U of T is big. Like, freaking big. Like three campuses, 380 clubs, 70,000 students big. We’re big.

Hailing from such a ginormous, monstrous institution, it’s easy to get disenfranchised. Students sail in from Union Station each day, disconnected and edgy, turning up “Fuck My School” by the Replacements extra-loud on their Ipod nanos, sipping grande americanos during American fiction classes and, just as quickly, sail on home. When you only get to experience one pocket of a huge campus, it’s easy to underestimate it.

The theme for the introductory magazine edition of The Varsity is “The U of T You Don’t Know,” fitting, I feel, for jaded seniors and wide-eyed frosh alike. I remember my first “Holy crap, I go here?!” moment, strutting down Yonge Street with a mass of thousands, chalking Yorkville boutiques with “Innis College Rulez!” insignia and screaming, jumping, pleading passersby to join me in my newfound euphoria. When I called my mother in the midst of it all, she asked me if I was involved in a police riot. “Chill out, Mom, that’s on Tuesday.”

This issue aims to revel in the vast craziness of the school we go to, in all its manyfaceted aspects of campus culture. Opinions co-editor Matthew Katz braves the stigma of hanging out with engineers to investigate the covert “Brute Force Coalition” of merry pranksters, whose feats include spiderwebbing Con Hall and presenting U of T president David Naylor with an oversized novelty cheque.

Science editor Dan Rios examines the natural wildlife in the Ramsey Wright Laboratories.

And our industrious photo editor Dan Epstein takes us on a tour of U of T’s hidden spaces– also known as the places you’ll wanna take your fair-trade coffee and dog-eared copy of Ulysses from now on.

We go to a school where you can swing dance, hear Blonde on Blonde on vinyl, develop a set of photography prints and shoot off a few rounds at the archery range–and that’s only at Hart House. There’s so much activity within our ivy-cloaked campus, offset by thousands of bustling young minds, that it seems crazy to think we’ve done it all. And yet, does this stop us from slagging off our school in between pints at the Green Room? Hell no.

Yes, the University of Toronto is expensive, frustrating, and aggressively competitive. But it’s also incredibly diverse, progressive (though not always, check out news editor André Bovee-Begun’s feature on “U of T’s Shameful Past” for details). And there’s excellent Thai food minutes away.

Do you wanna study Latin and play a round of Magic: The Gathering with a group of likeminded druids? Done. Learn fencing and investigate the time-space continuum for credit? Then there’s probably a place for you here. With this in mind, I am ordering a cease-fire on all U of T slander for oh, the next few days or so. Let’s learn to love our campus again and sink our teeth into what it really means to be a university student: exploration and cultivation of anything at all that piques our interest. Until midterms, that is. Nothing makes me question the validity of existence more than spending a Friday night inside a half-baked peacock, purchasing pens out of a vending machine.

Yours truly,

Chandler Levack

Editor-in-Chief The Varsity 2007/2008

Most overrated U of T experience?

Frosh week. I am not a sheep!

Frat house keg parties. Beer that tastes like flat urine and guys that wear more self-tanner than Paris Hilton are so weak sauce.

Going to class drunk. I just got really bored and tired. And then my friend threw up. It wasn’t fun.

Something about U of T you’ve heard that’s actually true?

Robarts was used as the establishing shot for an evil future jail in Sliders.

Do not trust anyone with any amount of U of T pride. It’s hard to steal those leather chairs from Pratt Library. Not that I tried or anything.

Campus secret.

Free movies from the Media Commons. Rushmore + Blue Velvet = excellent Thursday night fun. But watch out, the late fines will rob you blind.

Free tea at the Helen Gardiner Phelan Playhouse. Everyday between 1:30 and 3:00, enjoy piping hot orange pekoe tea and freshly baked cookies. Downside: high concentration of drama students.

Ping pong tables in the basement of the International Student Centre. Be warned: the guys who play down there don’t mess around. They may very well be descended from ninjas the way they swing those paddles.

That guy who plays piano in the East Hall of UC all the time. Maybe he should remain a secret, so we can keep him ours.

Moment you realized U of T was not like other schools?

Watching the night security guards kick people out of Robarts.

When I got my first marks back. I was used to being one of the smart kids in high school. It is humbling to be just average in a class of thousands.

Ha! It is. Delusions of grandeur aren’t good for grad school applications.

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