op students.” For her field in particular, “The jobs were also not specifically for one program, but rather a good number of programs, making the already very sparse job postings even more competitive than if one were to look for a job online.” Brown thinks, “It’s just like a regular job search in relation to the level of competition. The only difference is that we have CSM. I feel like we could find the same positions or even better ones.” On the contrary, Matthews explains, “Corporations have an incentive to hire from a co-op program database, as they would know that the students are qualified.” Johnson says that co-op students can apply for positions outside the summer semester: “Competition is limited,[not to mention that] the Winter semester is also the best time for accounting positions so it gives you the opportunity to work during peak season.” Hoque also adds, “Co-op broadens the scope for you, and allows you to venture outside your field if you have the relevant skillset or even the passion to do so.” * Interviewee’s identity held upon request

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UTSC Exam Season Edition Krishna Tejada, Contributor

The Chill One (Until Exam Day)

It’s the least wonderful time of the year. University is all fun and games–that is until the exam schedule is released. The season of tears is here corner and everyone has their own way of coping with the stress it brings. After what feels like an eternity spent in academia, we’ve all developed our own study tips, tricks, and habits. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, you’re not alone. You’ll surely be able to relate to at least one of these types of UTSC students seen on campus during exam season.

The Starbucks Model

Although finals are not fun, time seems to fly during exam season. What’s a better way to stretch out the day than with a cup of Starbucks? This person reverse-hibernates as soon as exam time rolls in. The need for sleep is eliminated with the help of trentasized drinks with who-knows-how-many shots of espresso. Besides having their coffee cup in hand, this student can be seen rocking the hottest trend during exam season: eye bags. If you’re this person, you might be taking the phrase “sleep is for the weak” a little too seriously. Even if you have to binge watch six hours of online lectures, do your mind and body a favour and recharge yourself; also, lay off the caffeine a little.

The Golden Student

Have you done all the readings for the upcoming exams? Do you colour-code your notes and date them on the top right hand corner? Have you attended every single facilitated study group? If you’ve been nodding your head this entire time, there’s a good chance you the quintessential golden student. Congratulations! You’re who we all aspire to be. You’re incredibly focused and your time management skills are impeccable. Those countless hours at the library are sure to pay off because you’re 110 per cent ready for your exams–no matter how many times you may deny it. Keep doing you, but don’t forget to celebrate once you ace that final. Have some well-deserved fun!

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You’ll see how much fun this person has during reading week in their Snapchat stories. These are the same people who spend more time tweeting about how much work they have to do instead of actually doing it. Don’t be fooled by these social media butterflies because they also happen to be the ultimate procrastinators. Minutes before the exam, these students are easy to spot: they’re the ones who have their noses glued to a textbook right outside of the exam room. Who knows? Maybe, just maybe, all the information will sink in at the last minute. If you’ve been mentally commenting, “OMG ME!”, don’t be shy, you’re probably part of the majority: cramming is a way of life at UTSC. No matter how many times we try to prevent procrastination, it just somehow always creeps up on us.

The No-Stress Ninja

You never see this person studying or stressing over exams like the rest of us. Not a single complaint about an assignment will come out of this person’s mouth. You don’t always see them at lectures or tutorials either, yet they end up with amazing marks. How do they do it? Do they study really hard behind closed doors? Do they have photographic memory? Are they the reincarnation of Albert Einstein? No one will ever know. If this sounds like you, just know that we envy you. It seems like you’ve got this whole university thing figured out, and we would really appreciate it if you shared the secrets behind your calm demeanor. Whether you belong to one of these categories or you’re a combination of all, keep in mind that one good exam won’t change your life, nor will one bad one ruin it. Your physical and mental health will always matter more than the numbers on your transcript. Regardless of what happens, don’t forget to eat your veggies, stay hydrated, catch your Z’s and–not to sound like a Disney story here–believe in yourself. Believe that you’re capable of tackling those tricky questions on the exams. Believe that the outcome does not define your character. Believe that it’ll be over before you know it, and nothing will beat the rush of relief you’ll feel afterwards.

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HOLIDAY GIFT GUIDE: UTSC EDITION Neha Nancy Mistry, Contributor Our time spent in university paves the way for major changes that affect how your time, money, and social circles are maintained. One of the biggest challenges students face is budgeting money for tuition, books, bills, and rent and/or bus fares; which makes us wonder: how can students put aside extra cash for the upcoming holiday season? December is largely known for the holiday season: the time when family and friends exchange presents to celebrate the completion of one year and the start of another; however, attending a postsecondary institution can cause one to struggle with finances, especially around this time of year. Let this holiday guide help you find the perfect present for someone this season, as well as save a little cash while you’re at it. Second-year UTSC student Stavroula Spyropoulos says, “I want to get my friends and family things they really want or need, not just generic Christmas gifts; however, it’s always a struggle to stay on budget, especially because I have a large family [of] 20-30 people–and a few close friends I shop for. Sometimes, it gets overwhelming.” For her, the holidays are about the act of gift-giving, but in such a way that she can demonstrate what everyone really means to her. Other students, in comparison, have no problem budgeting–thus they face very different holiday experiences. A thirdyear UTSC student, Alejandro Bautista says, “[I] never celebrated Christmas much beyond [my] home -- presents were limited to parents and siblings only; however, ever since I entered university, I have made close friends who insisted I participate in Secret Santa. It’s more than I’d have spent on gifts before, but having set aside money for rent, food and other things, it’s something I can even spend a bit more on if I wished.”

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So, what does UTSC offer its students to help them save? The Scarborough Campus Student Union (SCSU) offers discounted admission to many entertainment sites in the GTA. Some of these offers are available all year round, however garner little attention from busy students. The SCSU offers Cineplex movie tickets for $10 per regular admission and $13 for a 3-D movie pass. The tickets aren’t movie-specific, so you can use them at any time before they expire. Furthermore, ‘Breakout Adventures’ is a Scarboroughbased escape room created by alumni students from the University of Toronto. There is a discount code available for online bookings for groups of four to ten people, which brings the price down to about $70. One of the most stressful parts of the holiday season is getting the right gift to buy: how do you ensure that the gift you give your parents or your friends will not only be liked, but used as well? Here are a few brilliant on and off-campus ideas. The bookstore offers a variety of gifts; their most popular item being MOM and DAD mugs and shirts. What better way for them to show off the prestigious university their child is attending than a mug or shirt emblazoned with “University of Toronto MOM/DAD” on it? Another adorable find on campus is the bookstore’s mix of select plushies that uniquely display campus pride on small flags and/or shirts. Plushies sometimes go on sale, and they make for adorable gifts to younger siblings or friends. There are great deals that can be found outside of the campus as well. The Body Shop as well as Bath and Body Works have body creams, shower gels, scrubs, bubble baths, body mists, massage oils or christmas gift sets for $30 or less. They also offer a variety of products made with natural ingredients to unwind and de-stress espe-

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cially after the exam period. The newly opened trio of sweet shops, Sweet Jesus, Love Me Sweet, and Squish offers the perfect gift for your sweettoothed friends and family members with their heavily decorated cones, soft Japanese Cheesecake options and large and extensive collection of gummy bears. Pick up three of their select items for $15 or five $20 to make the sweetest in-budget gift. Clothing is often said to be the worst gift you can be given, but sometimes, it can make a pretty good gift. Some warm socks or gloves can make those trips outside in negative temperatures feel much better–they’re must-haves that get lost or destroyed faster than we think, and many come in fun or festive designs. Onesies also seem to be all the rage lately, coming in a variety of colours and themes. Some sell for about $20 dollars or less and keep you warm, head to toe all winter long. Gifts that are nearly always safe proof are items that motivate your loved ones. A common goal for the New Year is staying in shape by eating healthy and hitting the gym. Why not get them some gym equipment like workout earphones, gear or inspirational/funny water bottles? Why not embrace the holiday spirit by giving a gift that gives back? A popular non-profit called Free the Children, for example, raises money to give to those in poverty. Many stores also have a portion of profits going to a charity/cause, so keep an eye out when you’re while shopping. Overall, the holidays can be a hectic time for you, as well as your back account; however, as UTSC students, there are many things offered to you -- all you have to do is take advantage of them. Most importantly, don’t forget about yourself this holiday season: take a break and relax, treat yourself to some me-time, and have a warm and safe holiday season.

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BLACK MUSLIMAH MAGIC Sharine Taylor, Editor-in-Chief Earlier this semester, an event was held that strived for creating safer spaces on campus for Black Muslim women. Titled “Black Muslimah Magic,” the event was the brainchild of Nasma Ahmed, a public policy student in her final year, and Samira Warsame, a fourth-year student in the international development studies and city studies programs. Facilitated with the assistance of the Equity and Diversity Office and community-based organization Pomegranate Tree Group, the space was used to focus on healing and self-care. Most importantly, the space was used to discuss, in full-confidentiality, the difficulty of experiencing anti-Black racism and Islamophobia within classrooms, from both students and faculty. Earlier this month, St. Michael’s College Student Union (SMCSU) faced criticism after videos celebrating the 22nd birthday of the union’s former vicepresident, Joseph Crimi, originally recorded on Snapchat were made public. Recorded by Kevin Vando, the newly elected vice-president who has since resigned, former SMCSU Councillor Sara Gonsalves recited the lyrics of Estelle’s “American Boy” and replaced it with “Muslim Boy.” In another video, Gonsalves is shown reading a book called Islam for Dummies. Though the incident took place on the downtown campus, it is still very indicative of the work that needs to be done so that the overall campus climate is an antioppressive and Islamophobic-free place. “I think the first step is to recognize that we are here. Black Muslim women exist on campus, often our blackness is ignored,” says Ahmed. “Listen to what we say when we speak, don’t come in with sweeping judgements because of something you casually

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read online. There is so much to say about what can be done structurally... we are still figuring out what that looks like.” Amongst connecting with other women and finding ways to heal, Warsame shares, “We had breathing activities and games. It was just a lot of getting to know each other [and meeting] other Black Muslim women on campus that we can connect with later on...other than that, we had a board where everybody, at first, [said] their self-care tips but then we had it written down and put them on the board, so whoever wanted to, [could] take pictures of it [for] later.” The event also focused on the intersection of faith and self care. Some of the tips the women shared were: “Reading, writing, going for walks, taking pictures...because we’re Muslim as well [we mentioned] prayer [and] meditation,” shares Warsame. Additionally, Ahmed adds the space was also used as a catalyst for the women to “[Think] about what it means to be Black at U of T; our experiences on campus and how to survive academia as Black women.” Warsame shares that the event was received well from attendees and on the likelihood of its reoccurrence, mentions that she is “Sure we’ll have more spaces like that soon...My dream literally is to literally have every single Black man and woman [from each campus] get together and maybe have an all day conference, or regularly meet up to have this community for ourselves. A lot of the time we are marginalized from our communities that we are a part of, so it’s kind of like, we have to figure out which intersection we should belong to, when that shouldn’t be the case.” With luck, funding and support, similar events will occur on campus to continue the dialogue and make UTSC the equitable space it is meant to be.

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Holiday Horoscopes Pavitura Kanagasabai, Contributor Aries (March 21-April 19) With your ruling planet Mars in your twelfth house, you will be compelled to dig into your intuition for answers, as this is a time period where you are more secretive about your issues. You will find your focus redirected to past decisions and find that you have a lot of inner work to do during the middle of this month. Your new year will start off with more confidence, as you will feel more revived with new goals. This is also a good month for you to set plans for improving your skills in your career. Taurus (April 20-May 20) Venus in your tenth house at the end of the first week, which will make you more charming to your work colleagues. You can capitalize off of this appeal by communicating with those in a higher position than you in order to be promoted. It is also a great time to financially profit off of your creative endeavours. Mercury in your ninth house at the beginning of this month will push you to expand your awareness of world issues. You may find that others are not content with what you do to make yourself happy, however this a great time to attune yourself to those things that bring joy in order to have a great holiday season. Gemini (May 21-June 20) The full moon in your first house in the middle of the month will illuminate your sense of self. You will be guaranteed attention from those close to you, and this will inflate your ego; however, you should take careful attention towards not coming off as selfish, and pay consideration into addressing others’ needs as well. Mercury retrograde will affect you as usual, however it is in your house of spending this time around. It is imperative that you sort out financial arrangements before the 19th, as confusion and missed deadlines will ensue afterwards. Cancer (June 21-July 22) Your Sun trine Chiron direct in Pisces will create a suitable time for you to learn how to express yourself effectively. Chiron’s influence in your ninth house of philosophy may come off as confusing to those close to you, as you are still finding what principles you will want to stick to. Other than using this time to question your judgements, Mars in your ninth house www. the-underground.ca

will propel you to leave your house to explore Mercury retrograde, you may need to reorganew experiences. Mercury’s placement at the nize work schedules as communication will be beginning of the month will allow greater com- shuffled. munication between you and your partner. Sagittarius (November 22-December 21) Leo (July 23-August 22) Your ruler Jupiter will quincunx Chiron at the Venus transiting in your seventh house makes very end of the year, directing you to focus on the second week of December a prime time to issues regarding long-term plans. Any quesfind a mate or a business partner. Mercury’s tioning you have with your beliefs is for the placement in your chart is beneficial, as a lot good, as you will find that there are some imof weight will be placed on finishing all the balances between your ideas for the future and things on your to-do list. This will lead you to a your presumptions. In other news, Uranus in refreshing new year even though Mercury will your seventh house calls for compromises in be in retrograde. The Sun in your sixth house any personal relationships as well as profeswill make December one of the best months sional. Dial back any rebellious behaviour that of 2016. This will continue to the beginning of you feel driven to act on. January, as you will see improvement in your health sector as well. Capricorn (December 22-January 19) As Mercury transits to your first house, you are Virgo (August 23-September 22) more mentally apt during this period before With Mercury retrograding in the middle of the the retrograde. Be sure not to focus too much month, you will soon experience the haywire on the details of minor activities although you you had back in May. The full moon in your will be inclined to. It is recommended that you house of careers on the 13th denotes that schedule our major plans as your concentration you will have stellar professional opportuni- will be drawn to both insignificant and significant ties popping, so it is a great time to revamp aspects of the situation. Moreover, you must your resume. A prime time to accept new job take precaution to not take others opinions too offers this month will be from the 13th to the seriously but this is a great time to redirect this 19th. Moreover, Mars rolling into your seventh energy towards personal goals of your own. house the day Mercury retrogrades marks possible strains that will impose on your rela- Aquarius (January 20-February 18) tionships. It is essential that you settle these You are definitely more pleasure-seeking than differences once they arise. usual during the holidays, however your obsession with your appearance will also take Libra (September 23-October 22) priority. Your relationships with others will be The New Moon will bring revelations about the great, however with Mercury retrograding in physical and mental conditions of your body. your 12th house on the 19th, you do not want It is best to start taking actions to accomplish to get caught up with your expectations. Since your New Year’s resolution a couple days be- this month is a great time for you to make monfore Jan. 1, as you will likely be more focused ey, due to Mars being in your house of wealth, during this time. Mars will bring completion to you should also be cautious of assumptions financial projects that you have been working you make in your finances as well. Plan out on for a while and you will reevaluate your your purchases and have a friend accompany view of those whom you depend on for sup- you so you can avoid using your credit card on port. This month will also be highly favourable impulsive shopping. for any sort of creative expression and you will feel great about attracting a partner during this Pisces (February 19-March 20) time. With Chiron turning direct in your first house of ego, you will be able to discern any angst Scorpio (October 23-November 21) and unresolved issues regarding your percepThis holiday season will bring on more qual- tion of yourself. This will advance your ability ity family time that you have been looking for- to creatively express yourself, as you will feel ward to. You will not need grand celebrations more audacious during this time. You will have for you to be content this Christmas and New a successful time healing any old wounds with Years, however you may have a higher com- past relationships and as a result, you will be pulsion than usual to spend more money. Be able to attract more favourable circumstances sure to plan accordingly. Following the start of in your career and personal life. DECEMBER 1 - JANUARY 4, 2017

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WHERE DO WE STAND:

Unpacking Health and Wellness at UTSC

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Temi Dada, Sports & Wellness Editor

H

ealth and wellness are key in the maintenance of stability for postsecondary students. From heavy workload from courses, to the pressures to do well in school, while balancing school work and extracurricular activities and thinking about hefty student fees, it is safe to say students don’t have it easy. However, over the years, UTSC has come up with ways to help students overcome these barriers to keep students healthy mentally and physically. One of them is the Health and Wellness Centre and another is the Athletics department. Both services have thrived over the years and have done well in assisting students get through their day-to-day lives. They have been impactful in the lives of students who participate in their programs, however, while their presence in the UTSC community is known to most students, there seems to be a superficial relationship between the Health and Wellness Centre and students, unlike the Athletics department who has the Pan Am Centre and outreach sessions from Mondays to Friday. In other words, most students don’t know that the Health and Wellness Centre is more than a place that they can get medical checkups and medication. And there are two main factors that can increase their influence in the UTSC community; outreach and accessibility. The Health and Wellness Centre has certainly grown within the twenty years it has been operating. With their humble beginnings in an office above the Meeting Place with one counselor (the space that is now being utilized as the Campus Police office), the Centre has a much bigger space located on the second floor of the Student Centre (SL-270), boasting eight counselors, five nurses, five physicians, two psychiatrists, three receptionists, a business officer, and its current president, Laura Byoko catering to the needs of the approximately

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2,500-3,500 patients that come in and out of the office annually. The centre has additional programs to offer students than they did years ago like Leave the Pack Behind, programs geared towards maintaining mental wellness and sexual health, as well as Party in the Right Spirit. They all belong to the peer programs category run by Health Promotion nurse Elsa Kiosses who also trains the volunteers. Each program takes six new student volunteers each year, making 36 new positions annually. The aim of these programs is to help UTSC students, with the guidance and support of Health & Wellness Centre, to be a positive influence to their peers. They do this by coordinating walks, holding conferences and meetings to educate the community in order to maintain a community that is both mentally and physically strong. Additional programs like Leave the Pack Behind focus on educating students on the dangers of tobacco addiction and smoking cessation to help students struggling with these problems and overcome them; the Nutrition Health program helps students mobilize towards maintaining a healthy and nutritional diet while spreading awareness on Canada’s Food Guide, dieting, metabolism and vegetarianism; the Party in the Right Spirit program is in a partnership with Toronto Public Health and is focused on drugs and alcohol awareness, focusing on the impairments, liabilities and risks related to partying and the Sexual Health program helps raise awareness on healthy relationships, birth control, STIs and HIV prevention. Many of the students interviewed spoke well of the Health and Wellness Centre, but did not know about any of the peer programs provided. Alex Battler, a third-year journalism student says that she, “[feels] they have a great range of activities for students but I also feel like they do not advertise enough. [A] lot of their programs are excellent [but] a lot of students don’t feel

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reached out to.” As is implied by Battler’s comments, better promotion from the Health and Wellness Centre would help spread the word about the various programming that is offered. Ose Okhilua, a third-year UTSC co-op neuroscience specialist adds, “I feel that there is a structural problem in UTSC that there are so many resources in this school that people do not know about. For example, people do not know that students can have their resumes checked and reviewed for free [through the Academic Advising and Career Centre] in the AC building. The thing is if you do your research and look for it you will find it.” It might be true that students can find these services that they pay for if they research them, but they might not have any incentives to search for these services if they don’t know that they exist in the first place. Besides the lack of outreach, another problem that exists revolves around accessibility. The Health and Wellness centre is open from 9:00 a.m. until 4:45 p.m., except on Tuesdays when it’s operating hours begin at 10 a.m. and on Wednesdays when they close at 7:45 p.m. Though the hours are extended on Wednesday, the current operating hours could be inconvenient for students who may need another day of extending hours. Okhilua, who also lives on residence agrees and says, “U of T is probably the busiest campus[...]I barely have time to go there and [the centre is also] not open [on] the weekends. Students [in] co-op don’t go there because work starts at 9 a.m. and ends at 4 p.m.” If it is possible, extending office hours would be a good way of making the space and its resources more accessible. After speaking with Boyko about ways to improve, she offers some insight into future plans the centre is willing to incorporate. “We had a recent survey show that a high percentage of students are overwhelmed and stressed more than not, but

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[it] also [told] us that they know that physical activities would help reduce their stress levels” Boyko adds. The American National Centre for Biotechnology found that aerobic exercises were effective in reducing anxiety symptoms. They also discovered that low impact exercises like yoga helped with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. These same kind of low-impact programs are offered in programs at the Pan Am Centre through yoga classes, swimming, elliptical exercises, cycling, and rock climbing. The Health and Wellness Centre does well in collaborating with other groups like the Athletics Department and the Department of Student Life, but there are other ways to reach students. A student’s overall health and wellness is an important topic to discuss and an increase in campus awareness can be spread through collaborations with other student-run clubs. Luckily, the centre’s socials have been generating a lot of traffic. Earlier this year Leave the Pack Behind started a Twitter campaign with the hashtag ‘#didyouknow’ to tell students more about their program. The Bladen Wing (BV) hallway on the third floor has been a space utilized the most. Kiosses mentions, “[The volunteers for the peer programs] felt that the BV wing is a place [where the traffic could be beneficial] so this year we have tables [in] the BV wing more regularly. For four hours on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, we will alternate the different groups so [students can] sign up for a topic area to support a certain campaign.” More days of tabling would be a good idea to reinforce the centre’s presence. The Athletics Department tables Mondays till Fridays,but the Health and Wellness centre only tables twice a week (Tuesdays and Wednesdays). Over the years, the Health and Wellness Centre has grown tremendously, both in terms of its physical space and in the number of students they have been able to serve. We can’t wait to see what’s next.

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CONSOLE CONUNDRUM

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Rezoan Arnob, President of Entertainment Tech It’s that time of the year again: holiday season. Consumers will be rushing to stores to purchase their favorite clothes, car, toys and amongst the hustle surrounding gift-giving season, for gamers, the choice between the Playstation Pro and the Xbox One S arises. The battle between the Xbox and the PlayStation has always served as a great discussion point for casual and hardcore gamers alike. On the contrary, it is important for consumers to understand that new generations of consoles may not be as revolutionary as the original Playstation 4 or Xbox at their initial release. Even from the birth of these so-called ‘next generation’ consoles, they were already outpaced by the sheer raw processing power of the PC market during the 2012-2013 period, even more so than the previous generation. Despite the differences in processing power between the PC market and the next generation consoles, pundits and industry analysts were proven wrong when people flocked in masses to buy these game consoles. A couple of years later, the question still remains: does the world need upgraded versions of these gaming consoles in the evergrowing world of technology? What sets them apart from their competitors? New Features Both the Playstation 4 Pro and the Xbox One S have a tonne of new aspects worth discussing. Starting with the Playstation 4 Pro, the standout feature is its introduction to 4K gaming and higher frame rate gameplay feature that allow for more eye-popping visuals and smoother gameplay. The Playstation Pro also replaces the standard 500 GB model for the original PS4 model and replaces it with a 1TB model, allowing for more space to store games, music and movies. The upgraded Playstation Pro also comes equipped with a slightly modified controller; the only difference with this controller is an added light bar in the touchpad.

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Of those features discussed, a valid inquiry comes to mind: which of the features mentioned above are gimmicks and which ones are not? The biggest trump card of the Playstation Pro is its ability to play games in 4K resolution. 4K resolution is intended for mediums such as television, which tends to offer the standard 1080p resolution. The biggest problem with this feature is that the 4K resolution has not become a household feature like the blu-ray player. The second problem is that it is not exactly affordable compared to the standard 1080p televisions on offer. Hypothetically speaking, let’s say you do decide to spend a fortune and obtain a 4K television: you can’t wait to turn on the brand new PS4 Pro and play all the games in 4K, right? Unfortunately, for the consumers that are willing to spend a fortune, not all the games support 4K resolution; only select titles like Uncharted 4, Battlefield 1, and The Last of Us Remastered can support it. For those that can’t afford the luxury known as 4K television, the higher frame rate feature comes into play. Essentially, this enhances the frame rate of a particular game, making the game look sharper while making gameplay a lot smoother. This works especially well for those that have the standard 1080p HD television because the feature works best on a lower resolution; however, once again, just like with the 4K feature, this novelty only works with select titles. The Xbox One is a whole new ball game. It may not have the support for 4K gaming yet, but that is compensated for by its 4K blu-ray player. The average price of a 4K blu-ray player is roughly $400, so this is definitely a win for the Xbox One S. It is essentially an affordable 4K blu-ray player with additional features such as gaming. The biggest factor for the Xbox One S, however, is the build quality. Upon comparing the Xbox One S and Playstation Pro in a side-by-side, they are like night and day. To put it in statistical terms, the Playstation Pro measures at 12.9 x 11 inches and weighs in at 7.3 pounds, while the Xbox One S measures at 11.6 x nine inches and weighs in at a mere 6.4 pounds.

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Another great feature that the Xbox One S has that the Playstation Pro does not is its function to allow users to design their own controllers. The customizability option of the controller is not just limited to different colour schemes; the purchaser also has the ability to change the bumpers and D-pad, as well as the aesthetic build-up of the buttons. Lastly, the Xbox One S may not have 4K output support for games, but it still has HDR (high dynamic range) support for select games and televisions, which makes for an overall more pleasant visual and graphical experience with sharper colour. Pricing Prices for the Xbox One S vary because there are several models to choose from. The price ranges from $299 for the basic 500 GB model, all the way to $499 for the 2TB model. Unlike the Xbox One S, the Playstation Pro is limited to one model–the 1TB model–and it costs $499; however, it is important to note that consumers are not limited to these prices and models, as there are tonnes of options to choose from, and there is always the option to upgrade storage from third-party brands. Before buying either console, there are some important things to consider. On the Playstation side of things, for those that are intimidated by the $499 price tag for the Playstation Pro, Sony is selling an updated version of the PlayStation 4 at a cheaper price: the Playstation Slim. The Slim features a much narrower body, but is hindered by its lower level of power. For those on the fence about wanting to get an updated Xbox One model, Xbox One S is definitely the best option; however, there is a more powerful Xbox One coming next year, code name ‘Project Scorpio,’ and it already promises to deliver true 4K gaming. Deciding between the two consoles can provide consumers with quite a conundrum, seeing as they have both been remastered to offer eager users a number of incredible new features. In the end, it all comes down to personal preferences, so do some research before making an investment!

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SUSTAINABILITY CORNER: A VEGAN HOLIDAY

Taylor Lambie & Nikhil Toleti, Contributors Veganism may seem like a huge commitment, especially during the holiday season. During this time, there are always family get-togethers or dinner parties, which may put you in a difficult situation to find a healthy and hearty meal that suits your dietary needs and preferences. Vegans can still eat a large variety of food, as long as they do not contain animal or animal by-products; simply put, that means no meat, eggs, or dairy products. There are several benefits to going vegan; it not only protects animal rights, but it also reduces environmental impact, and even benefits one’s health. Whether you are a vegan or not, for the upcoming holiday season the UTSC Sustainability Office Team encourages you to try a healthy and delicious vegan meal. We know that finding a simple vegan recipe can be a daunting task, but do not fret, many Vegan recipes can be found online on popular websites like VegKitchen and Oh: She Glows. If there is one thing you could do to save animals, protect the environment, and benefit your own health, it can be done by going vegan. If you are not a vegan and considering, the thought of becoming one may seem overwhelming; however, you do not have to

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go full vegan all at once! Start small, as even a small change can make a big difference. How about trying a new resolution for the coming New Year? You could try ‘Meatless Mondays’! Adopting a vegan lifestyle means that you can contribute to saving animal lives by reducing harmful farming practices. It has been found that in a year, a vegan can potentially save more than 100 animals from the slaughterhouse! Veganism also helps protect the environment, as the meat industry causes tremendous water and air pollution. In terms of the production of emissions, estimates on how much animal agriculture contributes to total global emissions range anywhere from 14 to 50 per cent. Animal agriculture also causes a large wastage of resources, from water to transportation costs that accompany providing space for livestock and their feed. Not only can you be more eco-friendly by going vegan, your health also receives great benefits as well. For example, having a meatless diet can help unclog your arteries by lowering your cholesterol levels, thus reducing the risk of heart disease. If you wish to learn how to cook more vegan recipes, you can join the Sustainability Office during their Food Discussion Cafes (FDCs) held each month. Sign up with your friends on the Intranet, and start off the New Year with a more sustainable diet!

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/r/Uof T:

Join the #Discussion! Taylor Bridger, Contributor Canadians have a real love for Reddit. com: the site is ranked ninth amongst website traffic in Canada. University of Toronto’s Reddit /r/UofT, has 8,479 subscribers, which makes it the second largest reddit community for colleges and universities across Canada. The Waterloo Keyboard Warriors–who love to lurk–always seize opportunities to remind us that their community is the most active among Canadian university students. /r/UWaterloo has 10,640 subscribers, and both of our communities are continuing to grow. Spreading awareness of online school communities is the key to having a rich online school presence. Other schools comparable in size and reputation like Ryerson and York have similar subs in /r/YorkU and /r/Ryerson. Unfortunately, because of inactivity, these communities have trouble surpassing the 2,000 member mark. /r/UofT and /r/UWaterloo are hubs for discussion, present for more than just students on campus; students from other smaller communities can voice their opinions or ask questions, much like on Facebook, Twitter, Kik, and Tumblr. Open online forums like Reddit allow us to discuss and highlight problems and controversies that occur on campus in real-time, which is important in establishing a strong campus community. Some of the most popular and controversial topics that have been affected by discussion taking place on /r/UofT include the identification and discussion of bad actors on campus. /u/hippofant identified the individual who issued threats against the gender studies department last fall. The perpetrator had, at the time, prompted a statement from the U of T administration condemning the threats. This sparked dialogue surrounding threats on campus, and how they can be dealt with. Another popular use for Reddit is the AMA’s, or “Ask Me Anything” threads, in which the community is invited to ask questions, and the original poster (“OP”), personally answers them. AMA’s can range from serious to extremely hilarious discussions. A popular AMA that occurred this year was posted by user /u/feelsbadmanwithagun, to an anonymous student who believed he was going to fail his midterm for ECO100, an www. the-underground.ca

economics course offered at the downtown campus. /u/feelsbadmanwithagun received tips from alumna on studying, in order to calm his nerves about his imagined impending academic doom.

More recently, /r/UofT has become the stage for heated discussion surrounding the recent pronoun debacle involving the outspoken professor Jordan Peterson. Students from /r/ UofT and /r/Waterloo, but also from Reddit communities across North America, typed “University of Toronto” into their search bars in order to use our platform to debate both for and against the expansion of gender pronouns. The legislation surrounding Bill C-16 is a hot topic on campus, and the /r/UofT reflects this. Many different views are shared; some anonymously and some through public accounts. A crude mixture equally made up of honesty, trollish anonymity, and intelligent discourse makes up the daily posts. This often breeds healthy debate with students choosing worthwhile dialogue over cheap laughs in general. /r/UofT provides a unique climate for debate, where honesty and public opinion is paramount, and overtly offensive behavior is effectively extinguished. A student body with unparalleled potential ought to have space dedicated for intellect-nourishing discussion, which is exactly what /r/UofT offers.

Another popular use for Reddit is the AMA’s, or “Ask Me Anything” threads, in which the community is invited to ask questions, and the original poster (“OP”), personally answers them. AMA’s can range from serious to extremely hilarious discussions. A popular AMA that occurred this year was posted by user /u/feelsbadmanwithagun, to an anonymous student who believed he was going to fail his midterm for ECO100, an economics course offered at the downtown campus. /u/feelsbadmanwithagun received tips from alumna on studying, in order to calm his nerves about his imagined impending academic doom.

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GETTING OFF THE GRID Stephanie Rosario, Contributor A great benefit of the 21st century is the ease at which one can access the world of social media; through a multiplicity of tech devices, nonetheless. In fact, it seems bizarre to not own an account on some format of the digital sphere. Due to the heavy reliance on social media in the modern era, erasing oneself from the Internet is a challenging task; once an individual is plugged into this network, it is almost impossible for them to disappear from it without leaving a trace. Professor Jeffrey Dvorkin, lecturer and director of the Journalism program at UTSC, provides his thoughts regarding whether one can fully disappear from social media. Dvorkin shares, “It is no longer possible. Content that is posted on any site is ‘cached’: that means it can be recovered if one has enough technical knowhow and access to the right apps. You could disconnect, but going off the grid completely is impossible unless you plan to move to the most isolated place on earth. Even using a payphone can allow someone to track you, although it would be difficult.” The Internet acts as a catalyst for communication, and a platform for news to all who can access it. Dvorkin explains his connection to social media, and provides insight on what he prefers to do during his leisure time by stating, “I think that as long as I am teaching, I can’t disconnect. I need to be in contact and be available: blame it on my years of being in the news business where journalists need to have a contact number at all times. I did go to a cabin in Algonquin Park a couple of summers ago. No phone, no internet. It was

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uncomfortable for the first few hours. Once I got used to the lack of contact with the outside world, I enjoyed it, but I don’t feel I can or should get used to it for very long.” This may be a result of journalism’s ever-tightening embrace of the social media sphere. Wali Ahmed, a fifth-year student in the management program explains his personal experience with social media. “I mostly use Facebook and Instagram to stay in touch with my friends and family. I also recently got into Snapchat. Even though I don’t like to admit it, I use social media sites more than once every hour. It is very hard to ignore notifications in the fear that you might miss out on the next big thing. I feel like social media has definitely made me less productive. It doesn’t matter whether I am studying or having a long break, I still have to check my phone every five to ten minutes to see if I got any messages or notifications. It can start off with me telling myself that I will use Facebook for maybe two minutes to check people’s statuses, but then I might find something worth sharing. After sharing that post, my friends would comment and while replying to those comments, without realizing it I would just waste half an hour. This happens to me all the time. I feel like if I wasn’t so addicted to social media, I could use that half an hour to do something productive like studying.” Despite the dependency one has on the Internet, some do consider unplugging at certain periods of their life; however, is that really possible? If an individual truly wants to put in the effort to get off the grid, they would have to go to great lengths. The first step would be to delete all social media accounts: this includes their most frequently used ones such

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as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat, alongside Tumblr and/or Pinterest. The second phase would be to eliminate their names from data collection sites. Almost everyone present online is observed by companies like People Finder and Zabasearch, which gather information about an individual, and sell it to organizations for marketing purposes. In order to remove oneself from such websites, someone could opt for a swift–and less complex–service such as DeleteMe. The act of wiping out personal information is sometimes necessary, because a lot of places may have access to the user’s bank account number, or other vital personal data. If such delicate material is not removed by the website when one demands so, it is within their legal rights to request Google to have it discarded permanently. Last, but not least, closing down all email accounts is fundamental in the progress of erasing oneself from social media. Email addresses spread like wildfire: the dispersity is perpetuated by social media sites requesting them upon sign-up, or by stores requesting them upon confirming transactions, along with several other ways. It goes without saying that the Internet is a tremendously useful resource, that connects individuals from every point in the world, and keeps everyone easily updated. Nevertheless, the drawbacks of daily use of social media can sometimes outweigh the benefits. Whether one’s intention is to completely vanish from social media, or stay away from it for a certain period of time, the steps mentioned can play a vital role in the process of unplugging.

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SCIE NCE & T EC H 29 ELIZABETH LIU / THE UNDERGROUND

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30 S C I E N C E & T EC H RACHEL CHIN / THE UNDERGROUND

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SCIE NCE & H E A LT H 3 1

THE

HOLIDAY BLUES Denada Alushaj, Contributor The holidays can be the best of times and the worst of times. Some of us find Christmas shopping, social gatherings, and winter activities delightful; however, for others, the holidays bring about a spell of melancholia. When discussing seasonal depression during the holidays, it is important to differentiate between the “holiday blues” and Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). A common misconception is that the two terms describe the same condition of stress and low spirits that many people experience during the winter months. While the holiday blues often stem from social commitments and financial stressors related to the season, Seasonal Affective Disorder is a mental health issue which requires treatment. Many people experience the “holiday blues,” which are feelings of sadness or anxiety during the winter. Celebrations like Christmas are highly commercialized; therefore, there is often financial pressure to spend money on family, friends and acquaintances. Furthermore, social gatherings brought about during the season may be uncomfortable due to family conflict, or sorrowful due to the loss of a loved one. Psychologists suggest that increased levels of self-reflection brought about by time off from school or work can lead to dissatisfaction with one’s life. This dissatisfaction is further heightened when we compare ourselves to others who appear to have things better off in comparison to us. When the holiday blues persist for several winters, and are accompanied by physiological and psychological changes, Seasonal Affective Disorder may be to blame. People with Seasonal Affective Disorder display symptoms that are similar, or identical to clinical depression such as fatigue, difficulty sleeping or oversleeping, changes in appetite, feelings of worthlessness, and even

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thoughts of suicide. The onset of Seasonal Affective Disorder is usually at the beginning of the winter months, with remission occurring in early spring. Less commonly, some people may experience depressive symptoms throughout the summer months, with remission in early fall. Statistics about the prevalence of Seasonal Affective Disorder are still disputed; however, the Mood Disorders Association of Ontario (MDAO) estimates that two to six per cent of Canadians are affected, and another 15 per cent have a milder form. Interestingly, the prevalence of SAD in North America is greater at higher latitudes. Young adults and women seem to be particularly vulnerable parties. Research on what leads to SAD is ongoing, but a number of causes have been identified such as neurotransmitters, hormones, and circadian rhythm irregularities during seasonal changes. During the winter months, people have less exposure to sunlight, which may cause a decrease in the production of serotonin, a neurotransmitter responsible for regulating mood. For this reason, it can be supposed that light therapy ought to be effective for treating SAD. This type of therapy consists of prescribed daily exposure to a light box containing fluorescent bulbs that mimic natural daylight. Other treatments include Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs), drugs typically prescribed for major depression that allow serotonin to be active for longer periods. Ultimately, it is important to consult a doctor if you are displaying any or all of the symptoms mentioned earlier so that an appropriate treatment plan can be recommended. How about those of us who, upon experiencing the holiday blues, desire to seek ways to remedy them in more holistic ways? There are several strategies we can implement in order to manage those negative feelings, such as spending time with family

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and friends, doing volunteer or charity work, connecting with your religious or spiritual community, and focusing in on the positive things in our life. Remembering to visit our elderly relatives when we can is also important, because the holidays can be an especially tough time for them, seeing as they have a significant amount of experiences to reflect on. Although there are plenty of ways to manage emotional downturns, it is key to remember that they are common, and that signs of emotional drops do not automatically warrant a remedy. In essence, it is perfectly human to feel sad. Students at UTSC also have a lot to offer in advice for dealing with the holiday blues. John Lewis*, a second-year health studies student says that they do not experience the Holiday Blues, but offers some tips for people who do. Lewis shares, “I find that keeping a journal helps when you’re feeling sad[ helps] you figure out why you are feeling that way. Sometimes, there isn’t a particular reason; it’s just a mood you’re in. Find the time to focus on yourself, eat comfort food, do a hobby that you like, and talk to the people that you care about.” Karen Jones*, a fourth-year neuroscience student, believes that it is important to be forgiving towards others and yourself during the holiday season. “I feel that we are sometimes too hard on ourselves during the holidays–we reflect on the past year and wish we had done things differently. I remind myself to be satisfied with who I am and be grateful for the people in my life.” Finally, psychologists Rosemary Sword and Philip Zimbardo offer some advice: “The first thing is to embrace the joyous, compassionate, giving aspect of the season… And when you find the holiday blues coming on, remember that these feelings are temporary; you’ll get through it.” * Interviewee’s identity held upon request

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3 2 S C I E N C E & T EC H ELIZABETH LIU / THE UNDERGROUND

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SCIE NCE & H E A LT H 3 3

Kyle Osborne, Contributor We live in a very connected world: most people own some device or another that keeps them linked to a social network of people around them. The technology that we use to keep us connected is being developed and updated at such speed that it’s hard for us to keep up. The real question at hand is, do we really need to keep up with the latest gadgets? French philosopher Denis Diderot nearly lived his entire life in poverty until Catherine the Great, the emperor of Russia, purchased his entire library. After he received a large sum of money for his library, he purchased a scarlet robe, and then proceeded to make other purchases that were by no means necessities, but luxuries he couldn’t afford previously. Making such impulsive and reactive purchases is referred to as the ‘Diderot Effect.’ The Diderot Effect embodies, in essence, the process of how obtaining one new possession can lead you into a spiral of consumption. In a society centered around consumerism–where having the newest and shiniest toys is a means of social capital–we are all, at times, victims of the Diderot Effect; however, do we have to be? This raises the question to as to whether or not having the latest technology is a necessity or a luxury. Says UTSC student Julien Gonsalves, “In today’s day and age, I think it’s a necessity; it helps with networking and keeping in touch with other people like close friends or family. Another student, Carmina Santos explains, “(It’s a) luxury because of planned obsolescence; I think older devices are still just as good.” We have to wonder if age has anything to do with this reliance on technology, as many would claim that millennials have a penchant for being more technologically connected. Digital analyst Brian Solis claims that age is not a determining factor when it comes to the degree to which one relies on technology; furthermore, he posits the existence of a cohort within society that does not have age as it’s common attribute: Generation C. Generation C–C standing for ‘con-

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nected’– contains people of all ages, who integrate technology into their daily lives. The growth of Generation C is a good indicator of people’s transition towards believing technology to be a necessity. We need the latest technology to keep up with ever-advancing software and to maintain an interaction with others. Generation C is the technologically driven consumer, who feels a need to always be connected. On what kind of lengths one would go to to obtain latest technology, Gonsalves states, “I wouldn’t wait in line or spend an obscene amount of money. I prefer to wait for sales and try to find a middle ground between the latest and the most economical choice.”, while Santos says, “I wouldn’t stand in line; I might possibly spend more money than I have to if it’s something I really want.” Smart phones, computers, and tablets are beginning to be seen less as fancy toys and more as a central part of our day-today activities. Michael Rowe, senior lecturer at the University of the Western Cape in South Africa, acknowledges how much of a driving force technology is in today’s knowledge society. In a university setting, computers are everywhere; most North American homes have access to the Internet. A study conducted in Turkey showed that 42 per cent of young people suffer from nomophobia, the fear of being out of mobile phone contact. If we feel a need to be connected at all times, it makes us much more likely to invest in the latest device that allows us that instant connection. This combination of planned obsolescence and rapid technological development force us to invest in the latest hardware. On whether or not they bought technology to fit in, Gonsalves shares, “I used to when I was younger. I bought a PlayStation 3 to fit in with my friends, but now, not so much” and Santos says “No, I don’t care enough to bother with that.” Technology was once seen as a luxury, but it is rapidly becoming a necessity. Even video game consoles, which were once seen as the ultimate technological luxury, are now a way for people to make a living through different online media platforms such as YouTube. We live in a very connected world, and because of this, we have to pay a price to keep up with the advancements.

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SCIE NCE & T EC H 3 5

Leal Coombs-King, Sports & Wellness Intern From Bluetooth technology, the iPod, iPhone and iPad, artificial hearts, Skype, electric and driverless cars, it’s safe to say to say we are definitely part of an era of great technological advancements. While many of us have grown alongside this technology, and have seen it grow before our eyes, myself having been a few years younger than most of you, had these kinds of technology already established. These technologies are an essential part of my generation and it’s hard to remember a time where individuals weren’t scrolling away on their phones with any free moment they had. In fact, according to Pew Research Center, 95 per cent of millennials (age 18-36) own a cellphone in the U.S and millennials own more laptops, iPods, and game consoles than any other generation. With that being said, one of the popular shows on Netflix, Black Mirror, is a sci-fi take on the integration of technology in our society, with each episode exploring different themes accompanied by a brand new director and cast. Black Mirror is not the first series to explore these concepts. Shows like Minority Report and Mr. Robot have also explored technologybased themes in realities similar to our own, but this series has certain qualities that mesmerize audiences. Originally airing on the British broadcaster Channel 4 in 2011, the questions asked in this series have always been noted to be controversial. Season three of the show, which was picked up by Netflix in 2015, debuted on Oct. 21 and has since garnered a lot of attention. The concept of Black Mirror resonates with viewers the most because the themes explored are not too far off from the realities of those who utilize technology on a daily basis. New York Times TV critic James Poniewozik writes, “Black Mirror is hands down the most relevant program of our time, if for no other reason than how often it can make you wonder if we’re all living in an episode of it.” Black Mirror is a show that many critics often describe as being “five minutes away,” taking place in near future realities that tell stories related to our everyday scenarios and problems living in the technology-infused 21st Century. The first episode “Nosedive” shows the life of Lacie Pound (Bryce Dallas Howard)

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who lives in a world where the amount of likes you have literally mean everything. They determine and influence your job, salary, where you can live, what you can buy, where you can go and who you can hang out with, amongst other things. Lacie’s ultimate goal is to reach a rating of 4.5 on the 5-point scale, so that she can be eligible to live in her dream neighbourhood with other 4.5’s. The episode chronicles her desperate attempt to do so. “Nosedive” explores one’s commitment to maintaining their real lives and social media lives. As a teenager, I can attest to the fact that for many people being kind in real life is not as important as being popular and active on social media. We stress to get the perfect selfie angle and lighting just so that person we are attracted to may see it, be impressed, and dive into those DM’s. Some of us constantly find ourselves having to ask a friend, “Do you think this will get likes?” before we post a picture. There is even a medical term for someone addicted to taking selfies. The American Psychiatric Association deemed the condition “selfitis,” which is defined as “the obsessive compulsive desire to take photos of one’s self and post them on social media as a way to make up for the lack of self-esteem and to fill a gap in intimacy.” In a subtle way, the episode hints towards themes of racism, classism and discrimination. In the episode, people of colour have lower ratings and lower class jobs. For example, consider the elder black man who is Lacie’s taxi driver who has a 3.2 rating and the flight attendant and security guard in the airport. The lower your rating is the more restricted you are in the things you can do. If your rating is below a two, you’re considered socially deficient by those possessing scores higher than you. “Shutup and Dance” revolves around a teen named Kenny (Alex Lawther) who is caught masterbating on his computer’s camera after he accidentally downloads a computer virus. This episode is definitely one of the darker themes as director James Watkins investigates our personal technology and the importance of Internet safety and privacy. In the episode, the hacker forces multiple people to do his biddings as he blackmails them with personal information obtained from their computers via Internet. This theme is most likely the most realistic and grounded of the episodes. Spyware like Blackshades have existed for a long time on Windows and allows hackers to take photos

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of you without your knowledge as well as collect and gather personal information. Our personal technology, like our phones and laptops, hold our most personal and private information. The Internet is the gateway to almost anything in the world but that means you are also susceptible to the unknown and all of its dangers. Popular sites like Facebook have frequently run into privacy issues, especially in regards to settings, and have admitted to using user locations to suggest friends without user permission and does not allow users to create a truly private profile and sometimes requires government ID to sign-up. “Hated in a Nation” clocks the longest run time of any of the five other episodes in the third season. It centers around Detective Karin Parke (Kelly McDonald) and her tech-savvy partner, Blue (Faye Marsay) who try to unravel a series of mysterious deaths that, at first, have no correlation but are (spoiler alert!) later found to be part of an ongoing social media-ran campaign to murder people based on how many times their name appears . It’s not unusual for people to take to social media when someone has done something that they believe is wrong. The message of the episode is eerie and straightforward: things that you say on the internet have consequences. It’s easy for us to type something into our keyboard and press send without thinking twice about what we have typed. Some of us have even become desensitized to the things we say online and often forget that there is a human being on the other side of the screen. “Hated in a Nation” teaches us that these things have ramifications and while the person we hate on the internet may not be murdered in an unpopularity contest, these digital interactions still have tangible effects. The technology we use is only going to become even more integrated into our jobs, schools, and personal lives. It’s important to not lose focus of the genuine things, feelings,and experiences that technology cannot replace. We need to learn how to separate our real lives with the things we do, say, and see on the Internet and though we have these kinds of technology at our disposal, we still need to ensure we are using them responsibly. Black Mirror continues it’s trend of showing us the possible dangers and questions we need to ask about the inclusion of technology in our society, creates engaging satire of the sci-fi genre and provides an entertaining and chilling narrative for viewers.

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WHAT A YEAR: UNFORGETTABLE SPORTS

MOMENTS OF 2016 Raghad A.K, Contributor Looking back at this year, 2016 has been very productive in the sports world. It was unlike any other year as sports fanatics got to experience two major events: the France Euro Cup and the Rio Summer Olympic Games. Both of them brought many people around the world together for the love of sports. Those two moments were amongst others that contributed to a spectacular sports year. February n February, Toronto was the host city for the 2016 NBA All-Star Games. It was a memorable sports event as many celebrities and NBA players travelled here to Toronto for the love of basketball. May In May, the Toronto Raptors made history when they advanced to their first NBA Conference Finals. Unfortunately they were defeated by the Cleveland Cavaliers, who ended up winning the NBA Finals. The pressure is on for the Raptors as they continue to strive for a spot in the 2017 playoffs. It was a huge accomplishment for the team as they advanced the furthest they have ever done in their franchise’s history. June In June, LeBron James led the Cleveland Cavaliers to their first NBA championship in their franchise history. This was a huge moment for James and Cavaliers fans as a new team was crowned champions in the NBA. The biggest moment for the Toronto Maple Leafs team occurred in June during NHL Draft Day. Auston Matthews was drafted first overall by the Maple Leafs. After ending in last spot in the NHL standings for the 2015-2016 season, this was a moment that many fans were longing for and it actually happened. Matthews proved why he was a force to be reckoned with when he scored four goals in his NHL debut, getting many hockey fans excited about the Maple Leafs. The UEFA Euro Cup was held in France during the summer months of June and July. It was phenomenal for soccer fans to come together and witness great games as they all cheered for different teams. One of the highlights of the tournament was the success of the underdog teams such as Iceland. Even though they did not win, Iceland’s international team attracted many fans around the www. the-underground.ca

world, especially with the way they interacted with the spectators. They made it far in the competition to the quarter-finals which is notable considering it was their first national tournament. August In August, Michael Phelps most likely swam in his last Olympic races at the Rio Summer Olympic Games held in Brazil. He ended what could be his Olympic career with 28 medals including 6 that he won in Brazil. He is considered to be one of the best athletes of all time and probably the best athlete of our generation who has motivated many people over the last few years with his commitment and dedication to swimming. Of course, for many of his fans it was emotional to watch him swim in his last few races especially after he mentioned that he would retire after the Rio Summer Olympic Games. There is a slight hope that he may come out of retirement in time for the 2012 Tokyo Summer Olympic Games considering he initially announced that the 2012 London Summer Olympics were his last but came back and competed in 2016 this past summer. Additionally, another spectacular moment was when the host country won the gold medal in men’s football. This was a memorable moment for Brazilian soccer fans especially after the Brazil national soccer team got defeated and finished fourth during the 2014 FIFA World Cup. Winning the gold medal was their redeeming moment. September The World Cup of Hockey was held in Toronto in September. This was the third time the tournament was held, with the last year it occurred being 2004. A phenomenal tournament that afforded our Canadian team to capture the gold, which made for a wonderful moment for Canadian hockey fans. October In October, for the second year in a row, the Toronto Blue Jays defeated the Texas Rangers and were American League Division Series (ALDS) champs. Even though it did not have José Bautista’s famous bat flip, it was still an amazing tournament. Unfortunately, just like last year, the Blue Jays once again got eliminated in the champion series. However, this could be the last game for Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion as Blue Jays players. The Blue Jays playoff games in 2016 will not be forgotten easily. They say third time’s the charm and there’s always next season.

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38 S P OR T S & WELLNES S IDIL DJAFAR / THE UNDERGROUND

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SPO RTS & W E L L N E SS 3 9

FEMALES

AND SPORTS: THE ONGOING BATTLE

AGAINST BARRIERS

Caitlin Cosgrove, Contributor When critiquing the issue of lack of female participation in sports at UTSC, it’s important to view the problem using a holistic approach by taking into consideration the different factors women experience. Annie Song, a third year student in arts management shares her experience growing up. Song states, “Sometimes parents might think that because my kid is a girl, I should put them into dance instead of putting them into something viewed as more “sporty” that boys do. If you get less exposure to those chances growing up, you’re less likely to be interested in those sports in university because that’s not what I grew up with.” Unfortunately, barriers to physical activity are still prominent for female university students at UTSC. These barriers include intrapersonal obstacles such as personal beliefs, body image, and confidence. There are also interpersonal barriers such as family, caregiving responsibilities, religion, culture, and support from peers. One prominent barrier that inhibits female participation in sports at UTSC is the perception of women’s physical abilities. One main source of these sexist stereotypes arises at a macro-level. As much as we have progressed in society, it is evident that we have taken steps back in sports equity issues. Take for instance professional sports where it is common for viewers to down play a female’s performance. For example, the United States women’s national soccer team make only 40 per cent of what their male counterparts do, despite being 2015 World Cup Champions. Debbie Lee, a fourth year kinesiology student comments by stating, “There are always barriers that stop women from partici-

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pating in sports. As a girl, you always have to, in a way, prove to other people that you are not a man for playing sports or you’re not aggressive. You’re just a girl who enjoys sports, and you have to continuously [that to] explain to people. You get questioned whether that sport is appropriate for you to play, whether females should play that sport, and if you should play in aggressive sports, and be aggressive.” It’s not a surprise these misogynist attitudes of female’s physical abilities trickle down to a micro-level affecting female body image and creating false prescriptions of how much exercise we should indulge in. These factors influence female participation in sports and make gender salient in sport settings. When you identify as female, your capabilities are seldom attributed to experience, but rather your gender: Breanna Kenning, a fourth year student majoring in human biology and psychology said, “For the most part, when men don’t know me, they’re more inclined to not pass to me and might think that they’re better than me because I am a girl. They don’t want to be shown up by a girl, and they don’t want to give me the chance. I’ve played men’s hockey my whole life; the male teammates I grew up with didn’t care about my gender, but when you meet new males, they put limits on what you can do.” As the literature between physical activity and well-being becomes more prominent in research, our perspective on sports has shifted. Efforts to create more inclusive spaces for women at Toronto Pan Am Sports Centre (TPASC) are underway. With the help of the Scarborough College Athletics Association (SCAA), these changes are evident in the restructuring of co-ed sports, specifically co-ed soccer which now requires two females

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on the field at all time, compared to previous years which only required a minimum of one girl (which ironically became the maximum). In addition, UTSC offers self-identifying females and trans women exclusive programming such as the women’s only swimming programs and instructional classes such as belly dancing, self-defense, ballet, and Women’s Only workout times at TPASC. Sagal Shuriye, a fourth year psychology student studying said, “UTSC provides women-only workout hours. From my experiences, staff members check up on you and make sure you are using the equipment properly while providing tips. I think it’s important for us women to stay active. It’s good for the mind and soul and having these hours do help out. I do understand how intimidating it can be; TPASC is a huge facility with so many different options, but if you even just grab a buddy and explore, you’ll find something you love. I always workout with someone who is the same gender as me, I think it provides us both the ability to challenge each other and make jokes to ease the “timid” feeling you may have.” Barriers are not permanent; we can adjust our environment to help us jump through these hurdles. The first step is to recognize what barriers people experience because some of them are invisible. Ongoing discussion cafés, open forums, and consultations on campus will help give insight on issues affecting vulnerable populations. Subsequent knowledge obtained from these student narratives will give direction to policy changes in the university. Although barriers cannot be changed overnight, it’s important to start conversations about the unique struggles identifying females and trans women face to change programming to make it more equitable and accessible, and contribute to the development of new initiatives.

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4 0 OP I N I ON

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O P I N I O N 41

Marcus Medford, Contributor As the end of the year approaches so too do the award ceremonies for two of soccer’s most prestigious honours: the Ballon d’Or and the Best FIFA Men’s Player award (formerly known as the FIFA World Player of the Year). For the first time since their union in 2010, French magazine France Football and soccer’s international governing body, FIFA, will hand out separate awards. Reverting back to its original format, the winner of the Ballon d’Or will be selected by a group of journalists. The Best FIFA Men’s Player will be chosen by votes comprised of international teams captains and coaches (50 per cent), selected media representatives (25 per cent) and online voting (25 per cent). But with the FIFA ceremony not until January, paired with the scandals and controversies that have plagued the organization in recent years, and the voting format of the FIFA awards, the Ballon d’Or is the more coveted prize. The FIFA award is a glorified popularity contest more or less. International team coaches and captains will most likely vote based on loyalty to their countries or employers at club level rather than merit. For example, Portugal-skipper Cristiano Ronaldo will probably cast a vote for his Real Madrid teammate Gareth Bale or his countrymen Rui Patricio before he even thinks about voting for a player from Aletico Madrid or Barcelona. A similar bias also exists with fans who will vote for their favourite player regardless of their performances in comparison to other nominees. Captains, coaches and fans account for 75 per cent of the vote for the FIFA awards and they’re going to vote based on what they can observe, goals and trophies, but the devil is in the details. Statistics like key passes per game, successful take-ons and player match ratings are better indicators of a player’s success than the amount of goals

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they’ve scored. And who’s going to know all those nitty-gritty details? Journalists. Those whose job is to observe and write about soccer regularly, all while maintaining journalism’s core values of truth, fairness and objectivity. Now, the only question that remains is who goes home with the golden spheroid: Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo? Although there are 21 other perfectly capable footballers in contention for the award, it seems inconceivable that any one of them will usurp the eternal rivals. Messi or Ronaldo have won the Ballon d’Or/FIFA Ballon d’Or each year for the past eight, Messi with five to Ronaldo’s three. The last person other than Messi or Ronaldo to claim the Ballon d’Or was Kaka in 2007. Since then, collectively Ronaldo and Messi have collected six Champions League trophies, nine league winners medals and have scored over 800 goals for their clubs. Most players would be considered legends to achieve even a quarter of that. With those numbers it’s hard to argue that the eight Ballon d’Ors are undeserved but at the same time, is that really all the Ballon d’Or is about? Where’s the allure in that? What about defenders and goalkeepers? Football is an art to be admired and appreciated not a science to be calculated. In 1956, the first year the Ballon d’Or was given out, France Football awarded the trophy to Stoke City winger Sir Stanley Matthew. Matthew had passed his peak and was not the best player in the world but it’s believed that he was given the trophy as a life-timeachievement award of sorts, recognizing his longevity and iconic status. Imagine what a shame it would be if Leonardo DiCaprio retired without winning an Oscar. Too often the Ballon d’Or tug-of-war between Messi and Ronaldo overshadows the achievements of others; think back to 2010 when Wesley Sneijder lead Inter Milan to its first treble (Serie A, Coppa Italia and Champions League) and almost captured an

DECEMBER 1 - JANUARY 4, 2017

ever-elusive World Cup for The Netherlands. It’s not just about winning, it’s about achieving something special. To find something special one need not look any further than the exploits of Messi’s Barcelona teammate Neymar and Ronaldo’s teammate Bale. The Brazilian play-maker captained his side to a first-ever gold medal at the Summer Olympics, which was staged in Rio de Janerio, as well as picking up a second consecutive domestic double of winning Spain’s top-flight division and La Liga and the Copa del Rey. While Bale lead his country to new heights, as he and Wales were knocked out of the European Cup in France by eventual winners Portugal, it was the first time Wales qualified for a major tournament in 40 years, something not even greats like Ian Rush or Ryan Giggs could manage. Bale also won the Champions League this year alongside Ronaldo. But the most special thing achieved in the world of sport, let alone of football, was Leicester City’s march to the English Premier League title last season. A team of misfits, rejects and virtual unknowns lead by a manager, who was always the bridesmaid and never the bride, overthrew the hierarchy of England’s elite clubs and shocked the world on the way to a first Premier League crown. Part of what makes the story of Leicester so special is the modesty in which it occurred. Unlike teams like Chelsea, Paris St. Germain and Manchester City, Leicester found success without having to rely on huge investments and big-money signings. And if that wasn’t special enough, striker Jamie Vardy broke a Premier League record scoring in 11-straight games. Former Barcelona manager Pep Gaurdiola once said, “Messi is on a table on his own. No-one else is allowed.” Although he’d never admit it, he knows Ronaldo belongs at that table too. But just because the rest of the world’s players aren’t allowed at their table doesn’t mean they don’t deserve to be fed.

VOLUME 36, ISSUE 04


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