Home is where the Hart House is

John Monahan discusses community engagement, cross-cultural dialogue, and Game of Thrones

Home is where the Hart House is

John Monahan, who is one month into his term as the new warden of Hart House, stepped into the role during August of this year after his predecessor Bruce Kidd was appointed interim vice-president and principal of UTSC. In order to make Hart House more inclusive and welcoming, Monahan is looking to implement a number of new ideas and programs for the benefit of students as well as members of the university community.

As warden Monahan will act to further the house’s mission to facilitate academics and education.

“The position of Hart House Warden is one that continuously varies depending on the people who come to hold it,” remarked Monahan — who has previously worked in both the public and private sectors and has experience addressing issues that affect immigrants and refugees looking to settle in Canada.

“I feel that my experiences have given me tremendous exposure to [ethnic] communities and backgrounds, and allowed me a platform on which I could practice and develop skills that navigate difference, a skill that I believe is incredibly relevant and important to have at a house like this,” said Monahan.

The new warden also spoke to his desire to become more involved in mentorship and community programs in an effort to help broaden the university experience for students.

It is yet early days, but Monahan intends to draw inspiration from the mentorship program at the Quadrangle society at Massey College by designing a program that focusses on connecting students based on their interests rather than grouping them according to their academic disciplines. “I want to connect students with mentors to help compensate for the lack of some degree of social capital that some students might have, depending on the degree of privilege that they might come from.” 

Helping students connect to the world beyond their campus is a crucial aspect of Monahan’s vision for Hart House moving forward. He hopes to achieve this goal specifically by opening up opportunities for students to demonstrate their passion and willingness to engage with those in need.

“I would say that my first real challenge is going up the vertical learning curve,” said Monahan.“It feels like I’m climbing that wall of ice in Game of Thrones. There’s a lot to learn about the governance of the House, its physical structure, the governance of the university, and there are so many people to meet, both staff and students. There’s just a lot to get familiar with and I’m doing that at the same time that students are arriving back to school.” he remarked.

“I’d like to look back after five years and say that I left Hart House a more inclusive, caring, collaborative place and its graduates more well-rounded, more in tune with their own interests [and] priorities, and more committed to effectively contributing to their local and global communities. That’s the legacy I’d like to take with me.”

Women’s hockey fall 3-1 to Voyageurs

Blues first exhibition game ends in defeat

Friday afternoon’s tilt between the Varsity Blues women’s hockey team and the Laurentian Voyageurs was an exhibition game — but based on the grittiness of the play, you would never have guessed it. Both teams played ferociously and crashed the net hard, but in the end it was the Voyageurs who pulled ahead to a 3-1 victory over the Blues.

Rookie goaltender Valencia Yordanov was outstanding in the first half of the game — shutting out 12 shots on goal, and effectively frustrating the Laurtentian forwards with her confident play. But the second period belonged to Laurentian, as they controlled the pace of the play, cycled the puck with ease, and finally broke the tie off a five hole shot through second-year goalie Katey Teekasingh with five minutes remaining. Veteran Blues forward Alessandra Bianchi almost tucked home a rebound in the dying minutes, but the Blues would enter third period down a goal.

Unsurprisingly, the aggressive play carried over from the first two periods. A collision in front of the net drove Blues captain Kristi Riseley head first into the post, a scary play that thankfully did not result in an injury. The team, clearly shaken by their captain’s close call, gave up a goal on the very next shift, as an excellent breakout pass by the Laurentian defense set up forward Elissa Bertuzzi for a slick backhand goal. The Blues were given a power play opportunity soon afterwards — after a reckless knee-on-knee collision — but had difficulty maintaining offensive zone possession.

Late in the third the Blues played their best hockey of the game, aggressively trying to force a mistake from the overwhelmed Voyageur’s defence. This style of play appeared to suit rookies Cara Clarke and Kiyono Cox, who made a statement with tremendous fore-checking and possession, nearly resulting in a goal. They played with fifth-year Jacqueline Scheffel, who acted as a stabilizing presence on the line while laying a few huge hits herself. Riseley, who didn’t miss a shift, continued to crash the net hard and agitated the Laurentian defenders with her uncompromising play. However, Laurentian pulled away with a deflating rebound goal from Samantha Morell with seven minutes remaining to make the score 3-0.

The game ended on a positive note for the Blues, as they battled to the end and capped off the loss with an excellent goal by veteran forward Taylor Day with 13 seconds remaining. Overall, while the Blues had a lot of difficulty getting quality scoring chances, their compete level was outstanding and their gritty style this year will serve them well in the Ontario University Athletics (OUA) regular season.

Failure to communicate

In the wake of anonymous threats, U of T administration finds itself playing catch up

Failure to communicate

At U of T, the first few weeks of September have always been defined by warm welcomes and happy homecomings. Over the course of a few short days, summer disappears behind us and the excitement of a new semester grows. This is what is expected.

What is not expected during this time — or at any time on a university campus for that matter — is the increased police presence, tersely worded administrative warnings, and sense of uneasy dread that have descended on this institution in the past week.

Shortly after one o’clock in the afternoon on Thursday, September 10, as many of us were waiting in line at the bookstore, dropping in at clubs’ fairs, catching up with, or meeting new friends, a frightening email appeared in our inboxes.

By now, the horrid details that were then unclear have come to light: two weeks ago, an anonymous post in the comment feed of a BlogTO article encouraged readers to go out and execute acts of violence against students at this university.

This threat was the unidentified subject of vice-president and provost Cheryl Regehr’s office’s mass email that afternoon. What this lackluster attempt to promote calm and order on campus neglected to include, however, was that the threat in question was specifically levelled against feminists and students and faculty of the Sociology, and Women and Gender studies departments.

While Toronto Police have been adamant in their conclusion that the post does not represent an immediate risk to students, the university’s reaction to this threat represents a failure to communicate with its community responsibly, a missed opportunity to express solidarity appropriately, and leaves many important questions regarding U of T’s decision making protocol unanswered.

In an age where our lives are saturated with rapid online communication and social media, and information — good or bad — can be shared almost instantly, it can be near impossible to ensure that the facts of a story are communicated effectively. Unsurprisingly, then, it was only a matter of minutes before anyone who received the provost’s email looked up the details online and realized how little the university had actually told us.

In choosing, for whatever reason, to omit certain details of the threat, the university put itself off balance and opened itself up to much of the warranted criticism that has befallen it since. We were going to find out what was going on, so keeping the community partially out of the loop seems suspicious, if not baffling, particularly given the administration’s absent justification for this decision.

Beyond creating problems for itself from a public relations perspective, by choosing not to provide students and staff with all of the information available, the university also ran the significant risk of inciting unnecessary and widespread panic in the community. This is not to downplay the seriousness of any threat, regardless of its credibility, whether it is against one, some, or all of us; but in the decision not to share the specifics, the administration risked provoking a precarious reaction.

Perhaps what is most troubling however, is that by passing up on the opportunity to keep the community fully informed, U of T also shamefully wasted a chance to express some much needed solidarity with feminists, Women and Gender Studies and sociology students and faculty, as well as the community at large. By presenting the threat as an abstract, anomalous occurrence — as opposed to contextualizing it as a symptom of widespread negative treatment of women and feminists — the administration failed to come out ahead for having the done right thing — not only keeping us safe, but acknowledging the reality of misogyny in our society.

Now that the dust has settled and the facts have been laid bare, the university’s subsequent statements of support are not without an air of inauthenticity. The moment to support the feminist community in a dangerous time has passed and everything released since is backtracking. The administration’s initial silence on the gendered nature of this threat — not to mention its lack of information surrounding similar threats in June — signalled a disregard for the sexism that informed the threat to begin with.

It is not with out some incredulity that at this time, and in this place, we feel the need to denounce violence against women, in all forms, in the harshest terms. Yet, the sad truth is, as Teju Cole once noted, “the absurdity of our predicament makes it necessary to spell out obvious things in detail, even… things we already know, or should already know.”

The five people you’ll run into at Goldring

A definitive guide to the types of student-athletes that frequent the gym

The five people you’ll run into at Goldring


With endless new fitness apps coming out through which to share gigabytes of selfies, showing off a healthy lifestyle is all the rage. You’ll recognize these people by their overpriced Nike Pro and Lululemon apparel, which they’re probably showing off on their Snapchat story. The only thing getting a bigger workout than their thumbs is their ego, but that’s all right, because going to the gym is about getting in shape, isn’t it?




Their Under Armour muscle shirt or enthusiastic training group are an easy way to identify cross-fitters. If that doesn’t tip you off, they’ll probably be sporting some colourful Reebok shoes and be covered in chalk. Don’t bother waiting for the squat rack, because their WOD (Workout of the Day) probably entails as many squats at the highest possible weight until they collapse.




Usually to be found getting exclusive use of the top floor during the Goldring’s busiest times, Varsity Athletes are the easiest cohort to identify because they are among the few people at U of T who are actually doing their workouts with correct form. They’re decked out from head to toe in Varsity Blues swag and they actually look good in it.




If you ever see these athletes, stay out of their way; they’ve got a routine and nothing will stop them from monopolizing the entire weight lifting room. They look like an attempt to develop Captain America, but instead of a shield-, their favourite accessory is a thick leather belt which they wear throughout the workout. These athletes frequent Goldring in the wee hours of the morning — when us mere mortals are still asleep — because that’s the only way they’ll be able to find enough 45-kilogram plates to stack on the squat bar.




If you’re reading this, odds are you fit into this category. But that’s okay, because you’re probably too busy caring about the plethora of other responsibilities you have which sedentary, non gym-goers prioritize. If you feel like breaking out those high school running shoes, but don’t know where to start, there’s nothing wrong with using the elliptical or weight machines. Hell, you can even sport that t-shirt from the colour run you did that one time — the only thing that matters is that when you leave the gym, you do so feeling tired and satisfied.



Article by Jonathan Wilkinson and photos by Tina Ye.

Two teams in transition

Blues’ hockey captains Andrew Doyle and Kristi Riseley talk roster changes, and the upcoming season

Two teams in transition

For the past few seasons we’ve known what to expect from both the men’s and women’s Varsity Blues hockey teams. Very little roster turnover combined with veteran top-scorers meant that the success of both teams relied more on the performance of the group as a whole, than the individual players themselves. However, the lifespan of a university hockey career is short, and both the men’s and women’s teams now find themselves in a state of transition.

Captains Andrew Doyle and Kristi Riseley —  both entering their final year of study at U of T — hope to provide the stability and guidance that their young teams need in order to succeed this season, and are both confident in their teams’ abilities to adapt quickly, and start winning games right away.

The transition from junior and high school hockey to university hockey is significant for young players, says Doyle. “In junior, you’re playing some guys who are 16. Now you’re playing some guys who are 26, so it’s obviously an adjustment.” One that the 15 rookies earning spots on the men’s and women’s hockey teams will have to make quickly if they hope to secure a top spot in the rankings.

Andrew Doyle. Courtesy of the Varsity Blues.

Andrew Doyle. Courtesy of the Varsity Blues.

Last season, albeit inconsistent, was fairly successful for the men’s team. A dismal start, attributable to injuries sustained by both of the men’s goalies, gave way to a midseason drive that carried the team to the second round of the playoffs. Their run-and-gun offensive style, built around scorers like Mark Markovic and Jeff Brown, overshadowed shaky defense as the team earned a record of 13-13-1.

But this season both Markovic and Brown are gone, and while the men have veterans ready to step into their roles, it appears that the team has specifically recruited offensive players in order to bolster the line. Allowing the team’s veteran forwards to thrive in their roles. Doyle described the team this year as “hardworking and defensively stingy,” an indication that there could be a shift in tactics.

The Blues women’s hockey team is a different story.

While the women had the better season last year, going 16-5-3, they now face their largest challenge yet: the graduation of superstar goalie Nicole Kesteris — arguably the best goalie in the CIS for the past few years. She will be replaced by second-year Katey Teekasingh and rookies Hailey Farrelly and Valencia Yordanov.

Along with the loss of Kesteris, the women also took a hit defensively, with two rookies expected to slot into the top six. However, Riseley maintains that the team’s excellent coaching staff and offensive talent will prove that past successes were thanks to more than just goaltending. “We’re really confident in this group, and everyone’s fighting for their spot in the line-up,” said Riseley, “that competition will only make us better.”

Both captains are confident that their teams will pick up right where they left off, even with the addition of so many new players, “These guys were leaders on their old teams in junior and that makes it a lot easier,” said Doyle about the substantial roster changes. While for Riseley, the expectation is “going out and winning games,” which she remains confident the team can do.

The Varsity Blues men’s hockey team open their season playing Trois-Riviere at home on October 9, while the women play the rival Queen’s Gaels in their opener, also scheduled for October 9.

A not-so-happy homecoming

Blues’ men’s and women’s soccer fall to Gaels

A not-so-happy homecoming

The Varsity Blues’ women’s soccer team fell 1-0 in a tough contest with the visiting Queen’s Gaels on Saturday. The Blues now stand in second place in the OUA rankings at 5-2-1, behind the undefeated Ottawa Braves.

The early game saw Queen’s seize the initiative, keeping possession well inside the Blues’ side and taking two shots on net in the first 15 minutes. The Blues rebounded quickly, however, and took the fight to Queens’ net.

Midfielder Nicki Parkes got off Toronto’s first shot of the game, launching a graceful arc that bounced off the crossbar in the 16 minute. Toronto kept up the offense as strikers Alexandra Rocha and Chelsea Cheung both found opportunities near the net, but it was Queen’s that drew first blood, when midfielder Jessie de Boer converted a rebound from the crossbar to send a shot past Blues goalkeeper Sara Petrucci 34 minutes in.

The second half saw both teams fight for a draw. Goal keeper Sara Petrucci had a standout performance in the second half, making a clutch save on a dramatic header from Queen’s forward Rachel Radu in the dying moments.

“Toronto’s a fantastic team, so to get a result here on an away [game] is terrific for us,” said Queen’s head coach Dave McDowell, who attributed his team’s performance to a strong offence. “I certainly think we’re good at attacking and have created a lot of chances offensively,” he concluded.

Blues’ goalkeeping coach Dave Ennis also offered a measured analysis of the game. “Obviously we’re disappointed — you want to win your home games, especially in front of a big crowd,” Ennis said, “we never really got going today, but I don’t think we have too many complaints… We’re unhappy giving up a goal… but you can’t take anything away from Queen’s today.”

After the women’s game, the Varsity Blues’ men’s soccer team took to the pitch and broke their five game undefeated streak in a 2-1 loss against the visiting Queen’s Gaels, in a game marked by tough weather conditions and even tougher play on the field. The Blues now stand in third place in the OUA rankings at 4-2-1, behind the first place Ryerson Rams and the second place Carleton Ravens.

The match opened up with a torrential downpour just before play started, sending spectators fleeing from the stands to covered locations — but the Blues started the game in an equally dramatic fashion, as striker Nirun Sivananthan scored his fourth goal of the season on a header in just the third minute of the game.

Queen’s responded in turn when forward Jacob Schroeter sent a strike past Blues’ goalkeeper Rab Bruce-Lockhart in the tenth minute. The heavy rain obscured visibility throughout the first half and lead to a more aggressive approach to ball control on both sides, with slide tackles as the weapon of choice. Queen’s notched up five fouls to Toronto’s four in the first half alone. The rain abated and the sun came out again with the start of the second period, but this didn’t translate to shots on goal until the sixtieth minute, when both teams began pressing hard for a decisive advantage.

Though the Blues fought valiantly, they could not score a tying in the remaining time.

After the game, Blues’ midfielder Hugo Vieira mulled over the results. “It was a tough loss,” Vieira said. “The weather made it pretty tough in the first 15-20 minutes, but the thing is, these conditions are for both teams, so you just have to push through it.”

Blues goalkeeper Rab Bruce-Lockhart agreed.

“It’s never nice when you lose,” he said. “It was definitely difficult circumstances, but that’s true for both teams [it] cleared up in the end, but it was not the easiest.”

The Blues’ men’s and women’s soccer team face Trent University in Peterborough on October 3.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.


Outdoor Projects teaches Kinesiology and Physical Education students teamwork


For those taking Kinesiology and Physical Education (KPE) at U of T, a course called Outdoor Project (ODP) must be fulfilled in order to graduate.

For the non-KPE undergrad, the first activity, which initiates you into university, would probably be frosh week. However, unlike any other university program, U of T’s KPE program offers its students the opportunity to ship off to Muskoka to visit Camp New Moon, where students meet, play, and learn to become a team with their fellow students.

The KPE department takes a different approach to the usual college vs. college frosh week activities by promoting social interaction and group cohesion that not only optimize students’ relationships throughout the trip, but throughout their entire four year degree, which is why, during frosh week, the KPE department shines with unexpected harmony and friendship.

ODP courses, which include ODP200 ‘advanced canoe tripping’ and ODP302 ‘fundamentals of winter camping’ basically act as program-wide icebreakers, rather than tests of academic and athletic feats — a credit/no credit course option ensures that students need not worry too much about the academic aspects of the course.

Instructed by third and fourth year students, ODP requires some degree of athleticism and stamina, as activities range from a 12-hour outdoor survival program to canoeing, kayaking, and sailing — all of which are designed to promote equal parts teamwork and physical skill.

But, is the ODP program an essential component of the Bachelors of Kinesiology and Physical Education degree? 

Aside from the fact that outdoorsman training might be an important skill set in the physical education aspect of the KPE program, many graduates from the department go on to careers in physiotherapy, exercise pathology, and sport psychology, which do not specifically require outdoor camping skills, nor knowledge of how to build a fire, as prerequisites. And at a cost of over $300, some students argue that the mandatory ODP courses — which don’t count towards any degree credits — are not the best use of their time, or of their money.

The reason the Faculty of Kinesiology and Physical Education has been successfully running the ODP-level courses is their determination to create a close-knit community of teammates, rather than a faculty of students.    

As other programs, colleges, and faculties turn into battlegrounds during frosh week, and compete against one another to earn honors in their academic fields, the students within the KPE department are at an advantage in so far as they’re not only able to communicate, and interact within a faculty of their friends, but also work towards their degrees as a team. 

Disclosure: Hussein Fawzy is a member of Varsity Publications Inc.’s Board of Directors

Jays chase storybook season

Remembering the past and looking forward to the future

Jays chase storybook season

October is coming, and as the Toronto Blue Jays are closing in on a position in the playoffs, fans and bandwagoners alike are becoming increasingly interested — not to mention a little crazy. Tickets are sold out for the rest of the season, and when the Jays are playing a home game it’s virtually impossible not to run into groups of fans on their way to the game.

It’s hardly a surprise that the city is getting so worked up, especially considering that the team is seeking to break a 22-year playoff drought.

In 1992, when the Jays won their first World Series title, tens of thousands poured down a closed Yonge Street to celebrate well into the early hours of the morning. The Jays beat the Atlanta Braves, in Atlanta, in six games.

The ‘92 team, unlike our current roster, had a history of successful seasons, all leading up to the team’s back-to-back World Series victories. 

The team of ‘92 had everything going for them, and they made it count. The Jays had a dedicated and consistent fan following, and they had recently moved into a new state-of-the-art ballpark under the guidance of general manager Pat Gillick, who built the team from scratch. Gillick was with the team when the franchise first started and his knowledge of the game was instrumental in guiding the Jays to success (the fact that Gillick’s departure from the team in 1994 marked year one of the 22-year playoff drought is telling).

Going into the ‘92 season Gillick made a big name trade. As the story goes, he traded away his wife’s favorite player, after which she famously told him to “[come] home before you screw up the team any further.” The player in question, Fred McGriff, as well as Tony Fernandez were traded to the San Diego Padres for Roberto Alomar and Joe Carter. With this trade Gillick was able to strengthen the batting line-up — Alomar batted second hitting over .300 while Carter, a power hitter, added some pop to the middle of the line-up.

Fast forward 22 years and today’s Blue Jays don’t have quite the same success story. The Jays went into the 2015 all-star break, the halfway point in the season, having racked up more losses than wins. But, against all odds, the team has turned their season around in a monumental way.

The Jays’ Canadian general manager, Alex Anthopoulos, recognized the momentum the team had gathered and followed in the footsteps of Gillick, making a couple landmark trades of his own.

At the time of the trade deadline the Blue Jays were seven games behind the Yankees and were set to face them 13 more times this season. So the acquisition of hotshot left-handed pitcher David Price from the Detroit Tigers meant that the Jays could field an ace pitcher against the Yankees for three of those games. The other trade sent Jose Reyes and 3 pitchers to the Colorado Rockies in exchange for all-star shortstop Troy Tulowitzki.

These trades undoubtably aided the Jays and have set the stage for the most exciting playoff race in years. 

With the Jays 3 games up on the Yankees and Toronto already at fever pitch, hopes that history could repeat itself are at an all-time high — enthusiasm that might just carry the Jays straight through to the World Series to a victory party 40,000+ strong.