Kindred Café up in smoke?

Toronto Police raided and shut down the Kindred Café this week, leaving potheads one less hangout. The owner of the shop on Bredalbane Street, near Yonge and Wellesley, turned himself in Monday.

Kindred customers pay once to stay the day. Memberships get you rent time in private rooms, or tokers can head to the rooftop patio. The café claims to strictly operate on a bring-your-own policy, with no sales on site.

“It’s illegal but somehow socially acceptable at Kindred,” said Tyler Bell, U of T student and Kindred spirit. “Kindred is a great place. I think creating a place like this for people to go to is very forward thinking.”

Undergrad Rohit Nadan also goes to Kindred from time to time, but said the café should avoid selling weed because of legal problems. “You could be serving underage kids, minors who have no permission to obtain the substance without any legal consent,” said Nadan, adding, “Locations that traffic weed should be eradicated. However, if the place doesn’t play a part in the selling, I think it’s fine.”

According to the daily Metro, Kindred Café is expected to reopen sometime this week.

A tale of two teams

Are you a hockey fan who abhors the stale, corporate culture at Toronto Maple Leafs games and wishes tickets were widely available to the general public? Are you a hockey fan excited by the prospect of attending a game as long as it doesn’t do significant damage to your disposable income? Are you a hockey fan who cares passionately about the well-being of the game?

If you answered “yes” to these questions, then you should be strongly in favour of the NHL’s proposed addition of a second franchise in southern Ontario. Here’s why:

The Leafs wouldn’t suffer at all

It’s obvious that there are more than enough rabid hockey fans to support two teams in the GTA. Our lovable losers currently hold the NHL’s highest average ticket revenue, as well as the longest consecutive sellout streak (as if that weren’t enough, the Leafs claim to have sold out every single game from 1946 to 1999). With such a rabid fan base, the Leafs continue to sell out every game, playoffs be damned. A second team in the area gives the average fan a chance to score a ticket once in a while, providing the Leafs with a little healthy competition—and there’s nothing wrong with that.

Think of the prospects for a classic new rivalry

It’s undeniable that sports thrive on big-time rivalries, and it’s really hard to get excited about the snooze-worthy Montreal Canadiens, and the underachieving Ottawa Senators. A team in Hamilton, or even Mississauga, would inject life back into the game by giving Torontonians something to argue about. Better yet, put the teams in the same division. When their baseball teams do well enough, New York gets to have a subway series, why can’t we have one every few weeks? It would get the city buzzing and provide endless front-page material for the Toronto Sun.

The NHL needs more teams in Canada

While we can’t blame the NHL for trying to expand its boundaries, it’s clear Americans don’t love hockey the way we do—and maybe it’s got something to do with the ice and snow we have in Canada. With the strong Canadian dollar, the six Canadian teams are the most profitable franchises in the league. It’s an outrage that we lost two teams in the ’90s to American markets, especially when you consider that the hopeless Phoenix Coyotes (formerly the Winnipeg Jets) are losing $30 million a season. If the league wants to compete against the other major sports in North America, the NHL needs to return to its Canadian roots. Toronto is the perfect place to start.

We need to stop Gary Bettman from ruining our game

After Stephen Brunt called Bettman’s tenure as NHL Commissioner “an unequivocal failure” in a Globe and Mail column earlier this year, he launched into a long-awaited diatribe Bettman sorely deserved. Take the Winnipeg-Phoenix debacle and add the NHL’s moribund franchises in Atlanta, Tampa Bay, and Sunrise, Florida—they’re all Bettman’s fault. Long the champion of American expansion (even to cities where the only ice is in the drinks), Bettman blocked a proposed move to Hamilton by the Nashville Predators, whose disgruntled owner was offered a handsome sum for the team by the founder of Research In Motion, southern Ontario native/U of T alum Jim Balsillie.

Balsillie’s decision to sell season tickets for the new Hamilton team before he had even signed the papers was a tad premature, costing him majority ownership. But both Wayne Gretzky and Premier Dalton McGuinty publicly supported the move, and it seems all but two parties are in favour of the prospect of a second hockey team in the GTA: the owners of the Leafs and Gary Bettman.

We need to stop them. Now who’s with us?

Student union calls in the cops

Montréal’s Dawson Student Union has called in the cops. The union, representing 7,500 full-time Dawson College students, wants to investigate the spending of past executives, totaling $840,000 in three years.

“Last year’s VP finance misappropriated our finances over her eight month period,” said DSU VP external and last year’s president, Charles Brenchley.

The student in question is Shanice Rose, a native of Montréal who studied social sciences. She could not be reached for comment.

Rose charged $29,000 of purchases including clothing, jewellery and travel expenses to the DSU credit card, and kept her statements concealed.

The new VP finance discovered the questionable purchases this summer. Rose, elected as this year’s president, was called in for questioning by DSU. Upon failing to explain the purchases, she was asked to resign.

This September, the reshuffled union executives tallied all past expenses and filed a report with Montréal police. With $43,000 unaccounted for, the case is being investigated and a civil lawsuit prepared.

“We’re hoping we’ll be able to recuperate all the money,” said Brenchley. “We want to be as transparent as possible and show our students that the union is functioning.”

DSU, which received $280,000 in student fees last year, has yet to publish any financial statements since it was accredited three years ago.

At a general assembly meeting held Nov. 17, DSU told students that their financial policy, designed by Rose, was not tightly controlled, and voted on changes to their charter.

The changes, all regarding financial policy, will be enforced in 2009. An independent finance committee and bookkeeper will monitor spending and all previous audits will be published. DSU credit cards were revoked at the meeting.

A part of college administration for decades, DSU was accredited in April 2005, making it fully independent. Students protested against the administration for two years before they were allowed the accreditation vote, which was followed by a legal battle against the admins refusal of legal recognition and withholding of funds.

Dawson College is a CEGEP, thus exclusively for Quebec students who enter after Grade 11 to complete two years before a post-secondary education.

Student Julien Déry is circulating a petition calling for the administration to once again manage student activity fees. Déry told the Montréal Gazette that accreditation of CEGEP unions results in “vast amounts of money that teens are managing without experience.”

They shoot, they lose

Last Saturday, the Blues women’s hockey team out-shot, out-chanced, and occasionally out-hustled their opponents. But the seventh-ranked Blues lost 2-0 to the second-ranked and currently undefeated Laurier Golden Hawks, proving that sometimes you need to get lucky in order to win.

The opening period of the Varsity Arena game was a back-and-forth affair. Both teams traded chances, but the more experienced Golden Hawks capitalized first. Taking advantage of a turnover by the Blues in their own zone, Golden Hawks veteran Andrea Bevan fired a high slap shot from the Blues’ blueline. With many players in the crease jostling for position, Blues goaltender Kendyl Valenta had no chance at making the save. At the seven-minute mark, Laurier scored the eventual game-winner.

The insurance goal for the Hawks came less than five minutes later as second-year forward Heather Fortuna got to the rebound from Laurier defenceman Alison Williams’ slap shot before the Blues could clear it out, giving Laurier the 2-0 lead.

“I thought their second goal wasn’t a good goal,” said head coach Karen Hughes. “I thought that was a little unfortunate. And the first goal was lucky. [Valenta] was screened and it was off the post.”

Down two goals early to Laurier, the Blues were in a tough position. Going into the game, the defending OUA champions had only allowed eight goals against in 11 games. With one of the most experienced defences in the OUA and one of the country’s stingiest goaltenders in Liz Knox, the Blues knew that scoring against the Golden Hawks was going to be a difficult affair.

The Blues continued to press hard, despite the two-goal deficit. Coming out of the second period, the Blues defence and goaltender Valenta played a much cleaner, compact game, keeping the score close. As a whole, the team played with energy, out-shooting their opponents 37-22 overall.

For all the chances they created, the Blues were unable to capitalize on them. Against the all-star calibre goaltending of Knox and some hard luck, the Blues failed to cash in on a 1:35 minute 5-on-3 power play in the third period. Second chances for the Blues were difficult to come by as Laurier’s defence often cleared the rebounds in the crease before the Blues could realize the chance was there.

The game indicated that the inexperienced Blues still have a lot of growing to do before becoming legitimate contenders at the national level. Despite the loss, Coach Hughes saw this game as a starting point for her young team, taking a positive perspective.

“Honestly, I don’t feel bad,” said Coach Hughes. “They’re the second ranked team in the country and we out-shot them. I don’t feel that unhappy with that effort. We had chances to score, but we didn’t score.”

UTSU meeting minutes won’t go online

Transparency and accountability took centre stage at UTSU’s annual general meeting, pitting union executives against those who wanted better access to documents. After a two-hour discussion, UTSU members decided against changing the way students access the minutes from meetings.

All full-time undergrads at St. George campus and UTM are UTSU members. The union represents 41,000 students.

The wrangling over minutes began when Jamie Auron, president of the University College Literary and Athletic Society, introduced an amendment that called for UTSU to post all bylaws, budgets, and meeting minutes online by the new year. Confusion and disputes over bylaws regularly come up during spring elections that choose next year’s execs.

Union executives didn’t want to make their meeting minutes public. UTSU president Sandy Hudson had first argued that Auron’s proposal didn’t meet techical standards because it called for a permanent change to how documents are accessed. According to bylaws, the execs can make decisions that apply only to the current year. Auron then amended his motion, requesting documents only from past years and this year.

VP external Dave Scrivener proposed removing online access to minutes from Auron’s amendment, saying students can already get the minutes through their board of directors representative.

As students lined up at the microphone to have their say about the amendment, it was clear Scrivener’s argument didn’t sit well with many of them. Students also complained about poor accessibility, citing absent directors and inconvenient UTSU office hours.

“Running a club is difficult without the minutes,” said Catie Sahadath, president of of the Rotaract Club.

Adam Awad, newly appointed VP of university affairs, said the meeting minutes could confuse or mislead students. “[The minutes] are not always clear and don’t always include context,” he said. Auron responded that it’s UTSU’s responsibility to make minutes clear, and that the union doesn’t have to approve previous minutes if they’re faulty. The meeting format did not, however, allow for a back-and-forth debate on the matter, as students took turns to address the speaker.

Hudson said her main concern was that the U of T administration would see UTSU’s plans for upcoming campaigns if minutes are made public. She said current minutes record discussions, which is information she doesn’t want the admin to have, arguing “our minutes are more transparent than they need to be.” Though she agreed with the “spirit of the proposal,” said Hudson, “We have to make sure that we’re not shooting ourselves in the foot.”

Auron put forward a modified amendment to address Hudson’s arguments: instead of minutes, why not post audio recordings behind a password-protected system?

But VP internal Adnan Najmi said that the union barely has permission to contact members by email, let alone set up a system that authenticates against U of T’s databases.

Judging by the final vote, meeting attendees agreed with Najmi. They voted to post bylaws and budgets online, but the contentious issue of meeting minutes remained unresolved, other than Hudson’s passing remark about creating a working group to investigate options.

Another one rides the CFS bus

University of Ottawa undergraduate students voted to join the Canadian Federation of Students last week with an unprecedented voter turnout of 21 per cent. The Referendum Oversight Committee confirmed the Yes campaign won with 52 per cent of the vote.

CFS often raises contention on campuses, and this past election was no exception.

“With a gap of only 250 votes, the fact that the Yes Committee were able to stack its volunteer list with full-time campaigners from Toronto, Laurentien, Carleton, and Concordia completely changed the outcome of this referendum,” said Ryan Kennery, SFUO Board of Administration member and Student Association president.

U of T Student Union president Sandy Hudson admitted that she had spent the last two weeks in Ottawa, but defended her participation due to her executive position in CFS and a more general mandate to unite students.

She treated her two-week absence as a personal vacation—the maximum amount allowed—and clarified later that CFS had paid for the trip.

York Federation of Students president Hamid Osman caught flak for having abandoned the university in the middle of a strike to be in Ottawa.

Other allegations have surfaced of CFS’s direct involvement in the referendum process with the group’s national deputy chair Brent Farrington acting as poll clerk.

The Yes Committee says membership with CFS provides a stronger student movement, citing the National System of Grants approved by the Conservative government for the 2008 year.

Referring to the defeat of the Code of Student Conduct proposed by the University Administration earlier this year, the No Committee insisted the SFUO has already gained major victories for students on campus.

Carleton students will pay CFS $378,000 annually for membership. UTSU has been part of CFS since 2003.

With files from Andrew Louis

You have one criminal charge pending

It seems like a fairly clear concept to grasp—watch what you post on the Internet. Yet many students don’t think twice about oversharing on Facebook, and it’s becoming increasingly common for school administrators and employers to access that information and even hold students accountable.

Stories of Facebook fallout are a dime a dozen. Most recently, Danny Esmaili posted this message on the York Victims Facebook group: “If I am not compensated I will cause damage. Serious damage. Yes this is a threat.” The 21-year-old is in his third year at York University, and his comment referred to the strike that has shut down York for more than two weeks.

Esmaili’s post was reported to Toronto Police on Nov. 8. Police also found a photograph of a rifle and handgun on his Facebook page. The Toronto Star reported that according to Detective Rick Ramjattan of 31 Division Criminal Investigation Bureau, Esmaili said he wasn’t serious and the weapons recovered were actually pellet guns.

Esmaili’s comments and photographs have since been removed from Facebook, but the charges against him still stand.

The underlying issue is that many still think of Facebook as a private medium.

Jacob Mantle, president of the undergraduate student society at Queen’s University, is also in hot water over careless Facebook posts.

“I like your Taliban picture,” wrote Mantle about a friend’s photo of two girls wearing headscarves.

“At first I was reluctant to give an apology. The line to what is private and public is blurred,” said Mantle. He has since issued a public apology.

The Alma Mater Society of Queen’s University called for Mantle’s resignation, but announced that he would not be stepping down in a recent assembly. Unhappy with his decision, many are calling for his impeachment.

At least 30 people have been charged using evidence from Facebook since 2005. The site was launched in early 2004.

In October 2005, 15 students from North Carolina State University were charged with several alcohol offences, such as underage drinking, after faculty members found incriminating Facebook photos.

A student from John Brown University, a private Christian College in Arkansas, was expelled in January 2006 once school officials found pictures of the student dressed in drag on Facebook.

Eleven high school students in Caledon, Ontario, were suspended last year after the school discovered a Facebook group where they vented about the principal.

This February a first-year Ryerson student was faced with 147 academic charges after he created an online study group for one of his chemistry courses.

A recent survey administrated by Kaplan Inc. in September revealed that admission officers at 15 per cent of law schools, 14 per cent of medical schools and 9 per cent business schools have visited their applicant’s social networking sites during the admissions process. Many employers have also admitted to checking the Facebook pages of their job applicants.

Bottom line: watch yourself online—because you’re definitely being watched.

CUSA cancels charity for ‘white man’s disease’

This week, the Carleton University Student Association decided to pull participation in Shinerama, a fund-raiser for cystic fibrosis research and treatment, citing the genetic disease as “recently revealed to only affect white people and mainly men.”

On Monday, the CUSA directors voted 17-2 in favour of selecting another charity to support during orientation week. Some students have labeled the motion “Shinegate,” saying that it cuts off a 25-year-old tradition and a significant source of revenue for the Canadian Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. Cathleen Morrison, CEO for CCFF, estimated the school had raised over $1 million during its past campaigns and $20,000 this year alone.

While CF is a fatal genetic respiratory disease which does primarily affect Caucasians, that category does include people from Europe, the Middle East, India, and North Africa. U of T professor and CF specialist Dr. Peter Durie added the disease is also quite common among African-Americans, Hispanics, and in rarer cases, patients of Chinese and Japanese descent. “Unlike the message we’ve been getting from the Carleton University saga, it is in fact the most common genetic disease amongst these people.”

Former Shinerama National Chair and UTSC Student Life coordinator Drew Dudley denied that CF affects mostly men. He said that while males and females are equally affected by the disease, it is women who are often at a disadvantage. “Women, as a general rule,have their health more severely compromised and they tend not to survive as long as men.”

The cystic fibrosis gene was first discovered by researchers from U of T, the Hospital for Sick Children, and the University of Michigan in 1989. Currently, half of Canadians with CF do not live past their late 30s.

In interviews with media, CUSA president Brittany Smyth has argued that the intent of the motion was to switch support to another charity. This is a claim CUSA journalism councilor Nick Bergamini says is a “total lie.” It was “a racially charged motion,” argued the third-year student.

A student rally is set to take place at Carleton’s Mackenzie Field at noon today. CUSA has declared an emergency meeting for Monday, Dec. 1.