U of T saves a forest of paper

The University of Toronto Libraries are going green thanks to a paper conservation program that has the potential to save over half a million sheets of paper annually. The Sustainability Office launched a pilot project in fall 2009 that set public printers to double-side print by default amid a complementary awareness campaign on paper waste.

During the pilot project the number of sheets printed dropped by 30 per cent — an average of 10,000 sheets a month. Of the library patrons surveyed, 90 per cent of respondents said that they thought the initiative was important. The success of the pilot caused the program to be expanded in May 2010 when double-sided printing was set as default on all duplex-capable printers at the central libraries and at three federated college libraries.

Elah Feder from the U of T Sustainability Office explains that the dialogue first started in 2006 when a student’s research paper targeted how to best conserve paper. When Heather Cunningham from the Gerstein Science Information Centre combined with the Sustainability Office after attending a conference in the fall of 2009 that challenged all departments to rethink their paper use. Cunningham was interested in reducing paper, and having recycling bins did not seem effective enough, nor did posting double-sided printing instructions as an option instead of a default.
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Feder believes that the paper-saving mentality is spreading on campus, with digital copies of books being more common, although it is not clear if this is sustainable enough, since students can opt for printing out their books onto thicker paper, single-sided. The U of T Sustainability Office is also trying to see what can be done to improve photocopiers, since the jam rate is high when trying to photocopy double-sided. The plan also recommended posting instruction signs close to photocopiers on how to double-side, and suggested sustainable paper to U of T libraries. The sustainable paper is generally more expensive than regular paper — the reason why most libraries opt out. Yet there is promise with a new cheaper source of paper now found by the Sustainability Office.

Cunningham explained that Gerstein is the only library on campus that uses the most sustainable paper, recommended by the Sustainability Office almost a year ago, and that it is too early in the project to be able to say when other libraries will be using it as well. When asked about complaints of this double-sided default, she replied that she has not heard of any and that the U of T Sustainability Office’s past survey indicated an overwhelmingly positive response, with a minority indicating a wish of reduced cost.

A financial incentive to save paper is an issue that still needs to be addressed. Right now, the cost of printing double-sided is still that of printing two separate pages.

There’s no place like home

After taking a look at the 2010-2011 OUA field hockey schedule, Varsity Blues fourth-year centre midfielder Hannah Tighe immediately saw that her team wouldn’t be taking to the turf at Varsity Stadium at all this season.

“We were super upset. We’re a very successful team at this university. For us not to have any home games seemed like a slap in the face,” said fifth-year goalie Samantha Lyzun.

The OUA has more field hockey teams than any other conference in the country.

In order to make sure that the tradition of playing the regular season out as double round robin is maintained, the seven Ontario teams and McGill partake in weekend-long tournaments.

The original schedule, which came out on April 22 had U of T paired with Waterloo to host the first weekend in October. Waterloo was set for Saturday, October 2 and U of T for Sunday, October 3.

Problematically, not all varsity field hockey teams are as lucky as U of T’s, which is to say that they aren’t all fully funded. To keep costs down to allow teams like Carleton and McGill to stay in the league, it was decided that the weekend games should be played in a single location.

Because the field at Varsity Stadium is also used by the lacrosse, soccer and football teams, October 2 was already booked, and the games scheduled for the weekend were moved to Waterloo.

In the past, U of T was one of the only schools with a field that could be used to play field hockey.
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The list of schools capable of hosting has since grown to include McGill, Guelph, York, Western, Carleton, Queens, and Waterloo as they now all have access to field-based turfs previously unavailable.

“It’s almost like it was our turn to take a year not to,” said Ali. “It’s not that we don’t want to play at home. We have a great field to play at home.”

That being said, there are disadvantages to being on the road the whole season.

“It’s extra planning in terms of travel time,” said Assistant Coach Shankar Premakanthan. “It’s nice to have a weekend where you get to host. It’s easier on the girls. Traveling can take its toll on the girls as the season wears on.”

Besides the wear and tear on the players which will come from the extra travel, the team won’t be able to bring out fans to watch them in action.

“Whenever we go around the pavilion or AC people ask how we’re doing. It’s unfortunate we can’t tell them to come out to a game,” said Tighe.

U of T traditionally holds an invitational field hockey tournament at the beginning of September, but it didn’t go forward this year.

“There weren’t enough teams that wanted to play,” said Beth Ali, the director of intercollegiate and high performance sport at U of T, and the former program manager and head coach of field hockey. “Some schools could come on Labour Day and some could come the weekend after.”

The tournament typically fluctuates between the two weekends, and this year the six to eight schools that usually participate were divided as to when was most convenient.

“It gets people out to watch. We don’t get very many people otherwise,” said Tighe.

“It’s disappointing we can’t have the support from our friends and family around town,” added Lyzun.

The team will, however, still have the chance to take to the turf in Toronto at least once this season.

York University will be hosting the 2010-2011 OUA field hockey championships at The Hanger this weekend, which is located near their home campus at Downsview.

“This is the first year in quite a while that they’ve had access to a field,” explained Ali.

The misunderstanding has left both the players and the administration feeling uneasy.

“It’s especially disconcerting because we are a winning team. It would be cool to get support from the university,” said Tighe.

“U of T is a field hockey school. We have a strong commitment to it. It disturbs me when that commitment is questioned,” said Ali.

Living Dead Arts

I am standing in my kitchen, covered in a thin layer of latex and blood, sautéing chicken hearts in a pan. I have this niggling feeling that this is not a normal way to spend a Saturday afternoon, but I’m trying to get myself into character for my attempt to brave the Toronto Zombie Walk.

I’ll admit this now: I’m not a zombie fan. Hell, I’m not even that good with horror movies. The scariest thing I can handle is Friday the 13th VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan, and even then I find myself peeking out between my fingers at scenes where the make-up guy’s hand can be seen darting in to reapply ketchup to a screaming extra. Nonetheless, I’ve never been terribly interested in smearing myself in Karo Syrup and wandering around downtown, screaming at passers-by, or at least, not while sober.

But here I am, biking down Dundas with a face covered in fake latex and sticky blood. ‘Huh,’ I can’t help but think, ‘this must be what a condom feels like.’ I pass by a car where a zombie bride and groom are exiting. They look at me. Wait, how do zombies greet each other? I wave at them. “Brains!” I yell cheerfully. “Uh… brains?” They smile. Success! I’m slowly being accepted. This is so much easier than high school.

A few days beforehand, I get the chance to speak to Thea Munster, the creator of the zombie walk. In 2003, she threw up some posters around the city hoping to get some people in on a zombie walk, which ended up bringing in a whopping total of six people. Somehow, I feel like seeing only seven zombies would be mildly terrifying, just because no one had tried to stop them yet. She confirms this thought: “The first walk was on a grey and gloomy day a week before Halloween. The streets were dead, literally. For a small handful of zombies we made a lot of noise. People out for a Sunday stroll would hear the moaning and dragging of limbs, turn around and then quickly take off. I think it was a pretty scary experience for some unsuspecting passers by.”

The walk grew in size each year, with her expecting almost 8,000 people to come out this Saturday.

“So uh, why zombies? Is it because Twilight ruined vampires, or because mummies have yet to be cool again?”

Thea responds in an email, “I like all monsters, but for me zombies are social creatures. Alone, they are powerless. But when a zombie is in a horde, it’s powerful. I like the idea of individually styled monsters who works together in groups for a common goal: to devour the flesh of the living. [Also], a lot of horror fans may be upset with me, but I would argue that mummies fit under the zombie umbrella.”

On the day of the walk, coming over the ridge at Trinity Bellwoods with a toe tag pinned jauntily to my backpack, and I am suddenly faced by a horde of zombies. Thousands of people are crushed together in the grassy bowl, and as I weave my way through the crowd, I am soon covered in a fine mist of red goo and Spirit Gum. People have really gone all out for this, and my costume pales in comparison. A little fake skin here, a little neck gash there, and bam, I’m a zombie with an expensive camera around my neck. I have no theme or catch, so in comparison to some of the more detail-oriented zombies, I look like somewhat of a novice. I’ll probably get the last serving of brains and not get picked to go do the team slaughter of innocents or something. A guy with a whisk sticking out of his short walks by me and growls.
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“Uh… uh… brains?” I stutter. “Yeah, uh… brains.” He is unmoved. I turn around to see the lead singer from GWAR onstage with a t-shirt covering his giant fake penis. Wait, what? He tosses a head into the crowd and declares the parade open. Onward, zombie brethren! Let us destroy the bourgeois an — wait, that’s communists.

Part of what intrigues me the most is the creativity of some of the costumes. There are a fair number of run-of-the-mill zombies, asking for brains and whatnot, but within the first ten minutes of being there I find a zombie cow, zombie Snooki, zombie baby Spiderman, zombie Sailor Mini Moon, and about fifteen zombie Lady Gagas, all of whom are in different costumes from various videos. Do these people call each other in advance and plan this out?

We start heading down Dundas as a slow, shuffling mass, and I can’t help but feel… well, kind of stupid. I have yet to get into the mindset, and working my way around the crowd I realize that I can barely get a shot in edgewise thanks to the other 500 photographers lining the road. Suddenly, I have an idea. I edge back into the horde and turn my camera towards the mass of photographers.

“CHEESE,” I growl at the crowd. “CHEEEEEEEEEEEEEEESE.” People seem amused by the zombie photographer. “Uh… FIIIIIIIIILM. SAAAAAY CHEEEEEEEEESE.”

The giggling of the crowd helps me to get into it a little more, as I feel my body start to slip into a limp and my left leg starts to drag. Throwing inhibitions (and possibly my dignity) to the wind, I start to relish in my newfound zombie persona. “CHEEEEEEEESE,” I moan. “CHEEEEEEEEEEESE… uh… BRAINS. NO WAIT, CHEEEEEEEESE.”

I get more into it as time goes on, waving my camera in the faces of the spectators, but the walk starts to really drag out by the time we get onto Bathurst. Starving, I pull a sandwich out of my bag. It’s squished as hell, but all this talk of internal organs has now made me mildly hungry, and it’s been awhile since those chicken hearts. A couple zombie soldiers look at my sandwich and me. I brandish it at them, “HAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAM.”

It starts to rain, and I can feel the fake blood start to run down my chest. I jog home, kick open the door, and am immediately greeted by, “Hey Al-OH MY GOD WHAT IN THE HELL HAPPENED TO YOUR FACE?”

Wiping fake blood out of my eyes, I say only one word: “Varsity.”

“Oh god, I should’ve known,” says my boyfriend. “Can’t you report on normal things that don’t require you covering the entire bathroom in putty and latex?”

U of T one of top 100 employers in Canada

The University of Toronto has been named one of Canada’s Top 100 Employers for 2011. The rankings are a result of a competition organized by Mediacorp Canada Incorporated that recognizes the best workplaces in different industries across the country. Since the list was first compiled in 2001, U of T has appeared on the list four times.

Christina Sass-Kortsak, the assistant vice-president of the Department of Human Resources and Equity, attributes the high ranking to the exceptional health, family, and skill-development benefits that the university provides.

“We see this as the key for retaining staff and faculty. Some examples of these benefits include the maternity program, the employee and family assistance program where staff and their family members can speak to professionals about a variety of personal issues, and the family care office where students can go on all sorts of workshops like on senior care for one.”

U of T was rated very highly in two areas that are part of the eight criteria used to evaluate employers. They include physical workplace; work atmosphere and social; health, financial and family benefits; vacation and time off; employee communications; performance management; training and skills development; and community involvement. These criteria have not changed in the 11 years that Mediacorp, a specialty publisher focused on employment-related publications, has been holding the competition.

To be a part of this list, employers fill out an application that makes them eligible for Mediacorp’s national, regional, and special-interest competitions. This year, 2,750 employers applied. They were then compared to other organizations in their respective industries to see which ones are creating the best workplaces for their employees.

Sass-Kortsak explains how the university is maintaining these excellent work conditions. “We are constantly assessing ourselves against the best and most exemplary practices in the private and public sectors. We look at other post-secondary institutions, particularly the larger ones that are more of our peers and competitors. We look at the U.S. and we look at other large employers depending on what it is we’re comparing.”

When asked about how U of T works to continually improve work conditions, Sass-Kortsak had this to say: “We are always looking to see how we can improve. Four years ago, we did our first ever staff and aculty work experience survey. Through the survey we gather data on how staff and faculty are perceiving the work experience, leadership, management, communication, diversity, and a lot of other areas. It identified that we had a high level of satisfaction that people are really proud to work here, but also identified some opportunities for improvement. The next survey is underway right now as we speak. It’s a very competitive job market so we can’t rest on our laurels and we’re looking for ways to improve with the current financial conditions we’re facing.”

The financial downturn in recent years has had an effect on work conditions at U of T, but Sass-Kortsak maintains that it has been minimal. “There may be some things that we’ve liked to do but can’t do. It does have an impact on workloads. But it hasn’t affected our commitment to providing a really positive workplace and there are certainly lots of things we can that don’t necessarily cost a lot of money. Good and positive leadership, respecting the work that people do, and providing professional development opportunities, don’t all have to be huge investments.”

In the end, a lot of it has to do with the work that the university does. “One of the advantages we have is the nature of the work we do. People generally feel the most engaged when they’re doing work that is meaningful, when they’re making a contribution. It’s hard to think of anything more meaningful than education and contribution to research, and seeing that link to the overall work they do.”

Grocery delivery service launched at U of T

“We deliver the things you want to buy, but can never carry on your own. Because getting stuck in a turnstile with your toilet paper is pretty balls. And when you drop your groceries in the middle of the street, people laugh.” ZippMarket’s Facebook page is blunt: this new U of T upstart delivers food, beverages, cleaning supplies, and household items to students.

“I lived in both 89 Chestnut and the Woodsworth residences in my early years at U of T. I also lived in a house on Harbord [Street] with a few friends,” said Anthony Darcovich, co-founder of ZippMarket. “The biggest difficulty I faced, along with my suitemates and roommates, was carrying everything home.”

“We always joke about getting stuck in the turnstile with toilet paper — it actually happened to me in first year; the TTC attendant had to go pick up the bags that got left behind. That’s why we designed a service around campus essentials.”

The idea for the ZippMarket dorm store originally came out of an entrepreneurial course taught by Reza Satchu that Darcovich took last year at U of T. “After the course, Anila and I decided that we wanted to take the idea further.”

Darcovich and and his co-founder Anila Akram have both put graduate school on hold to pursue an project they admit is a risky departure from their academic background. “To go from game theory and IR to small business accounting is a big leap,” said Akram.

The company already has plans to expand their product selection. “We’re expanding to cover not only food and beverages, but also other items students need on a daily basis to stay active and connected on campus,” said Darcovich.

Starting a business is the hardest thing you can ever do” said Darcovich. Their project is currently funded by personal savings, earnings from summer employment, and a joint government-non-profit youth small business loan from the Canadian Youth Business Foundation.

The co-founders admit that Zippmarket’s reception has been mixed.“We’ve had top business and technology executives tell us that the idea is great — and then rip into it, from a logistical and operational point of view,” said Darcovich. The company has opted to personally deliver orders instead of hiring a courier service.

Second year political science and European studies student, Brent Schmidt is not sure if he will ever use the service. “I attend a lot of conferences with the United Nations Society which consumes much of my time and has me out of Toronto frequently and when I’m home I have the unfortunate habit of far-too-frequent restaurant eating. Furthermore, I eat a lot of my meals at [Howard Ferguson Dining Hall] so my need for delivered groceries supplies and the like is very low.”

Katie D’Angelo, a fourth-year student completing a joint specialist in International Relations and history, has used the service twice. “It’s really easy to use: you go online, pick what you want, and then they deliver it.”

“If you order it before a certain time, they’ll even deliver it next day for free. Not to mention that the delivery people are ridiculously friendly. It’s going to be even more helpful in the winter, so I’ll for sure be using it again.”

U of T continues to be top recipient of NSERC funding

The University of Toronto continues to be the market share leader in Natural Science and Engineering Research Council Discovery Grants. Of the 207 applications for funding U of T submitted, they achieved a 71 per cent success rate and received 147 grants. The national average is 58 per cent. U of T received almost $6 million.

“What’s phenomenal about the Discovery Grants program is it doesn’t restrict our scholars. They’re allowed to explore new research interests over the term of the grant. The grant truly offers a window to knowledge creation and innovation,” said Paul Young, vice president of research at U of T.

“It is our hope to continually contribute to a world of changing ideas by advancing research and innovation,” said Young. “Support, such as NSERC’s Discovery Grants, gives our researchers the tools they need to succeed and educate the next generation of researchers.”

NSERC Discovery Grants provide funding for regular research projects, composing the bulk of NSERC’s one billion dollar budget. Funding is allocated through a system of peer review committees, called grant selection groups, which include field experts who meet to discuss the merits of each project. This year nearly 12,000 researchers and 27,000 graduate students received NSERC funding. U of T has systematically managed to maintain its position as the largest grant receiver, having received 764 Discovery Grants in total.

Javad Mostaghimi, a researcher who has received multiple NSERC grants is utilizing his funding to pursue thermal spray applications, a technology used to provide protective coatings on engines, landing gears, and related components. “[Thermal spraying] was identified by Industry Canada as a key enabling technology for the aerospace industry. Spray forming is a revolutionary new technology in which the spray nozzle and substrate are both manipulated by robots to deposit thick layers and form a near-net shape part that requires little or no machining.”

Shana Kelley, a researcher with the Department of Biochemistry of the Faculty of Medicine received funding to continue here work on disease diagnosis technologies for developing countries. “We are working on creating devices that can read out minute quantities of diseased cells using simple, inexpensive testing units.”

Milica Radisic, a researcher in the Department of Chemical Engineering, is using her grant to grow her laboratory. She will be hiring more assistants to further investigate models of suboptimal myocardium. “Availability of such models is important in accelerating the development of new therapies for heart disease.”

CIUT manager axed

CIUT, U of T’s community radio station at St. George campus, has fired its manager over an unspecified issue.

The station’s Board of Directors voted to cancel then-station manager Brian Burchell’s contract last Monday. Ken Stowar is now the station manager in addition to his previous role as program director.

“We’ve asked Ken Stowar to serve at least until the annual general membership meeting in March,” said Gage Averill, chair of CIUT’s Board of Directors.

Stowar said Averill asked him about accepting the position on September 27.

“[Averill] asked if I would consider stepping in as the acting station manager, and I said yes.”

Stowar added that Burchell was dropped because of an audit issue.

“[Burchell was] requested to work in cooperation with internal audits of the University of Toronto and as to what that is about specifically, I really have no idea,” said Stowar. “I was just asked to step in and here’s why.”

U of T’s spokesperson said the university is unable to give any additional information. Averill said he could not specify what exactly led to the change, but explained it had to do with another company managed by Burchell.

“We had a process of review over the last few months and decided to terminate the contract with a company that Brian Burchell runs that had management contracts for CIUT,” said Averill.

Burchell is publisher of Gleaner Community Press. Averill said he wasn’t sure if this is the company in question, and that it was registered as a set of digits followed by “Ontario Inc.”

Burchell did not respond to requests for comment. CIUT completed its week-long fall membership drive yesterday.

Vic One adds arts stream

Victoria University has announced the creation of the Norman Jewison Stream for Imagination and the Arts, a new stream of study in their Vic One program for first-year students.

“We want our students to think about the world and how you can engage the imagination creatively in addressing issues,” said Victoria University President Paul Gooch.

Students will work in a creative interdisciplinary atmosphere that studies how the arts can confront social issues. The stream will feature a year-long assignment that challenges students to collaborate in various arts to create a unique project over the course of the year.

“We just have to foster a spirit where creativity can flourish,” said Gooch. The stream will include 25 students and feature guest lectures from U of T alumni experienced in the arts. Upon completion, students will be encouraged to apply to major in programs such as Cinema Studies or Theatre and Drama Studies.
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“This program seems like a great program for any young film-lover to begin their university career,” said Alan Jones, president of the Cinema Studies Student Union, who added that he hopes the stream will collaborate with his home department. “It would seem counterproductive to have this program and not include the very accomplished instructors we have at the Cinema Studies Institute.”

The stream was created to honour Norman Jewison, a renowned Canadian filmmaker who recently completed his term as chancellor of Victoria University. In the Heat of the Night, his film about an African-American detective investigating a murder in the southern US, was a turning point for civil rights.

“We’re very excited because we think Norman Jewison is a great Canadian and a very strong advocate for social justice in his films,” said Gooch. “We think that he will inspire the next generation of young people to go on in whatever creative field they’re in, to challenge our conceptions about the world, and to make a better society.”

This stream was made possible by a $1 million gift from Blake Goldring, a U of T alumi. The Blake C. Goldring Professorship will be established to complement the program. The stream is planned to start in the 2011-2012 academic year, pending final university approval of the course curriculum. The courses have already been approved by the Victoria College Council.

The Vic One program has four other streams, each named after a successful Vic alumi: the Lester B. Pearson Stream for Studies in the Social Sciences and History, the Northrop Frye Stream for Studies in the Humanities, the Augusta Stowe-Gullen Stream for Studies in the Life Sciences, and the Egerton Ryerson Stream for Studies in Education.

Victoria University launched Vic One in 2003 and has grown from two academic programs in the humanities and social sciences to include study options in life sciences and education. In 2010 there were five applications for each of the 150 program spaces.