Blood, sweat, and tears

As dusk fell over York Stadium on Sunday night, the star player of the York Lions handed the University of Toronto Varsity Blues men’s soccer team the 2010 OUA title in a dramatic shootout, sending them onto next week’s CIS championships not just as the hosts, but as the provincial victors.

The OUA Final Four tournament for the Blackwood Cup took place on November 6 and 7. The playoffs were Toronto-heavy this year, and out of the four teams vying for a spot in the CIS championships (set to take place at the University of Toronto’s Varsity Stadium from November 11–14) the only non-Toronto-based spot went to the Western Mustangs.

This was the first time that all the Toronto universities had made it into the finals together, including the underdog Ryerson Rams, who snuck in during their quarterfinal win after an upset that knocked out the favored Carleton Ravens.

The rivalry between the University of Toronto and Western was nothing new, as the teams had previously faced each other in the OUA finals in 1996 and 1998, with Western taking the gold on both occasions. The teams were evenly matched coming in, with the Blues and the Mustangs ranked 5th and 6th respectively in the CIS standings.

The Blues last won a CIS championship back in 2002 and have won more national golds than any of the other three teams competing on the weekend.

The Varsity Blues entered the finals holding the number one spot in the Eastern Division and the number five spot in the CIS. While the team had been consistently strong throughout the regular season, their OUA quarterfinal match on October 30 against Queen’s was a fight to the very finish, with the Blues scoring two goals in the final minutes of the game to seal the win.
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“I could’ve checked into the hospital [after that game],” said Blues Head Coach Anthony Capotosto. “It was a very nerve-wracking game, and we scored two goals in an eight minute span right at the end. Not the position we wanted to be in during a quarterfinal game, but we’ll take the result.”

Although the team was slightly shaken after the tough match, Captain Darragh McGee saw the strength in the Toronto players.

“I think a lot of the guys are excelling, and I think that confidence is the highest it’s been since I came to Toronto three years ago,” said McGee. “I don’t think there’s any doubt on the squad that we’re going to do it, and that’s not confidence talking, that’s genuine.”

The Western Mustangs are no strangers to the limelight either. Rock Basacco, the current head coach, is a 15-year veteran to the team and has helped to lead them to OUA gold six times since 1996.

The match between the two teams started off with a bang. Blues striker Mario Kovacevic scored the first point of the game within the first four minutes, although the goal was later retracted after Kovacevic was called for goalie interference.

After Blues midfielder Dylan Bams scored the first official goal of the game later in the first half, the game kicked into high gear.

“We were more comfortable with that lead, and we knew that the game was going to open up that much more,” said Blues striker Alexander Raphael.

Unfortunately for Western, their perseverance didn’t pay off, with the Blues scoring two more points to win the game 3–1 in the end. Western was however able to get a single goal towards the end of the game, denying Toronto a shut out.

“I thought we played well in terms of passing of the ball,” said Capotosto. “But I thought we soaked up a little bit too much pressure in the second half and so we got away from things a bit.”

When asked about the Blues chances against the Lions if they were to meet up in the final on Sunday, Raphael said, “York’s a team that’s similar to us. They keep it on the deck and they move it quickly. Whichever team is more organized and whoever wants to battle harder is going to take that game.”

York entered the tournament as the favourites to win. Coming off a 12-game winning streak, the Lions were expected to dominate the Ryerson Rams in their semifinal game.

The previous match-up between the two teams had led to a 7–1 victory for York, and while the Rams were ranked third overall in the West Division, they had failed to place in the CIS top 10. York was ranked second in the country coming into the semifinals.

The Lions were confident heading into the game, and Head Coach Carmine Isacco predicted a “battle down to the final four. Nothing’s a given, and we have enough to get it done but that doesn’t mean we will. Ryerson’s a good team. We’re going to have to be at our best.”

Isacco was sure of what the team’s plan was going to be though: “Our strategy is to go out there and win the game. That’s it.”

The Rams, however, were coming in on the high of their best season in 40 years. Having not placed higher than fourth in the province since 1968, the Rams were expected to face a tough game against the Lions.

Coach Ivan Joseph is only in his second season coaching the Rams, and while the team has improved since his entrance, they were still seen as disadvantaged against the storied York team.

The match-up between the two teams played out with a fevered energy, and with the Rams pressing the whole way through. While the York team had a strong presence on the field, they spent most of the game in a back-and-forth battle against the Rams players, who refused to go down without a fight.

By the time Ryerson midfielder Adrian Mancini finally scored the first point of the game in the middle of the second half, the crowd was barely able to contain themselves. With the Rams fans screaming their praises and the Lions fans hurling abuse at the referees, the game looked like it could be an upset in favour of the underdog Rams.

But as the minutes ticked on, the Rams appeared to lose some of their edge, and after midfielder Ashkan Mahboubi was given a red card for an infraction, the Lions quickly picked up momentum and scored two goals within the last five minutes.

“I think the 10-man down was definitely a factor. It’s unfortunate. You play York at home, things don’t always go the way they’re supposed to. Sometimes it goes your way, and sometimes it doesn’t. Today wasn’t a good day,” said Joseph, gesturing towards his furry black boaters cap, “Maybe it was the hat.”

Despite the loss, Joseph didn’t give up hope, and as he looked ahead to the Rams now-determined bronze medal game against the Mustangs said, “I’m hoping we can build our spirits up, and get ready. It’s an emotional roller-coaster, but if we do our job, we’ll be ready to play.”

There was a lot riding on this year’s bronze medal game, which is usually a relatively low key event. While it’s typically the top two finishers in the tournament that advance to the CIS championships, as this year’s hosts, the Varsity Blues automatically get a spot.

As the Blues were slated to finish either first or second in the tournament after their semi-final showing, the team that won the bronze medal game was to take one of the spots usually allocated for the title-chasers.

The game got heated quickly, and by the end of regular playing time, the end was nowhere in sight. The two first-half goals, scored by the Rams’ Kevin Souter and the Mustangs’ Niko Mavrikos respectively, were all that made it onto the scoreboard.

Playing two men down in the second half thanks to a pair of red cards, the Rams stuck it to the Mustangs.

“The second half, when [the Rams] had their two men taken out, changed the game,” said Basacco. “Sometimes you think it’s easier, but it tends to be a little more difficult.”

As the clock ticked away in the first half of overtime, Mustangs striker Pat Mroczek put their second goal of the game on the scoreboard, and the Rams seemed to be near the end of their surprising playoff run.

It was a last-minute attempt on goal from Rams defender Markus Molder in the final seconds of stoppage time that tied things up 2–2, and sent the game into a shootout round.

The Rams miraculous underdog story failed to continue beyond York Stadium as defender Jason Morgan lobbed a crucial shot over the crossbar. Joseph was nevertheless presented with the OUA East Division Coach of the Year Award after the game and wasn’t disappointed at all.

“To come back two men down and take it to PKs, that’s a testament of this team’s character,” said Joseph. “I feel real proud.”

As for the Mustangs, they’re “going to take this win and bring it to nationals,” according to Ryerson’s choice as Western Player of the Game, goalkeeper Andrew Murdoch.

Twenty minutes later, the Varsity Blues and the Lions — both ready to join the Mustangs in the CIS championships — set off on a significantly less eventful chase for the Blackwood Cup and 2010 OUA title.

The first half kept the fans in their seats, and when the referee blew the whistle, the scoreboard hadn’t moved. While the second moved at a relatively faster pace, it was still nil-nil at the end of regular playing time.

After playing out a frustrating overtime period, it was ultimately U of T who stole the show in an intense shootout round.

“We played a tremendous game, had a tremendous win, and I’m so very proud of our players, our team, and our staff,” said Head Coach Capotosto. “We’ve been on the receiving end of some bad losses in finals in the past. Today’s our day.”


Game 1: U of T vs. Western

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The University of Toronto Varsity Blues men’s soccer team stuck it to the Western Mustangs 3–1 Saturday morning at York Stadium to advance to the OUA final the following Sunday afternoon.

U of T set the tone of the game just four minutes in, when midfielder Ezequiel Lubocki sent a corner kick out to striker Mario Kovacevic, who headed it into the net. Kovacevic, however, was called for interference and the goal was disallowed.

It wasn’t until the 41st minute of play that Varsity Blues midfielder Dylan Bams opened the scoring as he converted a pass from second-year midfielder, and the OUA East Division’s Most Valuable Player, Darragh McGee.

The Blues 1–0 lead over the Mustangs going into the second half meant that there was no mercy out on the field.

According to Mustangs Head Coach Rock Basacco, the turning point in the game came when the Blues star striker Alexander Raphael lined up for a penalty shot after Mustangs defender Paul D’Amario fouled Blues defender Michael Brathwaite in the box as he was driving towards the goal.

“I sent Braithwraite down on the wing. I knew we’d either get a cross in and finish like that, or he was going to draw the penalty, which he did,” explained Raphael. “As soon as that happened, I stepped up, sent the goalie the other way, and put it in the back of the net.”

A lob-shot from midfielder Jagger Hassan got the Mustangs on the board, but because it came only minutes after Kovacevic got the Blues a third goal on a breakaway, the moment was bittersweet. The game wrapped up with a score of 3–1 Toronto.

“You have to give credit to Toronto. They played very well,” said Mustangs Head Coach Rock Basacco.

Game 2: Ryerson vs. York

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In an intense do-or-die match up, the York Lions men’s soccer team proved why they were ranked number two in the country as they slipped by the Ryerson Rams 2–1 Saturday afternoon at York Stadium in the OUA semi-final.

The game was intense from the get-go and didn’t let up until the final minutes of play, as the teams battled for control of the field. Going into halftime, the scoreboard hadn’t moved at all.

Although it was Rams midfielder Adrian Mancini who stepped the game up a notch and opened the scoring in the 60th minute of play, it was the red-card given to Ashkan Mahboubi after his second infraction in the 77th minute that gave the Lions the advantage over the now 10-man squad. Only five minutes later, Lions defender Jamaal Smith was presented with a yellow card for hitting the sideline referee.

With just five minutes left in regular time, the Lions’ Adrian Pena turned the entire game around when he sent a penalty kick into bottom left corner of the net. Fourth-year defender Gerard Ladiyou sealed the win for the Lions in the final minute of the game when he beat out the Rams defense and scored a surprise goal, making the final score 2–1.

“We didn’t expect it that soon after, but we would have went into overtime with a man more for 30 minutes, so we knew it was coming,” said Adrian Pena, the star striker of the Lions and the Most Valuable Player in the OUA West Division.

“I thought we played really well. Unfortunately it doesn’t always work out your way,” said Rams Head Coach Ivan Joseph. “It’s never about what’s best, it’s can we play to our potential, and we did today.”

“You have to give credit to Toronto. They played very well,” said Mustangs Head Coach Rock Basacco.

Game 3: Western vs. Ryerson

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Putting an end to the Cinderella story that was the Ryerson Rams men’s soccer team, the Western Mustangs stole the OUA bronze by one goal in a shoot-out Sunday morning at York Stadium.

With a berth in the CIS championships at stake, neither team showed any mercy and, as a result, the referee handed out more than just a handful of cards.

Ryerson opened the scoring when midfielder Kevin Souter blasted the ball into the back of the net in the 10th minute. Western, unable to penetrate the Rams defense earlier in the half, tied it up with five minutes until the whistle thanks to a goal from striker Niko Mavrikos.

At halftime, the score was tied 1–1, and the next 45 minutes brought nothing but a slew of cards for the Rams.

While the initial was a yellow dealt to Rams defender Dimitri Karopoulos in the first half, the next five included two reds and knocked the Rams down to nine men going into overtime.

The first 15 minutes brought a goal from Western striker Pat Mroczek, and as the clock counted down the final moments of the second, the 2–1 win was just within Western’s grasp.

It was in the last second of stoppage time that the Rams seemed like they might actually pull off the biggest upset of the soccer season. As Rams defender Markus Molder sent the ball barreling past Mustang goalie Andrew Murdoch, the referee blew the whistle, and the game was miraculously tied 2–2.

In an intense shootout, the final blow to the Rams came when defender Jason Morgan, who broke down immediately after, shot the ball over the crossbar and gave the Mustangs the CIS berth they had been hoping for.

“It’s finally nice to get a win and a chance to get back to nationals. We haven’t been there in a couple years and its been a long wait,” said Mustangs Head Coach Rock Basacco.

“We’re looking forward to [CIS]. This was our goal from the beginning of the year,” added Mustangs midfielder Dan Frankel.

And as for the Rams, “They fought, they came back hard, and I’m really proud of their efforts,” said Head Coach and OUA East Division Coach of the Year Ivan Joseph.

Game 4: York vs. U of T

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The last game of the OUA Final Four tournament ended in shoot-out victory for the University of Toronto men’s soccer team against the York Lions at York Stadium on Sunday afternoon.

As the two teams struggled to dominate the field for the majority of the first half, it became evident that this game was one of possession, and it wasn’t until the 36th minute that fans got to see some action.

Blues midfielder Darragh McGee was booked after a dirty tackle on Lions midfielder Selvin Lammie inside the box, and his standout teammate Adrian Pena lined up to take the shot.

“When I step up I’m very confident,” said Pena earlier in the tournament. “I just tune everything out, and make the PK.”

That wasn’t the case for the star striker this time — U of T goalie John Smits dove to block the ball as it flew across the grass towards the bottom left of the net.

At the end of the half, the teams were locked in a nil-nil draw for the OUA title.

In the second half, the Blues created scoring chance after scoring chance, but Lions goalkeeper Sotiri Varlokostas was up for the challenge. As the game moved into injury time, neither team had managed to make it onto the scoreboard.

Overtime brought drama for the Lions. Pena was given a yellow card for kicking Blues star Raphael on the ground, while his teammates D’Mello, Lammie, and Badat missed back-to-back-to-back opportunities to wrap up the game.

As anticipated, the game was the second of the day to move on to a shootout round. The Lions opened with a surprising miss from Branko Majstorovic, but Varlokostas kept his team in the game when he deflected the next shot from the Blues’ Geoffrey Borgmann.

It was a combination of a shocking tip-of-the-toe save by Smits, and another less than mediocre shot from Pena, that finally ended the Lions bid for tha OUA title, and gave the Blues their first since 2002.

“In the shootout, that’s when I’m most calm actually,” said Smits, who was honoured by the York squad as Blues Player of the Game. “When my teammates were out there taking the PKs, I wasn’t worried for a second.”

The Blues are set move on to the CIS championships next weekend, but Head Coach Anthony Capotostos admitted he hasn’t thought that far ahead yet.

“We’re looking forward to the tournament and it puts us in great position as the OUA champions,” said Capotostos.

Hart House receives new mission statement

October 22 was a big day for Hart House. For the first time in 90 years, the university’s extracurricular hub released a new vision statement.

“Hart House is a living laboratory of social, artistic, cultural, and recreational experiences where all voices, rhythms, and traditions converge,” read the statement. “As the vibrant home for the education of the mind, body, and spirit envisioned by its founders, Hart House encourages and supports activities that provide spaces for awakening the capacity for self-knowledge and self-expression.”

“We’re not pushing aside the Founder’s Prayer,” said Louise Cowin, warden of Hart House, in an interview with The Varsity. The Founders Prayer references the previous mission statement, etched into the stone on the building’s east wall.
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Hart House was founded as a place for students to explore artistic, cultural, and recreational opportunities outside the classroom. Before 1972 it was restricted to only males.

“Only in a forty-year period has Hart House even admitted women,” said Cowin. “It isn’t a long time ago in terms of number of years, but there have been exponential changes in society since then.” She added that the new vision statement is an attempt to reflect those shifts by being “representative of the diversity and complexity of today’s student body.”

Cowin attributed the amount of time between the house admitting women and the birth of a new vision statement to the environment created by University of Toronto’s students. “I think it has to be directly related to the change in the body of students. My predecessors were able to talk about the Founder’s Prayer with it still having reference to today even though the language is somewhat dated. And I didn’t feel that we could continue to say that the sentiments were still true today.”

Hart House’s position relative to the University of Toronto can be hard to pinpoint. “The way Hart House’s operational budget comes together is that Hart House receives half of its operating funds from a student ancillary fee,” said Cowin. “So, really, it’s driven by the students who pay for Hart House.”

However, Cowin also describes the house as “a gateway between the university and the city. Our budget now is such that we need to rely on this external revenue to balance the books.”

The transition to the new mission statement will occur through programming. “We’re going to begin to work towards inclusion that is meaningful so that a greater number of students are identifying [Hart House] as a place to call home and to hang their hats,” said Cowan. “Hart House might become an umbrella or a coalition for groups to actually have opportunities to actually gain access to space and to dollars.”

Cowin hopes the statement will help Hart House be more inclusive, as opposed to what she describes as an institution that has “been very rigid and limited.”

Movies of the Asian persuasion

The Toronto Reel Asian International Film Festival is Canada’s largest Asian film festival, showcasing East and Southeast Asian cinema from Canada, the U.S., and around the world. Several of the festival screenings take place at U of T’s own Innis Town Hall, and if the festival’s close proximity to campus doesn’t persuade you, what about the discounted student pricing? Throw in some karaoke and Asian-pop psychedelia parties, an industry series, art gallery receptions, and filmic responses to the question “What is your Chinatown?”, and you have a full week of entertainment to distract you from the ten months left before that other monolithic film festival returns… you know which one. Here is a preview of Reel Asian’s 2010 roster, so make sure you catch the rest of this cultural dynamite when the festival gets underway November 9 to 15.– DAMANJIT LAMBA

BI, DON’T BE AFRAID

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The primary concern of Bi, Don’t Be Afraid is not really Bi or his fear: the boy is more puzzled by the strange adult world of frustrations and lies, diverting himself in ice factories and grassy fields. Other films embellish childhood imaginations as a coping mechanism for stress (Pan’s Labyrinth) or make light of the dark for the child’s sake (Life is Beautiful). However, first-time director Phan Dang Di does not shy from the sad lives of unfulfilled men and women in Hanoi, letting Bi prance obliviously in the Vietnamese sun. His mother (Thi Kieu Nguyen) waits for her husband Quang (Ha Phong Nguyen) to stumble home drunk every night, quiet and unaroused by her caresses. Bi’s aunt Thuy (Thuy Hoa) is unmarried and obsessed with one of her students. A May-December relationship unfolds between Quang and his teenaged hairdresser, who playfully rebuffs his advances. Putting a strain on the whole family is Quang’s father, a retired diplomat who returns home in a stretcher — in Quang’s opinion, the only way he would have returned to Vietnam.

It’s melodrama, and it’s not melodrama. Most conversations are carried out casually over house chores, like excerpts from the films of Ozu. Phan has been criticized for graphic eroticism, but here the sexuality is slow building, oozing as the film paces sedately through its plot. Meanwhile Bi, played with great depth by Thanh Minh Phan, watches wide-eyed. He does not reflect much on all the misspent lust, and neither do the adults who, good or bad, ultimately go to bed with unhappiness.– ALEX GRIFFITH

GALLANTS

In a (rare) quiet moment of Gallants, Master Pong (Chan Wai-man) remarks, “It’s not the time of fights and fists anymore. It’s the time of packaging and promotion.” Gallants, nostalgic yet urgent, has both the fists and the packaging: the film is steeped in veteran Hong Kong talent but injected with syringe after syringe of snappy, postmodern style. It’s probably more of a celebration of kung fu movies than a kung fu movie, albeit one yearning for a revival of the Bruce Lee era.

Exposition is given liposuction by writer-director duo Clement Chang and Derek Kwok. No time is wasted introducing well-dressed loser Cheung (You-Nam Wong), a real estate agent assigned to negotiate leases in a remote village, where he meets Tiger (Leung Siu Wong) and Dragon (Chen Kuan-tai), aging brothers waiting for their master to awake from a 30-year coma. Leung and Chen both rose to fame during the 70s, as did Chan, famous for his Triad roles, and Meng Lo, another Shaw Brothers alumnus. Cheung’s apprenticeship to Dragon and Tiger takes a back seat when Master Law (Teddy Robin) wakes up. Robin — another veteran — is clearly having fun: he walks into a strip club, holding a cigar taller than himself, only to find his favourite girls have entered retirement. When the Law club decides to take on Pong’s team at the tournament, the elements are there (pupils, underdogs, betrayals, duty) but the heart of kung fu isn’t. All the animated flashbacks and cartoonish sound effects don’t mask the nostalgia in this film — and in the Hong Kong industry in general — for a youthful, vibrant martial arts genre. — AG

GOLDEN SLUMBERS

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Golden Slumbers tells the story of a naïve, jovial delivery man named Aoyagi who gets caught up in a Lee Harvey Oswald scenario when he is framed for the murder of the Japanese prime minister. The film is more concerned with the psychology of the main character and the unexpected individuals who come to his aid rather than with action sequences that are commonly employed to fill narrative space. Aoyagi is easy to root for from the start, as his unwavering trust in individuals proves to be a salient factor in his survival. The Beatles song “Golden Slumbers” is a thematic device that ties the film’s characters together, as Aoyagi and his friends use their memories of school days filled with fireworks and hijinks, to give this unexpected hero more time to figure out an exit plan. The song reinforces the importance of memory and maintaining relationships with those you care deeply about. Although one’s attention can be stretched thin by the numerous subplots, Golden Slumbers’ satisfying ending is tinged with elements of both sadness and joy, a refreshing departure from the majority of on-the-run capers. — DL

THE MOUNTAIN THIEF

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The Mountain Thief chronicles the ordeals of Julio and his son Ingo in the town of Payatas, Philippines. Julio has lost his wife to the war in the southern Philippines, and now his best chance for survival is selling scraps of odd metal at the largest garbage-collecting settlement in the world. Director Gerry Balasta shot the film at the actual dumpsite and was able to cast real-life scavengers thanks to an acting workshop he conducted when he first began working on this project. None of the characters are at peace with their life: Paula, Julio’s love interest, collects images of far-off locations and hopes to leave the shanty-town someday; Julio is waiting for the war to end so he can go back to the south with his son Ingo; Ato, the village villain, begins competing for leadership of Little Hope when it is revealed that the village leader is ill. Julio’s son, Ingo, who is portrayed by an actor who suffers from an actual vision impairment in real life, was the most captivating actor in the ensemble as he was able to see beauty in the mountains of trash that the characters were trying run away from. The creative narrative structure of The Mountain Thief allows for crucial events to be represented from various points of view, giving greater significance to the interactions between the characters. The non-professional actors give impressive performances, not having to look far for inspiration, and Balasta’s ability to create fluidity and suspense with interchanges between the past and present make The Mountain Thief an educational and absorbing experience. — DL

TOILET

Featuring an all-Canadian cast and set in Toronto’s west end, Toilet follows three incredibly dissimilar siblings who have to deal with the cultural barriers that get in the way of having any significant relationship with their silent yet perceptive baa-chan (grandmother) after their mother passes away. Ray, an engineer who sees life as something you just have to get through, decides to live at home with his siblings, Lisa and Maury, until they can get a handle on day-to-day life. Lisa is simultaneously interested in prose and air-guitar, while Maury suffers from severe anxiety and hasn’t left the house in four years. Ray gets frustrated when his new living arrangement impedes on his systematic lifestyle, and his grandmother shows no signs of opening up to the family. When Ray notices that baa-chan lets out a heavy sigh every time she uses the washroom, he becomes obsessed with finding out why such a daily routine is the only thing that elicits any kind of response from her. As the film progresses, the initial caricature-like quirks of the characters, reminiscent of Wes Anderson personalities, fade away to reveal relatable individuals and a de-mystified baa-chan who wasn’t as cookie-cutter as the three siblings originally thought. A charismatic cast, a cute cat named Sensei, and Naoko Ogigami’s craft with the camera make Toilet a top-of-the-list festival entry. – DL

Bike boxes take front seat

The City of Toronto installed the first roadway bike boxes at the Harbord Street and St. George Street intersection to increase safety to cyclists.

Bike boxes are square-shaped spaces marked in front of the stop bar at traffic intersections. Cyclists enter the box through a bike lane on the right, and stop in front of cars at a red light. At bike box locations, both cars and bikes are not allowed to turn right on a red light.

Once in the box, cyclists signal their direction if they are turning and drivers must wait until all cyclists clear out before moving on a green light.

The bike boxes, currently being piloted at only one intersection, are expected to be expanded to more locations this year. The boxes are meant to stop cyclists from being side-wiped on the curb by right-turning cars.

“I think bike boxes are a great idea, and when properly used, they are one more thing that cyclists in Toronto can utilize to increase safety,” said Alexandra Legum, the president of U of T Cycling Club.

“A lot of red-light-running stems from the internalized belief that as a cyclist, it is important to get out of the traffic as quickly as possible as method of self-preservation.”

Road users confused

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Toby Bowers, the coordinator of Bikechain, said both cyclists and motorists are not observing the rules at the moment.

“The problem associated with the boxes that we have observed so far is that there has [been] little public education, with motor vehicles still stopping at [the] wrong line and cyclists still lining up along curb,” he said.

U of T student Eric Okawara is a driver and a cyclist. As a driver, he admits he is not fully aware of how to use bike boxes. And as a cyclist, he said he is not 100 per cent comfortable because “drivers are not sure how to approach these bike boxes.”

Okawara said a part of his concern is also that drivers from outside of town would not know what bike boxes are.

Bike lanes before bike boxes

U of T student Jia-Yun Karen Cao said she believes bike boxes make roads safer for everyone, but added that they have limitations.

“Bike boxes are only useful if there is a bike lane already,” she said.

“Everyone pays taxes that go towards road construction and maintenance, the fact there is an insufficient amount of designated lane space for bikes means that cyclists are directly subsidizing motorists.”

Cyclist activist Hamish Wilson agrees with Cao.

“Introducing bike boxes ahead of basic network continuity is another example of how unevenly we lurch to better biking,” he wrote in The Toronto Star, adding that bike lanes must first be continued to all stop bars and missing gaps between lanes need to be filled.

Early Thursday morning, The Varsity spotted a fake spray-painted bike lane on Harbord Street. The stencil used to make the lane was still on the ground.

Bowers said the Harbord Street and St. George Street intersection was selected for the first instalment of bike boxes because the area is famous for bike traffic. The boxes would be harder to implement at intersections like College and Spadina because there are more traffic lanes and streetcar tracks, he added.

“Multiple locations were approved by city council, and we’re just waiting for the paint to be put on the ground.”


Boxes could be improved

Bowers said the transportation subcommittee of the Sustainability Advisory Committee at U of T did an analysis of bike boxes and made suggestions to improve them:

1. There is no reason why bicycles cannot turn right on a red light, and therefore, there should be an exception for bikes indicated on the signage.

2. There should be a mark separating the left turning lane and the through lane inside bike boxes.

3. The inside of bike boxes should be filled with a different colour to “highlight the infrastructure as novel to road users.”

4. More public education is needed to ensure that both cyclists and motorists know how to use bike boxes properly.

The $10 wine snob: Ogio Pinot Grigio (2009)

Ogio Pinot Grigio (2009)

$8 at the LCBO

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Who would have thought you can get a bottle of wine from Italy for under $10? It seems like you can’t even send a greeting card to Europe for that amount, but the Ogio Pinot Grigio proves that mediocre wine can come in cheap packages! The wine boasts fresh lime, lemon, and orange flavours, and pairs nicely with fish or salad.

It has a very light body, and the lemon tones are very evident, overpowering any other flavours or aromas. As a whole, this wine is fresh and vibrant, but disappointing if you are not a fan of the lemony fresh tones normally associated with cleaning ingredients. The best part of this wine is that it looks expensive: with an Italian origin and a gorgeous bottle, it’s a great wine to bring to a party, or on a visit to your partner’s parents’ place for a fancy dinner.

Find the LCBO closest to you selling this wine here.

Trinity event raises funds for soldiers’ families

Last Monday Bill Graham, Trinity College chancellor and former defence minister, and Lieutenant-General Andrew Leslie, chief of transformation for the Canadian Forces, participated in a discussion titled “Canada’s Military: Where We’ve Been and Where We’re Going.”

Hosted in the Trinity College Combination Room, the event was organized by the Canadian Hero Fund, a student run charity who aims to provide assistance to military personnel and their families. The fund’s current ’11 for ’11 Campaign is trying to receive personal donations of eleven dollars leading up to Remembrance Day. The organization’s broader goal is to raise $2 million to support scholarships for children of fallen soldiers.

The event began when Hero Fund Director Michael Ball introduced the speakers. Before the two speakers began their discussion, a video clip for the Hero Fund’s 11 for 11 Campaign was played. “This November let’s remember our fallen soldiers,” said a voice-over at the end of the video. “But let’s also remember the children who lost their heroes.”

The introductory video also included a song by Canadian band The Trews entitled “Highway of Heroes,” a song which Ball says has been a big success. “Kids want to sing it at their assemblies. The song has really made Remembrance Day more relevant for young people. It’s about the soldiers who are dying now. Not just World War 1 and 2 — it brings a new relevance to young people for Remembrance Day.”
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Leslie began the talk by explaining the increased importance of education in combat situations. “It isn’t the time, in the middle of a fire fight to have an academic discussion on whether you should move right or left,” said Leslie, who added that the new complexities of war require a higher level of education. “There are life and death situations [out in the field] every day. Educations helps one deal with these sorts of problems.”

“We promote education in the armed forces,” said Leslie. “We have many soldiers off getting [their] masters or are part of doctoral studies.” He added that attendance at the Royal Military College has increased in recent years from 600 to 1000 students. “To be an officer, one needs a degree […] this has changed the field for the better. It has changed our culture for good and it has made us [the army] better prepared for complex situations.”

The conversation then moved towards the importance of the reserves. “Half of the armed forces is made up of reserve forces,” explained Leslie.

“Reserves have a sense of being the poorer brother to the system,” added Graham, “But as far as I can see, without the reserves the system wouldn’t work.”

Graham added that budget concerns will be a major issue for the military. “After returning from Afghanistan, we will need to keep a high budget for the new threats such as arctic and cyber-threats.”

“There’s a price to pay for nationhood; there is a price for security,” added Leslie, who reaffirmed the need to keep the budget consistent after Afghanistan.

Discussions briefly shifted to the legitimacy of the war in Afghanistan when Graham asked Leslie if the conflict was worthwhile. “If in mid-2002, someone had told me that Canada would be in Afghanistan close to 10 years, I wouldn’t have believed them,” said Leslie. “The type of fight was not as horrendous as Korea or Vietnam but is more complex; to the drug trades, to the conflicts between ethnic tribes […] once again education is clearly important to dealing with such complex affairs. It has changed Canada and the armed forces for the better. The intensity of the impact of Afghanistan has changed Canadian soldiers and we will be prepared for whatever happens next.”

The Canadian Hero Fund raised enough money last year to provide a scholarship to a psychology student at the University of New Brunswick.

*Correction: An earlier version of this article described Lieutenant-General Andrew Leslie as the chief of transportation for the Canadian Forces. In fact, Lieutenant-General Leslie is the chief of transformation for the Canadian forces. The Varsity regrets this error. *

S P A C E D O U T

On October 28, 2010, the University of Toronto Governing Council passed a new policy concerning the temporary use of space on campus. This policy made changes to existing booking procedures, many of which already presented severe difficulties to student groups attempting to access campus space. The new policy makes it even more difficult and expensive for clubs, campus, and community groups to access space on campus. Changes to the existing policies, such as increased booking fees and charging groups for undercover police presence after an event, have passed without proper consultation, effectively giving the university the right to cancel a space booking at any time without prior notice. As the latest installment in a series of undemocratic and repressive actions enacted by the university over the course of the year, this new space booking policy necessitates the posing of three questions: who is this university for, what is this university for, and where is this university going?

To ask who a university is for seems redundant. After all, are universities not built to facilitate the learning needs of students? No university could exist without a diverse and vibrant student community. However, given U of T’s actions in the process of implementing this plan, it seems the university is being organized around the needs of administrators and bureaucrats. The parties most affected by the new space booking policy are student groups, clubs, and organizations. The university did not consult or even notify students that a new policy was being drafted, voted on, or implemented. Furthermore, when a number of students from various campus groups organized a rally in front of Simcoe Hall and demanded that their needs be considered in the implementation of this policy, they were initially denied entry into the Governing Council meeting. These actions demonstrate that the unanimous disapproval of over 150 recognized student groups and unions is irrelevant to the Governing Council. The convenience of this policy to administrators, who are now better equipped to stifle “radical” student events, also seems to be of paramount importance.

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What is this university for? Based on the actions of administrators surrounding the passing of this new space policy, it is certainly not for critical thought, novel approaches, or free speech. It is clear from the new policy that groups whose events are deemed controversial will be most affected by these changes, as they will face unexpected bills for undercover police placed at their events for “safety” purposes and sudden booking cancellations. This has been the case in the past for groups such as Students Against Israeli Apartheid, whose organizing has faced multiple obstacles. According to the University of Toronto’s Statement of Institutional Purpose, the university aims to foster “radical, critical thinking and teaching.” How can such thinking and teaching occur when only the opinions and organizing of certain students groups are deemed acceptable? If the university claims to be committed to encouraging the formation of new and “radical” ideas, it is hypocritical for it to underhandedly stifle these types of ideas through oppressive space booking policies that single out groups whose opinions the university does not wish to be associated with. Constraining free speech on campus by restricting student access to space is a policy that ultimately impedes the university’s ability to serve as a place that fosters free and novel discourse.

Finally, it is important to ask in which direction this university is heading. These actions mark the university as an increasingly repressive, closed, and conservative space. Such actions include cuts to critical programs within the Faculty of Arts and Science (blatantly glossed over in David Naylor’s response to student concerns about academic restructuring in The Varsity’s October 25 issue); shutting down the campus during the G20; the implementation of flat fees; and a review of the Student Code of Conduct occurring at this time which will criminalize dissent by targeting outspoken student leaders and organizations. Measures such as charging higher fees for the use of campus space to students and “market rent” rates to external groups signal that the university is becoming more corporate and profit-oriented than ever before. If the university is to act as a corporation rather than a community, it should at least let students have a say in matters that affect them.

The new space booking policies and related actions should be a cause of significant concern for all students. Though they appear easy to ignore when one is not engaged in campus-based organizing or clubs, these changes are part of a larger trend. The university is becoming more like a corporate, repressive entity focused on the needs of its administration, and less like an open community conducive to free speech and centered on the needs and rights of its students. If students wish to remain the priority of this institution, we must engage with these issues, and ensure that our voices are heard.

Irks & Quirks: Why graduating from university sucks

I’d like to talk to you today about something that most students must face during their university careers. It’s a stage of life that is tough, frightening, and occasionally completely humiliating. I don’t come here to lecture or to preach, but I’ve come to warn you about the hardest part of school: graduation.

When you first escape from the confines of university, you go through all the stages of loss: sadness, anger, arousal, heavy drinking, poor tattoo choices, and acceptance. At first, you may feel confident that your petty degree will garner you a place in society, but by the time that mid-August rolls around and you’ve just tequila-shotted away your last remaining bit of OSAP, suddenly it hits you: Oh God, is this what the real world is like?

In one abrupt swoop, you’re in the real world. There are no more mornings where you can choose to skip your 10 a.m. Plants and You BOT200 course in order to sleep off your Jägerbomb-induced hangover. No more vaguely cheesy cafeteria food. No more days spent napping at the back of a 300 person class, sure that your mildly attractive yet completely overworked TA would never notice the puddle of drool that is threatening to encroach on your perky neighbour’s MacBook. You are in the real world now, and you are its bitch. Hate your job? Too bad, the job market is hell, and God forbid you want to work in journalism. Better take that job working as a secretary at your uncle’s law firm, lest you have to return back to the service industry and weep bitter tears deep into your expensive degree. Sure, there are always the few who leave university to not only get their dream job, but also somehow find time to save the world, make six figures, and have scads of hot, knee-burning sex with other money-making, world-saving fools. You will come to realize that these people are idiots, but only because you are not one of them, and you’d probably eat your own nipples for the chance to quit bartending and move to a sassy downtown condo where you can alternate between buffing your various awards and dating that brunette in English class you were too nervous to talk to.

There are some things that are nice about graduating and being without a real job. You can drink in the afternoon generally without consequence; you can read for fun again; the word “midterms” no longer make you break out into a cold sweat; you can carry your degree around in your wallet and use it to pick up at clubs. (“Oh my god, you have a BA in classics? God, that’s sexy.”) Also, you eventually figure things out and understand how to network and find some job you like and some friends whose lives don’t revolve around what library they’re going to go to next, but those first few months can really suck the will to live right out of you.

But the major downside to being out of school is that it isolates you. Suddenly, you’re the only person who has nothing to do on evenings, and everything your friends do and talk about seems to pertain to a world you’re no longer part of. Not to mention that suddenly all your friends in masters or PhD programs suddenly seem like even bigger tools than before, lauding their esoteric areas of study around while you try to work off the eyestrain from your copyediting job. Yes, you may have a job, but they are working towards bigger and better things. They are still in school, but better.

I have to back-track a little: no matter how bad it seems, you’ll survive. You’ll get a job, get laid, eat better, and you’ll never have to look at Robarts again. But there’s always the day where you look out the window, ready to throw yourself against the glass screaming, “Stop the real world! I want to get off!”