Q & A: Playwright and Actor Charlotte Corbeil-Coleman

The Varsity: Can you tell me a little about your latest Factory Theatre production, Scratch?

Charlotte Corbeil-Coleman: Scratch is about storytelling. It’s about the struggle to try and capture an experience, and the impossibility of that act, because truth is always moving. Scratch follows the epic battle of fifteen-year-old Anna and her unstoppable case of head lice as she re-tells the story of her mother dying of cancer. They begin to overlap completely, forcing her to accept the inevitable.

V: You’ve been developing Scratch since you were 16. Looking back at those initial drafts, what significant changes have occurred in your writing between then and now?

CCC: Well, in terms of my voice as a writer, a lot has changed. I’ve grown up, so naturally there is wisdom in reflection and I have better comic timing as I have suffered through more personal humiliations. I went to the National Theatre School for playwriting and wrote non-stop for three years. I learned a lot about my voice in those three years. Scratch has been through a lot of changes, but I have tried very hard to stay true to the urgency of the teenager who wrote it. I have come to understand that the power of the play lives in the immediacy of the teenage experience, as well as the electricity of my grief at the time.

V: The play is based on your own experiences—not purely autobiographical, but certainly motivated by personal events. Did you find that there were particular challenges in mining from your own life?

CCC: Not when I wrote it—it just came out of me like a storm. I didn‘t look at it until years later. When I finally did revisit it, it felt very imaginary, a sixteen-year-old’s projection of what she thought her truth was. What I have found the hardest about telling a personal story is the press and their questions and assumptions. People naturally want to know how much is true, and no matter what you tell them, they think it all is anyway. Truth is belief. I struggle to let go and know that people will think what they want to think, and that the ones who are close to me know this is a play, and that Anna is not me.

V: Scratch won the Herman Voaden (National Playwrighting) award in 2007—in your experience, how have people responded to the play? How do you hope audiences will respond to the play?

CCC: People have responded to the honesty of the piece. In my experience, when you put something out into the world that comes from a true place, it opens others up, allowing them to engage with their pain, giving us an opportunity to feel something all together for a little while. This is the power of theatre to me, a shared experience.

V: You are playing Anna in this production at Factory—how do you feel performing your own writing? Has it been more or less of a challenge?

CCC: Because I have seen three workshops of this play and not been in it, I felt I could enter it as just an actor. I do understand Anna and am not afraid of the contradictions of her character, but I have still had to work hard as an actor interpreting a text because the way you hear something in your head as you’re writing it is not necessarily how it should be said. The magical thing about theatre is that it is a “coming together,” so you must leave room in your writing for lights and direction and the voices of others. I’ll tell you one thing though—it has been extremely hard to memorize my lines and there is a blow job scene in my play (so embarrassing) so I certainly have done my fair share of cursing the writer.

V: As a writer and performer, how important do you think it is to produce material that comes from a more vulnerable place?

CCC: I think it is extremely important to risk something in your work. And whenever we take risks as an artist, we are extremely vulnerable. So, yes, I think it is essential.

V: Can you tell me a little about working with the Factory Theatre and the whole cast of creative people who’ve come together to produce Scratch?

CCC: It has been a wonderful experience, I love the Factory. I could not hope for a better cast, I love them as people and as performers so deeply, and I feel so safe with them on stage. Their sheer talent protects me and their love and compassion keeps me grounded. Plus, they are all deadly funny. I trust [director] ahdri [zhina mandiela] completely, which is another reason why I felt I was able to enter this play as an actor. Ken Gass has been extremely generous, insightful, and supportive, and dramaturge Iris Turcott has been my guardian angel from the get-go.

V: I imagine you’re pretty busy right now, but are you writing anything at the moment?

CCC: Yeah, I can barely remember to take out the recycling. But before I started rehearsal I was working on a collection of short stories entitled “I’ve Slept in Every Room But the Kitchen…”

Scratch runs until November 2nd in the Factory Theatre Mainspace. Tickets are $20-$37. Sundays are PWYC. For more information, visit www.factorytheatre.ca.

The right stuff

On September 29, the United States Congress rejected a $700 billion financial bailout bill with a vote of 228 to 205. Two-thirds of the Republican Party—a party supposedly in the pocket of Wall Street—made up the majority of the “No” vote, with 95 Democrats by their sides. In light of the string of American bank failures and global shockwaves in Europe and Asia, one wonders why the GOP did so little to ameliorate the financial destruction.

There are surface-level answers to this question, from worries about “moral hazard” to claims that Democratic Speaker Pelosi had injected too much partisanship into the debate. But the real reason behind the ambivalence is that conservative ideology is comprised of several competing political visions that create a constant tension, one that has manifested itself in Republican policies over the past eight years.

The basic tension in American conservatism is described by fusionism, a political term coined by former National Review editor Frank Meyer. Fusionism describes the difficulty of reconciling libertarians with social reactionaries within the conservative movement—balancing the desire to maximize freedom with the need to provide order and stable institutions for society. For years, especially during the Cold War, fusionism held together conservatism by serving as the tacit agreement between the two dominant visions of the movement. Libertarians learned from social conservatives that strong institutions (such as the family) helped promote freedom. Social conservatives learned that freedom fostered the virtues of individual responsibility. Of course, these two visions didn’t always jibe with each other.

At the same time, other strands of conservatism served to destabilize this already volatile situation. Arguably the most divisive component of conservatism was neoconservatism. This “persuasion,” as so-called founder Irving Kristol calls it, is comprised of former 70s-era Trotskyites and liberals who were uneasy with the left’s nonchalance towards Soviet totalitarianism, cultural decay, and American economic decline. While neoconservatives disliked the moral relativism of the period, they did not share a consensus on social issues. Neoconservatives were more comfortable with a modern welfare state of subsidies and services than libertarians. At the end of the day, neoconservatives were boosters of an American-led world system. They supported the system of international liberalism, democracy, and capitalism that America had inherited and shaped since 1945. To that end, they advocated for tax cuts to spur economic growth and free trade to bolster the global economic system, understanding that these policies would keep America powerful and in charge of its world order.

In recent years, the phenomenon of globalization has strained relations between these three political visions. This was evident when the Bush-McCain-Kennedy immigration reforms were defeated in 2007. While neoconservatives and libertarians felt that the party of economic freedom needed to support the growth-inducing benefits that immigration brings, it was the social conservatives and their reactionary allies who won the fight. Animated by a populist fear of social chaos and unnecessary stress on American institutions (and perhaps a tinge of xenophobia), they were able to kill the proposed guest-worker program and put the construction of a physical barrier between the U.S. and Mexico on the agenda. This intra-party, intra-ideology tension was also apparent in the recent defeats of free trade bills with U.S. allies South Korea and Central America. Social conservatives have had their share of disappointments. Despite Bush’s professed piety, the past eight years have not been satisfying to proponents of “family values.” Even though they have held a congressional majority for six years, both Republican bills to define marriage as being a strictly heterosexual, monogamous union were defeated. Nearly nothing has been done on a federal level about abortion, save a ban on partial-birth abortion.

We can contextualize the defeat of the bailout plan by Republicans with this in mind. It is highly probable that libertarian-leaning legislators argued against the bill on grounds that laissez-faire ideology precludes saving people from their own failures. Social conservatives probably voted down the bill out of an already latent discomfort with globalization, of which a highly liquid and destabilizing global financial system is a key component. The one-third minority that did support the bailout was arguably comprised of neoconservatives who believed the health of international capitalism rested on the foundations of global confidence in financial institutions. Without investor confidence, the system that provided the developed world with so much economic prosperity, and the developing world with rising living standards, was in jeopardy—it would no longer possess the financial capital to create economic opportunities.

Unfit to be tied

The horn sounded as The University of Toronto Blues skulked off the field at Varsity Centre. The players looked downcast after the humbling result of their game against the visiting Western Mustangs. The coaches tore into the players, chastising them for missed opportunities and urged them to improve on their effort for the coming weeks.

It may come as a surprise that this game last Saturday was played by the women’s field hockey team. The pervasive feeling of gloom did not come from a loss, but a 2-2 tie. Welcome to the heightened expectations of Varsity Blues women’s field hockey, where anything less than a decisive win is considered a failure. For the defending OUA Champions, there is a culture of winning. Saturday’s result was unacceptable.

The Mustangs scored the only goal of a sun-drenched first half off of a short corner. Western goaltender Meggy McTavish also made a great save on a free shot. Western went into the half up 1-0, as mothers of the Western players squealed with delight in the stands. The second half began with a completely different atmosphere. U of T fans started screaming encouragement, as a drum beat sounded, the tempo increased, and photos were snapped left and right. But most importantly for the Blues, the goal scoring finally began. Even with the renewed energy, there were a number of missed opportunities. Although U of T took the lead, by the time the blinding sun hid and the temperature dropped, the pressure ratcheted up. The Mustangs pulled off a fast break with six minutes left, as a rocket pass found its way to Elsbeth Tate, who tapped it into the net. The score remained tied, as no strokes the field hockey equivalent of a shootout—are played during the regular season. A tie is like kissing your sister, but it looked like the kiss of death for the frustrated Blues.

Blues forward Rianna Sterk was disparaged by the result, but vowed to bring out a positive result from the game. Sterk scored the first Blues goal on an outlet pass almost immediately after the second half began. She explained that each game can be summed up with one word.

“The word of the game was ‘first’. First to score a goal, first to get a short corner, and we weren’t doing any of [those things],” she said.

The word “fast” could also describe the game. “It’s become a tendency of ours to come out slow and we need to fix it,” Sterk revealed. Western did seem to get the lion’s share of chances in a sloppy first half, but the second belonged to skilled players like Sterk.

The Blues expect to dominate every opponent. “Anything but winning by two goals feels like a loss,” Sterk said. “[Western] scored two goals that shouldn’t have gone in.”

Sterk is a leader by example, as her speed in transition can be awe-inspiring. She attributed her goal to a fast start. “Personally, I come out flying. I find that I play better after the half. [In the] first half, we are usually slow coming out […] This week at practice we are going to have to run.”

Blues field hockey coach John De Souza could not hide his disappointment with the tie. “We missed so many offensive chances. We missed three one-on-ones with the goalie. We gave up a lot more chance today than we normally would,” he said.

The tie was especially painful for a visibly shaken Kaelan Watson, a promising fullback born in Richmond, British Columbia, just south of Vancouver. Watson sat out the second half, taken down on a dirty play. Watson, a smallish athlete, dribbled away from a Western player, who then hooked her feet and pulled them out from behind her. Watson fell hard on her neck, kinking her neck muscles. Exemplifying the strength of this Blues team, Watson promised to play in the next game.

Sterk dismissed injuries as an excuse for the loss. “We have more than enough skilled players to sub in for anyone that’s injured.” Instead, she pointed to her team’s overall lack of intensity. “We can’t play seventy minutes straight at ‘full hockey’, for some reason we get in these strange slumps,” Sterk said.

Sterk has the additional incentive to play “full hockey”. “In my next [game], I want to get a hat trick because I want to finish first in the OUA in scoring,” she said, confidently adding, “I’m going to step it up and get a couple of goals and we should dominate the rest of the teams.”

Luckily for field hockey fans, there is a golden opportunity coming up to see Sterk and the Blues take on the entire league. The University of Toronto will be hosting the 2008 OUA Field Hockey Championship at Varsity Centre, Oct. 24 to 26. A friend of the team noted that only a small pocket of fans rushed the field when the Blues won the OUA Championship last year. Hopefully, there will be a larger contingent this year when the Varsity Blues win the championship.

A push-and-pull game of love

If there is one word to describe the Bush administration’s approach to North Korea, it’s “clumsy.” Last week, North Korea made headlines when it barred inspectors from examining its Yongbyon nuclear facilities. This strategic move elicited the desired effect: on October 12, the White House announced that it had removed the country from the list of state sponsors of terrorism. The administration couldn’t abide a nuclear North Korea, and because of its concession, it lost diplomatic leverage.

North Korea has once again allowed the inspectors into Yongbyon, but problems are far from over. Inspectors are only allowed to examine the Yongbyon reactor (which uses plutonium-based technology) despite suspicions of a separate uranium enrichment program elsewhere. Disabling the Yongbyon reactor would mean nothing if North Korea acquired nuclear capabilities through other means.

Why is the U.S. so concerned about North Korea’s nuclear capabilities? Do they really expect the country to attack with nuclear missiles? These questions stem from the popular notion that the Bush administration is paranoid, and convinced that every non-friendly state is out to assassinate Uncle Sam. The truth is that the U.S. is more worried about its own military bases in South Korea and Japan getting bombed than it is about an attack on American soil. If North Korea has nuclear capabilities, it could start a serious arms race in East Asia. Nuclear bombs might be placed in South Korea, as they were during the early Cold War, and Japan might to follow suit.

The North Korean government has deliberately established itself as irrational. It’s as if they are announcing, “Yes, we are crazy enough to drop nuclear bombs, and we don’t care whether you bomb our citizens in return.” Policymakers’ beliefs fluctuate with regard to whether or not this is in earnest. When North Korea threatens to go over the edge, it wants to be pulled back, and the U.S. did just that. Some Asian bloggers have dubbed the U.S.-North Korea diplomatic dance as a “push-and-pull game of love.” It’s a silly metaphor, until you consider that the opponent is as enigmatic and unpredictable as North Korea.

As some policymakers have realized, the U.S. and its allies need to use more carrots than sticks when dealing with North Korea—oil and food, to raise the stakes and aid the country’s citizens. For now, North Korea’s brinkmanship diplomacy seems to be working. But brinkmanship can only go so far before disaster erupts—an open, diplomatic dialogue is necessary for a peaceful solution. The Bush administration’s removal of North Korea from the state-sponsored terrorism list was a misstep, but a concession. In return, the nation should consider allowing the U.S. and its allies to examine other parts of its territory—if they really want peace and economic security, that is.

Blues hit the ice

It was a rough start for the Varsity Blues men’s hockey team at Varsity Arena last Friday. Despite out-shooting the Guelph Gryphons by a near 2-to-1 margin in the first period of their season opener, several defensive miscues led the Blues to an early deficit. The team fought back, going into the first intermission with a 2-2 tie.

“We didn’t start off very well,” conceded long time head coach Darren Lowe. “We were a little nervous in the first period. But we got through [it] which I thought was really important. We played well in the second period.”

The Blues shook off their initial nerves to net a 7-3 victory over the visiting Gryphons. The four-goal outburst in the second period was led by talented first-year forward Byron Elliott, who notched the eventual game-winner on his third tally for the hat trick. Also scoring for the Blues were rookies Kyle Ventura and Paul Dupont, while fourth year forward Joe Rand capped the scoring in the third period.

“It feels good to get started on a good note,” grinned Elliott after the game. “[It’s] better than not getting any points at all.”

“It’s really exciting to see some of our first year guys scoring today like Dupont, Ventura, and Elliott,” said sophomore goaltender Russ Brownell, who made 21 saves for the win for Toronto. “That’s a great sign for us and I hope we can just keep it going.”

The go ahead goal for the Blues was scored two minutes into the second period on a beautiful pass out of the Blues’ zone to Kyle Ventura, who made no mistake on the partial breakaway. This goal was the result of the Blues playing a fast fore-checking game, noticeably absent from the first period, but soon became a constant source of frustration for the Gryphons. Consistently outplayed, the Gryphons were unable to control their emotions and fell into penalty trouble, highlighted by the gross misconduct assessed to Guelph’s Barrett Brook at 16:07 of the second period. The Blues used these opportunities given by Guelph to quickly pot their fourth and fifth goal to finish 3-for-6 on the man advantage. Toronto closed out the middle period with a short-handed marker from Dupont while Rand was in the box for tripping.

Despite warnings from the coaching staff going into the final period, a stream of sloppy penalties plagued the team. Only the brilliance of the penalty-killing and goaltender Brownell’s stand-up play kept the Blues from falling into their own trap. Emotions continued to run high after several confrontations broke out between the players, cumulating to a ten-person scrum along the right boards that delayed the end of the game by a few minutes as officials worked to separate players.

“We kind of started settling down even though we were supposed to play the whole 60 minutes,” said Elliott. “We were doing some stupid things, [taking] bad penalties; but for the most part we just kind of laid back. We didn’t keep pushing and pushing.”

With more than half of its roster either first or second-year players, the game was a lesson in development for the Varsity Blues. With likely growing pains, there is plenty to look forward to from this young energetic group.

The Varsity Blues hockey team are now 2-0 on the season, defeating the Brock Badgers 3-1 at Varsity Arena on Saturday. First year forward Claudio Cowdrey scored the game-winning goal on the power-play in the second period, while Russ Brownell made his second consecutive start with a stellar 34 save-effort, and was named Blues player of the game.

Election Watch 2008: Crying in our beers

The Longest Yard, at Davisville and Mt. Pleasant, is definitely an appropriate venue for election-watching. A large chart on the wall shows the projected seat totals for the night. My heart sinks right away as I read the expected results: a Tory minority with more seats than the NDP and Liberals combined. Any hopes for a coalition (however unlikely) to topple Harper are dashed before the night even begins. A Tory majority is a distinct possibility, and 155 is the magic number—It’s going to be a rough night.

At this point I wish I was watching playoff baseball instead.

Alex: “Both my parents voted NDP…I voted Liberal. It was a really difficult decision.”

Rob: “You moderate.”

Jade’s family split the left vote between four parties. I get the feeling that the same thing is happening in ridings all over Canada.

The countdown to poll closing has begun. The CBC is using a Telestrator. It makes this silly spectacle seem more like sports—it’s appreciated.

Jade fills in the predicted seat total betting pool. She leaves the Liberals 60 seats before revising her estimate. Math difficulties aside, it is hard to gauge what the end results might be.

A: “You’re predicting 138 seats for the conservatives? Really? That’s pessimistic.”

Jade: “Being a pundit is hard.”

Strombo is now onscreen, doing a lame darts and laurels segment. I get the feeling we’re going to run out of darts soon. The CBC talking heads fiddle with fancy graphics and talk about Twitter and Facebook. We become distracted. The smartest woman in Canada brings us back to speeD: Chantal Hébert is talking and we all listen.

Rob tells us a story about how he worked for the Joe Volpe campaign in 2004.

R: “Suffice to say, I didn’t vote for Joe Volpe this year.”

The first of several sad newsflashes rolls in: Elizabeth May lost her valiant battle against Peter McKay. Even in defeat she is impressive. We are sad that she lost.

A: “I love her scrappy attitude. I love how messy she looks. When she comes to the fore she is so pulled together.”

Early results say 24 seats for the Liberals and 17 for the Conservatives. This lead will not hold.

ChandleR: “I voted for Olivia Chow. Maybe I should have voted for Chester Brown.”

We laugh, but not for long. It is 9:50 and the Liberals are already losing badly.

Dan: “What time is it?”

R: “A third of the way to a Conservative majority.”

Ontario’s results are coming in.

R: “Markham?!?”

D: “Seriously, Oshawa?!?”

J: “Niagara let us down.”

We pound our fists on the table when Trinity-Spadina appears on the screen. It’s a close race.

It’s not even 10 p.m. and the Conservatives have broken 100 seats. Mansbridge delivers the news: the Conservatives are already predicted to win the election, the only question is whether it will be a majority or minority. We boo loudly and receive a solidarity boo in response. More beer is ordered immediately.

We discuss the possibility of moving to the States if Obama wins.

D: “Austin, Texas is nice.”

A: “Athens, Georgia!”

C: “I’m moving to Sweden.”

The election already a forgone conclusion, we sink further into our seats and beers.

D: “It’s like watching a slow-moving, non-exciting train wreck.”

It’s 10:08 p.m. The Conservatives are beating the Liberals 118-71. The Bloc have more than half the number of seats the Liberals have.

D: “We are getting skunked.”

Trinity-Spadina comes up again. The Liberal candidate, Christine Innes, is actually winning. A loud “YES!” erupts from the bar. This man clearly played the long odds and may win big.

Jim Flaherty is winning in my home riding of Whitby. Damn that little leprechaun. Although I guess it makes sense for a leprechaun to be in charge of Canada’s finances.

The projected results are becoming dangerously close to a Conservative majority: 132–74. Most patrons’ faces are sullen.

At least Justin Trudeau won in his riding. We wonder when he’ll be experienced enough to helm the rapidly sinking ship that is the Liberal party. An interesting fact edifies us all: the NDP have never won a seat in Quebec.

Then we learn something else: it turns out Wendy Mesley and Peter Mansbridge used to be married.

R: “How can they talk about politics when they’ve done everything else?”

Bob Rae is talking. We all hush and listen. Then, more bad news.

R: “This is coming down to the wire. The Liberals haven’t won a seat in half an hour!”

How about Tulsa, Oklahoma? I hear it’s nice this time of year.

C: “Philadelphia is the new New York.”

The results from the West Coast are rolling in. Finally, we have our answer.

J: “It’s only a minority!”

R: “We need to be really happy about this. It’s crisis averted.”

The inevitable follow-up question: Is Dion done? We quickly decide that the answer is “yes” and move on. Stéphane, we hardly knew ye.

Things are getting close again—it looks like the Conservatives have 146 seats. It seems they will not reach the threshold of a catastrophic majority. This election came way too close.

We reminisce about better times to keep our hopes up.

D: “Who was the best PM?”

A: “Trudeau. He cut our training wheels off.”

R: “But Pearson won a Nobel Peace Prize.”

J: “Laurier.”

It’s not quite 11 p.m. and the election is wrapped up. The Conservatives fall short of a majority by 10 seats. After a few minutes, the bar is almost empty.

R: “Volpe pulled it off. I don’t like him.”

A: “I feel like shit. Everything went wrong. Fuck the world—all my hopes are dashed!”

J: “Ontario let us down.”

The final numbers show they diD: the Conservatives have a larger share of the popular vote than the Libs. It’s official, then—Ontario has turned on its beloved party.

A: “We are completely voting against our own interests. We stood to lose the most in this election.”

Ignatieff turns up on the screen. He is talking like he is already leader of the Liberal party—smug and smarmy. Alex points out that he looks a lot like Henry Rollins.

Over the course of a few short hours, the fate of our country has been sealed. Rob says what we’ve all thinking as we peer into our beers, nervously contemplating the future:

R: “Liberals did badly tonight!”

Oh well. Won’t be long until the next election.

Vote-rigging the legal way

Since moving to Toronto from Michigan four years ago, I have tried to put the state out of my mind. Every once in a while, though, a morsel so juicy comes along that I have to go back and revisit my old home.

This is one such morsel.

Macomb County, one of the predominantly white counties that make up the suburbs of Detroit (and not too far from where I grew up) is one of the top three counties in the United States for home foreclosures from the sub-prime mortgage fiasco. Of these foreclosures, a disproportionate amount affect its black residents. Macomb County is also, if the pundits are to be believed, one of the “swing” counties in Michigan, itself a “swing” state in this election. Though I always knew Macomb County as the home of the City of Sterling Heights (or as I used to call it, Sterile White), and a largely conservative area, the black residents of Macomb tend to vote solidly Democratic, as do most black residents in the Metro Detroit area. These could be the voters who send Barack Obama to victory.

When I heard that the Grand Old Party had plans to put election challengers at polling places in Macomb to contest the residency of all people on the “foreclosed list,” the only thought I could think was: Jim Crow ain’t dead. He was only sleeping.

In a campaign dominated by thinly veiled racism and Islamophobia, the GOP’s decision to challenge these voters shows that the modern party of Lincoln is concerned only with perpetuating its own power. It has forsaken the country and what little remains of its democratic spirit.

In Michigan, each party has the legal right to place representatives at polling places to challenge individual voters’ rights to cast a ballot at that station. If someone is found ineligible, they are effectively barred from voting, since there is no same-day registration. In this case, it is quite clear that GOP is targeting those on the “foreclosed list”: the predominantly black Democratic voters of Macomb County. Never mind that these voters might still be living in their houses, in the process of refinancing, or living in the same district. This about victory at any cost.

The day after this story broke, the Michigan GOP announced that they had reconsidered, and will not make challenges based on the “foreclosure list.” They will engage in a practise known as “vote caging” instead, where the party sends a piece of mail marked “Do Not Forward” to an address. If the mail is bounced back, they make the challenge, and likely cost someone their vote.

This tells us a great deal about the state of electoral politics in the U.S. In a country where less than half the population votes, and where the last two presidential elections have been stolen in plain sight, politics have become synonymous with the pursuit of power for its own sake. Americans have been lulled into a stupor, made into consumers instead of citizens—and that the future of the country lies in the hands of amoral men.

Forget the wall along the Mexican border. As far as I’m concerned, build a wall along the U.S. and Canadian border, and hope the fallout isn’t too bad when the shit hits the fan.

UTSC student union finally gets prez

Where there’s politics, there’s controversy. The idiom holds true for U of T’s Scarborough Campus Student Union, where Zuhair Syed won the Fall election for presidency after being controversially disqualified from the race in Spring. After an intense campaign, Syed won with 212 votes to opponent Massey Ahmar’s 113.

Syed was disqualified in the Spring election for emailing the Elections Committee using his official SCSU account, and for sending a text message after campaigning period was over. The Board of Directors subsequently rejected this disqualification and hired Syed as the interim president until the Fall election.

The elections this October gave students an opportunity to formally elect a president.

For several years, UTSC has been notoriously apathetic when it comes to elections. This year’s voter turnout speaks for itself. On a campus with over 10, 000 students, a mere 325 students cast votes for their president.

However, Syed believes that the reason for his win has been a recent rejuvenation of student enthusiasm.

“I think students have shown that they like that what they’ve seen over the last two months. They appreciate the changes within the student union and they voted to have that continued,” Syed said.

In addition to improving student life, Syed’s platform was based on expanding the UTSC Student Centre in order to provide more student space for the increasing campus population. He hopes to work towards the addition of more food vendors with longer hours, an extra computer lab, a lounge area,and additional club offices.

“The students have put trust in our leadership and I’m ready for the opportunities ahead,” said Syed.