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Varsity women win bronze in Ontario cross country, men place sixth

The 2016 OUA Cross-Country Championships were held last weekend in Etobicoke

Varsity women win bronze in Ontario cross country, men place sixth

Swirling wind and rain provided a foreboding backdrop for the 2016 Ontario University Athletics (OUA) Cross Country Championships on October 30. Nearly 200 athletes from 14 universities vied for glory, and they were supported by an energetic and passionate crowd of spectators and volunteers.

The women provided the first drama of the day. The starter pistol fired at 11:00 am, and the athletes ran a series of loops around Centennial Park in Etobicoke, racing 6km to the finish. A tight competition broke up on the final loop as a breakaway pack of seven athletes broke clear, led by Queen’s University’s Claire Sumner and Julie-Anne Staehli.

With one click to go, U of T rookie Lucia Stafford was at the back of the lead group. But at the 500m mark she let loose, aggressively kicking towards the finish. Stafford’s push caused a thrilling three-way sprint to the finish. In the end, Sumner outlasted her opponents, crossing in 20:16.7 with Stafford less than half a second behind her; a gutsy performance that earned Stafford OUA Women’s Rookie of the Year honours.

Guelph retained the OUA team title for a thirteenth consecutive season; the team was carried on the back of five athletes finishing in the top 14. Sumner’s first and Staehli’s third was enough for Queen’s to beat the Varsity Blues, who secured OUA bronze with Madeline Kelly and Jazz Shukla both winning second team all-star awards.

The weather refused to relent as the men took off on their 10km race at midday. A three man breakaway had already formed within the first three kilometres, as Windsor’s Corey Bellemore, Lakehead’s Kevin Tree, and Western’s Jack Sheffar pushed the pace. The trio were inseparable for much of the race, taking turns leading the way before Tree and Bellemore edged ahead of Sheffar. With under a mile to go, Bellemore made the decisive move in the duel, pulling away from Tree and finishing in 30:35.8.

In the men’s competition, Western upset the 11 time champions Guelph with a great all around team performance. With Bellemore’s win and top 15 performances by Alex Ulman and Andrew Nebel, Windsor slid past Guelph to steal silver.

The Varsity Blues men’s team finished sixth overall. Leading the Blues in the field was captain Sacha Smart who finished twenty-sixth overall. Special mention should be given to rookies Noah Defreyne, who finished thirty-fourth, and AJ Bimm, who finished fifty-eighth. Bimm found out moments before the women’s race started that he would be racing, after illness and injury ruled out Sam Kinahan and Riley Alvarez.

Op-ed: Why risk arrest?

Canada’s youth won’t stand for Kinder Morgan, and it’s time for the government to listen up

Op-ed: Why risk arrest?

When I was 12 years old, I wrote a speech about climate change for a primary school speaking contest. Unfortunately, as I would soon learn, it takes a lot more than giving a speech to move governments. For the next eight years, impassioned by the same goals, I wrote petitions, signed letters, attended rallies and marches, and spoke up at climate town halls. I have used every available traditional forum to voice my concerns, and yet the politicians that are supposed to protect my future have consistently failed to take necessary action on climate change.

When an opportunity presented itself to take my demands to the next level, I took it. For the past two months I have recruited students and youth for Climate101, a civil disobedience action calling on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to reject the Kinder Morgan pipeline. Last Monday, that action culminated in 99 young people being arrested on Parliament Hill — the largest act of youth-led climate civil disobedience in Canadian history.

Opposing Kinder Morgan is a matter of climate justice. As students, many of us with experience in fossil fuel divestment campaigns, we know that expanding the tar sands means trampling on the rights of people across Canada and around the world. Canada made commitments in Paris last year to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees, but if Kinder Morgan and other tar sands pipelines are built, we will be on track to use up almost one quarter of the world’s remaining carbon budget. Approving Kinder Morgan means standing by as small island nations are drowned, people die of famine, and increasingly prevalent and dangerous natural disasters destroy communities.

If Prime Minister Justin Trudeau approves Kinder Morgan, he will also be breaking his campaign promise to respect the rights of Indigenous peoples. Cedar Parker-George of the Tslei-Waututh First Nation, one of the youth speakers at the action on Monday, says it best: “Justin Trudeau promised to listen to Indigenous communities. Well, my community has been pretty clear; reject this pipeline and protect the water, the land and the climate.” Tslei-Waututh and other members of Indigenous communities protecting the land are protecting their right to survive, and we need to stand with them.

Young people took action on Monday because the stakes are high, and because it just might make the difference. We know that when young people come together, we are powerful. For instance, the fossil fuel divestment movement, led by students, has collectively led to $3.4 trillion in assets being divested thus far. In the United States in 2014, dozens of youth were arrested outside the White House protesting the Keystone XL pipeline. A year later, after dozens of other actions and fierce opposition from Indigenous peoples, Obama rejected the pipeline.

Climate 101, similarly, drew on the power of young voices to influence change. Last election, 45 per cent of people aged 18–25 voted Liberal and helped along the formation of a majority Liberal government. That same demographic, spanning all the way up to 35, is overwhelmingly opposed to pipelines and supports strong climate action and respect for Indigenous rights.

Those of us arrested on Parliament Monday came with a plea, but also a warning: if Trudeau wants the support of millennials next election, he needs to reject Kinder Morgan. Perhaps seeing 99 youth arrested on his doorstep will be the tipping point he needs to make that decision.

Amanda Harvey-Sanchez is a third-year student at Trinity College studying Environmental Studies, Social Cultural Anthropology, and Equity Studies. She was one of three youth organizers working on recruitment and planning for Climate 101 with 350.org.

Op-ed: Is the UTSU worth saving?

A UTSU Executive reflects on the organization's failures, struggles, and potential for change

Op-ed: Is the UTSU worth saving?

Is the University of Toronto Students’ Union (UTSU) worth saving? I asked myself that question last week after students voted overwhelmingly against the creation of a new UTSU fee. To be clear, I don’t blame students for how they voted, and I’m not here to justify or explain away the referendum. In fact, it was, in many ways, my project, and I accept responsibility for its failure.

To be blunt, the UTSU is rotten and was mismanaged for years. None of the problems that have come to light in the last 18 months are new; they’ve just been deliberately concealed, even from the Board of Directors. For instance, last year, when I was on the board, we learned that the Health and Dental Plan — arguably the only UTSU service that matters to most students — had lost $1.6 million in a six year period. No one had even notified the board, let alone the organization’s members. The UTSU is often accused of being out of touch with students’ needs, and in many ways, it is.

When an organization like the UTSU runs into trouble, it has two options. The first option is to hide what’s going on and become progressively more authoritarian. This is what the UTSU did for more than a decade. The second option is to throw open the doors and let the members see the corruption. This is what needs to happen now, and why I’m being so blunt about the Student Commons project.

What the referendum taught me is that students don’t yet trust the UTSU with their money, and I don’t blame them. They haven’t been persuaded that the organization has changed, and it’s absolutely true that it hasn’t changed enough. We assumed that we could earn the trust of students by quietly reforming the UTSU. It’s now clear that we were wrong about that, and that a more radical, democratic restructuring is required. We can’t ask for more money even for clubs that need it until we’ve proven that we aren’t misspending the money that we currently have.

[pullquote-default]The UTSU is worth saving — but only if it’s saved for everyone.[/pullquote-default]

The UTSU could also learn to take itself somewhat more seriously. While advocacy on behalf of students is of fundamental and non-negotiable importance, it’s the height of arrogance to carry on like a foreign ministry while struggling to do anything useful. Empty words persuade no one; self-congratulatory statements are no substitute for effective action.

What gives me hope is the existence of students’ unions that are well run and, moreover, not so widely disliked. One good example is the Federation of Students at the University of Waterloo. Another is the Alma Mater Society at the University of British Columbia. We need to look at what these unions and others are doing differently and learn from them.

The more important point is that student government is, in principle, a good thing. Like it or not, the UTSU is the student government that we have. People can do a lot of good when they govern themselves together — even as students, even at U of T.

I asked to write this piece because students are rightly angry at the UTSU, and I want them to know that they’ve been heard. We’re going to respond to this defeat by accelerating the process of reform. If you don’t like the UTSU, tell us. If we’re making a mess of something, let us know. The UTSU is worth saving — but only if it’s saved for everyone. A UTSU that exists only for the benefit of a small clique of student politicians isn’t worth anyone’s time.

Mathias Memmel is a third-year student at University College studying Computer Science and Political Science. He is the UTSU’s Vice-President Internal and Services.

The Toronto Downtown Record Show set to open Nov. 6

If you're a fan of vinyl, this show is not to be missed

The Toronto Downtown Record Show set to open Nov. 6

If you’re a vinyl junky, you’re in for a real treat. The Toronto Downtown Record Show is happening this Sunday, and a whopping 100,000 records will be for sale. With over 50 tables in 2 rooms, the show consists of an array of vendors selling a selection of records spanning all genres.

Devotees and novices alike will find ways to satisfy even the most rarified tastes. Soul and Funk grooves from James Brown and the JB’s, proto-punk classics from The Stooges, the acoustic landscapes of ambient music pioneer Brian Eno, early psychedelia from Pink Floyd, The Tragically Hip and records from The Smiths will all be up for grabs. Hip-hop heads, garage freaks, and glam rock fans will find records from Public Enemy, Outkast, and N.W.A. alongside rare garage-rock cuts, jazz classics, and what looks like David Bowie’s whole oeuvre.

The needle drops this Sunday at 11 am at the Toronto Estonian House (958 Broadview Ave East). A $5 discount vinyl room will be open all day, housing over 75 crates of cheap records.

Starting at 9 am, early admission is priced at $25, while general admission throughout the day is $5. Parking will be available behind the building, but space is limited.