Event listings for week of February 25

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Diversity and multiculturalism expert discusses ethnic identity.

  • Today, 4-6pm. Free!
  • Academic Resource Centre Room 227, Scarborough Campus (1265 Military Trail)
  • triadaf@utsc.utoronto.ca


Images from the Republic of Congo by Eddie Gerald of the WFP.

  • Today through Feb. 29.
  • Trudeau Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies (15 King’s College Circle)
  • www.wfp.org


Interactive cooking demonstrating with practical tips.

  • Tues. Feb. 26, 1pm. Free!
  • International Student Centre (33 St. George St.)
  • Mandatory advance registration at www.familycare.utoronto.ca


Lecture exploring 18th-century clash of disciplines.


Pansit and adobo cooked up by the Filipino Students’ Association.


Play imagining the relationship between Oscar Wilde and his Black American valet.

  • Thurs. Feb. 28 through March 8. $12 for students.
  • Hart House Theatre (7 Hart House Circle)
  • www.uofttix.ca


Contemporary films dealing with sexual exploration.


Story of love affairs and unexpected journerys presented by Rainbow Trinity.


Multiple Juno Award-winning Latin Jazz group performs.


Latin performances with all proceeds to SOS Children’s Village Bolivia.



Testing out the newest art, music, and dance on a curious audience.


How can you get involved in maintaining urban forests?

Sounds like team spirit

Wrapping up another year of school spirit and half-time entertainment is the University of Toronto’s Thundersquad dance team. The chance that this is the first time you’ve heard the name is high, especially if you don’t make it out to Varsity sporting events. They’re the girls keeping the crowds pumped up and entertained at the local basketball and volleyball games during halftime. But don’t let the job description fool you—they’re so much more than cheerleaders.

“We’re dancers, first and foremost,” says Jaymie Sampa, co-captain of the dance group. “We like to support our athletics department, that’s really important to us, but it’s also just one part of what we do.”

Along with co-captain Jennifer McFarlane, the two choreograph many of the dance routines the team performs. But Sampa, who has been dancing since she was 14 years old, wanted to emphasize the contributions of her Thundersquad teammates and the team’s execs, who play an important, if not central, role in choreography.

The group is made up of nine University of Toronto students taking classes in Phys-ed, Criminology, and, yes, even Engineering. On top of an already rigorous academic schedule, you can find them rehearsing at the Athletic Centre for six hours a week, performing for various women’s and men’s games on Saturdays.

“Our practices are pretty demanding.” says Sampa, a third-year physical education student.We work ourselves hard and try to self-motivate,” “We train pretty intensely, starting with leg strengthening warm ups, moving on to some technique work, and then we do choreography for the last hour of practice. It’s not crazy, but it’s not recreational either.”

Started six years ago, the team was created to promote school spirit, as well as the furthering of dance education on campus. The team specializes in jazz and hip hop dance, selected through auditions in the third week of September. Anyone interested in joining up can find all the information they need at the Athletic Centre’s program office, as soon as the first week of school.

“I was just looking for a place to continue dancing when I got to U of T” said Sampa, recalling how she first became involved. “In my first year I heard about the auditions through word of mouth, and I went to a try out and made the team.”

Even though the team goes through a rigorous amount of technique training, the degree of specialty seems to vary.

“All the girls come from different dance backgrounds,” says Sampa. “Some having danced their entire lives, while others turned to dance later on.”

Not quite on the Varsity roster, and not your typical dance team, the Thundersquad have managed to be completely student-run through fundraising, buying of uniforms, and selforganization. The biggest objective for the group is to raise morale, encouraging students to feel proud of their school.

The Thundersquad dance team wants to confront the age-old problem of student apathy towards university athletics. As sports and school spirit are typically not associated with the University of Toronto, the team hopes to encourage students to feel proud of the Varsity Blues. “People who don’t usually come to our games always say that they were surprised that a U of T game could be so fun,” says McFarlane.

The amount of athletic talent often goes unnoticed by the student population, and the Thundersquad team are determined to keep fighting for their athletes. For Sampa and Mc- Farlane, the camaraderie and community that is created within Varsity Athletics provides a supportive environment within the larger university campus.

Unlike typical halftime cheerers, the team participates in dance competitions. The Festival of Dance at Hart House is seen as an opportunity for the team to showcase their skills in front of their peers and colleagues. “There’s quite a few different groups on campus,” Sampa explained. “There’s belly dancing, hip hop, and lyrical dance groups. I’ve seen some really great performances, and it’s a good experience for the dancers to network a little bit. I’ve only heard good things about it, and it showcases what U of T has to offer. We have some really talented dancers on campus.”

With the sports season coming to an end, the ladies are currently hard at work preparing for the Humber Hype Dance Competition on March 14. As dance competitions come more into vogue, the girls on the team have become every bit the athletes, as the teams they cheer on at the AC. “I see dance as a sport,” says Sampa. “One of the great misconceptions is that dance is just an art form, but it’s really physically demanding on your body. I would consider our team an athletic team, because we work hard, and take our Blues looking for silver liningtness into account.”

Blues looking for silver lining

In a game that started as a suspense-thriller with all the signs of turning into an epic, the McMaster Marauders quickly created a tragedy for the hometown Varsity Blues.

On Saturday night, in front of a boisterous Athletic Centre crowd that featured several hundred fans to support both teams, the Marauders put the hammer to Toronto, winning four sets for their first OUA women’s volleyball championship.

It was easy to see the parity between the two teams, with 22 ties and nine lead changes in the first set. The Blues prevailed, 30-28, with Kristina Valjas sending the home crowd into a frenzy, finishing the set with one of nine kills of the match. However, the Marauders were lights out after that.

McMaster robbed the Blues of their national championship dreams by playing nearly fl awless volleyball, committing only six errors throughout the final three sets. This came much to the delight to their fans, growing louder as victory became more evident.

McMaster head coach Tim Louks watched proudly as his players took the game away from Toronto, committing only 13 errors in the match, along with just two service errors.

“I think maybe we just got a few more breaks and a few more blocks […] They were solid, there were very few breakdowns, they were on a mission,” Louks said. “What do you say when you’re playing such a great team? [Toronto’s] one of the best teams and will continue to be one of the best programs in the country.”

Besides committing very few errors, another key to McMaster’s victory took place at the net as they blocked Toronto attackers’ 18 spikes. The Blues managed only three blocks, all by Valjas.

Hamilton native and second-year Marauder middle Sarah Kiernan, who had six kills and four blocks of her own, said her team has been riding high for awhile, winning 15 straight since a Nov. 11 loss to the Western Mustangs.

“We’ve won a lot of games in four [sets], so after the first one it was really close and we just wanted to cool out, take our time,” said Kiernan. “We just pushed, pushed and pushed, tried to figure out their weaknesses, and we did.”

Varsity Blues head coach Kristine Drakich, clearly upset at the loss, agreed that Kiernan’s team took it to them.

“I think McMaster was better today. They played very well. I was a little disappointed of our start in the second set after winning the first set,” Drakich said, “but I was really proud. We kept fighting all the way through, even though things weren’t going so well but McMaster was relentless.”

Having coached starters Mila Miguel and Anastasia Danilova for the last time in a Blues uniform made the loss harder for Drakich to swallow.

“I think Mila and Asya played well in this match. It’s just unfortunate that we weren’t necessarily ready for the long haul,” Drakich said.

A tearful Danilova, who led all players with 24 kills, said it will take some time for her team to get over the loss.

“I guess life goes on, but for now it sucks,” Danilova said. “I did enjoy this year. It was amazing, although the end was not what we expected. Overall, it was probably my best year. The girls [were] the best girls ever.”

McMaster will now travel to the University of New Brunswick to represent Ontario in their first national championship appearance, starting Thursday, Feb. 28 with national champion crowned on March 1.

Tim Hortons’ Sid Smith scheme rolls out discontent

Students who frequent the Sidney Smith cafeteria already know that free seats are hard to come by, and the crowding may be about to get worse. If a planned expansion of Tim Hortons goes ahead, the room will lose a sizable chunk of seating space and its microwave area. The expansion has been proposed by U of T’s food service contractor, Aramark, who say that the donut kiosk is too small to work effectively and has to either grow or go. The expanded Tim Hortons would bake on-site and boast a larger menu.

For Arts and Science Students’ Union president Ryan Hayes, the expansion is part of a growing trend at U of T of privatizing student space and handing food services over to corporate chains.

“This bland corporate cafeteria is a case-in-point of the lack of community on campus. Tim Hortons is not the answer,” said Hayes.

ASSU is planning an “eat-in” for Thursday from 12 to 3 p.m. to protest the expansion. According to Hayes, the free potluck aims to bring healthy food and a sense of community to the food court.

Anne MacDonald, the director of U of T’s Ancillary Services department, which oversees food service operations, said she believes the majority of U of T students would support the expansion. “If the students really don’t want the Tim Hortons in [Sidney Smith] then we won’t have one,” said MacDonald. “There are thousands of students who use that outlet every day,” she added.

Responding to student unions’ demand for more student-run food outlets, MacDonald said that student operations typically require more supervision of their food safety and employee treatment practices.

Michal Hay, UTSU’s VP university affairs, disagreed. “My understanding [is that] the student-run operations both treat their employees better and pay them a decent wage,” she said.

“I think what’s most egregious about the Tim Hortons expansion is that they’re taking over lounge space and the microwave area in the cafeteria,” said Dave Scrivener UTSU VP external. ASSU has launched an online petition that, at press time, had garnered 146 signatures. As well as stopping the Tim Hortons expansion, the petition asks the university to commit to providing healthy, diverse, and affordable food options, including halal, kosher and vegan food, and to paying higher wages to food workers.

The group is also campaigning to restore student control over the cafeteria.

“I think also what needs to be remembered is that less than a decade ago that space was actually a student-run pub,” Scrivener said.

Until August 2001, the cafeteria was known as “The Hangar” and was operated by the Students Administrative Council (now UTSU). The university took control after SAC had its liquor license suspended by the province in a debacle involving serving alcohol to minors. Is bringing back The Hangar realistic?

“Not for Sid Smith, no,” said MacDonald, pointing to Aramark’s exclusive contract for the space.

Both ASSU And UTSU have said they want to organize students against Aramark in the hopes that U of T will drop the food provider when their contract expires. Hayes said he wants to see campus food service turned over to the students themselves, pointing to student-run outlets like the Hot Yam and Diabolos’ as models.

“As the people who use them, students have to decide how student services and student spaces are run,” he said.

Women’s hockey keeps eyes on the prize

The Varsity Blues women’s hockey team needed only two games to defeat the University of Guelph Gryphons in their best-of-three semi-final series, set to meet the powerhouse Laurier Golden Hawks in the OUA championship. After defeating the Windsor Lancers in the quarterfinal, the fourthplace Gryphons managed only a single goal against the Blues, who won the series opener 3-0 on Thursday, taking the second game in overtime by a score of 2-1 on Saturday.

Much of the Blues’ success belongs to fifth-year goaltender Stephanie Lockert, who stopped 48 of 49 shots in the two games. “Stephanie really stole it for us,” said forward Janine Davies after the first game, in which the Blues were outshot 28-17. Head coach Karen Hughes was not impressed with her team’s effort on Thursday night. “I didn’t think we played very well today, to be honest. I thought our goalie played well,” she said after the game.

Davies had a good game as well, netting Toronto’s first two goals. The opening goal was a first-period power-play tally scored off a rebound after some good puck movement from the Blues. “Our power play executed really well,” Davies said.

Special teams made the difference in game one. Not only did a rare Blues’ power-play opportunity— U of T took twice as many penalties as Guelph—produce the game-winning goal, but the team’s penalty killing was also solid. Toronto did not give up short-handed, despite a third-period parade to the penalty box. Hughes felt this was a poor reflection of how both teams played. “I thought the referee let them hack and whack us and get away with it. We have a player injured from a hit, no penalty.”

The Gryphons could not capitalize with the man advantage on eight power-play opportunities, including two five-on-threes. “I think we were pretty good at keeping them on the outside,” said coach Hughes of her team’s penalty kill. Lockert was there to cover up any mistakes the Blues made, making several spectacular saves, including a nice glove catch on a high shot from the slot that forced her into the splits, drawing a loud round of applause from the crowd. Emily Patry almost scored a five-on-three short-handed goal on a breakaway after intercepting a pass just outside her blue line, but hit the post.

The Blues did not allow a goal in four short-handed situations in game two either. The second goal came in the second period when Davies tipped a low point shot from defenseman Lyndsey Ryan, past Gryphons goaltender Sarah Long. Third-year forward Annie Del Guidice also assisted. Rookie forward Karolina Urban put the game out of reach when she stole the puck in the neutral zone, walked in on Long, and fired a high glove side shot into the net for an unassisted marker.

The Blues traveled to Guelph for game two. They rebounded well from a third period in game one, outshot 8-2, firing 12 shots at the Gryphons’ net, and allowing only four in the opening frame. Del Guidice stoked the Blues to a lead with a goal assisted by Davies and Emily Milito. “We dominated the first period and were rewarded with a 1-0 lead. Could have been more,” said the coach.

Neither team allowed another goal until late in the third period, when Guelph’s second-leading scorer, Elysia Desmier, beat Lockert on a goal mouth scramble with only 12 seconds left to force overtime. After decent second and third periods, Laura Foster scored the game winner 8:15 into the extra frame on a feed from Patry from behind the Guelph net. “We managed to come back strong in the overtime,” said Hughes, who was once again impressed with Lockert’s game, with praise for captain Jill Clark, patrolling Toronto’s blue line for her fifth and final year.

“It was a better game for us,” said Hughes of the Blues’ second game after a disappointing defensive effort in Thursday’s game. “I think we can play a lot better in our own end. We don’t want to be giving up that many shots,” said Davies after game one; the team allowed only 21 shots in game two.

The Blues face a formidable challenge this week as they prepare to face Laurier, who beat the Queen’s Golden Gaels 3-1 and 1-0 (OT) in the other OUA semi-final. The Golden Hawks lost only two regular-season games to lead the OUA, and took two of three decisions versus the Blues in the 2007-8 campaign. Toronto, however, is coming off a near-win over Laurier, in which the Blues were three seconds away from victory in their second-last game of the regular season, when Laurier tied the game just before the final buzzer. The Blues have proven that they’re capable of playing with any team in the OUA, and any team with a stalwart between the pipes like Lockert has a chance to win every night.

They built it, we didn’t come

The Varsity Centre bubble may soon deflate. U of T will put a plebiscite to students in the first week of March, asking whether they want to fund the facility’s operations.

The UTSU plebiscite will finally resolve the debate that has been ongoing since the bubble was proposed about a decade ago. The issue flared up last year, when the Council on Student Services rejected the Varsity Centre budget before finally deciding to temporarily adopt it until a student vote. For any ancillary fee to be implemented, it would have to first be approved by COSS.

Voting will happen between March 4 and March 6.

“By voting Yes on the plebiscite, students will have guaranteed 75 per cent of the facility use,” said Masha Sidorova, co-chair of the Council of Athletics and Recreation. “The popularity of this facility is evident through filled stands during Varsity [Blues] games, increased participation during recreation times, long waiting lines at the free golf driving range, and about 1,000 new students participating in intramural sports.”

“We are already paying for the Varsity Centre!” countered Arts and Science Students’ Union president Ryan Hayes, who is organizing the No campaign. Hayes claims that students cover costs for the centre through steeply rising athletics fees.

A proposal to fund the construction and operation of the facility was brought to the students in 2002, but was overwhelmingly rejected. The university then raised $24 million and built the centre itself, hoping students would agree to fund it after having used it. COSS rejected that proposal, preventing it from ever going to a vote.

“While it is an excellent facility,” said Michal Hay, UTSU VP university affairs and member of the No Levy campaign committee, “students made it clear in 2002 that this was not a priority and that they did not want to pay any more than they were through their current incidental fees.”

COSS will approve or decline the Faculty of Physical Education and Health budget based on the plebiscite. If the levy fails, operating costs will have to be covered through other sources such as renting out the facility, said Sidorova.

Sidorova was confident that the students will sympathize with the Yes campaign. “We are not trying to change peoples’ minds,” she said. “We are simply giving students an opportunity to express their desire to maintain Varsity Centre as a student-priority facility.”

While plans for the CHPS are a long way from being finalized, a May 2007 preliminary project proposal presented to the university’s Planning and Budget Committee stipulated that students would pay 75 per cent of the annual $2.8 million operational cost.

Universities hope cell phones will keep students safe in emergencies

With last week’s shooting at Northern Illinois University fresh in the public’s memory, Canadian universities and colleges are continuing to prepare mass-messaging security systems as a way to alert students in the event of similar emergencies on campus.

Last week, U of T signed a contract with Aizan Technologies, a Richmond Hill-based company that provides a mass text-messaging system. At a cost of $30,000 per use, Aizan can notify an entire university of a suspected threat or emergency through its phone, email, and text-messaging capabilities.

Erin Lemon, of U of T’s strategic communications department, said that the system will be a subscriptionbased service that students and staff can sign up for on a website expected to be up and running in late March.

“One of the reasons why we chose Aizan, in addition to the system itself— which is very good—is that all the data will live here in Canada.” said Lemon. “So that means we won’t be sending student, faculty, or staff information to live on servers in the U.S.”

A number of universities have shown interest in text messaging security systems, including McMaster, Dalhousie, and UBC.

A research group has launched a three-year study to determine whether the security systems are an effictive notification tool for campus emergencies. The Campus Emergency Messaging Research Group, established in the wake of 2007’s Virginia Tech Shooting, was formed last November by Simon Fraser University, the University of Alberta, and the University of New Brunswick.

Gordon Gow, CEMRG’s lead investigator and U of A professor, said the study looks at the impact of new technology, such as emailing, paging, voice mailing, and text messaging.

“Students are now able to communi- cate directly with each other through mobile phones, able to take pictures, upload images on the internet, and they use Facebook and Wikipedia for real time reporting of incidents,” said Gow.

“We will look at how peer-to-peer and social networking technology have both positive and negative impacts on universities who are trying to manage or deal with a crisis on campus.”

The study also looks at behavioural responses and the social dynamics of a mass alert, and policy and legal aspects. Recent campus shootings and scares have led Canadian institutions to rethink their current security and safety plans. American universities have seen a string of high-profile shootings, but Canadian schools are no strangers to crisis.

In 2006, a shooter at Dawson’s College in Montreal killed two students, including himself, and injured 19.

On Dec. 6, 1989, Marc Lepine, 25, shot and killed 14 female students at Montreal’s Ecole Polytechnique, screaming “I hate feminists” before firing at the women, whom he separated from their male classmates. The anniversary of the Montreal massacre is now observed as the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women.

In 1992, Montreal was again the setting of a school massacre, when a former Concordia University engineering professor went on a shooting spree, killing four faculty members and injuring a fifth.

On Jan. 30, UBC’s Biological Sciences building went under lockdown after someone phoned in a threat. One week later, another threat was made. However, no particular building was named during the second incident and the two threats are still under investigation by the RCMP.

UBC purchased Aizan’s system last December, and are currently testing and inputting information into the system.

According to Scott Macrae, UBC’s public affairs director, the university’s recent threats have increased student interest in the system.

“When the students came in September, they were asked to volunteer their cell phone numbers, in the event that we got such a system,” said Macrae. “About 38 per cent of students volunteered to provide their cell phone numbers.”

SFU has also signed up with Canadian mass messaging company 3N.

“Mass messaging has the ability to reach a lot of people fast,” said Don MacLachlan, director of SFU’s media relations. “Certainly if you are in a situation like a chemical spill, an explosion, a fire, or some maniac on campus has a gun, you need to be able to reach a lot of people fast.”

However, not all universities are considering text messaging as a campus notification tool.

Acadia University equips a Blue Light emergency phone system. The University of Lethbridge is implementing an IP phone system that can make an announcement or break into any phone conversation in any classroom. The University of Ontario Institute of Technology relies on its PA system and plasma television screens.

Kim Carr, UOIT’s public safety manager, pointed out the flaw in mass text messaging.

“What they’re finding is that using cell phones all at once can crash and override a system,” said Carr. “It happened at Dawson, in Virginia Tech. In fact, in Northern Illinois, it even crashed the telephone system.”

“So text messaging, yes, is a viable option, but it’s not the only option.”

Queen Street fire reveals city’s many layers

Last Wednesday a huge fire consumed 14 buildings on Queen Street West, demolishing homes and businesses, and leaving dozens of people homeless. Among the 14 lost buildings was independent stereo store National Sound, and Duke’s Cycle, which had operated on the site since 1914. The disaster saddened many Torontonians for whom Queen Street, which spans the entire downtown core, often seems to emblematize the heart and spirit of the city itself.

Out of this destruction, some are seeing an opportunity. Once the rubble is cleared away, archeologists are hoping to gain access to the site, believed by local historians to be the location of a 19th-century army barracks, built to afford the British government some protection after William Lyon Mackenzie’s 1838 rebellion. It may turn out that the fire has uncovered a telling historic layer in the fabric of Toronto, but it’s also revealed the social dividing lines that criss-cross our city.

Since the fire, Facebook users have created groups to coordinate donations to the victims, benefit concerts have been organized, and even the illustrious Fairmont Royal York Hotel opened 10 of its rooms to those who had lost their homes.

One might suspect the fire would have elicited cheers instead of charity if it had occurred 20 metres down the street on the northwest corner of Queen and Bathurst. A few weeks ago, the Globe and Mail ran a lengthy feature on the Queen-Bathurst intersection, reportedly responsible for more 911 distress calls than any other intersection in the city, except one. The Globe article, entitled “At the corner of crack and pizza” lamented the problems caused to the area by drug traffic, which mainly centres on the northwest corner at the Meeting Place, a dropin centre for homeless Torontonians. Neighbourhood residents believe the Meeting Place and its homeless clientele are a menace to the community. It’s hard to imagine the Royal York issuing invitations if the Meeting Place went up in flames.

Sure enough, just hours after the blaze began on Wednesday morning, news outlets were already speculating that drug addicts living in the apartments above National Sound were responsible. Rumours—apparently unfounded—of a drug lab accident quickly circulated. The CBC evening news actually used the word “crackheads” to describe the suspected culprits.

But as chatter spread across Toronto blogs, suspicion was also cast on another Queen Street menace: gentrification. Reportedly, a number of corporate interests have eyed the properties on that stretch of Queen Street for years, because the now-demolished buildings stood next to a parking lot too small to allow for any substantial development. The buildings that housed Duke’s Cycle and National Sound were recently declared historic sites, and could not be knocked down. But since the fire has left the properties in ruins, there might be enough space for someone to build a condo or a big box store. After all, most of the property owners had no insurance, so who else has the money to build on Queen Street besides Best Buy or Home Depot?

The multiple explanations for the blaze reflect the different faces of Queen West. From the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health at Ossington, to the addicts at Bathurst, to the boarded-up bars at Spadina, the dangerous and the unseemly always seem to linger on the margins. Further down the street at the Drake Hotel, and the $500,000 condos at the Bohemian Embassy, gentrification threatens to suffocate the independent spirit of downtown’s west end beneath a tide of $10 cocktails.

Then there are those who consider themselves the “real” residents of Queen West: the independent store owners, the artists and musicians, the young and stylish families, all of whom bought their first bicycle at Duke’s, and are determined to defend their way of life against drug crime and corporate encroachment. Toronto’s young urbanites will foster a sense of community at charity events and fundraisers in the coming weeks, but there’s something else going on here than attempts to recover from this fiery calamity. There is an ongoing struggle being waged on Queen Street’s battleground to define the nature of life in our city.