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.
alt text

“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

alt text

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

alt text

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

alt text

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

alt text

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.
alt text

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.”

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!”

Facebook is watching you

Recently, without notification, Facebook made another change that has vastly increased the over-sharing prevalent in social networking. It’s innocently called “See Friendship,” and it makes stalking on Facebook even easier than it was before. You may not have it on your account yet, because it is still in the process of being phased in. However, regardless of whether you have it yet, it should be a matter of some concern.

The feature allows you to see the entire Facebook relationship between two friends, or one of your friends and one of his/her friends who hasn’t enabled certain privacy settings. Basically it replaces “See Wall-to-Wall” and adheres to whatever privacy settings users have for that feature, but it’s much creepier. “See Friendship” makes a page with a randomly selected photo of two friends, all of their wall postings, shared photos, events they both attended, comments on each other’s statuses, mutual friends, and mutual “likes,” with the option to “See All,” going back to the beginning of when they started to share on Facebook. If that isn’t enough, on the right side there are a few friendships ready for you to view, or, if you’re particularly curious or bored, you can type in two names to see any Facebook friendship you desire.
alt text

I am definitely a chronic Facebook user. At first I resisted joining, finding the whole thing way too creepy. Then one especially dull day at work on the 45th floor of the BMO building got the best of me, and I decided to see what it was all about. A few years later I am as dependent on Facebook as anyone else. Part of me would like to quit, especially after this latest addition, but then I’d miss out on all of the advantages I’m sure you are well aware of. I exercise my right to have a locked-down profile through the privacy settings Facebook allows and go about my business. Then sometimes I find myself looking at wedding pictures of people I don’t even know, and I think: “Is this really what Facebook should be used for?” The answer has got to be no.

Why do we want to stalk people over the Internet? Does the fact that it’s so easy make it acceptable? If you were sitting around your living room with friends and glanced out the window to see a bunch of people watching you, you would probably be freaked out. Yet Facebook allows us to do just that, and now with the option of seeing everything two friends have shared, in all its Internet glory.

Granted, privacy settings allow us to only share what we want to share. This “See Friendship” feature won’t give your friends new access to the FB existence you have, but it puts it all in one overly convenient place, which you may or may not appreciate. And it was done sneakily. Where is the notice explaining what it is, and where is the “opt-out,” Mark Zuckerberg? I feel violated.

What about people who have fairly lax privacy settings? Or what’s recommended by Facebook?

U of T Computer Science Professor Graeme Hirst points out that “it seems to be a useful feature for stalking people who are friends of friends (e.g. an ex- and his or her new special friend.) [Although] the information is technically ‘public,’ it can be a creepy kind of hearsay nonetheless. The way to opt out is to be careful about what you let friends of friends see.”

The biggest issue is that this is just another move on Facebook’s part aimed at making more information available to the public and third party developers so the company can earn more money. Applications such as Farmville have shared user information and send IDs to external companies, although FB has stated the situation is resolved, for now.

You may recall a new tool in December 2009 that made more information available, by reverting accounts to a default privacy setting until users reviewed and re-set their controls. In response to complaints, Canada’s Privacy Commissioner Jennifer Stoddart, launched her second investigation of Facebook. It was completed in September when the commissioner released a statement saying, “Overall, Facebook has implemented the changes it promised following our investigation. However, our work with Facebook is not over.” Neither should yours be. This latest development serves as a reminder that Facebook privacy may be an oxymoron, so be careful what you share.

The benefits of classical education

In Die Hard, the antagonist, Hans Gruber, shows off his classical education with this memorable line : “And when Alexander saw the breadth of his domain, he wept, for there were no more worlds to conquer.” Aside from providing action films with quotable dialogue, there are numerous benefits to being classically educated. It’s difficult to argue that classics should be integral to every person’s education without sounding at least somewhat pretentious, but we’ll try anyway.

For centuries, classical studies were considered the basis of higher education. Greek and Latin were the language of academia and the works of philosophers, scientists, authors, and artists from the ancient world were taught to children from a young age. It would have been unheard of to not know what transpired at the Battle of Thermopylae, or who Pericles was. Classical studies have fallen out of vogue in modern curricula, but this should not be the case.

alt text
Many foundational problems in philosophy, psychology, international relations, mathematics, and even science can be found in the works of Greek and Roman authors. Did you know that Greek philosopher Zeno’s paradoxes were the first intimations of differential calculus? Or that you can find one of the first articulations of realist political theory in Thucydides’ account of the Peloponnesian War between Athens and Sparta? Also, the Greek historian Herodotus was the first person to write anything that even approaches modern conceptions of history. The list goes on. Essentially, many of the courses that you are currently studying touch on ideas first considered by ancient thinkers like Plato, Aristotle, and Cicero. Notably, the Greeks had an early form of atomistic theory and one philosopher, Anaximander, even suggested 25 centuries before Darwin that human beings were descended from other creatures.

The classical civilizations have also had a tremendous influence on the humanities. The main inspiration for the Renaissance was the classical world. The flourishing of art and literature during this period looked to Greek and Roman models. Knowing the mythology, philosophy, and artistic trends of the ancient world can add to the appreciation of post-Renaissance art. For example, Boticelli’s famous painting The Birth of Venus is based on the mythical story of the same name. Even the pose of Boticelli’s Venus is based on the pose of an actual Venus statue found in Rome. Being aware of the mythology and technique that inspired the artist can lead to a more nuanced understanding of the emotion behind the painting.

Proficiency in Greek and Latin is no longer an integral part of academia. However, studying these classical languages can nonetheless be beneficial. Since most of the English language derives from these sources, knowing a bit of Greek and Latin can help you understand key concepts better. For example, “logic” is derived from the Greek word logos, which means speech or reason. Psychology is then taken from a combination of two Greek words psychos, which means self or mind, and logos. So if you’re studying psychology you’re studying the logic of the self or mind.

On a lighter note, there’s a reason why so many movies and TV shows are based on events of the ancient world: the history of Greece and Rome can be very entertaining.

Ancient history is replete with amusing anecdotes about the crazy antics and strange beliefs of prominent personalities. The Roman Emperor Nero, for example, used to force audiences to sit through his musical performances for so long that some feigned death so they could leave. Incidentally, he also tried to murder his mother three times. The philosopher Pythagoras forbade his followers from eating beans, because he thought they resembled gates to the soul. Ancient sources aren’t as dry as you would expect them to be either. The Roman poet Ovid famously wrote a handbook on the very esoteric topic of how to pick up women.

Clearly, there are significant advantages to being classically educated whether you do it for a career in the ancient history field or for your own edification and entertainment. But what other reasons are there engaging in classical studies? Why should one explore the faded but not forgotten worlds of Athens and Rome? Our final and most convincing argument? Mark Zuckerberg, the inventor of Facebook, studied classics in high school and university, and look where he is today. As Virgil says: “Audentes Fortuna iuvat” — Fortune favours the bold.

U of T graduate journalism program in the works

A former U of T communications executive is working to establish a new graduate program in journalism. Robert Steiner, former assistant VP strategic communications, is hoping to have a unique, highly specialized program ready for students in fall 2012.

“We should know by September 2011,” said Steiner. “We’d all have to know by then, because by September 2011 we’ll have to be marketing the program.”

He said the program will be unique from anything he’s ever seen. Doctors, lawyers, grad students, advocates, and other people with substantial life history would participate in a program tailored to their niche. While learning the fundamentals of journalism, students would focus on reporting in their specific fields and would begin freelancing by second semester.

“It’s premised on all this evidence that while generalist media are having problems, specialist media are actually growing,” said Steiner. He noted the 2008 US recession, when American car companies lost revenue and slowed advertising. While Newsweek suffered, magazines like Motor Trend saw increased advertising revenues, said Steiner, adding that companies increasingly advertise within their niche.

The idea is to form freelance journalists who can pitch their work globally.

“The problem with conventional journalism programs at the master’s level is that they are teaching people to be general assignment reporters at the local city paper. There aren’t as many jobs as there are students.

“What we’d like to do is actually create a program that recruits students who already have a specialty. We’re going to recruit those folks and teach them over the course of two years how to be a journalist in the global niche media, covering their fields. This would be as global as conventional [journalism programs] are local.”

The program would likely be run from the Munk School of Global Affairs and would seek a mix of Canadian and international students. Course content would include entrepreneurship and how media work in various states, including covering authoritarian states. Students would be taught how to create a personal studio, complete with all necessary tools for reporting through multiple platforms on the issues relevant to their work.

“I think most of our students aren’t going to be working in newsrooms in the end,” said Steiner. “They’ll be working as freelancers, and they’ll be working in their own areas.”

Steiner started his new role of founding director of the Journalism Lab at the Munk School in mid-October. Since summer 2009, he has worked on the program during evenings and weekends. “I was doing this on the side a little bit over the course of the last year, until it got to a point where we figured someone has to jump right into this and do [it], or it’s just not going further.”

He said the idea came about through conversations with his colleagues in the joint undergraduate journalism program between UTSC and Centennial College.

“They’re on a strong path forward for undergraduate education, and it struck me that there might be a different but complementary path forward for graduate education — one that starts with older students who already have a specialty they wish to cover,” said Steiner.

Before working in public relations, Steiner freelanced during his undergraduate degree and later worked at The Wall Street Journal, where he was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. He said he looks forward to returning to journalism, but stressed the program is just a proposal and that approval and accreditation would take months.

“There’s a lot to happen between now and then,” he said. “I’m really struck and very moved by the interest people are showing, and we have to get the details right.”

Jamming in Bellwoods

Torontonian musician and comedian Maylee Todd stands stately in the middle of Trinity Bellwoods Park, strumming an acoustic guitar. Around her, lackeys in skin-tight fluorescent and metallic spandex wave ribbons and dance in an interweaving circle. Dave Monks of Tokyo Police Club delivers a couple of songs solo, and takes some time out to show off a ladybug that’s just landed on his guitar case. Ruby Coast perform an acoustic set with raw vocals and melancholic harmonies. In the short time since Live in Bellwoods launched last August, the music video series has featured Toronto favorites such as Born Ruffians, Dinosaur Bones, and The Balconies performing stripped-down acoustic sets in various spots across the sprawling West Queen West Park.

The series began as the brainchild of the boys of Humble Empire, a self-described media organization that dabbles in producing music videos and making t-shirts. They also host HumbleMania, an event at The Ossington every other Wednesday night that features the premiere of the video and a live performance. Mike Juneau and Kyle McCreight, the twenty-something cofounders and creative team behind Humble Empire, sit down shivering in the November air at a picnic table in the middle of the park to talk shop and the state of the Toronto music scene.
alt text

“It started out with me filming a friend of mine, Chris White, in the park with a guitar. I happened to have my camera on me,” McCreight says, his hooded sweatshirt shadowing his face. “We decided it was a lot of fun, so we just got some of our friends to get involved, and it took off pretty quickly.”

“It was lucky because our first [performers] were Dinosaur Bones, Born Ruffians, and Tokyo Police Club. For the Toronto scene, that’s a pretty good start, and got us some attention right away,” Juneau continues. “It started out for fun, and now that it’s become something, and people are watching it and enjoying it, we’re more aware of what it can be. It’s kind of about building a community of bands in the city.”

Though the initial performers were largely friends of friends, during this past summer, 19 bands — coming from places as varied as Texas and Iceland — have performed sets in the park. But at the end of the day, it’s all about Toronto.

“Every couple years there’s a new hash of great young bands who are starting to come up — like right now, Dilly Dally’s coming up, Nicholas Doubleyou’s coming up. All of these bands starting to play shows and get attention really quickly. […] Dinosaur Bones got big really quickly a couple of years ago and before them it was the Born Ruffians. […] It starts to be about more than just playing for your friends,” says Juneau.

“But the thing is that you can be relevant today and tomorrow you’re not,” says McCreight. “It’s definitely a tightrope walk.”

Juneau and McCreight recently filmed four bands in the park: Nicolas Doubleyou and the B-Squad, Catl, Inlet Sound, and Mothers of Brides. The videos’ releases will be staggered to correspond with HumbleMania, which features the premieres of the videos and an original acoustic set from a Toronto standard. Last week featured a solo performance from Dave Monks of Tokyo Police Club.

“It’s really important to me that the bands who come out to play, play a different kind of set. So it’s not just the same thing you would see if you go to the Horseshoe [Tavern]. Maybe they play a stripped down set, maybe they play something that’s not in their set list — ideally, it’s another side to their music,” says McCreight. “I guess the next step is really beginning to take yourself seriously as an artist,” Juneau explains of the duo’s decision to take on more produced music videos. Earlier this summer they produced, editied, and directed Tokyo Police Club’s “Wait Up (Boots of Danger)” official video — in which a bunch of dogs break into a pool and having a pool party, while the band jams inside.

“That was a drunken brainchild coming from our talks of the summer and what we wanted to do this summer,” says Juneau. “I was just talking about how all I wanted to do was hang out at pools and play with dogs. I pitched it to Dave [Monks] and he was into it. And all of a sudden, we were shooting with 15 trained dogs, trying to get them to look like they were partying.”

“I mean, I guess it’s time to get legitimate. We’re even getting business cards now.”

HumbleMania at The Ossington starts at 10 p.m., Wednesday. $2.

U of T publication alleges financial misconduct

Matthew Gray, editor-in-chief of the Toronto Globalist, has alleged that UTSU has acted improperly, shifting their publications funding policy without going through the board of directors or consulting with the relevant publications.

“I had talked to Corey [Scott, VP Campus Life] informally, where I was trying to gauge exactly how much money we would get, and what he said was that he felt that publications didn’t contribute to campus life as cost-effectively as cultural organizations do and basically because of that they were going to be cutting funding,” said Gray.

Scott doesn’t recall saying that publications did not contribute as cost-effectively as other organizations, and “certainly doesn’t think that’s necessarily true.”

“From my understanding,” said Gray, “which I’m not entirely sure of, you would require some sort of modification of clubs funding policy which would have to pass through the board of directors of UTSU. That’s what I thought was going to happen and I thought there would be space for all of us publications to rally and say ‘This is going to kill us.’”

According to Gray, in a meeting earlier this year Scott told him the Globalist should expect “in the range of $500 to $750, maybe $1000.” Though this figure would be an increase from last year, when the Globalist received only $500 from UTSU, it is a cut from the year prior, when they received some $1500.

“Basically our total budget has been between $4000 to $5000,” said Gray, “and the contribution from UTSU has been roughly between $1500 and $2500.”

According to Gray, the cut to $500 “kind of destroyed the organization.” The last time they printed an issue was spring of 2009, “because the UTSU dragged their feet” in giving last year’s funding. “[Last year], we just weren’t receiving any responses from UTSU and I actually had to personally figure it out because I knew Adam [Awad], Corey [Scott], Danielle Sandhu, so I went to them and sort of asked what was going on with that,” apparently receiving $500 in “emergency funding” shortly after.
alt text

Still, Gray maintains the “question is, why has there been a shift in UTSU policy that hasn’t gone through the board of directors?” He argues there is “no accountability as to how it shifts, they’re not really answering to anybody, just changing UTSU policy.” He added that “Corey is in an appointed position, so it is not a democratically elected position, so I’m kind of weirded out as to how they’ve done this.”

In fact, the process for funding clubs is formally delineated, and according to Scott, has not been varied from in this instance. Upon receiving a proposal, UTSU determines the funding for each organization first in the clubs committee — a nine-member unit with representation from UTSU and the clubs community. The figures the committee agrees on, based on the application funds granted in previous years and amount available that year, must then be ratified by the board of directors before being granted.

“So what we did, what I did last year, was count the amount of funding that was allocated to all the publications who had specifically requested funding for the publication. So that’s not including like The Muslim Voice which is funded by the MSA, or other clubs that are housing magazines. I counted up that number, I counted up the number from the year before, and kind of figured out a good even point between that, and then we added a little bit extra even to that, so that’s just kind of our informal number.” Though the Globalist funding has yet to be ratified, Scott maintains the unofficial figure “hasn’t gone down from last year.”

“We’ve tried to foresee as much as possible this year,” said Scott, “and I think that for a couple of the publications funding has gone up, and for some of them it’s gone down. the Globalist, not officially, has gone up a little.”

Confusion on UTSU’s publication policy may stem from Scott’s plan to create a formal policy for publications funding this year. As of now, publications are treated like all other clubs, and Scott hopes “to create a term of reference so publications know [how much funding they can expect] at the beginning of the year.”

“The funding is just not there to cover these huge costs, these realistic costs, these costs that kind of just can’t be avoided,” said Scott, citing a substantial growth in the number of groups applying for funding over the past two years, with the amount available — roughly $160,000 — staying constant.

“So we just had the concern that there were a lot of these executives going into debt, with the UTSU’s hands being tied behind their back because the funding’s just not there. So earlier in the year I talked to several of the publications, and talking about the idea of setting up a publications funding, so there’s a set amount of funds that would be put aside […] specifically for publications, but also so that we could create a policy around the set way to fund publications,” said Scott.

“The problem is that once you start giving out a lot of publications funding you become a beacon for publications, so if we give funding to the Toronto Globalist and then Footprint, Chinese Magazine, Green Health Discovery Magazine, Urbane, all these different magazines that are operating on campus which, you know, deserve funding, will come to UTSU and also ask for funding, but if you give $1500 to the Globalist and then there’s like six other magazines also applying next year because they heard about it. That’s like, $9000 out of the budget there, and it just becomes a lot tighter and a lot harder to decide.”

Scott maintains that this policy has yet to be enacted, and will be the result of extensive consultation with publications, likely in January or February.

“We do want to create a really good policy that is built by publications, and that has those opinions and those experiences within it, so that it works for everyone, but that it also doesn’t set up a false hope for exorbitant funds to cover the really high costs,” said Scott.