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SINCE 1906

westerngazette.ca THURSDAY, APRIL 7, 2016 • WESTERN UNIVERSITY’S STUDENT NEWSPAPER • VOLUME 109 ISSUE 52 we will miss you since 1906

Craig would have been graduating.

Andrea would have been finishing her first year.

Two undergraduate students died this year, both in tragic circumstances, and their losses can still be felt today. These are their stories. Pages 8–11. JORDAN MCGAVIN GAZETTE


2 • THURSDAY, APRIL 7, 2016



Volume 109, Issue 52 WWW.WESTERNGAZETTE.CA University Community Centre Rm. 263 Western University London, ON, CANADA N6A 3K7 Editorial 519.661.3580 Advertising 519.661.3579








“My happiest memory on campus is being freezing cold, giving out free food to students for two to three hours before Campus Police told us we had to leave,” he says. There are also personal points of activism for him, such as carding, as a result of having been assaulted by the police due to misidentification. Aidan wants to use films as a vehicle to spark change and bring light to various social issues through an activist approach. He appreciates the power that film has to amplify other peoples’ voices.

Aidan thinks of his identity as half invisible. “For me it’s always been this weird contrast between saying I had these issues and physically not showing them as much.” Aidan was a victim to bullying in high school while growing up in the small town of Fonthill, where his family was a racial minority. “When I was in high school, because of my disability they told me I wouldn’t go to university, said I wouldn’t be able to but I told them I would,” he says.


“I have a non-visible disability, [and] I’m half Indian but I don’t look like it, I was raised by a single mom so people tend to think of me as more feminine or that sort of thing,” says Aidan Mckendrick, third-year media theory and production student.







At Western, discrimination, especially when he attends Indian events, is a common occurrence. Out of disbelief of his ethnic background, questions like “What is your mom’s name?”, “Where are you from?” and “Name the cities in India” are common.

“I want to do better for the world — I want to be able to cause change,” he says. This summer he is planning on making a film about the difference in support services at Fanshawe College compared to Western. Like many students, Aidan struggles with not having enough time to accomplish everything he wants for himself and for others. Activism takes a lot of Aidan’s time, but when he’s not in school or fighting against social injustice, he’s doing photography, playing video games or attending concerts when he can.

Aidan grew up going to philosophy clubs where he’d argue theories of socialism and Marxism with people completing a master’s degree in philosophy.

“I try to help as many people as possible and it just wears you out, you can’t do everything and you can’t help everyone,” he says.

“I would be up till 10 p.m. in grade three arguing about the meaning of life and if there’s a God,” he recalls.

Since a young age, Aidan was raised to take care of other people.

As an activist, Aidan focuses on food security, poverty, women’s rights and larger issues like racism and the current migrant crisis.

“I’m on Western Solidarity Network: I cause trouble on campus, I give out free food and I run for election [to the USC] just to talk about issues because I want to help other people. I don’t see a point in doing everything for myself,” he said.

For him, activism has to do with solidarity. Participating in the Food Not Bombs solidarity rally last year is a fond memory for him.





So long, farewell

Winter is coming…

It’s time for many editors to say their tear-filled goodbye to the Gazette.

The season may be over, but the English department will be offering a general 2000 level course next year on the popular literary novels and television series.

 PG 12

 PG 14



All articles, letters, photographs, graphics, illustrations and cartoons published in The Gazette, both in the newspaper and online versions, are the property of The Gazette. By submitting any such material to The Gazette for publication, you grant to The Gazette a non-exclusive, world-wide, royalty-free, irrevocable license to publish such material in perpetuity in any media, including but not limited to, The Gazette‘s hard copy and online archives.

The Gazette is owned and published by the University Students’ Council.

It’s been a year since Amit Chakma’s name appeared as the fourth highest paid employee on the Sunshine List. A look back on the controversy that was and what’s happened since.  PG 6



HIGH -3 LOW -6




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THURSDAY, APRIL 7, 2016 • 3


Year in review: USC report card COUNCIL COMMENTS











Sophie Helpard was much more hands-on than her most recent predecessors with the inner workings of the USC. She was active at far more meetings, particularly when it came to the USC’s financial state. She was a strong advocate for women in leadership, mental health resources and sexual violence prevention. But many of her relationships never got off the ground. She never won over large sections of council, she was not a great communicator for the USC and was not very present at student events around campus. Her tenure will be remembered for the murky circumstances of how she got into office but given the many internal changes at the USC, judging her legacy will be left to the coming years.

Lindsee Perkins’ tangible achievements during her term include a successful Get Out The Vote initiative during the federal election, a provincial tuition freeze campaign and increased collaboration between the USC and the City of London. She was a vocal advocate for rapid transit and also helped Helpard establish the Advocan campaign, which addressed advocacy topics within the federal jurisdiction. Her decision to not run for Ontario University Student Alliance president came during a notable year for provincial advocacy when the Ontario government made significant changes to the student loans program. Overall, her enthusiasm and approachable personality made her a hit among those who worked with her.

Jonathan English has set a fine precedent after taking over the newly created position of secretary treasurer where he managed the USC’s finances and fixed long-standing governance issues. During his term, he led major reforms that dealt with a lot of issues with the annual elections, and will make the USC vice-president position more efficient next year. He helped in making the board of directors run more smoothly. While English made the USC budget accessible and easy to follow, multiple ongoing changes to the budget drafts were an issue. Communication in council also wasn’t English’s strongest suit as he seemed frustrated with councillors multiple times during the year. All in all, he has a knack for policy and is probably one of the most knowledgeable and hardworking people in the current USC crop.

Kevin Hurren received universal acclaim from both council members and The Gazette. The communications portfolio was well managed. Councillors praised him for handling criticism well and listening to their concerns. He was always quick to respond to The Gazette’s inquiries, schedule interviews and get other executives to provide information. During his term, Hurren sent regular press releases outlining major events involving the USC. A major initiative he took on was producing the student feedback survey in an effort to have advocacy priorities match student interests. The survey received an impressive 3,220 responses and resulted in a 20-page report; it should be looked at as a great accomplishment for Hurren.


Solution to puzzle on page 10


“Sophie does not seem to be transparent or willing to work with council. She [was] withdrawn from events or programs.” “Helpard treated the council as though it was nothing more than a rubber stamp … and became hostile and defensive when executive initiatives were questioned.”


“Lindsee did an excellent job of bringing the external perspective on important issues to council debates.” “She appears to have managed her time between provincial and municipal advocacy well. She is pleasure to work with from a council’s perspective.”

“The budget was clearer than usual, though not without mistakes and it was difficult to reach him because he would not respond to emails.” “Most impressive was Jonathan’s unwavering commitment to good governance.”

“Kevin did a great job this year. The communications portfolio was well-managed and was able to stay on top of issues on campus. He was highly present at student events and was definitely one of the hardest working USC members this year.” “The press releases that he sent to council throughout the year were very helpful in keeping everyone informed and up-to-date.” “Kevin always responded well in the rare case that someone made a recommendation for changes in his communication strategy.” n


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Benac’s term as vice-president internal was characterized by his advocacy – particularly for mental health. As a result, a number of new initiatives were implemented, including the mental health map on OWL, a hired sexual violence prevention education coordinator and a Wellness Education Centre in the basement of the UCC. He lacked some of the same presence of the other USC executives and a number of councillors found him to be patronizing and distant. Ultimately, his passion for students showed through his hard work, and he is to be commended, especially through his handling of the Peer Support Centre, and he was an effective advocate through the year. COUNCIL COMMENTS

“From what I have seen, Benac has worked hard and in my eyes succeeded as an articulate representative of the USC.” “I felt like Alex wasn’t as present as past VP Internals. Last year Emily Addison had a much stronger presence on campus, while Alex’s work in his role was lackluster.”




Taryn Scripnick’s year started off rocky with the soph uniform controversy. The soph apparel ban received backlash from sophs and other community members. Scripnick and OPC did host a town hall to discuss the controversy, but did so weeks after O-Week. Later in the year Scripnick was also criticized for the underperformance of charity ball. Charity ball ticket sales were so low, the USC made its lowest charity contribution in six years. Her term did see an increase in arts programming with successful events such as the Nuit Violette. On a whole, the student events portfolio itself was not well-defined as most events are organized by coordinators and full-time staff, but going into next year, the role will be replaced by the student programs officer. COUNCIL COMMENTS

“Taryn was easily the most effective leader among the executives.” “In council meetings Taryn was professional … and also Approachable. Any councillor feel comfortable speaking to her.”

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4 • THURSDAY, APRIL 7, 2016


The year in stories

Here’s a look back on some of the biggest stories from Volume 109


Before the school year even began there was a national controversy. The orientation planning committee made the decision in mid-August to ban face-covering bandanas and fake dreadlocks just four weeks before Orientation Week began. The rules came under fire immediately, with several current and former sophs criticizing the guidelines as overbearing and lacking input from sophs themselves. Just 10 days later, synthetic hair was banned as well, after initially allowing it. At the time the original policy was written, the OPC didn’t have all the information on the topic and were trying to do the best they could, according to University Students’ Council president Sophie Helpard.


Two undergraduate student deaths shocked the Western community in the fall semester. In early October, first-year student Andrea Christidis was struck by a drunk driver while walking home on Lambton Drive near Talbot College. Two days later, she succumbed to injuries sustained in the incident. Just five weeks after the Christidis tragedy, fourth-year political science student Craig Sandre died by suicide. Sandre was a popular MedwaySydenham soph and later a member of the social science soph team. Both deaths saw an outpouring of support from the campus community, with hundreds attending both funerals and many students memorializing them on social media.


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Some of our highest viewed stories were on transit, specifically the bus re-routing in March. It seems students love complaining about the LTC, especially when the University decides to announce a major bus route change late on a Friday evening. On March 4, Western released a press release saying the 6, 6A and 13 bus routes would not be going through campus for the foreseeable future because an engineering inspection found that larger-scale buses should not run over the bridge in its current state due to weight restrictions. Not long after announcing there would be shuttle service from the main gates, the University clarified the bridge would only be closed for three weeks. And that was that.


The lingering effects of the crisis last spring surrounding President Amit Chakma’s pay and wider problems at the University were felt throughout the year as reports came every few months, keeping the controversy alive. In September, the University apologized for infringing on academic freedom of professors and an independent report cleared anyone of wrongdoing while also noting the unusual circumstances of Chakma receiving double his annual salary in 2014. Next year’s budget, to be presented at this Friday’s Senate meeting, also sees new research funding for social science and humanities research, something that came as a direct result of last year’s controversy.


Fourth-year students Eddy Avila and Jamie Cleary were elected as the next president and vice-president of the University Students’ Council on Feb. 10 in a wild USC race that originally saw five slates vying for the top offices. Team Avila won with 3,968 votes, beating second place slate consisting of fourth-year students Brandon Palin and Robbie Cohen, who finished with 2,552 votes. Mike Roy and vice-presidential candidate Aidan Mckendrick finished a distant third with 451 votes. The major points on Team Avila’s platform were proposed changes to academic counselling, moving the fall reading break to Thanksgiving, and modifying the allowance for three exams in 23 hours.


Star Mustang quarterback Will Finch announced this season he would be leaving his football playing days behind him for good after incurring one too many concussions. Last season, Finch suffered two concussions and missed the playoffs, where Western lost to Guelph in the semifinals. This season, he was once again forced to miss Western’s pivotal playoff game against Guelph, this time in the Yates Cup, due to another concussion. Finch, who will graduate this spring, recently joined forces with fellow former Mustang Josh Ross to form the music duo Silver Lining, who released their first single, Cheap Red Wine, last week. On Tuesday, Finch won the Dr. Claude Brown Memorial Trophy at the 2015-16 athletic awards gala. The award is given to the male athlete judged to have made the greatest contribution to intercollegiate athletics within the university during their time at Western. n

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A look back on

Volume 109

52 Print Issues 3 Magazines


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THURSDAY, APRIL 7, 2016 • 5


Mustangs year in review: By the numbers


The number of purple blanket winners at this year’s athletic awards gala. The purple blanket is given to student-athletes, usually in their graduating year, that are judged to have made an outstanding contribution to Western athletics. This year’s recipients were: Robin Bone, Paulina Bond, Brent Duncan, Will Finch, Greg Morrow, Katelyn Gosling, Tenyka Snider, Jill Moffatt, Jennifer McNaughton, Ricky Osei-Kusi, Adrianna Giuffre, Tori Edgar, Isoken Ogieva and Shannon Davidson.


The number of meet records that Western pole vaulter Robin Bone set during her four year university career. Bone won the F.W.P. Jones Trophy on Tuesday night at the 2015-16 athletic awards gala, presented to the female athlete judged to have made the greatest contribution to intercollegiate athletics within the university during their time at Western. Bone will be training in Arizona this month for the Canadian Olympic Trials in July.


Career passing yards thrown by graduating quarterback Will Finch. Finch, who retired from football for good after receiving three concussions in two seasons, won the Dr. Claude Brown Memorial Trophy at the awards gala. The award is given to the male athlete judged to have made the greatest contribution to intercollegiate athletics within the university during their time at Western.


The number of medals won by graduating Mustang swimmer Paulina Bond this season. Bond won three gold and three silver medals at the Ontario University Athletics championships — while also setting an OUA record in the 50m butterfly — before winning three more gold medals at the Canadian Interuniversity Sport championships. She was nominated for the F.W.P. Jones Trophy at the awards gala.






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The number of career points for graduating Western guard Greg Morrow. Morrow was nominated for the Dr. Claude Brown Memorial Trophy after a stellar five year Mustang career that saw him turn around the program. This season, he led the OUA in points-per-game with 24.


The number of gold medals the rowing team won this season, as both the men’s and women’s team swept the provincials and nationals for the second time in three years. Brent Duncan, a men’s team member from St. Catharines, was nominated for the Dr. Claude Brown Memorial Trophy at the awards gala for his contributions to Western over his career.


The distance jumped, in metres, by male athlete of the year Riley Bell to claim the OUA gold medal in triple jump. It was a personal best and he only needed to jump 7.40 metres to win gold at the CIS championships three weeks later. The St. Thomas native also won a silver medal in triple jump at the OUAs.


The number of combined kills from women’s volleyball players Aja Gyimah and Kelsey Veltman in just two seasons as Mustangs. Veltman was nominated for the female athlete of the year on Tuesday and was named a first-team CIS all-Canadian this season. n

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Career save percentage for graduating Mustang goaltender Kelly Campbell. Campbell was also nominated for the F.W.P. Jones Trophy at the awards gala. Over her five-year career, she held a record of 56-25–5 and 1.76 goals-against-average. Last year, she backstopped Western’s women’s hockey team to its first ever provincial and national titles. In the national tournament, she stopped 93 of 94 shots in three games.



6 • THURSDAY, APRIL 7, 2016


A leader under fire and an institution in crisis Last spring, the University faced the biggest crisis it has seen in years as faculty, staff and students openly debated the state of the University and called on the president to resign. This is the story of what went wrong (and right) and how things have changed since then. IAIN BOEKHOFF EDITOR-IN-CHIEF @IAINATGAZETTE


“What’s really happened here is that the salary controversy has been the match that’s gone into the bucket full of gasoline.” If there is one quote to sum up the biggest crisis Western University has ever seen, that’s it. It was a spring day on Apr. 10, 2015 and hundreds gathered inside the BMO Auditorium at the Ivey School of Business for, of all things, a Senate meeting. Normally a sleepy, observer-less affair, this meeting was moved to the larger venue in anticipation of a crowd. It would be the first of two emotional and tense Senate meetings in two weeks that debated the cash payment awarded to President Amit Chakma for not taking a year of administrative leave, doubling his annual salary disclosed on the Sunshine List for 2014. The speaker was Andrew Nelson, an anthropology professor at Western for 20 years. He was only one of dozens of faculty, staff, students and alumni to openly criticize Chakma and other senior administrators at Western for their handling of not only the double pay but wider problems facing the university: budget cuts, increased class sizes, funding cuts, STEM research prioritized at the expense of arts and humanities, the corporatization of the university, the list goes on. The meeting was exactly two weeks after the Sunshine List was released and followed an unprecedented level of dissent and activism from campus. There was not a person who wasn’t talking about Chakma’s pay. Outside of the University, the single question people were asking was: What the hell is going on at Western?

••••• Act One: The calm before the storm Amit Chakma, a 50-year-old chemical engineer, began his first term as president and vice-chancellor of the University of Western Ontario on July 1, 2009. He was recruited from his previous post of provost at the University of Waterloo, where he had been for eight years. Having grown up from humble beginnings in southeastern Bangladesh, becoming president of Western represented the pinnacle of his career. “The story of my family is one of many examples of the strength of the human spirit. It is in many ways the story of so many – past and present – who have come to Canada with dreams, ambitions and a determination to build better futures,” Chakma said on Oct. 23, 2009 when he was officially installed. “I assume Western’s presidency with boundless hope and unbridled optimism.” Chakma was also the image of a new kind of Western. He was an outsider after 15 years of leadership from Paul Davenport. And he was not only a visible minority, but an immigrant, one of just a handful who have been able to move up the ranks at a university in Canada. “When I met [Dr. Chakma,] I quickly realized this person is the next generation of university leadership,” Robert Birgeneau, chancellor of the University of California, Berkeley, and former president of the University of Toronto told the Globe and Mail in 2009, shortly after Chakma began his first term. “He was the kind of dynamic, ambitious leader who could take a Canadian institution to the next level.” In his first five years, he traveled extensively to try to establish Western as a global destination for education, research — and donations.

July 1, 2009

Chakma is reappointed by the Board to a second term as president, from July 1, 2014 to June 30, 2019

Amit Chakma is appointed to a five year term by the Board of Governors as the 10th president and vice-chancellor of the University of Western Ontario. Included in his contract is a provision to monetize a year of administrative leave at the end of his term if he doesn’t take that leave


November 2012

Chakma’s arrival in July 2009 was accompanied by a wider turnover in leadership at Western. A year later, a new provost, Janice Deakin, was named. Two new vice-presidents, John Capone (October 2012) and Kelly Cole (January 2014) were also named, making four of the five most powerful administrators at Western new. In addition, between 2009 and 2013, eight new deans of 11 at Western were appointed. The first major — and controversial — move Chakma made as president was a rebranding of the University to that of “Western University” in late January 2012. Reaction to the new brand was mixed — some people were confused and many alumni were outraged and said they would no longer be donating to the university. The branding stuck, however, and today’s students don’t know anything but “Western University”. Chakma’s first five and a half years at Western were filled with high praise and high profile awards and appointments, notably chairing the federal government’s advisory panel on Canada’s international education strategy in 2012. Chakma’s performance was so good, he was renewed for a second term in November 2012, over a year and half before his first term ended in June 2014. He was also awarded a $44,000 bonus by the Board of Governors in 2014 for meeting key institutional metrics. While the Board of Governors could not have been happier with Chakma’s performance, there were signs of tension between the various stakeholders at Western and administration. Very little was said publicly, but behind the scenes many were questioning the decision-making process of the senior administration.

May 1, 2013

Chirag Shah, the chair of the board, amends the reappointment contract so that Chakma will receive the cash payment in lieu of administrative leave. This was done to enhance his pension

Chakma agrees to the reappointment contract with the senior operations committee of the Board of Governors, which states that his administrative leave will be carried through to the end of his second term

June 30, 2014

Act Two: A crisis of Navigator proportions Chakma and his colleagues in senior administration were able to brush off any and all criticism until March 27, 2015. That’s the day the Sunshine List came out and it’s the day that everything changed for those at the University. Coming in as the fourth highest salary in the province was a surprising name: Amit Chakma. At $924,000.04, he made over double his annual salary in 2014 due to a clause in his contract that allowed him to receive a cash equivalent if he did not take a year of administrative leave at the end of his first term. The University initially said this was a necessary payment in order to have stability in leadership at a critical time for the university and that it was “mutually agreed” that Chakma would not take the year of administrative leave he was entitled to. The backlash was swift and damning: this was an unacceptable payment and a sign of how out of touch administration at Western was with what was happening on the ground. I talked to a dozen faculty, staff and students for this story, some on the record and others who wished to remain anonymous so they could speak more freely. I reached out to a whole lot more — 28 people in total — but many declined or were otherwise unavailable. President Amit Chakma, provost Janice Deakin and chair of the Board of Governors, Hanny Hassan, declined to comment through the Western media relations director. The Sunshine List caught almost everyone by surprise. According to sources, senior administrators, including Deakin, found out the day before the list came out but most others on the day of. Just days later, when it became clear the president’s compensation might do lasting damage both internally and externally, Chakma announced late on Apr. 1 that he would be voluntarily refunding the $440,000 cash payment. “Although contractually sanctioned, in hindsight, I should have carried over my administrative leave to the end of my current term,” he said. We found out later that the University had also hired Navigator, a leading crisis management firm, on April 1 to help their communication strategy. The Board of Governors also announced it was going to do an independent review of Chakma’s contract, conducted by retired Justice Stephen Goudge. Chakma concluded his statement with “I hope the above actions will allow us to move forward.”

March 27, 2015

Chakma announces he will be returning the $440,000 cash payment and the Board of Governors will be conducting an independent review of his contract

The Sunshine List reveals that Chakma made over double his annual salary in 2014. The University defends the salary as necessary “to ensure continuity of leadership at a critical time”

April 1, 2015

But that hope quickly evaporated as it became clear things were just getting started. Two of the biggest campus unions voted overwhelmingly in favour of non-confidence motions in Chakma. A petition calling for non-confidence in Chakma garnered over 5,600 signatures within just a few days. Stories came out about Chakma’s past salary history, including previous years where he was being paid by both Western and Waterloo at the same time. The issue even made its way to Queen’s Park in the form of a private member’s bill. On April 9, Chakma issued an apology in a sympathetic article published in Western News, but still declined any interviews with external media. “It is difficult to express how truly sorry I am for the lack of judgement I showed,” Chakma said. By the time the first Senate meeting rolled around the next day, not a soul on campus wasn’t talking about Chakma’s pay and the ensuing scandal. Whereas many students probably couldn’t name the president before, now halls were filled with discussion and debate on whether or not taking the money was the right thing to do and whether executive compensation was too high. But there were some voices notably absent: that of Chakma and his fellow senior administration. They all refused media interviews and public appearances were few and far between. The board, too, fell silent, leaving many wondering what exactly was going on at the upper echelons of the university. One faculty member recently described senior administration to me as having a “meltdown”. Others thought there might have been anger within administration for the position Chakma put them in, and that it might have been a situation where everyone was for themselves as they didn’t know what would happen. We might never know the true answer for why senior administration didn’t speak out in favour of Chakma, but in interviews he has done since, there are indications administrators were mostly unaware of the widespread discontent and were caught off-guard by the number of critics and the breadth of issues raised. At the special, climatic meeting of Senate on April 17 — attended by hundreds— there were just two decisions for senators to make: whether they had confidence in Chakma’s leadership and Shah’s. Of 21 speakers that day, 10 spoke in favour and 10 spoke against the Chakma motion, with one saying she would abstain. The most telling indicator that this crisis was about more than just the president’s compensation was when Schulich dean Michael Strong — who has a higher annual salary than Chakma — got up to express his frustrations

April 2, 2015

UWOFA, the faculty union, announces that 94% of its members don’t have confidence in Chakma following a vote with its highest ever turnout

London West MPP Peggy Sattler introduces a private member's bill to ban untaken administrative leaves being monetized

April 2, 2015

April 6, 2015

The Board of Governors holds a secret meeting to discuss the scandal and its effect on the university

• www.westerngazette.ca

and concerns with the current budget system. “We have a university that is polarizing itself. We have a university that is moving into haves and have nots,” Strong said. “We are going to be looked at and the question is going to be asked, ‘how did you get past this? How did you move forward? How did you prepare the ground for the change that is inevitable and must come forward with this?’ And I think a non-confidence vote here doesn’t do that for us.” When the votes were counted, Chakma’s motion failed with 49 against, 30 for and 5 abstentions. For Shah, the motion failed with 46 against, 20 for, 21 abstentions.

••••• Act Three: What happened and what went wrong Looking back on that time, many of the most vocal critics of the administration have the same general comments. They were pleased with the amount of debate on campus, surprised and grateful at the number of connections they made through email and galvanized by the same general concerns being expressed by so many people. “I was really proud of how Western handled a very difficult period of time,” said senator Jane Toswell. “Lots of other universities have failed at these moments and I thought that the underlying bedrock strength of Western came through.” What made this controversy have a lasting impact was the critical mass it achieved on campus. There has been pushback before on changes, but the administration was always ready and able to brush them off. This time, though, they didn’t, and it served as a wake up call for administration. (They also still seem to be somewhat in denial about the whole thing; in rejecting interviews, they have said they consider the whole affair a matter of salary, not of wider governance, budget and research issues at Western.) Toswell has been one of the most consistent voices on Senate, questioning how decisions are made and how they fit in with the institution as 22 senators request a special meeting of Senate to debate motions of non-confidence in Chakma and Shah. It will be the first special meeting since 1989

April 7, 2015

April 9, 2015

THURSDAY, APRIL 7, 2016 • 7


a whole. She was not hopeful that there would be more debate past Chakma’s decision to return the money. “After the announcement of the president’s pay and his decision five days later, I thought it would collapse,” Toswell said. “I honestly thought I was alone as I had been so many times in the previous two years at Senate in expressing problems … I thought the way in which I had been trying to raise issues in Senate for the previous two years was something that was going to continue to be ignored.” There seems to be a widely held belief that at the time, communication from senior administration was poor, there was no transparency to how decisions are made and what little consultation there was, it was irrelevant to administrators. “I think the University was expressing unhappiness with a lot of the decisions that had been made by its administration and maybe more about the tone and style than even the decisions,” Toswell said. “I think that’s what was at the heart of it.” Current UWOFA president Kristin Hoffmann echoed those sentiments. “What we’ve seen is people feeling like they’re increasingly disengaged from the decision-making and not able to be part of that process and I think that’s what came to a head last spring,” Hoffmann said. “Finally [there was] that touchstone event where people could say ‘enough is enough, I need my voice to be heard’ because that’s what a university is.” There was a sense of empowerment from the very open debate that occurred. French department chair Jacques Lamarche was a very vocal critic of Chakma and the administration at the time. “It’s the first time in my life that I stood up and said something and it’s intimidating. And I realize now, in retrospect, it’s not really what you believe that makes you a leader, it’s the fact that you stand up and say it,” Lamarche said. “That was an eyeopener for me.” “But the real work is not to stand up and talk, it’s to actually walk the talk. And this is what I’m trying to do at this level here with my department.” What seems to emerge as a

A Senate meeting garners a crowd of hundreds as Chakma makes his first public speech on his pay, apologizing for taking the money. Senators debate the implications of Chakma’s payment and the budget crunches faced by the University

Chakma apologizes for taking the cash payment in a lengthy interview published in Western News

April 10, 2015

April 16, 2015

possible cause for the crisis is a major disconnect between what the administration sees their jobs as being and what campus members expect. The major turnover in leadership and vision for that leadership was a dramatic change for those who have been at the University for 10, 20, 30 years. Whereas previous president Paul Davenport was on campus and “everybody knew him,” Chakma was brought in to internationalize Western and be externally focused. He has acknowledged he was, in fact, too externally focused in his last 3–4 years at Western and he’s shifting back more toward campus. One of the most polarizing figures in all of this is provost Janice Deakin. Many of the issues raised during last spring’s crisis did not relate as much to Chakma as to the rest of the administration, particularly her portfolio. “I think [Chakma] didn’t see himself as in charge of the campus, he saw the provost as in charge of the campus,” Toswell said. “And that’s a different model from the model that we’ve had here at Western.” Others have said Deakin is not widely liked among some faculties and while Chakma has shown he’s serious in listening more to campus, she has not followed. Changes to the research funding models, implemented by the provost early on in her first term, were particularly not well-received, as one faculty member told me “there’s nothing that gets faculty upset like alterations to their research funding that they’ve come to depend upon.” She was described as giving answers to questions more than she’s listening to what faculty and others have to say, which is part of what led to disengagement in the first place with senior administration. But at the same time, Deakin is also highly responsive to student concerns. All it took was one student for her to spearhead a change in a contentious academic policy that is currently going through Senate. She’s also led two budget town halls, presented more information on the budget earlier to senators and will apparently be showing more of the process behind the budget this upcoming year in the form of making public the planning documents. At a special meeting of Senate, 21 senators speak on both sides of the motion. Motions of non-confidence in Chakma and Shah both fail, but a significant portion of senators vote against Chakma

Chakma again apologizes and promises to listen to community members’ concerns in a 100 day listening tour

April 17, 2015

••••• Act Four: A leader emerges and the way forward There’s one person who comes away from the crisis being roundly praised for his leadership, and it’s a surprising name: Amit Chakma. He was clearly shocked by the backlash to his pay and not without reason. It was something negotiated years ago, and a clause also in his Waterloo contract. While the controversy took a toll on him and his family, it seems he was intent from early on in the crisis to see it through. Toswell, who’s been one of the few outspoken critics of the administration before the crisis, said she was previously invited to Chakma’s house on the evening of the special Senate meeting. She called a few days before to see if they still wanted her to come and they said that no matter what happens, you should come. That evening, after Chakma survived the non-confidence motion, Toswell was at his house and he showed he was serious about listening to his critics. “At the beginning of the evening, I said to the president ‘I meant what I said this afternoon that we need to move forward and if you want to meet with me to talk, I’m available anytime. “And at the end of the evening, he said ‘How about lunch on Monday?’ And I said fine and we had lunch on Monday.” That level of engagement has continued past what seems to be a public relations strategy “100day listening tour” he launched last April. He has followed through on focusing his attention more on campus. People have remarked how much more present he is at events, holding more meetings and even just being visible around campus. He’s also started a monthly update letter to update faculty and students on what’s going on at the university. “I give him a huge amount of credit for the fact that he’s stayed in touch with the people who spoke against him perhaps more than the people who spoke for him,” Toswell said. “He’s been working very hard

July 16, 2015

The Gazette reports that the crisis cost the university $96,182 in public relations and legal costs, including to known crisis management firm Navigator

The University apologizes for infringing on the academic freedom of professors and extends a general apology to others for the Senate meetings in April

September 18, 2015

to find out what the issues are on campus.” He has more actively reached out to people on social media, particularly students, on institutional accounts and personal Twitter (@ ProfChakma, “Personal reflections of a global citizen and a proud Canadian. Educator and public policy enthusiast”) and Facebook pages. His harshest critics have all acknowledged the work he’s put in in being on campus, meeting with them and speaking openly about issues the university faces. In the three times I talked to him since the crisis last year, one thing becomes very clear: he loves Western. He talks in glowing terms about the researchers and students here. As one health sciences professor told me, there “aren’t many people” who would work for a year for nothing after what he went through. Chakma will always have his critics and he can’t be the president that everyone wants him to be but he has done more than most expected of him and he’s shown he’s willing to change, even if the University as a whole lags behind.

••••• Assessing the final impact of last spring’s crisis will be hard until a few years pass. There are positive changes and hopes expressed by those interviewed. Many noted how much more engagement there is on Senate this year. There are far more debates and more people speaking at meetings. Senators are trying to engage more with their constituents by sending out more detailed updates on activities at Senate and there have been more contested faculty elections this year than in a number of years. Many are hopeful, too, for the Senate renewal committee, which is examining how Senate is run, will recommend positive changes to how Senate works. The hope is that the very public debate about the state of the University that happened in the spring of 2015 was the beginning of the conversation and the beginning of a better Western. n

September 28, 2015

Justice Goudge releases his review of Chakma’s contract, which reveals the decision to authorize the cash payment was made solely between Shah and Chakma and did not go through the Board of Governors. He also finds the provision to monetize leave was not in line with peer institutions

Chakma will step down as president after two terms. He has said he will return to being a professor at Western

June 30, 2019


8 • THURSDAY, APRIL 7, 2016

In memory of Craig Sandre

The life, and death, that brought this campus together Craig Sandre was a popular, well-known fourth-year soph who could always be relied on to lighten any situation. This is his story, as told by his family and friends.

RICHARD JOSEPH ARTS & LIFE EDITOR @RJATGAZETTE Ratman. A 12-year-old boy has periods of intense, brilliant fixation. There are no half measures; he will make the perfect salad. He will bring disco back. One week, he decides, he will be a ninja. He will be known as Ratman. So he dons a balaclava, black long johns, black shoes and takes off down the street. A group of teenagers see this young vigilante and start chasing him. Minutes later, his confused father looks up to see him barrelling towards him with a gang of teens hot at his heels. Years later, duty calls and he picks up the moniker again — this time, as a Med-Syd soph. Craig Sandre was an exceptional student. He was immensely popular, with a gift for making people laugh, and he wanted to experience all that life had to offer; he loved people, he loved the outdoors and he loved his family. He died from suicide at 21 years of age, on Nov. 15, 2015. “My first memory of him was at the end of first year,” says Sanjay Nema, his roommate and friend. “We all made the Med-Syd soph team and for rez sophs they always do a sort of crossdressing soph meeting. And Craig came in. He was wearing the skimpiest dress I have ever seen, man or woman. Everything was hanging out. That was day one and he never changed from that.”

••••• Craig was born on Sept. 10, 1994 to Heather and Stephen Sandre. His brother, Scott, was born three years later. They spent nine years in Mississauga before moving to Oakville, where they went to White Oaks Secondary School. “We had similar personalities — outgoing, talkative, but he was more so,” says Scott. “He was the one who went streaking at parties. I kept my clothes on. We’d finish each other’s sentences. Movies, music, we could just chime off dates, statistics, everything.” Through high school, even alongside these wild nights, Craig had ups and downs. He was one of the 20 per cent of Canadian youth suffering from a psychiatric disorder — in his case, depression. One night in high school, Craig was standing on a bridge. He took his shoes off. His father was called; the police were called; eventually, he stepped back. At the same time, Scott was dealing with

his own depression. Since he was 10, he’s had problems with his hips: even after two hip surgeries, he couldn’t run, couldn’t play sports. The brothers had a falling out. “I have regrets about this,” says Scott. “I didn’t talk to him for a year. That’s bad. Brothers shouldn’t do that. I had this negative perception of him at the time — I just didn’t know what was wrong with his life, you know? He could run. He could play sports. I couldn’t do those things and I was depressed because of that. With him, my initial view was there was nothing wrong with him. Nothing stopping him from being happy. I just — I was 14.” When Craig found out he was accepted to Western, he was ecstatic. Both his parents had gone to Western and he found out he was rooming with his longtime high school friend, Sean Cousins. A whole new chapter in his life just opened up and he couldn’t be happier. He applied to the MedSyd soph team and it would be hard to find a more perfect fit for his personality. “Walking around during O-Week was weird,” Sanjay recalls. “Even if Craig didn’t know all the six thousand frosh, most of them knew who he was. He made such an impact on thousands of people and not a lot of people could do that.” Craig would often prank his roommates, hiding egg cartons around the house or scaring them in the shower. If he wanted to do something, Sanjay explains, talking him out of it was simply not worth the time, the energy, or sanity you would lose arguing with him. He was going to do it anyway. Once, the pair settled down on the (off-limits) MedSyd roof with some beer and pizza and started heckling people. When they tired of that, they climbed down – only to find several police cars waiting for them. They did what any reasonable young men would do in the situation, and ran like hell. “I booked it,” says Sanjay. “Running away from the police is not a team sport. If the cops are after you, it’s every man for himself.” Sanjay got home, changed his clothes, turned off all the lights and hid in his room. He then got a call from Craig, telling him he had to come back, or Craig would get a $500 trespassing ticket. His roommate kindly informed him that there was “no way in hell” he was going back to the cops. Shortly afterwards, guilt overwhelmed him and he went back to the cops, both of them grudgingly taking a $150 fine.

••••• In January of 2015, his third year of university, one of Craig’s close friends died from a brain aneurysm. Things started to spiral downwards, for a time – he broke up with his girlfriend and lost a semester. He began cutting himself, and one day, he cut too deep. He went to his roommates for help, and they drove him to the hospital. Stephen remembers the day Craig told him about his condition, when there were visible, physical symptoms of his illness, the scars criss-crossing his arms. “I just thought – what the hell’s going on? What are we missing in our society? We have a good income, a good middle-class lifestyle, so what’s the disconnect? But I never pursued it after that – we told him, of course, we’re really sorry, if you need anything we’ll be here.” “Craig would have been able to tell us, he was just an excellent communicator,” says Heather. She pauses, gathering her words. “I think it was so hard for him to tell us, because – he couldn’t look at us in the face and see how sad, how scared we’d be for him. He was trying to protect us. That’s why he talked to his friends, because we had this responsibility for him.” He would often have long, late-night conversations with his roommate, Sanjay. They would tend towards the existential, as those midnight conversations often do; sometimes, they would talk about the idea of suicide. “It was never like – sorry Craig, got to go to sleep,” says Sanjay. “I wouldn’t care if I had to stay up until four. I made it a point to never leave the conversation until I was satisfied that he was satisfied with the answer we’d come to.” After the hospital visit, Craig started seeing a therapist and taking medication. The existential conversations were fewer and less intense. His roommates, his friends, his family were supportive, and by degrees, he got better. He planned a trip to Rwanda.

••••• His death at 21 years old is recorded as Sunday, Nov. 15, 2015. Nothing stood out about him the night before; he ordered pizza, chatted with his roommates, left for his house at the usual hour, around midnight. The weekend before he died, he watched the new James Bond movie, Spectre, with Scott. Stephen and Heather had last seen him two

weeks before, when they went to London to shop for a kitchen table. They took him to a restaurant downtown, the Church Key. He was his usual, cheerful self – they discussed, light-heartedly, the idea of him running for USC president. “When I got the call from my mom, I was watching What a Wonderful Life,” says Scott. “Just — irony to the highest degree. The plot, a guy is about to commit suicide before an angel intervenes. I went into shock. I was crying, I was laughing. I couldn’t control it.” Stephen was on a business trip in Venice, Italy, when Heather called him. It took him 21 hours to get home. “I lost it, of course,” he says. “Broke down. Later, I called her back and said – what do we say? And I think for a split second, there was a pause. Thinking, maybe we hush it up? Invent a story?” “But Craig deserved better than that,” says Heather. “And it’s so, so hard to believe that someone so full of life can have this, but it is a disease. And he died from suicide, not by suicide. He didn’t take his own life – it was the depression that took it.”

••••• The visitation was attended by about 800 people, many of them young, all of them impacted by Craig at some point in their lives. Stephen and Heather describe it as a strange sort of cocktail party, even a sort of wedding – it was a celebration of life and many people shared memories about Craig. Even the family, who knew Craig’s charm and popularity well, were surprised by the sheer number of people who had good experiences with him. Both Stephen and Scott wrote eulogies. Scott emphasized his benevolence, his care for others; how much he regretted the year they didn’t talk. “I wrote mine on the flight,” recalls Stephen. “Every 10 minutes, bawl my eyes out, try to hide it from the stewardess.” He quoted one of Craig’s favourite movies, Blade Runner: “All those moments will be lost in time, like tears in rain.” But when the funerals were over, when people were notified, when his room was cleaned out, that’s when it started to settle in. The family sat in the house in a sort of griefstricken haze. “I missed a week because of the funerals,” says Scott. “Couldn’t write my exams, I couldn’t

• www.westerngazette.ca

THURSDAY, APRIL 7, 2016 • 9

In memory of Craig Sandre


focus. Couldn’t study. Would just watch TV all day and drink. That persisted through Christmas break, into January. It’s why I have to restart the semester.” The days following were difficult for his roommates, as well. “It was surreal,” says Sanjay. “Your house goes from five to four, you lose 20 per cent. And that happens to be the loudest, most boisterous 20 per cent.” The Sandre family is met with a whole new set of challenges. How often are they to think about Craig? If they don’t for a week, should they feel guilty? When somebody asks them how many children they have – what do they say? “I love telling stories about my kids and every time I talk about Craig, I have a problem with verb tense,” says Heather. “It’s awkward. But he’s a part of me, part of who I am.” “I do think about Craig every day,” says Scott. “I think I cry every other day because of it. But I need to become more okay with it, just for myself. Eventually I do have to go on with my life. So my first step is this.” He points to a tattoo on his forearm. It reads “Fighter,” and the “I” is a semicolon, a universal symbol for mental health. A semicolon isn’t the end of a sentence; it signals

there is more to come. Craig will remain with all his friends and family, whether as ink or memory, but he would want them to move on. And slowly, by degrees, they are getting better.

••••• Craig Sandre was smart, popular, funny, with a brilliant and engaging personality. When he saw the signs, he followed all the rules; he sought professional help, he told his family, he accepted the support of his friends. His condition began to improve. But despite all this, on that Sunday in November, depression took his life. You probably know the statistics. One in five Canadians struggle with a mental illness. Some eight per cent of adults will experience a depressive episode in their lives. Suicide accounts for 24 per cent of all deaths among 15-24 year olds and 16 per cent among 25-44 year olds. But these are numbers and we can grow numb to them. Take them in alongside the story of Craig Sandre, of Ratman, of the Supreme Commander of the Galaxy – his life, and what he leaves behind – and perhaps we’ll start to accept the possibility that not every illness has immediate, outward signs. n

KYLE PORTER GAZETTE A replica of Samuel L. Jackson’s wallet from one of Craig’s favourite movies, Pulp Fiction, alongside Scott’s tattoo commemorating Craig’s life.

10 • THURSDAY, APRIL 7, 2016

In memory of Andrea Christidis


A life cut short

Andrea Christidis was a first-year student walking home to Med-Syd late at night when a drunk driver struck and killed her. Her loss was devastating to her family and friends. This is her story.

JENNY JAY GAZETTE LEFT: Georgia and Chris Christidis, Andrea’s parents, remember their daughter.

RIGHT: Andrea’s bed at her home in Toronto, with some of her favourite things.


life sciences, but she received her acceptance to Western for health sciences first. She surprised her parents with the decision, but she wanted to get a better GPA and found herself more interested in the health sciences program. Additionally, her sister, Alexia, was at Western, which played a large role in her decision. She didn’t want her parents making two trips in the opposite directions and found it to be more convenient if she joined Alexia in London. “She was such a good daughter to me as a mother,” says Georgia. “She was very affectionate, very respectful. She loved her grandparents, her cousins. She loved her friends dearly.” Her cousin, Nicole Koutlemanis, calls Andrea her baby sister. The two were close in age, Koutlemanis being one year older than Andrea. The two look nearly identical, often being mistaken for sisters during their time together at Leaside High School. But they were also the best of friends. Growing up, they danced together, played soccer on the same team and took Greek lessons every Saturday morning. Andrea convinced Koutlemanis to read the Harry Potter series. Today, Koutlemanis says she cannot study without listening to Harry Potter music, a tradition she learned from Andrea. The second-year communications student at Laurier University fondly remembers all the times Andrea would push her out of her comfort zone. “She had a great sense of humour,” Koutlemanis says. “She always wanted to go out and be adventurous with whoever she was with, which I’m very lucky for or I would have stayed in the house all day.” The pair travelled together during March Break in high school to Europe. Andrea loved to travel and made Koutlemanis come with her. “If I didn’t have her there, I wouldn’t have gone on that trip,” she says. Together, they went to Switzerland, France and Italy. Koutlemanis still has the photos Andrea took of her, photography being another passion of Andrea’s. Travel was always a big part of her life. “Our trips were our favourite memories,” says Chris. Georgia recalls baptizing Andrea in Greece in 1998 with the whole family attending. This trip would be just one of the many Andrea would take throughout her life. “She loved to see things,” says Chris. “Art and traveling and buildings, she loved photography at the end. She just wanted to explore. She just naturally had an open mind for seeing things all over the place.” “She appreciated the beauty in things,” Georgia chimes in. All together, Andrea was a well-rounded person. There are not many things she didn’t excel at. Her long-term goals included

On Monday, Sept. 7, 2015, Andrea Christidis packed up her belongings, excited to embark on a two-hour car ride from her home in Toronto to Western University. But the orderly student had to make sure her room was well-kept before she left. She made her bed that morning, a pristine white and grey duvet cover that her mom, Georgia, bought during a shopping trip to Buffalo, N.Y., the year before. Andrea had complained about having the smallest room in her family home in the predominantly Greek neighbourhood, so the pair had redecorated when she was in the 12th grade. The room is clean and simple; silver curtains match the light grey walls, and sparkly Christmas lights hang on top of the curtain rod. She took great pride in keeping the room tidy and organized. And yet, the tiny room is bursting with Andrea’s personality. On her bed lies a copy of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. Ask any member of her family or friends and they’ll tell you how much she adored the series. There’s a canvas photo of London, England, perched on her dresser beside her bed, a visual representation of where she wanted to go. She loved to travel, but it was the Harry Potter world that really piqued her interest in the European city. Across from her bed is a table lined with perfume and cosmetics, the objects one would expect to see in a teenage girl’s room. Georgia had bought a bag of make-up for her daughter at a sale in September and she was excited to surprise her at Thanksgiving with the contents. Her room is meticulous; however, one thing remains out of place. Sitting in the corner of that tiny room, lonely, obtrusive and unopened, are bins of Andrea’s belongings. The contents contain everything Andrea packed that Monday in September. That Monday would be the last day she spent in her room. A month later, to the day, Andrea walked home on Lambton Drive to her Medway-Sydenham residence from Cronyn Observatory. She had just finished a lab assignment for her astronomy class, looking to earn an extra three per cent before the long weekend. That day, on Oct. 7, 2015, a drunk driver hit Andrea. Chris, Andrea’s father, and Georgia would later have to retrieve the bins of their 18-yearold daughter’s belongings from the residence she spent one month in. Andrea never made it home for Thanksgiving.

HER LIFE It’s hard to sum up the short life of a person

who meant so much to so many people. To her family, Andrea was perfect. Her parents recall her as an easy, loving baby. Sleeping through the night at four months and soothing herself to sleep, Andrea completed the family of four. This behaviour carried on through her elementary school years. Georgia notes how her teachers had loved her daughter. From her penmanship to her grades to her dedication and punctuality, Andrea was an amazing student. “The discipline she had from such a young age developed so early,” says Georgia at her home in Toronto. “We knew she was destined for really good things.” She excelled at school, becoming trilingual in French and Greek. At her grade six graduation, peers and teachers voted Andrea valedictorian. “All through the schooling years, it was a delight,” recalls Georgia. “It was never ‘do your homework. Did you do this?’ she took such pride in her schoolwork. From the standpoint of a parent, she never gave us a hard time about school.” Thomai Ilias, her childhood best friend, was friends with Andrea for 15 years. She remembers Andrea as the leader of their friend group, giving advice and being wise beyond her years. Another childhood friend, Yasi Farshad, Andrea’s best friend from grade one and a first-year BMOS student, agrees. “I remember in elementary school, she was a little bit bossy,” Farshad says with a chuckle. “She had that leader inside of her, in her personality … She was always smiling.” Both Farshad and Ilias describe Andrea as their sister. Ilias calls Andrea her role model, a person she looked up to. The duo experienced every milestone together, with Ilias helping her with her valedictorian speech. Although they went to different high schools, they remained close friends. They saw each other almost every day. Andrea and Ilias ended up working together at the Christidis’ family café. Her dad recalls Andrea as a responsible and dedicated worker. “She was getting into it more and more,” says Chris. “She really felt proud of it and enjoyed being there. It was something that she wanted to build and grow. Every time I would say I think I will sell [the business], she would say, ‘No, no, no, don’t sell it. I love being there and I love working.’ It was very much a part of her life.” She took on a senior role at the café, teaching staff — including Ilias — and working while her father was not present. By the summer of 2015, Andrea could run the store. She worked all summer, not traveling like she would have liked. Instead, she chose to save in order to have spending money for university. Her first choice was Queen’s University for

becoming a doctor, though she didn’t tell many people — she didn’t want to disappoint anyone. “I was lucky enough for her to be able to tell me,” Koutlemanis says. “She would tell me that she wanted to be a doctor, that was a dream of hers, and I know she would have accomplished it because her grades were impeccable,” says Ilias. “She was very diligent in her work. She always had a differentiation between having a good time with her friends and studying. “She was perfect.”

THE ACCIDENT The last time Georgia spoke to her daughter was the day of the accident. They had been texting and Georgia was surprised when she had not replied by 11 p.m. It was unlike Andrea not to answer her mom. Georgia was preparing for bed, planning on texting Andrea to make sure she was OK when she got a phone call from an unknown number at 11:45 p.m. She expected it to be Chris, who was on his way to Greece at the time. Instead, it was a doctor from Victoria Hospital in London. “He said, ‘I’m very sorry to be making this call. I know it’s every parent’s worst nightmare, but your daughter has been in an accident and she’s in the hospital, and you need to come tonight.’ ” Georgia was initially in disbelief, believing the phone call to be a prank. But the doctor persisted, and Georgia began to scream. “It’s like the house fell on top of me,” she says. “Is she alive?” she asked the doctor. He hesitated. “He said, ‘Yes, she’s alive, but she’s very seriously injured. So you have to come to London.’ ” Georgia called her sister since she was home alone. Her brother-in-law, together with his daughters and Georgia, immediately made the late night, two-hour trek to Victoria Hospital. At the same time, Farshad was the first one of Andrea’s friends at the scene of the accident. When Andrea’s roommate alerted Farshad to the fact that Andrea had not returned home from the gym three hours ago, she called the Western Student Recreation Centre and Campus Police. When no one could give her an adequate answer, Farshad took matters into her own hands and began looking for her on campus. She stumbled upon an accident scene, not imagining Andrea could be involved. But when she asked a police officer on scene about Andrea, he said he needed to speak with Farshad. She collapsed to the ground. The rest is a blur. The police officer drove her to the hospital, where Farshad called Alexia. By the time Georgia reached London, Alexia was already sitting in the hospital

• www.westerngazette.ca

THURSDAY, APRIL 7, 2016 • 11

In memory of Andrea Christidis

JENNY JAY GAZETTE Every day, Georgia Christidis lights a candle with a dab of olive oil in it, a Greek Orthodox tradition symbolizing bringing light to the person who has passed away.

waiting room with Andrea’s friends, too scared to enter the room and see her sister. “How is she?” asked Georgia. “I don’t know, mommy,” replied Alexia, “but they’re saying it’s not good.” So Georgia walked into the room, seeing Andrea for the first time. She recalls seeing numerous tubes and machines on her daughter, but doesn’t remember what they were for. Andrea looked like she was sleeping. She was in a coma with brain injuries. There weren’t many visible wounds, except for a few scratches on her forehead. Georgia was hopeful, thinking everything might turn out alright. But her doctors knew the extent of trauma Andrea had been through. The oxygen had been cut off from Andrea’s brain and she did not have much time left. “You can imagine my fears and my worst nightmares coming through,” says Georgia. “Thinking about what could happen when you leave your child to go away to school. But it actually happened.” Two days later, Andrea Christidis, 18, died in hospital.

HER LEGACY The death of Andrea Christidis touched everyone who ever met the girl with the perfect smile. Family and friends are all seeing grief counselors and therapists, but the pain remains unbearable. For them, time has stopped. Six months later, Ilias is currently not at Western, receiving academic accommodation. She does her work from home and says she’s been very ill, having lost a lot of weight from the shock. She says she does not feel safe being at school, but being home has helped her in her recovery. “It’s been traumatic,” says Ilias. “It’s been emotionally devastating.” Koutlemanis says she lives in constant fear; being unable to walk down the street without thinking she will be struck. She does not like drinking and does not like being away from her home. Her grades have been negatively affected, although she says she does not want to disappoint her parents. “I miss her guiding me through life,” says Koutlemanis. “I feel absolutely broken. I feel like every piece of me is missing and I will never be able to be put back together.” Farshad says she will be transferring to the University of Toronto next year, unable to be on the campus where she sees her best friend everywhere. “I lost a huge part of my life when I lost her,” says Farshad. “I replay that night always in my head.” Farshad says she has nearly failed all of her classes, despite being an A student. She says she’s filled with anger and sadness. “She had a lot to live for,” says Farshad. “She

barely experienced university, it was only the beginning. But I know she would have gone places and found success.” Andrea’s parents are also still devastated. Chris has been unable to work since the accident. Georgia says she cannot be alone. Alexia went back to school, trying to move on with her undergraduate career, but she’s down to three classes this semester and her parents are unsure whether or not she will continue on in the fall. “She feels two things about this accident,” says Georgia. “She’s lost her sister and she feels destroyed about that. Only sibling. They’re not going to grow together. She’s not going to be her maid of honour at her wedding. On the other hand, her life is destroyed because she doesn’t find pleasure in the things she used to.” Georgia recalls the few people from Western she says made a difference and reached out after Andrea’s death. She writes six names of Western employees down on a piece of paper, noting every thing they have done for the family, careful not to forget one person. But since then, the line of support from Western has run cold. “Other than that, there has been no other officials of Western reaching out to ask us how we are, how we’re doing, how we’re coping. Nothing,” says Georgia. The Christidis family has had meetings with Western officials, asking for support for Alexia. But even then, getting accommodation has been difficult, and not what the family had envisioned. They would like to see a “legacy of change” in honour of Andrea’s memory. They never want an incident like this to happen again and they want to see changes made on campus to ensure safety for all students. However, the family has received an outpouring of support from their community and those who were close with Andrea. “It’s been very comforting for me,” says Georgia. “I can’t explain it. It makes me feel better that so many good people are touched by this and feel so sad for what happened. Whether they knew her or didn’t.” The family is appreciative of the fourthyear health sciences class working on reducing traffic on campus and the petitions. But they know that these plans are all long-term and want to see more immediate change. They hope something will come out of these initiatives, including the sharp turn on Lambton Drive. Despite how difficult of a time it has been for the Christidis family, they have remained selfless and loving, trying to help others in their time of grief. Georgia and Chris say they feel sorry for the way this accident has impacted their family and friends. “I’ve been in touch with [floormates and classmates] all along and I’ve been trying to support them, too, with what they’re going through,” says Georgia. “Their first year was

so affected. What should have been the best experience of their life turned into the worst experience of their life, because it affected them so deeply.” Floormates, sophs and Andrea’s don have been vocal against drinking and driving, producing a video pleading for an end to such destructive behaviour. “There has been a lot of people who have reached out to us and shown us their love, strangers, and it is soothing in a way,” Chris says. “Comforting.” At home, family and friends rally to help the grieving family. Georgia keeps in contact with Andrea’s friends, texting them as she would her late daughter. Sometimes, Andrea’s friends come over and sit in her room, spraying the perfume she once wore. It’s a comforting experience to bring back memories of the happy, straight-A student. “They’ve saved me up to now, the friends, the family,” says Georgia. Georgia has lost a lot of weight since the accident and says she cannot do the things she used to do, like cooking. She’s thankful for her friends who continually bring home cooked meals to her for dinner. “I try to be strong,” says Georgia, “but then I feel guilty if I laugh, because there’s nothing to be happy about. I do have another child and I still want to live for her and be strong for her, but you still feel guilty when you have a moment of laughter.”


Her friends help her try not to feel guilty and bring happiness back to the home once overflowing with love. “It’s good, because you can’t just cry 24/7,” says Georgia. The family also tries to find comfort in spiritual healing, but they are not convinced that this was God’s will. “It wasn’t her destiny,” says Georgia. “I don’t think God did that … She’s gone to God’s arms, but the fatality, the accident, it’s just the worse moment of bad luck.” On March 2, as the driver pleaded guilty in a packed courtroom, family and friends wore ribbons in solidarity against drunk driving. Rather than the typical red MADD ribbons, they chose blue because it was Andrea’s favourite colour. Family and friends of Andrea want the Western community to learn from this tragedy. “[Western students] need to stop idolizing this fantasy dream of drinking and stop thinking that alcohol will take away their problems,” says Ilias. “Just enjoy your life, but there are limits … Everyone says, ‘it could have been me.’ It could have been anyone at Western.” A grieving mother, Georgia appeals to the community to never have an accident like this happen to another family. “Don’t drink and drive, ever,” pleads Georgia, sobbing. “Never let this happen again. “Not one more.” n


12 • THURSDAY, APRIL 7, 2016

insight insightopinions


As real as it gets NATHAN KANER DIGITAL MANAGING EDITOR @NATHANATGAZETTE “What the heck do I write for my goodbye column?” I ask my colleague Olivia Zollino, late one Monday evening as I wait for more proofs to edit and deadline quickly approaches. “Write something insightful,” she says. Insightful. Hmm. Because that’s easy. Before I get into trying to be “insightful” (something that will likely turn into how much I’ll miss this place and why it’s absolutely worth it to start volunteering — both of which are true, by the way), I’m going to tell a story. This is the story of the first time I met the editorial board of The Gazette, back in the summer of 2014. It was summer retreat, the weekend where incoming editors get together and I was joining a group that largely knew each other already — I was entering my first year as a sports editor and had rarely volunteered the year before. After missing the first night because I was up in Muskoka with family, I joined a group that was, for the most part, hungover from the night before. I wasn’t. So what do I do when I meet a large group of friends for the first time? Well, I drink my face off, of course! Most of that night is blurry, except I vaguely remember waking up in a pool of my own blood — or so I’ve been told — because I had fallen and hit my jaw on the floor while trying to make it to the washroom. When I fell, the inside of my lip was cut open, hence the large amount of blood. Soon, my tooth was purple and I had made a whole bunch of new friends. Or something like that. The point is, although I undoubtedly made a complete fool of myself as a first impression, it didn’t matter. After a year as a sports editor, the same people whose first impression of me was an obnoxious drunk who can’t control his liquor asked if I would be interested in running as a member of front office the following year. I was extremely hesitant at first. For one, the timeline was off — I would have to quickly choose whether or not to enter the elections process well before finding out if I could secure a journalism job elsewhere. Also, The Gazette was going through a digital overhaul and I wasn’t exactly sure what the new position of “digital managing editor” would entail. It could be a disaster. But that last point is ultimately what swayed me, initially at least. I have the opportunity to be the first

ever digital managing editor. I can truly leave my mark. After a year of being in this position, I can safely say being the first of something should never have factored in. Having the opportunity to be a front office member at The Gazette is always going to be worth it, whether you’re the first digital managing editor, the last one, or whether you’re editor-in-chief or print managing editor — it just doesn’t matter. Here’s why. You get to literally run a news organization. I say organization and not newspaper because it’s not just print, it’s a daily news organization and you are in charge of everything. A budget is at your disposal, you decide the page layouts, the photos, the cutlines, the headlines and of course, the words. And because of the digital emphasis, there’s podcasts and live radio too. You have to manage an office (one that is made especially tricky by your staff also being in class all the time). Being a boss is often a pain, but it’s invaluable to see what it’s like on the other side of where I’ll (hopefully) be in a few months. You get to experiment with things. In today’s “digital age”, things are constantly changing and you get the opportunity to try new things. How can we experiment with our social media posts? When is the best time to post? How “click baity” should we be? How often should we post? How can we utilize Instagram and start getting noticed? What about Snapchat? How can we use infographics to tell a story in a completely different way? How can we differentiate our online product from our print product? All of these questions, or variations of these questions, are being asked at largescale news organizations yet I had the opportunity to be a part of trying to answer them at The Gazette. Journalism is one of those things where you learn best when doing — sitting in a lecture hall being told how to do things the right way doesn’t mean anything until you get out in the field and actually do those things the right way. In my rather short career at The Gazette (just two years) I did all those things, over and over again. I messed up, quite often in fact, and I had to turn to my peers for guidance a lot. But the amount of learning I’ve done the past two years is staggering. The Gazette truly is the “real world.” When you live it every single day, you really start to notice — maybe not at the time because you’re constantly running around, trying to get things done while desperately trying to stay awake. But when you sit back and reflect on the year, it hits you. This experience was truly invaluable and I don’t regret any of it for one second. n

Well readers, it’s time for me to hang up my sparkly red shoes — black pumps with crystals in my case — and get off this yellow brick road. Much like the Land of Oz, The Gazette office has been my strange world for the last two and a half years. I didn’t end up here by tornado. Instead, I transferred to Western in my third year to actively pursue journalism and volunteer at The Gazette. Except, I was too scared to walk through the doors of UCC 263 until second semester. You could say the Cowardly Lion finally found some courage. It was in this room with one window, pineapple decorations hanging from the ceiling and a seemingly endless array of condoms strewn on desks that I spent the latter half of my undergrad. If you ask me to recall any memory from Western, it will have happened in this room. The Gazette office has been my workplace, classroom, therapist’s office and during all-nighters, my bedroom. It was here where I learned how to write and the basics of journalism, but this office has also taught me more lessons than anything any professor could ever lecture on. I’ve learned that nothing gets done before the 10 a.m. coffee run. Deadlines work better if you tell the office something is due before it’s actually due. Readers don’t always read the full article — in fact, they

probably never read the full article. Whatever you do, don’t read the comments on your article. Better yet, don’t Google your name, because you’ll never know when someone has put your name on a 4Chan board. You definitely don’t want to read that. And so, the Scarecrow was educated. I haven’t encountered the Wicked Witch of the West, except maybe for the University Students’ Council. But there are many Good Witches of the North that I’ve been fortunate enough to meet. There are the Glindas who share their chocolate covered almonds, albeit begrudgingly; those who never hesitate to help edit a story late at night; the ones who were present after I found out my

grandfather died and made sure I was going to be okay; and those who were always down for a white summer on the patio of Barney’s. It’s thanks to these Glindas that the Tin Man grew a heart. When I first came to Western, I was terrified. I didn’t know if I was going to be able to find a place to fit in. But The Gazette became my weird, dysfunctional home that I will forever be indebted to. So as I click my heels three times and repeat, “There’s no place like home,” I won’t be talking about the journalism master’s program at Ryerson that I’ll be attending this fall. It’ll be this quirky little place that I’ve called home for the last few years. There’s truly no place like The Gazette. n

Much more than a student newspaper TAYLOR LASOTA PHOTO EDITOR @TAYLORATGAZETTE It’s hard to believe that I’ve almost finished my last chapter here at The Gazette. It was almost three years ago since I nervously walked up to the volunteer booth on concrete beach during clubs’ week and was greeted by then editor-in-chief Julian Uzeilli, who was ecstatic to have someone interested in volunteering for the photo section. As he walked me up to the second floor of the UCC, I had no idea that I was just about to embark on one of the biggest adventures of my time here at Western. I quickly learned that The Gazette is much more than just a student newspaper – it has turned into my family. The people I have had the pleasure of getting to know in the office have had such lasting impacts on my life, some more than they’ll ever know. It’s been an amazing support system for me — when things are good or when things are bad, we are all there for each other. You can be sure anything big in my life has been shared, discussed or debated within the walls of that office and I strongly believe it’s helped me become the

person I am today. Coming from a tiny town in the middle of nowhere to finding myself in an environment with so many unique people and perspectives has been an incredible learning experience, something my lectures could never come close to teaching. It has also been an incredible place for professional development. The opportunities I’ve been afforded working at The Gazette have been amazing. I’ve been given access to some incredible equipment, which has allowed me to refine my craft

and excel at photography. I’ve also had the pleasure of meeting the premier of Ontario Kathleen Wynne, astronaut Chris Hadfield, business man Conrad Black, MTV personality Jessi Cruickshank and CBC’s Rick Mercer, to name a few. As I said, it’s been an adventure and if there’s any advice I could give you, it’s get involved. There are so many great things you can do here at Western, don’t let your four years fly by without doing something. Taylin’ it like it is, signing out. n

• www.westerngazette.ca

THURSDAY, APRIL 7, 2016 • 13


The people are what made Find your The Gazette special own Gazette


IAIN BOEKHOFF EDITOR IN CHIEF @IAINATGAZETTE I’m in the unusual position of having to write a farewell column after two long years as editor-in-chief. It’s something that’s only been done once before in recent history (shout out to Scott Feschuk, which is not too bad company I think) and something I do not recommend for any sane individual. There has been significant change at The Gazette these past two years. There’s not a thing that hasn’t been reviewed, refined or redone. From the printing schedule to workflow to how we interact with readers to policy and governance, it’s all been done. That’s not to say it’s complete — by no means is this project that I’ve started anywhere near done — but there’s been a major upheaval and mindset shift both within The Gazette and external to The Gazette. I started my first term in rather rocky fashion. I barely even made it to the first real issue in September after the notorious (and totally blown out of proportion) frosh issue of 2014. But I made it through, The Gazette made it through (as it always does) and we were able to pursue the largest transformation to our operations since we went daily in 1991. While I could expound the virtues of The Gazette and all that’s been accomplished in the past two years, I’m going to avoid that and focus on something far more important: you. You are the most important thing to not only The Gazette in terms of volunteers and readers, but to this campus. You can have an incredibly large impact as we saw last spring and all throughout this year as the fallout from the Amit Chakma double pay fiasco unfolded. You can have a small but important impact with one of the few hundred clubs on campus (or by starting your own). You can get involved in the running of the various aspects of the University, fairly easily as it turns out. But no matter what, do something, anything. Don’t do it for your resumé, don’t do it to further your

career, don’t do it to be liked by other people. Do it because it’s fun and you enjoy it. I got involved in The Gazette merely as something to do that sounded interesting to fill my boredom. And I stayed because of how much I enjoyed not only the work but the people. I can’t begin to recount the number of serious and not-so-serious debates and discussions held in the office or outside of it. It’s a lively place to be on a typical day where you interact with students from most faculties and all sorts of different experiences. On some days, it can be downright thrilling as major news unfolds either in the world or, better yet, on campus. I will never forget the night Chakma announced he would be returning half his salary last year and how we went from lounging on the couches waiting for the final pages to be composed to a half dozen people jumping on phones, writing, doing social media and ripping apart the front page. Of course, it’s hard to know what will click with you or what you really like. I had no idea I would ever be an editor or even editor-in-chief or that I wanted to go into journalism. Or how much I would love writing and reporting, how much I could loathe student politicians and just how much of an incredible pain in the ass I could be for university administration. My experience at Western has been unforgettable and it’s been completely because of The Gazette. It’s not something that’s written in any brochure but it’s one of the things made possible at the “best student experience”. And as much as I mock that line sometimes, I couldn’t have had this experience anywhere else. So thank you Western, and in particular, the University Students’ Council (yes I did just thank the USC, no I will not say that ever again). There’s a lot out there for each and every one of you. Volunteer, go to different club events, listen to the speakers that come to campus, take advantage of one of the many programs, services and organizations here. I hope each and every one of you find your very own Gazette. Goodbye Western, it’s been fun. n

It’s 12:50 a.m. My last class of undergrad finished nearly ten hours ago but since then I’ve been working. Three fellow editors sit nearby, faces lit by computer screens, polishing off stories of their own. This isn’t the first all-nighter Gazette staff have pulled this year, but it will be the last. Earlier in the evening, a colleague and I drove down Western Rd. to Oxford St., heading for highway 401. I was to spend the last night of my Gazette career covering the most difficult assignment I’ve been handed. To say that I was apprehensive would be an understatement. My worries, however, were unfounded. What came of our trip was a story of love and loss that taught me an important, if not clichéd, lesson: life is short and it should be lived to its fullest. Joining The Gazette helped me to reach for that lofty goal. I’ve always had a habit of waiting until my final years at a particular school to break out of my comfort zone and get involved in student life and my time at Western has been no exception. It took me weeks to set foot in The Gazette offices during my third year and even then, I only volunteered on occasion. It was the decision to apply to be an editor for this past year that disrupted my uninspired path through university and I’m beyond grateful to have been accepted. Working for The Gazette has given me a series of once in a lifetime opportunities that I will always remember. I was fortunate enough to go to Queen’s Park in Toronto for the unveiling of the Ontario budget, watch world class hockey at the University Cup in Halifax and photograph some of my favourite bands at venues across London. I have been challenged creatively and emotionally, and I have grown stronger because of it. The thing I will cherish the most about The Gazette, however, are the people. Without the contributions of editors, staff and others, The Gazette would be little more than empty pages. The same can be said of my experience at Western. It is the memories you create while working towards a common goal with people that you respect that are the most meaningful. People are the story and how you interact with them on a daily basis determines what you will get out of life. I have had the privilege of working with truly exceptional people who inspired me to do my best day in and day out. You need to be proud of who you are and what you do, and seeing my work printed alongside the work of my dedicated colleagues is the most rewarding experience of my university career. It’s now 3:47 a.m. I started writing this nearly three hours ago. This is why I take photos. Goodnight and farewell. n


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14 • THURSDAY, APRIL 7, 2016


Brace yourself: A Game of Thrones course is coming ZEHRA CAMILLER GAZETTE STAFF @GAZETTECULTURE Winter is coming, Mustangs, and no — we are not talking about the season. During the upcoming 2016-17 academic year, Western students will have the pleasure of being taught by John Leonard, the recipient of the 2013 James Holly Handford Award, in a class based around the popular literary and television series, Game of Thrones. The course, titled “Winter is coming; Game of Thrones,” will be

a general 2000 level course offered by the English department. This means there are no prerequisites and students do not have to be in an English module in order to enrol in the course. Leonard’s primary areas of interest are in teaching and researching John Milton’s poetry, making him, as English undergraduate chair Richard Moll explains, “the Miltonest in the world right now.” Moll says Leonard created the course because Milton is a tough sell for a lot of people and Game of



Thrones plays into similar themes. This means people who don’t have a lot of background on Milton can take the course and enjoy it. Moll, whose field is medieval studies, believes the fascination with Game of Thrones has emerged from an increasing intrigue with the middle ages. “[Although] Game of Thrones evokes a historical moment, it is set outside one,” Moll explains. “Some people think of Game of Thrones as a kind of American version of Tolkien.” In fact, Moll compares Game of Thrones to Harry Potter, explaining that for the kids who grew up with Harry Potter, Game of Thrones provided a natural transition into a more mature version of a similar style of book. Unlike the Harry Potter course offered here at Western, the Game

of Thrones course will, at least tentatively, go over the first three novels and then touch on the general series as a whole. The television series will be discussed for its impact, but the focus will be on the literary version of the series. Jamie Quinn, a second-year medical sciences and French studies student, says she would be very interested in a Game of Thrones course, but worries about the size of the books. “If it’s anything like the Harry Potter course where you have to read a book per week, it would be impossible to balance a full course load and take this course,” she says. Quinn believes this course is a great idea for an elective because reading for pleasure during the school year is extremely difficult. She is also not the only one who believes that a Game of Thrones

course is a positive addition to the courses Western offers. Jamie Morritt, a first-year political science student, is interested in the course because of the elaborate narrative. “Personally, I am attracted to the series because of the complexity of the storyline, which translates well to the show,” Morritt says. “The prose itself is not superb by any means but George R. R. Martin is able to draw in the reader through his plots and intrigue that leave you guessing while also satisfying the need for closure all at once.” Morritt believes that although this course may not be necessary, it certainly has merit to being taught. “Game of Thrones tackles several important themes such as the validity of war, gender inequality and many other topics important to our lives today,” he says. n


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This course will examine the Harry Potter series in relation to the multiple genres that it draws on, including the gothic novel, detective fiction, fantasy, adventure, and even the dystopian novel.

UPCOMING EVENTS COME ON OUT to the First Annual De-Stresstival! April 7 in Mustang Lounge. A great opportunity to destress right before exams with music, food, and much more to come! Follow us on Twitter @DeStresstival and our Facebook event page De-Stresstival 2016 for more information and ticket sale locations! LONDON POLICE SERVICES Auction - Over 250 Bicycles and approx 250 items from the London Police Services. Monday April 11 at 5:00pm. www.mckenzieauction.com. McKenzie’s Associated Auctioneers. 1881 Scanlan St. London (519) 453-7182 GET ACTIVE! LONDON Sport and Activity Expo, Sat. April 30th at the BMO Centre, 295 Rectory St. Free to the public. Watch demonstrations and participate in sports and activities. 100+ prizes to be won from local vendors. www.BMOCentreLondon.com

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15 • THURSDAY, APRIL 7, 2016




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Profile for Western Gazette

Thursday, April 7, 2016  

Issue 52, Volume 109

Thursday, April 7, 2016  

Issue 52, Volume 109