The Prize:The 1954 Nobel Prize in Chemistry was awarded to Linus Pauling “for his research into the nature of the chemical bond and its application to the elucidation of the structure of complex substances.”The Science:Linus Pauling has been honoured by many as the greatest modern chemist. A Nobel Prize was definitely in his destiny, but Pauling himself wasn’t sure what he would win it for.His contribution to chemistry is a story of a career’s worth, with no single great achievement—something that Alfred Nobel had stipulated as necessary for Nobel Prize–winning work.Pauling’s interest in the chemical bond started during undergrad. At this time, the model for the chemical bond, the “glue” that keeps two atoms in a molecule bound to each other, was thought of as “hooks and eyes” like the clasps found at the top of some zippers. Every atom had a certain number of hooks and eyes to attach to other atoms, and joining a hook and an eye from different atoms resulted in the formation of a chemical bond.Pauling’s own work on chemical bonds was highly influenced by the work of Gilbert Lewis and Irving Langmuir (Nobel Laureate, 1932). The Lewis and Langmuir model of the atom posited that the electrons that orbit the nucleus of an atom can be found in orbital shells: the first shell contains two electrons, with the remaining electrons found in subsequent, larger shells that hold eight electrons each. In their model, the atom is “happiest” when the outermost shell is full. Thus, an atom that has seven electrons in its outermost shell will bond to an atom with only one electron in its outer shell, allowing them to “share” that electron, and making both atoms “happier.”Of course, this model was too simplistic to explain what chemists at the time knew about atoms. The scientific community was already beginning to think of electrons as waves and not as moons orbiting a nuclear planet.After completing his PhD in 1925, Pauling spent time in Europe on a Guggenheim Fellowship working with quantum theory giants Arnold Sommerfield, Niels Bohr (Nobel Laureate, 1922), and Erwin Schrödinger (Nobel Laureate, 1933). Exposure to the world of theoretical physics allowed Pauling to start his own lab at Caltech in a very new field, quantum chemistry, where he could explore the connection between quantum mechanics and the chemical bond.Pauling’s Nobel-winning work began in 1928, when he published a theory on the nature of the carbon bond. His paper hypothesized that the formation of chemical bonds resulted in the exchange of energy, an idea originally proposed by Walter Heitler and Fritz London. This theory addressed a long-standing debate between physicists and chemists over carbon’s bonding geometry. The paper did not include any mathematics to back up Pauling’s hypothesis, but he set out to prove it mathematically and finally did, three years later.In 1931, Pauling wrote the first in a series of seven papers describing “The Nature of the Chemical Bond.” Using quantum mechanics and wave functions, Pauling derived the strengths and arrangements of bonds and predicted other properties of bonds not yet discovered. “I was so excited and happy, I think I stayed up all night, making, writing out, solving the equations, which were so simple that I could solve them in a few minutes,” he said at the time.Pauling was one of the few chemists familiar with quantum theory, making his theories easily 10 years ahead of everyone else’s. Einstein famously said, “It was too complicated for me,” to a reporter after sitting in on a seminar given by Pauling in 1931.Each successive article in the “Nature of the Chemical Bond” series built upon the theories of part one, and described a different aspect of the chemical bond. The third paper in the series outlined the differences between covalent bonds (when two atoms share an electron virtually equally) and ionic bonds (when one atom takes the lion’s share of the electron time). He demonstrated that bonds in intermediate states between covalent and ionic could be explained by quantum mechanics and chemical observations.Pauling’s fourth paper in the series described the famous electronegativity scale. Unlike the other papers which were heavy on theoretical physics, this paper was intuitive and the science was easy for other chemists to understand. Pauling’s electronegativity scale is a measure of how hard an atom can “tug” on an electron shared in a chemical bond. When an atom with a high “tugging” power shares an electron with a lower pull, the bond they share is more likely to be ionic. The scale allowed chemists to predict what type of bond two atoms will form when they react.In the early 1930s, Pauling was publishing an average of one manuscript every five weeks—an impressive rate even today. Throughout this prolific period, he also devoted much time to teaching. He was known as an excellent lecturer and could make even the most difficult concepts easy to understand.His teaching influenced another of his major works, The Nature of the Chemical Bond and the Structure of Molecules and Crystals: An Introduction to Modern Structural Chemistry, a textbook aimed at graduate-level chemistry students that revolutionized the way chemistry was taught. It focused on how the quantum mechanics of a chemical bond can influence molecular structure and therefore the behaviour and properties of molecules. Max Perutz (Nobel Laureate, 1962) said that Pauling’s textbook showed that “chemistry could be understood rather than being memorized.” It quickly became accepted as a standard text and was translated into many languages.The next stage of Pauling’s career moved away from chemistry and into biology. He made significant contributions to protein chemistry, genetics, and immunology. With others he determined the molecular mechanism behind sickle cell anemia. Pauling also contributed to the discovery of secondary structure elements in proteins that allow proteins to fold into functional forms. James Watson and Francis Crick rushed their work to explain the structure of DNA because they perceived that Pauling might discover it before them—they beat him and won the Nobel Prize in 1962. He also made valuable contributions to the war effort during the Second World War.Yet, the Nobel Prize eluded him. It was only in 1954—over 20 years after his original contributions—that Pauling was finally honoured by the Nobel committee. Pauling first heard about his award from a reporter, first asking “what did I get it for?” He was happy to hear that he had won the award for his work since 1928. The committee had bent the rules and awarded Pauling an award for years of achievement.Pauling’s influence on almost every branch of science is undeniable. He revolutionized the way scientists thought about chemistry. Francis Crick called Pauling “the father of molecular biology” and Pauling’s name can be heard in the same breath of such great thinkers as Newton, Galileo, and Einstein.What you may not know:After years of waiting for his Nobel in Chemistry, Pauling was soon afterwards awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1962. The second award made Pauling the only scientist to be singly awarded a Nobel Prize in two different categories.This Nobel Prize was awarded to Pauling for his work from 1946 onwards in campaigning against the building, testing, and use of nuclear arms in war. In 1946, Pauling, Einstein, and seven other scientists founded the Emergency Committee of Atomic Scientists to prevent the use of nuclear weapons from ever again creating the disasters seen in both Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan.With aid and inspiration from his wife, Ava Helen Pauling, he wrote an appeal against nuclear weapons that was signed by 2,000 American scientists and 8,000 scientists abroad to petition the American government and the United Nations. Pauling wrote the book No More War! describing the collection of these signatures. He and Ava worked tirelessly on organizing conferences to promote peace.For his work against nuclear weapons, Pauling was stripped of his passport by the American government and prevented from attending a scientific lecture tour of Europe because he was seen as a communist sympathizer and was described by the Senate Internal Security Subcommittee as “the number one scientific name in virtually every major activity of the Communist peace offensive” in America. He was reissued his passport in order to attend his Chemistry Nobel Prize ceremony in 1954.The Chair of the committee concluded his presentation speech to Pauling with the words: “Should Linus Pauling, through his tireless efforts, have contributed—if only a little—to restoring to science its ideals, then his campaign will in itself have been of such value that we living today can scarcely appreciate the full extent of the debt we owe him.”
Nobelmen: Chemist Linus Pauling rewarded for over two decades of scientific breakthroughs
Our year in lists
Blockhead—The Music SceneBlockhead is a young grasshopper in the giant scheme of sampling but it wouldn’t be far-fetched to say that he is approaching mastery. The Music Scene, his fourth solo album, can slay the mightiest of instrumental music snobs with its rolling rhythms, obscure vocal samples, and blending of genres. This is most obvious on a track like “The Daily Routine,” featuring street shouting that moves from a driving, devilish chant to a beautifully jazzy, almost Latin-like, rhythm and finally to a dreamy, electronic beat. The seamless interaction of these elements throughout the album is the mark of a genius.
—Lola LandekicGirls—AlbumIn these troubled times, who better to turn to for solace than an unemployed, shaggy haired fuck-up bumming around San Francisco trying to forget a childhood spent in the Children of God cult? In 2009, Christopher Owens was the voice of a generation, tired and disappointed and maybe a little stoned, trying not to be bored with everything—the 00’s very own Paul Westerberg. But there’s still hope: the sunshine surf riffs, the promises of ex-lovers to be “friends forever,” and the paean of the so-catchy-Iggy-would-be-proud “Lust for Life”: “If I really tried with all of my heart, I could make a brand new start in love with you.” It may be a “Hellhole Ratrace,” but if we want to do some dancing too, here’s the soundtrack.—WYNDHAM BETTENCOURT-MCCARTHYHEALTH—Get ColorTwo years after the overplayed “Crimewave” was appropriated by Toronto’s
electro-darlings Crystal Castles, HEALTH’s sophomore release stands strong and separate from most of the electronic hipster bullshit they’re associated with. Expanding on their self-titled debut, Get Color explores the dynamics and crescendos not fully realized in their first effort. Tracks such as “Die Slow” (which boasts one of 2009’s heaviest intro riffs) and “We Are Water” have a more self-contained and finished feel to them. The album is decidedly more focused, and admittedly a little darker.—DAVID PIKEConverge—Axe to FallThe fragmentation and specialization of heavy and aggressive music, particularly in the last year, has become almost unbearable as bands create disparate genres differentiated only by particular riffs, time signatures, and tonal qualities. Their 2009 release Axe to Fall recalls the ferocity of 2001’s masterful Jane Doe (which still overshadows their subsequent releases), adding a more timeless, classic metal feel—all the while maintaining Jacob Bannon’s signature vocal style and Ballou/Newton’s unmistakable song writing.—DPDirty Projectors—Bitte OrcaThose irresistible grooves, those acrobatic vocals. If Paul Simon and David Byrne and Mariah Carey had a threesome, something like Bitte Orca could be the result. It’s more likely, though, that it could only be the product of Dave Longstreth’s genius, already demonstrated on 2007’s shimmering Rise Above. No band alive plays with rhythm the way the Projectors do—just try not to feel the beat of “No Intention” in your hips. Even the songs packed with sounds and short guitar thrash always have a cleanness and precision. Tambourine, reeds, and driving drums pulsate the elasticity of 2009’s best song, “Stillness is the Move,” with Amber Coffman’s voice building a bridge from “a diner in some remote city off the highway” straight up to heaven.—WBMGrizzly Bear—VeckatimestThe pop gem of “Two Weeks” caught our ears first, sailing on choir harmonies so effortless they might send Brian Wilson back to bed yet again. But the magic truly happens in the vast soundscape of melancholy that builds throughout the album, quietly exploding on the magnificently orchestral “While You Wait for the Others.” Everyone has had a broken heart, but few musicians capture loss with such eloquence while saying so little. Thom Yorke’s robot heart dreams about making music this affecting, where the simplest words and sounds coalesce into an island of sentiment and longing, drifting in that cold East coast sea.—WBMWe Were Promised Jetpacks—These Four WallsThe introductory track, “It’s Thunder and It’s Lightning,” was proof enough that We Were Promised Jetpacks is taking both indie rock and Britpop in a completely new direction. Reminiscent of American Midwest indie rock bands from the 1990s, Jetpacks have produced a consistently driving, yet inoffensive or abrasive gem of a record that is simultaneously introverted and extroverted. Tracks like “Quiet Little Voices” get one’s heart going without fail, and “An Almighty Thud” resonates far deeper for me sonically or personally than many of the records making everyone else’s year-end lists.—DPLittle Girls—ConceptsLittle Girls seems to have snuck up on this city like a fog: heavy, enveloping, and more than a little mysterious. Though the album can be repetitive, the allure of Concepts comes from its combination of inarticulate lyrics, sharp fuzz, and sweet drum lines. It’s a hard little gem of noise and pop that stokes the embers of Joy Division’s legacy.—LLPhoenix—Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix2009’s theoretical “best new band” was actually on their fourth album this year, but buzzy synth anthem “1901” made the masses pay attention to Phoenix like never before. The band’s poppiest effort to date, Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix played into eighties revivalism with massive bursts of energy and charisma. “Lisztomania” was a particularly appropriate soundtrack for a John Hughes mash-up video.—Shoshana Wasser (because they couldn’t agree on a 10th album!)Ume—Sun-shower EPSPIN picked Ume in March 2009 as one of seven undiscovered bands worth a listen and I completely agree! Dear readers, get a clue: this band deserves your attention. Ume’s Sunshower EP couples rough instrumentation with a soft delicacy that is wonderfully palatable. The only problem with it is that it’s too short. If you like Sonic Youth, The Pixies or cute girls, don’t sleep on this band.—LLHonourable MentionsWyndham: Sunset Rubdown, Neko Case
Lola: The Xx, Jay Reatard
Dave: Volcano Choir, Mono
A Serious ManFollowing their nihilistic Burn After Reading, the Coen Brothers’ film about a Minnesota physics professor (Michael Stuhlbarg) and his attempt to find God in the wilderness of his compounding misfortunes is likely their most personal and insightful movie. Director of photography Roger Deakins finds sharp beauty in the greys and blues of the film’s suburban wasteland.—Chris BerubeAntichristFor his first horror film, Lars von Trier tackled the most frightening topic of all: his own Catholic guilt. Opening with a scenario of deep sexual shame, Antichrist becomes a painful religious parable about a world where all creation is evil, and woman, the giver of life, is the evilest of all. Anchored by extraordinary performances by Willem Dafoe and Charlotte Gainsbourg, Antichrist is an unrelenting psychological horror film and an intensely personal artistic statement.—Will SloanThe Bad Lieutenant—Port of Call: New OrleansHire Werner Herzog to direct a standard police procedural drama and you get…a Werner Herzog film. In collaboration with a hilariously unhinged Nicolas Cage giving his best performance in years, Herzog took the framework of a cops-and-robbers drama and turned it into a gonzo, hugely entertaining black comedy. Not just one of the director’s most pungently atmospheric films, but also one of his funniest.—WSThe ClassLaurent Cantet’s story of a year in the life of an inner city Parisian middle school wrings pathos out of a familiar kind of impotence in the modern education system. Watching well-meaning but jaded teacher François confront the contradictions and hypocrisy of a deeply fractured system—and his interactions with the kids stuck in the middle—is truly heartbreaking.—CBFantastic Mr. FoxFor his most recent film, Wes Anderson chose to forgo live-action in favour of animation. The stop-motion is jittery and the music is sparse, yet the movie never skips a beat. It feels entirely authentic and sure of itself with that characteristic Andersonian vibe present throughout. The lush, warm colours along with careful set and costume design are as pleasing to the eye as the characters’ voices are to the ear.—Tom CardosoIn the LoopThere is a certain poetry to the feature-length blue streak of Malcolm Tucker (Peter Capaldi) in this British comedy about the lead-up to a fictional war in the Middle East. The withering send-up of modern ego politics makes this a work of high modern satire. Introducing shibboleths like “fuckety bye,” “let them eat cock,” and “I will punch you into paralysis” into the canon of obscenity helps, too.—CBInglourious BasterdsThis revisionist WWII action-drama epic is packed full of film and music references, as is to be expected when dealing with Quentin Tarantino. Along with the excellence of its quintessential Ennio Morricone-laden soundtrack, Christoph Waltz gives one of the most stunning performances of the year as Nazi official Hans Landa.—TCTakenBad-ass doesn’t even begin to describe Liam Neeson in this crazy action romp through the streets of Paris. After 20 or so brief minutes of plot development, the film shifts into overdrive, with an insane body count matched only by the sheer balls of Neeson’s character—at one point, he even shoots a French cop’s wife. After a while, you can’t help but feel sorry for Neeson’s enemies in the film.—TCTysonHollywood survivor James Toback was the perfect director for a documentary about another survivor, his close friend Mike Tyson. With no pretense of objectivity, Toback’s film simply lets Tyson deliver his life story in a monologue that is engrossing, revealing, often intelligent, and sometimes absolutely maddening. Freed from years of hype, scorn, and caricature, Toback finally gives us a chance to see that Mike Tyson is a man, warts and all.—WSHonourable MentionsChris: Adventureland, Anvil! The Story of Anvil, Interior Design (Michel Gonry’s third of Tokyo!)
Tom: 35 Shots of Rum, Avatar, The Hurt Locker
Will: Bruno, Observe and Report, Where the Wild Things ArehBAylbN4
Oh Holy Father, where art thou?
The recent attack on the Pope during Christmas Eve Mass made me think about the relation we Catholics have with him. It’s extremely confusing to outsiders and, at times, it would be correct to say some people idolize him. To us, he is another father, one that we don’t always agree with but we trust to lead us through times good and bad.One of the most memorable events of my family’s Christmas vacation will be standing in horror 20 feet away from where the attack happened.After four hours of lines, security checks, and rain, we made it into the standing section as the doors were closing. As the curtain at the back of the church opened, a parade of cardinals, bishops, priests and other clergy marched out before Benedict XVI made his grand entrance.The crowd erupted. As whenever the Pope appears in public, a mass of outstretched arms holding cameras followed him. Every Catholic, no matter how lapsed, was filled with both a spirit of awe and a savage instinct to push everyone, young and old, out of the way. I caught a glimpse of the Pope seconds before he turned the corner and was attacked. We could only see the camera mob, but knew something had gone wrong when a terrifying collective scream rose and echoed through the ancient walls of St. Peter’s Basilica.For about 10 seconds everyone remained silent, glancing at each other, telepathically exchanging the same concern for our Holy Father’s old age. As the Pope got back on his feet, a man cried “Viva il Papa!” (“Long live the Pope!”). The church erupted in applause and cheering as the 81-year-old man made his stride up to the altar.Quite often I find myself at odds with the Vatican. There are aspects of Church dogma that I either disagree with or am baffled by. The Church has a history of abominably oppressive actions that are hard to swallow, though moves are being taken to heal and reconcile them. I also get upset with public relation nightmares, like when Benedict XVI spoke out against condoms on his flight to Africa last March with wording that practically asked the media to misquote him.And yet, I respect the Pope and his office. He keeps the billions of Catholics throughout the world united in a way that no other group is, especially in a world that increasingly oversimplifies religious thought and treats it with hostility. Catholics trust him to lead a tradition that has gone through trouble and change.At the end of the Mass, the Pope blessed a traditional creche (nativity display) then walked through the back curtain behind Swiss guards and men in suits. En route he decided, seemingly on a whim, to bless the foreheads of three small children in the crowd. For me, the gesture symbolized both the resonance of real face-to-face encounters as well as the Pope’ role as a father figure to billions.
UBC student union fails to impeach execs
Two student politicians at the University of British Columbia will keep their jobs after facing possible impeachment for filing a human rights complaint to the United Nations over unaffordable education. President Blake Frederick and VP external Tim Chu of the Alma Mater Society have instead had heavy restrictions placed on their powers.An hour before the meeting to impeach the execs, an 18-page legal opinion from AMS’s law firm, Davis LLP, informed the council that a recall or an impeachment motion would be illegal. The firm advised instead to censure, or formally reprimand, the two executives.Despite the lack of an impeachment motion, over 200 students attended the council meeting on Dec. 7. Council unanimously passed a motion to censor Frederick and Chu and then a subsequent motion requiring the execs to report their activities on an hourly basis. At the meeting, Frederick called the UN complaint a “media stunt that was meant to engage public discussion about tuition.”Frederick’s first hourly report has already stirred up some discussion, with activities like “Bubble Tea Break (2pm-2:30pm at the UBC Village)” and “Facebook (2:15pm-2:30pm).”The AMS has scheduled its annual general meeting two weeks earlier than usual, on Feb. 12, to further punish Frederick and Chu. The new executive is officially brought in at the AGM.According to the Facebook group “We oppose the AMS impeachment of Blake Frederick and Tim Chu,” Chu is quoted as saying that filing the UN complaint cost around $6,000. Frederick said it cost another $6,000 to get the legal opinion on the removal of directors.
U of T student lands Rhodes scholarship
Erin Fitzgerald has been awarded the prestigious Rhodes Scholarship, which will provide a stipend and tuition expenses at the University of Oxford for two years, with an option for a third year. Each year, 11 Rhodes Scholarships are earmarked for Canadians, with two going to Ontario residents. Fitzgerald will graduate in May 2010 with an Honours BA in international relations and political science.Established in 1903, the Rhodes Scholarship considers academic distinction, citizenship, and extracurricular activities. The award is named after Cecil Rhodes (1853-1902), the British businessman and politician who founded the diamond mining corporation DeBeers. Rhodes is best known for his ardent support for colonialism, accumulating his wealth to the detriment of oppressed peoples.Scholarships are nothing new to Fitzgerald. Thanks to a bevy of scholarships, including $25,000 from U of T, $16,000 from the province, and $20,000 from Coca-Cola, her father’s employer, she is debt-free.Fitzgerald has an excellent academic record, and graduated from high school with a 99.5 per cent average, the highest in Toronto. Nithum Thain, the other Rhodes Scholar from Ontario, has a 4.0 GPA. He is currently in his second year of his Doctor of Philosophy in mathematics at McGill University. He plans to do a Master’s in developmental economics at Oxford in September 2010.It should be noted the scholarship looks for more than grades. Such was the case with Kofi Hope, a U of T alumnus who became a Rhodes Scholar in 2007. “In my final year I got straight A’s for the first time in my life and was pretty much spending as much time on activism as school, if not more time on activism,” Hope said.Fitzgerald spent a summer working as an intern at the World Health Organization in Geneva. Another summer she was at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington D.C., where she co-authored with Anthony Cordesman, a well-known security analyst, reports on Afghanistan, Iraq, and U.S. strategic planning.At U of T, Fitzgerald is the chair of the G8 Research Group, a network of students and faculty who monitor how well G8 and G5 members comply with commitments they make at G8 Summits. She attended the Toyako Hokkaido Summit in 2008 as a research analyst, and will lead a G8RG delegation to the Muskoka Summit this year.Fitzgerald is the fundraising director and former president of the Hart House Debating Club, editor-in-chief of The Attaché Journal of International Affairs, and an undergraduate representative on the University Affairs Board of U of T’s Governing Council.So how does she do it? “Organization is key. The skills that I learned from karate—discipline, focus—play a big role in my ability to maintain a balance between my GPA and extra-curricular activities,” said Fitzgerald, who has a black belt. “Because I have learned to focus on the task at hand, I am able to avoid procrastination and get to work quickly, which lets me take on and complete more things.”At Oxford, Fitzgerald will pursue a Master’s in Philosophy in International Relations with a focus on military and strategic studies. She plans to get a law degree afterward, at an Ivy League university.
Tales from Governing Council
More Master’s programs?
Cheryl Misak, U of T vice-president and provost, told the council that the university has too many student spaces for its PhD programs and not enough for its Master’s programs. In the current economic climate, she said, students are looking for a relatively short-term qualification that will put them in a better position for employment once the economy improves.“We would like to reallocate the number of our doctoral student spaces to Master’s student spaces because we have intense student demand. The queue for our professional Master’s programs is threatening to circle around the block,” said Misak.The Council of Ontario Universities has joined U of T in asking for the provincial government to allow the university the ability to reallocate graduate spaces, but the province has not budged yet. Misak insists it would cost the province almost nothing to grant the request.
Capital projects approved
Governing Council approved the construction of a new electrical grid to make more power available to the Medical Sciences Building. A brief provided to the council noted that as the university’s research activities expand, electrical systems that support existing buildings come under increasing strain. A second project involves the construction of an upgraded IT facility at Scarborough Campus, to be completed by January 2010 at a total cost of $3.9 million.
Much ado over election rules
Several major changes to Governing Council’s elections rules provoked much debate. GC reduced the election season from five to three weeks, partly in response to complaints from students that the lengthy campaign period interfered with their studies.In addition, the number of signatures required to be eligible to run for GC was reduced from 20 to five. Some members argued that collecting 20 signatures was too onerous and discouraged participation while others said they felt it improved the quality of candidates. When GC referred the issue to an expert on electoral procedure, the expert concluded that there was no compelling reason to reduce the number of signatures and recommended that the university undergo a trial period before fully instituting the change.
Governors clashed over speaking rights for Jeff Peters, a former governor who has a speech impediment and speaks through a translator. Peters disagreed with another proposed change to the election rules that would have allowed students participating in the Professional Experience Year program to vote in GC elections as full-time undergraduates. He noted that the change did not go through the University Affairs Committee as the other changes did, and urged GC to send the proposal back.Peters was then asked to wrap up his comments by GC chair John Petch. GC rules set the maximum time for a speaking request at five minutes. Joeita Gupta, a student governor representing part-time undergraduates, spoke up and said Peters should be given at least 10 minutes due to his speech impediment. Peters was granted two more minutes, but got out little more than a sentence before the chair reminded him that he had a minute left.Gupta’s frustration boiled over. “As a governor I’m disgusted with what we just saw,” she said. Another governor, Geoffrey Matus, objected to Gupta’s remarks. “I feel that it’s completely unacceptable for members of APUS to call your actions disgusting,” he said to the chair. “I’ve been on the Governing Council now for five years and I feel like I’ve been hijacked by it. […] We have to listen to the same stuff every time and we give them an enormous amount of rope.” A few members applauded his remarks.
Concerns over Israeli Apartheid Week
Florence Minz, a government appointee, criticized U of T in light of the upcoming sixth annual Israeli Apartheid Week in February. She felt that the university should demand the name be changed.“The title indicates that the discussion is over. A conclusion has been reached,” said Minz. “There is a name for this: it is propaganda.”Another governor agreed with Minz but raised the possibility that any actions taken against Israeli Apartheid Week ran the risk of raising the event’s profile, which he felt was currently poorly publicized and relatively ineffectual. The council agreed to look into these concerns.This article has been updated. A previous version incorrectly reported this year’s Israeli Apartheid Week as the fourth annual event, and Professional Experience Year as Professional Engineering Year.
UTSU rejects investigation of alleged proxy misconduct
At the U of T Students’ Union board meeting on Dec. 4, Victoria College representative Zayne Dattu raised a motion to investigate proxy misconduct allegations made by two former UTSU employees. While the motion was defeated, UTSU president Sandy Hudson successfully motioned to have the policy committee create a new proxy policy.The Varsity reported on Nov. 30 that two former UTSU associates received proxy votes for last year’s general meeting without having collected the signatures themselves. Steve Masse and Alyssa James, now both executives on the Woodsworth College Students Association, say they each received 10 proxy votes. “I have no idea how they collected the student names and numbers,” said James.Their allegations came on the heels of an investigation by UTM’s student paper, The Medium, which reported that of the 26 UTM students in attendance at this year’s AGM, 22 carried proxy forms that were improperly collected.“Many students I have spoken to have lost faith in UTSU to properly represent them. Some students felt that UTSU had violated their own policies and bylaws,” said Dattu.The motion called for an independent committee to look into allegations of policy and bylaw violations, which would include an investigation of proxy mismanagement. Dattu recommended the committee be comprised of law students and faculty, as well as student press. While some board members were receptive to an independent investigation, the motion was not carried.“[UTSU] felt that it was a matter that should be dealt with internally,” Dattu said. “They did not like the idea of an independent inquiry.” Dattu said that Adnan Najmi, UTSU’s VP internal and services, mentioned that an independent committee would not be protected by the same legal provisions as the union, making it difficult to access student information. Dattu said that Najmi responded with the phase “bring it on” when Dattu raised the motion.When asked about his statement, Najmi wrote in an email to The Varsity that he did not specifically recall what words he used, nor the context in which he used them.The details of the proxy policy Hudson put forth are unknown at this point and are subject to approval at the next board meeting. As to whether the policy will alleviate student concerns, Dattu said, “I am not sure that it will unless it has a mechanism to prevent abuses by executive members.”
Word, on the street
In 2005 Lauren Kirshner started a poetry salon for women in the inpatient ward at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health. Inspired by the women she encountered, Kirshner saw the potential of creative writing as a tool for empowerment. Now she has launched Sister Writes, a creative writing program for marginalized women in the Parkdale and Bloor/Dufferin neighbourhoods.Kirshner, a teacher and author, graduated from U of T’s creative writing graduate program in 2007. “I wanted to create a program where marginalized women could write about what matters to them while learning literacy skills,” she said. “The mainstream media says very little about the lived experiences of women facing poverty and mental health issues, and this near silence creates the illusion that these experiences do not exist.”For Sister Writes, Kirshner is partnering with Sistering to run a 10-week pilot program for its female clients. Sistering, an agency that supports low-income, homeless, and marginalized women, will fund the program alongside the Toronto Arts Council and the Lawrence Foundation.At the end of the program, the women design and publish a magazine to showcase their efforts.“Most of the participants have never been in a creative writing workshop or a setting where the ‘I’ matters most of all,” Kirshner said. “A simple thing like a notebook and pen, time, and a safe place to write can be hugely empowering.”