The University of Toronto’s Student Newspaper Since 1880

A night worth remembering

U of T’s athletic stars were shining bright on Thursday evening as the annual Intercollegiate Awards Banquet took place at the Colony Hotel in Toronto. On this night, the athletes traded in their sweaty sports apparel for tuxedos and gowns.

Approximately 500 people, including athletes, parents, school administrators and media, jammed a lavish banquet hall to celebrate one of the Varsity Blues’ most successful seasons ever.

Liz Hoffman, assistant dean and director of athletics, summed up the year’s accomplishments in her welcome speech to the boisterous crowd.

“The Varsity Blues had another successful season in 2001-02,” she said.

38 of 44 U of T teams advanced to the post-season, with 11 of those qualifying for Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) Championships. 26 of those teams earned a place on provincial and national podiums.

All 44 teams were represented at the banquet and members from each team were seated together. As a sign of solidarity with their teammates, athletes dressed up in different themes.

The women’s basketball team wore traditional Hawaiian outfits, the women’s ice-hockey team wore pink bunny ears, the women’s volleyball team sported coloured wigs and the field hockey team went with cowboy attire.

After dinner, the moment everyone was waiting for arrived with the presentation of the athletic awards.

First came the George M. Biggs trophy and the Benson Honour award, awarded to a graduating male and female student who has contributed to athletics from the standpoint of leadership, sportsmanship and performance.

The Track and Field team swept both those awards, with fifth-year biology student Christopher Martin winning the Biggs Trophy and fourth-year physical education student Anna Kinloch winning the Benson award.

The other nominees for the two prestigious awards were Jamie Halla (water polo), Rob Ireland (rugby), Kristeen Burton (squash), Vivienne Macy (figure skating), and Sadie Stewart (volleyball).

Also recognized at the banquet were the recipients of the Silver “T” Award, which is presented annually to students in their graduating year for outstanding athletic performance.

This year, 28 students received the Silver “T.”

The climax of the evening was the presentation of the T-Holders’ Athletic Award, given to the male and female athlete of the year.

It was a tough decision for the selection committee this year, as most of the 12 nominees reached new highs, many winning OUA championships and receiving national medals.

Brian Dikdan, OUA Pitcher of the Year, won the male athlete of the year award. He led the Varsity Blues to the inaugural OUA Men’s Baseball Championship, recording seven wins and two losses, with a league-leading 0.90 earned run average.

The entire baseball team stood and sang in honour of their teammate when the award was given. Dikdan later acknowledged his teammates’ accolades.

“These guys are the ones who won the OUA championship,” he said of the team’s effort. “I just can’t wait until next year so that we can do it again.”

Canadian Olympian Liz Warden was named female athlete of the year, after another great season in which she won six gold medals in six events, leading the Blues to the 2002 OUA Swimming Championship.

“I’ve been nominated a few times before, so I can’t believe I finally won,” said Warden, who will complete the last part of her English major next year.

“It’s the biggest honour I have received at this school.”

Warden hopes to attend teacher’s college after graduating, and says she is looking forward to the next Olympic games in Athens.

Also presented were faculty awards such as the Kirkwood Award (recipients: Karyn Sullivan and Andrew Morgan), the Hill-Powell Administrative Award (Jennifer Button), and the John McCutcheon Award (Rob Moore).

“Smash Hit” Sounds Like “Smash It”

Guyana Punch Line is what Tipper Gore fears most, a quartet of mayhem calling themselves “Columbia, South Carolina’s least favourite ejaculation.” Their album, Irritainment (Prank 2001), is a full-on auditory pissing of verse-chorus-verse that the MuchMusic crew might call “thrash hardcore.” This album brings back the feel of late 70s/early 80s dirty, in-your-face, blood-letting punk rock—the ultimate backlash to the glitter and fluff of the current music scene.

Once upon a time, punk rock was like throwing a bowl of boiling piss in the face of the establishment. Now it’s a meagre offering of dishwater. The pain and promise of the punk revolution should originate from the groin—the very seat of creativity. So the Varsity was more than happy to dip into the gangliotic mess of Chris Bickle, resident GPL “screamer,” and “Kevin the guitarist” (with Troy on drums and Drew rounding off the band as the new bassist) to ask them why so many bands nowadays seem to be merely going through the motions.

Bickle gets right into it. “While part of me thinks it’s fabulous that this underground DIY punk rock network exists, it’s simply made it too damn easy for any four guys to buy some gear and start recording/releasing records and packing it all into a van for a tour. When you have this kind of over-saturation, things are bound to get stale. If you want to look at it as a ‘market,’ it’s absolutely flooded. Everyone’s got their own motives as to why they want to have a band. For the truly misguided, it’s a way to make money. I wish I had a special insight into the minds of most of these bands—then maybe I could explain to them why it’s such a bad idea that they continue to water things down and make for shows that suck the life and energy out of the punk vibe.

“I myself play in a band because I am poor and cannot afford therapy. This is why making angry music gives me so much pleasure. I can’t afford a Playstation to vent my aggression.”

Anger and aggression are essential to the band’s Smashist philosophy. The album’s liner notes reveal that GPL strives to be Smashism incarnate. Says Bickle, “This could easily be misconstrued—because I’m NOT saying that I support these actions in ANY way—but I’d say that the notion that a couple of guys armed with box cutters being able to take down two of the largest buildings in the world…the idea that no matter how out-of-control technology or the system becomes, a stick can always bring it down.

It’s the all-encompassing idea that the world must remain in a constant state of building up and tearing down, that there is no creation without destruction.”

Speaking of tearing shit up, I ventured back into the punk rock realm and wondered if I was the only one who felt moshing was for kids born in the 80s. Whatever happened to the on-floor fucking one sees in those old, sketchy punk videos?

There would always be indistinct punk rockers humping like furious fiends on the grungy ground—you couldn’t tell who was the guy or the girl, because the fashion was so “fuck you” it defied gender.

The Varsity wondered if GPL’s shows revived this now-faded trend in their audience.

Says Kevin, “What audience?” Bickle says that, indeed, “People do tend to get a little weirder at our shows than at most punk shows. I think it’s because they know what we’re about and there’s a bit more of a sense of total abandon.”

Since a university paper should reflect some academic principles, I wondered if the lads had any parting wisdom to share. Like a shaman, Bickle shakes out: “A comfortable lie will always win out over an uncomfortable truth.”

But in sooth, dear punkers, I sorta prefer Kevin’s Yoda-meets-Wordsworth response: “The same old words worn thin, defaced by ages of careless usage, edited to make you feel meaningless. The word swallows our faces whole.

“Smashism accepts all forms of music, but cannot play any of them.”

Man, you’ll be twitching like the tequila worm outta the bottle with a needle in one arm called Rock and a needle in the other arm called Roll. My retinas have yet to return to normal size.

HOT WAX

Pulley
Together Again For The First Time
Epitaph

You’d expect a band like Pulley to be on Fat, but somehow they managed to wrangle their way onto the bigger of the two big punk labels. Now, those of you who know what Fat bands sound like need read no further. It’s standard fare—not great, not bad, just typical. For those of you who haven’t understood a word of this, let’s just say that Pulley sound like them there Southern California bands: upbeat, peppy songs. I must remark on the production, though. On this album, Pulley have a cool, chunky guitar sound and crisp vocals. Overall, this is a fun album that doesn’t expand on any concepts, but is great for bouncin’ around to.

Rating: VVV Mike Knight

Four Square
When Weeks Were Weekends
Ductape

You might remember these guys from past Ductape productions, under the guise “Doug.” The name has changed, but the commitment to kick-ass song making is still there. This eleven-song album was produced by Ian Blurton (apparently, quite the busy man) and has been described as a “power-pop paradise.”
These four Ontarian lads groove out introspective song after song that get you nodding your head to their musical commands. Standout tracks include “Slightest Sympathy,” “Some Weaker Thoughts” and “Contradiction.”If you find yourself standing in front of your mirror with hairbrush in hand, singing along with Simon and echoing like Allan while axing your guitar like Danny and occasionally slamming the skins like Trevor, then you know the blokes have won you over. At least, that’s what I’ve heard.

Rating: VVV.5
The Chung

Various
Dirty Dishes
Honest Don’s

A collection of the year’s (give or take) releases, Dirty Dishes is a wonderful retrospective. It packs the incredible collection of Honest Don’s talent onto one disc for the curious and diehards alike. Featuring the likes of Nerf Herder, Fabulous Disaster, Limp, the Real McKenzies, Chixdiggit! and more, there is nary a reason any punker wouldn’t love this in their collection. It’s just too bad they didn’t think to put on more unreleased stuff for the purists.

Rating: VVV
Jimmy Finch

Hanson Brothers
My Game
Mint Records

Only in punk rock can you tell someone they’re ugly and it actually translates into a compliment. So believe me when I tell you the Hanson Brothers from the West Coast are four of the ugliest dudes I have ever seen. These fifteen songs will knock you in the teeth like a slap-shot of pure puck rock. Songs like “Everything I Wanted,” “Honey, I’m Home” and “My Game” is the sound of the musical precision of hockey-jersey wearing punk rock misfits grinding verse after verse into your eardrums. After a couple spins, expect imminent nosebleeds and windburn.
This type of jock-scratching, fist-pumping punk will get you riled up to trample flags and beat the crap out of your opponents—in a friendly Canadian way, of course. So drink it down, throw it up and punk it off, hell yeah!

Rating: VVVV
Rhonda Chung

A call for help

You might have seen it on the back of Metro Today, or on the side of a bus shelter. A bold assertion from the Province of Ontario that there is, indeed, help available for the homeless.

The statement was made in an advertisement designed by the Ministry of Community and Social Services that ran from mid-December to early March. The ad promoted a phone line designed to receive calls from members of the general public who are not homeless themselves, but have a particular concern that relates to homelessness. People are encouraged to call the line whenever they come across “someone in need of shelter.” It also suggests that calling the line is “all you need to do to help someone out of the cold.”

On a very cold night several weeks ago, I came across a man sleeping on a grate next to Campbell House at Queen & University. Just as the ad suggested, I decided he was someone in need of shelter, so I called the helpline. When I got through, I was first advised to call 911 in the case of an emergency. I was then put on hold for no more than thirty seconds before a pleasant-sounding woman answered the phone. After I explained the situation, she thanked me for calling and asked me if I knew what the man wanted. I admitted I had not even spoken to him.

“No problem,” she said. “We’ll have our van drop by to see if he wants anything.”

I admit I didn’t wait around to see if, and when, the van arrived. But judging from the response to my phone call, there really is help available for the homeless. The question is, who is providing the help, and is it enough?

The Street Helpline itself is operated by a non-profit, private agency called Community Information Toronto (CIT). The organization administers a whole network of phone lines for the public, including one for victims of crime and domestic violence, one for assaulted women, one providing information about food banks, and still another providing information about general community services. As it turns out, it operates not one, but two Street Helplines. One is for the homeless themselves (397-3777), while the other, featured in the provincial ads, is for the public at large (397-5022). Community Information Toronto created the public line last year so that community calls would not be answered at the expense of calls from the homeless.

CIT has separate goals for each of its helplines. The first line directly links homeless persons to the services they need most—shelter, food, clothing and medical help. It is staffed by counsellors who have been homeless themselves, and can therefore be more sensitive to the particular needs of their callers. So that poverty is never a barrier to receiving information about important services, CIT accepts all collect calls made to this line.

The public helpline, on the other hand, is staffed mostly by social workers. The line receives many different types of callers. Some, like myself, call about a specific homeless individual. Others call because they are concerned about homelessness in general. Still others call to complain about the “laziness” of homeless persons. Other inquiries might include where one can volunteer and how one can make a donation.

The line was created in the early 90s to centralize communication services for the homeless. It plays a critical role in linking the homeless to social service agencies and organizations that are designed to assist them.

One such organization is Out of the Cold, a network of churches, synagogues, mosques, hospitals and other institutions that offer food, shelter and counselling to the homeless. Certain sites open their doors on certain days and at certain times, so informing the homeless about the schedule of Out of the Cold members is difficult. This is where Community Information Toronto steps in.

“The helpline is good for everyone,” says Evadne Wilkinson, executive director of Out of the Cold. “It’s good for the homeless and it’s good for the public.”

There is no question that there is help available for the homeless. But there are limitations. It is a sad fact that the man I saw sleeping at Queen & University may have been lying there because he had been turned away from fully booked shelters. Allyson Hewitt, executive director of Community Information Toronto, acknowledges that simply telling the public about the helpline is not enough. She says many of the homeless people she approaches know about the service, but don’t go to the shelters after having been told time and time again that all beds are full.

Yet the province’s ad promises the homeless “a warm bed, a kind voice, a helping hand.” While the latter two may be available thanks to organizations like Community Information Toronto and Out of the Cold, the homeless are never guaranteed a bed for the night.

The ad does not mention Community Information Toronto, implying the province is responsible for providing the service. As far back as 1995, however, the Harris government cut 100 per cent of its funding for community information centres like CIT. Since then, 85 per cent of CIT’s funding has come from the City of Toronto, while the other 15 per cent has come from the United Way. The province contributed some funding for the operation of the public line, but not the homeless helpline.

The province provided this funding as part of its December 2000 Provincial Homelessness Strategy, which contributed $26 million to the cause. The money has not been misspent on the helpline, but homeless advocates say much more is needed.

The Toronto Disaster Relief Committee consists of such advocates—social workers, academics and activists who believe homelessness in Toronto should be seen as a national disaster by all levels of government, and treated accordingly.

The TDRC has expressed concern over the province’s failure to address what they see as the root cause of homelessness: a lack of affordable housing. They point to the National Housing Agreement, signed last year, where the federal government committed $244 million for housing in Ontario alone, asking the provincial government to match that amount. So far, they say, the province has only set aside $20 million. Without affordable housing, only so much can be done for the homeless. Community Information Toronto can, and will, continue to refer persons to available shelter beds, meals and health facilities. Out of the Cold and other outreach organizations will continue to provide safe environments, counseling, training and sometimes even employment. But without a home, a person is still by definition homeless. The province is performing an important service by funding and promoting the public helpline. But it misleads people into believing that the province is paying for the line, that there are ample beds available, and, most of all, that calling the helpline is the only thing we can do to help the homeless. We can certainly begin by calling the helpline. But then we need to give some serious thought to how committed we are to solving the problem of homelessness in Toronto.

TTC strike looms

Ride the rocket? Don’t count on it this week, thanks to a possible transit strike. The TTC has the green light to shut down as early as today, causing grief to commuting U of T students and staff members alike.

Approximately 690,000 people use the TTC daily, including a large number of U of T students. According to the Toronto Star, relations between the company and the union representing TTC workers have been tense since March 31, when the union contract expired. The conflict is allegedly over wage increases.

“The TTC is an essential service, so a strike would basically choke the city off and…deprive people,” said Richard Soberman, of U of T’s Joint Program of Transportation. “It would have a big impact upon U of T students. Some people will not have the option of GO transit, but those who do will have a long hike from Union Station.”

Students were also vocal on the issue. For Daniela Bovolini, a first-year non-resident at Victoria College, the TTC is her only way to school. Although GO transit is an option, she would still have to find a way to get from Union Station to campus. With exams on the horizon, a strike would certainly be an inconvenience.

“This is the last week of school and all the profs will be doing reviews. If there was a strike, I’d miss reviews that are important for exams…. I definitely wouldn’t be as prepared,” said Bovolini.

Alternative transportation is a possibility for some students, like Richard Sim. “It wouldn’t affect me too much,” said Sim. “It [the TTC] is my main source of transportation, but I could get drives from friends.”

However, when it comes to preparing for exams, Sim, a non-resident from New College, is more uneasy. “A strike would affect my exam prep, because I’m always at the library to study. I wouldn’t be able to get there as easily with a strike.”

U of T administration insists, though, that if a strike occurs, “the University will be open for business as usual.” In a memo issued on April 4, provost Adel Sedra and vice-president of human resources Angela Hildyard stated that “students will be expected to write examinations as scheduled and employees will be expected to perform their jobs.”

Arrangements have been made to provide a shuttle bus between Union Station and the Medical Sciences Building, in King’s College Circle. The bus will be in operation the morning of the first day of the strike and will run every half hour from 6:30 a.m. to 7 p.m., Monday to Friday.

How dangerous is the asbestos on campus?

Terry Bucklan has been working in Sidney Smith with the Arts and Science Student Union (ASSU) for sixteen and a half years. Late in the 1980s, Bucklan came to his office and found a small, mysterious machine sitting on a nearby desk. When Bucklan asked what the machine was for, he found out U of T had put it there to monitor levels of asbestos in the building.

In 1990, the lobby was enclosed in a huge white sheet with yellow tape around it saying “do not enter” because the university decided to remove asbestos that had been falling from the ceiling. Call him crazy, but when a tile fell from the ceiling on the fifth floor of Sid Smith and lay there overnight, Bucklan’s anxiety about the toxic substance came drifting back.

“It’s really kind of a frightening substance,” said Bucklan. Asbestos insulation is no longer used in Canadian buildings, but it is still produced in Quebec and then exported to other countries. “You cannot see it if it falls in front of you,” said Bucklan. “Once you inhale it, the fibres get caught in your lungs and there is no way to remove those fibres.”

It can take years before respiratory problems show up, and Bucklan says there has been not enough study to determine what levels are harmful.

“It’s easy to slough it off, because you can’t taste it, smell it, see it. It just happens,” he said.

The provincial government has a long-standing program in place to deal with the substance, but building owners have responsibility for managing the problem at their own site, with little government involvement.

“It puts the responsibility on the owner to manage their asbestos,” said Rob Ashley, a senior policy advisor for the Ministry of Labour.

Bucklan says no one notified the workers in Sid Smith of asbestos in the ceilings and tiles until ASSU started poking around for answers. “No one ever told us that there was asbestos up there, or that it was dangerous to be up there.”

While the stink caused by ASSU in 1990 prompted a partial cleanup, Bucklan says he’s worried the lesson hasn’t been learnt.

“It’s a sad thing, because the university just does not take it seriously.”

Affecting your health

Susan M. Tarlo, a respiratory physician at Toronto Western Hospital, believes the risk of dangerous health effects of asbestos is reasonably low.

“The health effects largely relate to the extent of exposure,” says Dr. Tarlo. “With significant exposure, the health effects can be very serious.” She notes risks are low for small exposure, and serious illnesses “mainly occur in people working with asbestos, where the exposure is obviously much greater than in buildings where asbestos has been used.”

High exposure can cause lung cancer and asbestosis—scarring of lung tissue. Smokers with high asbestos exposure are 40 times more likely to develop lung cancer.

Still, Tarlo says, in a poorly maintained building where asbestos is dropping from the ceiling, “it’s not likely that that exposure would cause lung cancer or fibrosis.”

But there is one exception. Mesothelioma is a malignant tumour, which is usually fatal and has been known to strike people even with very low levels of asbestos exposure, up to 20 years after the fact. It only affects one in a million people per year.

If she were working in a building containing asbestos insulation, would Dr. Tarlo be worried for her own health? “If the building had been well maintained, and the asbestos is there and it’s sealed, I wouldn’t be worried,” she said. “If I was in a building which had not been well maintained and it’s dropping down from the ceiling, then there is some exposure…. There is a small increased risk.”

However, an ASSU report printed in 1990 refers to Dr. Irving Selikoff, a noted expert on the medical hazards of asbestos, who tracked 17,800 Canadian and American asbestos workers and found that 40 per cent of their deaths were caused by asbestos exposure. The worrisome conclusion ASSU notes is that the workers’ wives and children also experienced symptoms indicating high levels of asbestos exposure. Many died of asbestos-related diseases, possibly because they merely lived in the same house as, or handled the clothes of, a person that had high levels of exposure.

The U of T procedure

“We have tons of procedures for asbestos work,” said David Gorman, director of the U of T’s Office of Environmental Health and Safety.

But all the procedure in the world couldn’t take into account human error. When a ceiling tile covered with asbestos fell on the fifth floor of Sid Smith, it took two days to clean up. The problem? “He went to the fourth floor,” says Gorman of the building manager called to the scene after the incident was reported.

Then, in the morning, a second failure occurred, Gorman says, because “the plumbers [who would clean up the area] I guess were busy on another job, and perhaps the urgency wasn’t communicated to the trade shop quickly enough.”

The normal procedure for cleaning up asbestos is to wet it down so that the fibres don’t become airborne. Since the incident in Sid Smith was due to a plumbing leak, the whole area was already sopping wet, a stroke of luck which prevented widespread exposure. Air samples on the Friday following the cleanup found no traces of airborne asbestos fibres, Gorman says. Gorman is confident that further serious asbestos leaks are unlikely. “If [the building manager] had gone to the right location, it should have been cleaned up right away, that night…. We will be talking to the trade shop people and seeing if we can’t get a faster response time on these things.”

Gorman said the university is spending approximately $30,000 in the next six months to clean up some of the most problematic buildings, like Sidney Smith, Medical Sciences, Dentistry, Edward Johnson, 215 Huron Street and the Benson building. “It doesn’t sound like they’re going to do very much cleaning. Not for that kind of money. I wish the university would take the asbestos problem seriously.”

Sid Smith Workers on Asbestos in their Building

“It’s not a good thing, but there’s not a lot that I can do about it. My biggest concern is the respiratory factors. I don’t think I should be worrying about it. There are other things I’m concerned about, and there’s no sense in worrying about it until something happens.”
-Deborah Peart, Student Affairs

“I’ve been in the building for years. We’ve been going on about the asbestos and trying to solve the problem for a while now. I mean, the environment is okay as long as you don’t mess around with the ceiling or do anything you wouldn’t normally do.”
-Peter Harris, Assistant Dean of Faculty of Science.

“It’s here and we have to live with it whether we like it or not. I mean, it’s a concern for me; I spend my time here more than I do at home. There’s not much I can do about it. It’s my job. I have to work.”
-Vicki, Administrative Assistant

“I don’t know very much about it, I just know that it causes some breathing problems. There’s really not much that I myself can do about it. I would certainly prefer if it were not here, but I really can’t lose sleep over it.”

-Louise Nugent, Graduate Administrator

“We’re told never to touch the ceilings; there are little yellow yield signs everywhere. Asbestos is a carcinogen, and I know it’s a really potent substance. I try not to think about it. If they have to do any work on the ceilings or anything they always have to have a protective barrier that shields from the ceiling to the floor and they have to wear the necessary protective suits.”
-Mary-Anne Bailey, Reception of Political Science Department

—Compiled by Glynnis Mapp

Students protest Israeli occupation

Students gathered outside the Israeli consulate to protest against Israel’s occupation of Palestine last Thursday.

Carrying signs that read “Protect civilians in Palestine” and “Israel tanks out,” the organization, Students Against Racism and Brutality, and others protested the Israeli occupation of Palestinian land.

The “emergency rally” was called upon hearing the news of the Israeli siege of Bethlehem.

Some protestors wholly support the position and actions of Palestinians. Asad Ismi finds the occupation “sickening,” calling Israel “a country ruled by war criminals.” He believes Israel should return more than the recently annexed lands of Palestine, since Israel was originally Palestinian territory. Ismi says Israel’s history is one of “taking Arab land.”

But not all the student protestors attending are of such radical opinions. Renee Ferguson’s main concern is post September 11 conservatism.

“Since September 11, it has been easy to frame political opposition as terrorism.”

Angry passers-by hurled insults at protestors. One said the protestors were there to support terrorism, noting Israeli civilians need to be protected from violence as well.

The group of students will be gathering every day at noon in front of the Israeli consulate until occupied lands are returned to the Palestinians.

‘Illegal’ tuition hike outrages science students

When Meghyn Garner began flipping through her copy of the new Arts & Science registration handbook, she never predicted she’d find herself in the middle of every student’s worst nightmare.

Her stomach turned when she read that all students in her program, Cognitive Science and Artificial Intelligence, must now pay the same deregulated tuition fees as students in the Computer Science program. That might mean an increase of 40 per cent or more, starting this summer—with no prior warning.

Panicked, she began making phone calls and sending e-mails to anyone who might know where this decision came from. But no one seemed to have a clue—not her fellow students, her professors, or even her program director.

Garner is convinced it’s more than a simple error. “A 40 per cent increase can’t really be a mistake,” she said. She’s not only upset because she wasn’t informed, but because she believes the tuition hike is illegal.

Provincial tuition rulings mandate that only students in engineering, computer science and commerce programs should pay deregulated fees. The Cognitive Science and Artificial Intelligence program combines computer science, philosophy, psychology and linguistics, and is offered through University College, not the Computer Science Department.

“The university has segregated us from the computer science program students, except when it comes to fees,” said Garner. She doesn’t see why she should pay hundreds or thousands more for a degree that requires only a few Computer Science courses. Enrolment controls give Cognitive Science students first-round access to only 20 per cent of upper-year CS courses. Students taking Computer Science minors, or those in other Arts & Science programs, will not have to pay higher fees for CS courses.

Garner suspects the university is taking advantage of her program’s small size, since there are only about two dozen students in Cognitive Science and Artificial Intelligence. “I think they are just trying to pull this past us,” she said. She is frustrated because students in her program do not graduate with the same earning potential as students in the deregulated programs, who may be better able to pay off their debts.

The Arts and Science Students’ Union (ASSU), also not notified of the tuition increase, is taking action. ASSU president Rakhi Bhavnani worries the university may be trying to keep the fee hike from becoming public. “There’s absolutely nothing on U of T’s website about it,” she said. ASSU plans to discuss the matter with the Arts & Science administration at a meeting Monday.

Cognitive Science and Artificial Intelligence program director Phillip Zelazo confirmed that he had not been consulted about the decision to raise fees, and neither had the program coordinator at University College. They plan to look into the matter. “I agree that it is unfair,” said Zelazo.

Donna George, undergraduate coordinator of the Computer Science department, was surprised to hear of the fee increase for Cognitive Science students, and said she had nothing to do with the decision. “It doesn’t involve Computer Science,” she said.

Meanwhile, Garner is waiting for an answer from Arts & Science dean George Altmeyer about whether the fee hike will stand. She worries whether students will be able to afford the sudden increase, since deregulated fees were already at $1100 per Computer Science course in 2001-2002, and will be going up as of next month.

She continues to circulate a petition and to try to make her program’s dilemma public. “I feel that what the university is doing is completely ridiculous and unwarranted,” she fumed. “They are just stealing money from us because they think they can.”

Altmeyer and assistant dean Peter Harris could not be reached for comment.