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What’s in a perfect night?

Our contributors share the components of a perfect night out, from Tinder hookups to drunk detours

What’s in a perfect night?

9:00 pm — I begin the night by changing into a pair of chinos and a cute button-up floral print shirt that says, “I’m artsy but also fun and confident.”

9:30 pm — I meet up with a friend at her house. We decide that three glasses of wine constitute acceptable “pre-drinks.” We sit in her kitchen watching clips from RuPaul’s Drag Race while sipping on cheap rosé from the College and Euclid LCBO.

10:30 pm — We head to a not-so-close friend’s house party in the Annex. We’d feel bad if we didn’t at least make an appearance.

11:30 pm — We ditch the house party for Crews and Tangos on Church Street, where we meet up with a few closer friends. I also invite a Tinder match who was in one of my classes last semester.

12:30 am — We watch a drag queen doing a lip synced performance of “Venus” by Lady Gaga. At this point, Tinder match and I are engaging in some serious PDA on the dance floor.

2:00 am — We ditch the club for a late night McDonald’s run.

3:00 am — Head home with Tinder match. We proceed to have a tender night consisting mostly of cuddling, oral sex, and philosophical discussions about Sex and the City.

— Avneet Sharma

8:00 pm — Meet up with some friends at The Burger’s Priest or Future Bistro in the Annex for some comfort food.

9:00 pm — Hop into the clothing stores and bookstores in the area. BMV bookstore has a great collection on art history and cinema, and the third floor’s wide range of comic books is worth visiting. There’s also a tarot card reader nearby.

10:00 pm — Hit up SPiN Toronto, inspired by the New York club where you can listen to live music, grab some drinks, and also get in a game of ping pong.

12:00 am — Have a midnight snack at Insomnia on Bloor. Check out Snakes and Lattes, a café that offers thousands of board games, where Cards Against Humanity takes the top spot. Hit up a nearby frozen yogurt or ice cream place for dessert.

2:00 am — I’ll usually have rented something from Robarts’ Media Library to watch with anyone who’s up for it. After that, it’s time to crash.

— Ayushee Vohra

9:00 pm — Assemble your team for the night, preferably including at least one friend who doesn’t drink and can recount the events of the night to you when you can’t remember the next day.

9:30 pm — Beer pong. No table? No problem. Why do you think the residences have common rooms?

11:30 pm — Uber over to Track and Field, a bar on College. Their collection of odd games will fill any void that might make you feel like you need to dance or make conversation. SPiN on King Street West is a valid alternative.

1:30 am — The weak have gone home or fallen asleep. You, on the other hand, are headed to Taste of China on Dundas, a fully equipped Chinese restaurant with shared dishes that’s open until 4:00 am every night — 5:00 am on Fridays and Saturdays.

3:00 am — Attempt to walk back to campus but make a wrong turn and end up in Nathan Phillips Square. Take some good Snapstories and Uber the hell home. You have class tomorrow.

— Kevin Yin

5:30 pm — My boyfriend and I select a new recipe online in the hopes of creating a savoury dish for dinner. Although cognizant of the fact that we’re missing a couple ingredients, we naïvely attempt to improvise and pretend we’re experienced chefs.

6:15 pm — Our goal of saving money is spoiled, as is the case with so many other U of T students. The “extravagant” meal fails and we’re still hungry for a satisfying one. I text a friend, and the three of us head to Kinton Ramen on Church Street.

8:00 pm — After a pleasant meal and discussion, we set out for dessert elsewhere. We arrive at one of our favourite cafés for specialty cakes and/or tea, Jule on Carlton Street.

9:15 pm — If feeling particularly adventurous, we catch a late night flick at the Yonge-Dundas Cineplex Cinema, or play some board games at Snakes & Lattes. More often than not, however, my boyfriend and I will just retire to our condo and watch or rewatch shows like Black Mirror, Westworld, Stranger Things, Survivor, or Game of Thrones.

— Christina Bondi

6:30 pm — It’s movie time. Take your pick: rom com, superhero flick, or war epic?

8:30 pm — If you haven’t tried the perfect combination that is movies and Korean fried chicken, I don’t know where you’ve been. The Annex and Koreatown are full of Korean restaurants you’ve got to try. Start with The Fry at Bathurst and Bloor.

8:45 pm — The Fry’s food is delicious, Snapchat-worthy, and the restaurant is the perfect place to hang out with friends. Order one of their famous combos, such as the green onion chicken with a peach flavoured makgeolli.

9:10 pm — The food arrives. Enjoy time with your friends, along with the restaurant’s free butter corn and fries.

11:00 pm – Or later, your call: head out and get home safe.

— Sammi Chan

Why do we still divide sports by gender?

Female athletes are often subjected to a higher level of scrutiny

Why do we still divide sports by gender?

Competitive sports have historically been separated by gender. In high school, I never noticed the distinction between male and female sports teams until players on the female basketball team noted their discontent with their team name, “The Lady Senators,” relative to the male team, which was simply titled “The Senators.” I realized that I would also be bothered if my team name were distinguished solely by my gender and reduced to a label such as “The Man Senators.”

There is no reason why one gender should be titled in accordance with another. The very nature of the issue has made me question why the gender separation in sports exists, and if co-ed sports are really a possibility.

When addressing the plausibility of co-ed sports, it’s crucial to note that men generally have higher testosterone levels than women, which can account for different performance levels. However, it’s the physical and social factors ingrained in us that often make the experience of co-ed competition uncomfortable for many individuals. Throughout the past century, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has struggled to find the best way to identify an athlete’s gender without making the process embarrassing or outright discriminatory. The process to distinguish gender has evolved from nude parades to chromosomes to the current method: testing hormone levels.

For example, even before South African sprinter Caster Semenya dominated the women’s 800-metre race at the 2016 Rio Olympics, fellow athletes questioned her gender and the fairness of competing against her due to her naturally high testosterone levels. In 2011, the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) prevented women with testosterone levels higher than 10 nanomoles per litre from competing in international competitions. Women with higher testosterone levels had to either take hormone-suppressing drugs or have hormone reduction therapy in order to compete. This ban was lifted in 2015 after an IAAF court concluded that a slight increase in testosterone for women did not account for a more significant advantage than any other natural physical ability.

That being said, hormone testing has sparked an important question that needs to be addressed: why is natural genetic variation policed in female athletes but celebrated in men?

At U of T, although co-ed sports exist in intramural leagues, some sports have changed their rules to better adhere to both men and women. For example, in co-ed basketball, men are not allowed to step inside the key, and if they do, a referee will enforce a turnover and the ball will be awarded to the other team.

Although these rules are positive efforts to have men and women compete together, restricting men from getting rebounds or charging toward the basket fails to properly incorporate both genders into an even game.

The separation of gender in competitive sports is so ingrained in our culture that the subject is one we hardly think about. But the separation is, by-and-large, unnecessary. During the same period of time we have seen athletic institutions struggle to identify gender in a way that treats women as equals, Semenya has performed and won at the highest level possible, proving that the value of gold can’t be distinguished by gender.

Data in a foreign land

U of T’s email outage and the privacy implications of sending data abroad

Data in a foreign land

On April 28, U of T suspended its UTmail+ service for students and alumni for what was supposed to be a five-day transfer of data from the US to Canada. The transfer did not go as planned.  Students and alumni unexpectedly lost access to their accounts for an entire week. Suddenly, the data that many considered to be ever-present was gone.

This unexpected transfer failure brought attention to the university’s eCommunications systems. Collectively, students, staff, faculty, and alumni conduct an incredibly vast amount of correspondence through these email services; is this data as secure as people are led to believe?

Data is something that we might think to be ubiquitous — at least, that’s what the term ‘the cloud’ might lead us to believe. But data has a physical root: it is stored on servers across the world, and for years, U of T’s email data was stored in the US.

Sending data abroad

In 2011, U of T decided to outsource email services to Microsoft. Most current U of T students only know of the current UTmail+ system, but at the time, the choice to sign on with Microsoft was an important one. As the old email system became increasingly outdated, U of T was faced with two options.

The first option would have required the school to build and maintain its own servers. In his report titled “Report #2 and Recommendations, Student e-Communications Services,” U of T’s Chief Information Officer (CIO) at the time, Robert Cook, estimated this would cost the university around $1.44 million.

The other option, outsourcing to Microsoft, was free. The university eventually chose this option.

With the decision to let Microsoft run its eCommunications services, U of T was putting its data in American hands bound by American laws. This arrangement prompts one of the biggest questions in the world of data security: what happens when data travels across borders?

Much of Canadians’ data is both routed through and stored in the US, yet no one really knows the privacy implications of this. In 2015, a team of U of T researchers led by faculty members Heidi Bohaker, Lisa Austin, Andrew Clement, and Stephanie Perrin released a report titled “Seeing Through the Cloud,” which investigated what happens to Canadians’ data while abroad. The report concluded that there were areas of concern regarding the status of international data storage.

“When Canadians store their data, for example, in the United States, their data can be accessed by United States government authorities on standards that would be unconstitutional if applied within Canada. Nor can Canadians expect that United States constitutional standards will apply to them,” the report states.

While data travels outside Canadian borders, it is not clear whether it is protected by any constitution at all.

The report recommended that universities refrain from outsourcing “eCommunications services beyond Canadian jurisdiction until adequate measures for ensuring legal and constitutional protections equivalent to those in Canada are in place.”

Two years after the report was released, Microsoft moved the university’s data back to Canada. Clement, a professor in the Faculty of Information at U of T, described it as a positive step.

“I’m pleased that U of T has done that,” Clement told The Varsity. “But there’s still a question as to whether the US government can put pressure in various ways… onto Microsoft to get what is held in Canada.”

The university also acknowledged these risks when the decision to outsource its data was made in 2011. In the Privacy Impact Assessment (PIA) conducted before the move, U of T conceded that “US authorities can request records of individual users, including emails, access logs and other personal information. In some cases the University will have no way of knowing if and when this is happening.” Despite this admission, the probability of this risk taking place was noted as “low” and its impact as “medium.”

Of course, American whistleblower Edward Snowden revealed in 2013 that the United States National Security Agency (NSA) did conduct extensive surveillance on internet users outside of the US. But in a blog post published by Microsoft President and Chief Legal Officer Brad Smith shortly after the Snowden leaks, Smith said, “We do not provide any government with direct access to emails or instant messages. Full stop.”

Smith went on to explain that, though his company does get information requests from the government, “When we receive such a demand, we review it and, if obligated to we comply. We do not provide any government with the technical capability to access user content directly or by itself.”

After the Snowden revelations, Microsoft petitioned the US Justice Department to let them reveal more on the nature of the NSA’s requests. They wanted to “share publicly more complete information about how [they] handle national security requests for customer information.”

The Justice Department responded by allowing Microsoft and other companies to reveal the number of requests that each receives, but it did not go so far as allowing them to reveal what information was being collected.

In 2016, Microsoft reported a total of 61,409 requests from law enforcement, which was down from 74,311 requests in 2015.

Despite this, U of T continues to have great faith in eCommunications services. “There’s nothing to suggest that we are under surveillance,” Althea Blackburn-Evans, Director of Media Relations at U of T, told The Varsity.

“We do practice something called ‘Privacy by Design,’ which is a set of principles set out by Ontario’s previous privacy commissioner,” Blackburn-Evans said. “[We] are very proactive about that.”

The principles of Privacy by Design (PbD) focus on preventative measures. As the first principle states, “PbD does not wait for privacy risks to materialize, nor does it offer remedies for resolving privacy infractions once they have occurred — it aims to prevent them from occurring.”

That being said, it is unlikely that anyone can perpetually prevent any lapses from happening. Microsoft also adheres to PbD principles, yet it found its networks susceptible to security breaches as recently as May 2017, during the ‘WannaCry’ ransomware attacks. Attackers were able to take control of over 200,000 computers running Microsoft’s software by exploiting a vulnerability discovered later by the NSA.

While observance of PbD is a useful step in protecting data, there are no clear guidelines for dealing with privacy breaches if and when they occur.

Microsoft and the UTmail+ transfer

Despite its vulnerabilities, the university’s relationship with Microsoft is still very strong. When Microsoft built two new data centres in Canada in 2016, U of T’s eCommunications data was moved back into the country a year later. “The move [was] entirely about offering the full value of Microsoft 365 to everybody at U of T,” said Blackburn-Evans.

Bo Wandschneider, who was recently hired as the university’s new CIO, echoed Blackburn-Evans’ sentiments, positioning the decision in terms of streamlining the service for students.

“What we were trying to do is create a richer experience for the students by having them in the same environment that the faculty and staff are in,” Wandschneider told The Varsity

But the move to bring everyone together did not go as planned, as issues with the transfer caused a delay of two additional days. The problems forced Microsoft to eventually “[escalate] the severity of the UTmail+ service issues to CRITICAL,” according to a U of T update.

When asked about what went wrong with the transfer, Blackburn-Evans stated that it was “a complicated migration, there were over 200,000 accounts being transferred and some issues arose that weren’t anticipated. The issue was on Microsoft’s end and they were working around the clock to fix it.”

Clement described the delay as “outrageous” and “really damaging.”

“These systems are complex, so things do go awry, but this is one of the biggest failures that I can think of and they’ve shown that they couldn’t handle it,” said Clement. “They knew they were going to do this, they had time to prepare and so on. So I think it really draws into question any claims that they want to make about how well they’re handling their email.”

Microsoft wouldn’t comment on U of T’s customer account. “What we can say is that Microsoft is committed to maintaining the highest customer satisfaction and ensuring all customers realize the value of Microsoft’s products and services. Microsoft continues to engage with key customers to ensure that any opportunity or risk is flagged and managed in a timely matter,” Sean O’Brien, a Microsoft spokesperson, told The Varsity.

When asked whether the university had any misgivings about Microsoft after the transfer, Wandschneider stated that it didn’t and that there was nothing that the university was concerned about. “Whenever we go into any of these agreements where we move to cloud services, we conduct a risk assessment and we evaluate all the risks associated with being in the cloud,” Wandschneider said. “We make sure that all their systems and our systems are up to the standards that we expect and that we are protecting the privacy and confidentiality of our user community.”

The complexity of The Cloud

The most recent PIA from the university, released in early 2017, tries to address some of the risks of outsourcing. It purports to have avoided the issue of foreign surveillance since the data has moved back to Canada.

“Canadian Microsoft Data Centers are now located in Toronto and Quebec City…The data will therefore be subject to Canadian law,” states the PIA. “[This] addresses many of the questions that had arisen during consultation prior to 2016 with respect to U.S. storage of data.”

However, even if all of the university’s data is stored in Canada, there is still the problem of boomerang routing. This phenomenon occurs when data is transmitted over borders, sometimes unnecessarily, before being stored in the home country. Clement’s report, “Canadian internet ‘boomerang’ traffic and Mass NSA Surveillance,” notes that “a great deal of Canadian domestic Internet communications boomerang through the United States and are subject to NSA surveillance.”

The 2017 PIA also attempts to address this issue by noting that encryption in transit will be applied to the university’s data. “This is expected to acceptably reduce risks from foreign government use of ‘boomerang routing,’” it reads.

Clement recently developed a tool to plot out where data goes and the NSA interception points it runs into along the way. was made for people to see how their data is routed all over the world and how it is therefore is at a greater risk. 

“I would say that it needs to be stored and routed within Canada,” said Clement. “Particularly as the United States goes increasingly rogue in terms of its compliance with usual legal international norms under the Trump administration, there’s a greater risk.”

If the U of T community’s data either travels through or is stored in the US, and the NSA has the capability to intercept it, this raises urgent concerns.

“U of T students coming from all over the world, coming from many of the so-called Muslim countries, many students are politically active, some of them will be at a relatively high risk of being of interest to the US government,” Clement noted. “We don’t know how far the US government can reach into these US corporate databases overseas.”

Yet these risks do not only apply to international students: the NSA has admitted to wanting to “collect it all.” Even data that is not necessarily a threat to the US has and may continue to be collected.

Moving forward

So how can the university ensure that it is protecting its email services? One obvious solution would be to stop outsourcing eCommunications services and start managing them closer to home.

U of T first decided to outsource to Microsoft because it was the free option. Now the university is locked into the system, and it is becoming clear that the risks were greater than anticipated.

“It’s a general aphorism about when you get something for free, you are the product. In this case it’s the students who are the product that’s being sold,” said Clement. “So you’ve been sold to Microsoft and the university has saved its money.”

However, Wandschneider said that the university was not currently looking for other routes. “We’ve done our due diligence and I’m really happy with where the data is residing,” he stated.

If the university is to remain with Microsoft, there are still other ways that the privacy of students is ensured. One of the strongest options would be to take it to the government.

British Columbia exemplifies how to use legislation to protect against foreign surveillance. BC’s Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act states that “a public body must ensure that personal information in its custody or under its control is stored only in Canada and accessed only in Canada,” with some exceptions.

This law requires schools in BC, including the University of British Columbia, to develop their own eCommunications system, known as BC-net. This system is run entirely within the province, and as such, would protect against some of the risks of foreign surveillance facing U of T.

“Seeing Through the Cloud” supports the BC-net model, suggesting that other “higher education and/or broader public sectors outside of British Columbia could reap similar financial benefits while ensuring privacy protection for their eCommunications systems.”

As the university community continues to debate the costs of outsourcing, U of T is preparing to move staff and faculty emails to the Microsoft service as well. And as more and more data is moved around the world, the university and its student community will soon confront what it means for their collective privacy.

The Breakdown: The UTSU’s lawsuit against former Executive Director Sandy Hudson

The history, the controversy, and what to expect

The Breakdown: The UTSU’s lawsuit against former Executive Director Sandy Hudson

In September 2015, the University of Toronto Students’ Union (UTSU) began a lawsuit against its former President Yolen Bollo-Kamara, former Vice-President, Internal and Services Cameron Wathey, and former Executive Director Sandra Hudson. Since then, the story has taken a number of twists and turns.

The Legal History

The original statement of claim provided by the UTSU alleges that Bollo-Kamara and Wathey had “breached their fiduciary duty” by authorizing 2,589.5 hours of overtime pay for Hudson, that the three had “conspired to commit civil fraud,” and that their actions “constituted civil fraud” as the authorization of Hudson’s overtime pay entitled her to $247,726.40 as part of her severance package, despite the fact that Hudson had never claimed any overtime hours in the time she worked there. The claim also asks for $200,000 from the defendants for “punitive damages.”

Hudson’s position as Executive Director of the UTSU was terminated in April 2015, around the time Bollo-Kamara and Wathey’s terms as UTSU executives were coming to a close. The statement of claim alleged that Hudson was unhappy with the newly-elected Executive Committee and that Bollo-Kamara and Wathey agreed to dismiss Hudson. Wathey ran for President with the Change U of T slate and was defeated by Brighter U of T.

Hudson’s statement of defence, filed in November 2015, states that she was “subject to inappropriate conduct and unwelcome comments from UTSU directors. Some of the comments were in relation to Hudson’s perceived sexual orientation, gender, and race.”

Hudson also alleged that members of Brighter UofT conspired “to treat Hudson harshly” in order to “humiliate her,” while planning to terminate her employment that upcoming September. These claims have been refuted by members of the UTSU, including former President Ben Coleman.

Bollo-Kamara and Wathey filed their notices to defend in October 2015, and the UTSU was notified in November 2015 that Hudson intended to counter-sue the union for $300,000 in damages.

Hudson claimed that she had frequently worked overtime hours without filing those overtime hours. Additionally, she stated that the new executive would create a hostile work environment for her, and that it had violated the non-disparagement and confidentiality clauses of the termination. The UTSU denied this claim.

The UTSU settled its claim out of court with Bollo-Kamara in January 2016 and later did the same with Wathey. Both individuals signed affidavits stating that Hudson told them she had received advice from the UTSU’s legal representation at the time, DLA Piper, regarding her termination agreement.

A joint statement by Bollo-Kamara and the UTSU said that Hudson was able to convince Bollo-Kamara to sign her overtime cheques as a result of their close relationship. In his affidavit, Wathey said he relied on his understanding that the termination agreement was approved by the UTSU’s legal counsel and Hudson’s legal counsel. Both affidavits stated that Bollo-Kamara and Wathey did not financially benefit from the agreement.

On January 3, 2017, the UTSU amended its statement of claim against Hudson, the only remaining defendant from the original civil suit. The amendment alleged that Hudson operated the e-mail account [email protected], by which she forwarded all e-mails from UTSU accounts like [email protected] This meant that Hudson would have had access to confidential UTSU e-mails, which the amended statement describes as “a breach of her contract and the minutes of settlement she is seeking to uphold.”

The amended statement of claim also states that this information is sufficient to support Hudson’s termination “without contractual or statutory notice or severance payment,” meaning the UTSU would not have to pay the severance it allegedly owed Hudson.

The controversy

In October 2016, the U of T chapter of the Black Liberation Collective (BLC) staged a protest at the UTSU offices, claiming that Hudson is entitled to a severance payment and that the UTSU is racist for continuing the lawsuit. The BLC posted banners across the entrance to the UTSU building and entered the building to read a 3000-word statement outlining their claims that the UTSU is anti-Black.

The past few months have seen many UTSU board meetings disrupted by protests, with members of the BLC disrupting meetings in order to chant and share sentiments about Hudson.

A motion passed at the April 29, 2017 UTSU Board of Directors meeting that required the UTSU to seek a second legal opinion on their lawsuit. The motion stipulated that the second opinion must be sought from a lawyer who will “identify as Black, practice employment law, and have a background in equity work,” and that the BLC must be engaged in the selection process.

At the July 20, 2017 Board of Directors meeting, though, a motion to rescind the prior motion requiring the UTSU to seek a second legal opinion was proposed. This resulted in further protests from the BLC.

The UTSU and Hudson are heading to court on October 23 for a summary trial.

Beyond email transfers

Bo Wandschneider, U of T’s new Chief Information Officer, discusses a stressful first week on the job and more

Beyond email transfers

The University of Toronto’s new Chief Information Officer, Bo Wandschneider, assures us that technological advancements and integration are part of the university’s long-term future. In conversation with The Varsity, Wandschneider discussed the experience he brings to the table, “cultural changes,” and his stressful first week on the job.

When U of T announced the hiring of Wandschneider on March 15, 2017, a news brief on the Information Technology Services (ITS) website described him as a “truly collaborative leader” and a “visionary thinker and effective strategist.” This was put to the test during the first week of Wandschneider’s tenure.

One of the new CIO’s first tasks was to migrate 220,000 U of T email accounts to Canadian data servers from US-based ones. The migration took longer than expected, with service outages scheduled to take place from April 28 to May 1, lasting until May 5. “The challenges with that migration were unfortunate and, I’m going to say unacceptable,” Wandschneider said.

“At the end of the day it’s fairly simple. Lots of issues. It’s very complex but really simple. The size of the migration here was just big and the testing that we did beforehand didn’t scale the way that we had expected it to scale,” added Wandschneider. “It just took a long time for every step of the migration. There’s lots of checks and balances that happen through the process to make sure that they all get migrated properly and all those steps just took longer than we wanted to.”

While Wandschneider wouldn’t guarantee that no further issues would arise during his time as CIO, he stated that his ITS team is “really good at fighting fires and dealing with issues that arise and resolving those.”

Wandschneider got his start in information technology while pursuing his undergraduate degree at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario. At the time, he said, it was “very early days for that sort of thing,” and his experience with using computer mainframes, digitization, and statistical programming became useful when he moved on in his education.

“I started working with grad students and researchers and one thing led to another. It was right at the beginning of the evolution to micro computers, so I sort of accidentally fell into that sort of role.”

Having worked in the CIO portfolio at the University of Guelph and later at Queen’s University, Wandschneider is experienced in a variety of higher education-based projects, such as integrating learning management software, managing and reorganizing ITS leadership teams, and email migrations.

In his new role, Wandschneider expressed excitement about the integration of university faculty and staff to the Microsoft Office 365 suite of software and learning tools, stating that Office 365 is “very standardized in terms of what you get,” and that he would like to see how students, faculty, and staff interact in that online environment.

Wandschneider continued to emphasize cohesion and standardization within the university. According to him, the ITS team is in the midst of selecting a new learning management system to consolidate learning software into one cohesive program. The intention is to pilot this project in the upcoming fall and winter terms and to move into full production with the new software in the fall of 2018.

In tune with his collaborative nature, Wandschneider said he intends to implement a “student advisory committee” in the information technology realm. Having struck up similar advisory committees previously, he believes that talking to students will help ITS find the right services on which to focus. He has already been in contact with the UTSU regarding such a committee, adding that collaboration with students is “critical for sort of my philosophy on how you support technology in higher ed. Getting that student engagement and hearing what they’re thinking is critical.”

He hopes the council will meet on a regular basis to engage with the student body directly.

He further highlighted some key areas wherein he believes a “cultural change” must take place — namely agility, transparency, and client focus.

“I’d like for the organization to share what we’re doing [and] what we’re thinking and get [the community] involved in the journey as well. And I think that’s the cultural shift, right?”

According to Wandschneider, consultation for developing new services can be so time-consuming that when it comes time to implement new technology, “the world has moved beyond us.” This is a challenge he hopes to overcome during his time as CIO.

In conversation with UTM’s new principal

Ulrich Krull was confirmed for a three-year term after stay as interim principal

In conversation with UTM’s new principal

Professor Ulrich Krull has been appointed as the new Vice-President and Principal (VP-Principal) of UTM, effective July 1, 2017, for a three-year term.

U of T President Meric Gertler had created an advisory committee that established both the mandate and the desired qualities for the new VP-Principal, after which a call for nominations and a position profile was put forward.

Formerly serving in the role of Interim Vice-President and Principal, Krull, a chemistry professor, has assumed numerous administrative positions at UTM, including Vice-Principal Special Initiatives and Associate Dean of Sciences. The Varsity sat down with Krull to discuss his appointment and plans in his new position.

The Varsity: How did you react to getting appointed? Were you confident that you would get this position after the work you had done this year and in the past? Or was it still a surprise?

Ulrich Krull: So there’s little bit of history to this one. The message that I had given publicly over and over again last fall was [that] I was not interested in taking this position on permanently. I have had a year to actually experience the position and in a sense, it has unfolded as I had hoped: the community has really rallied around, there’s a very good sense of morale, a sense of a can-do spirit here.

TV: As a celebrated teacher and distinguished scientist, did you find any qualities of these professions to be helpful in an administrative capacity when you were interim-Vice President and Principal? Will any of these help in this role as well?

UK: I think the answer is yes. One can answer this in a number of different ways. There are those that become so heavily embedded or vetted to research with that singular focus that it’s sometimes difficult to see how the administrative role can easily, in a sense, build from that. But my life, my career, has been shared between administration and serving as a professor, so I have found a happy balance. In my particular area, as a faculty member in the sciences, we are responsible for finding the money we are going to use for the research team. I have, and I’ll call it an advantage perhaps [as] I don’t know how to better explain it, had many years of experience also working with industry and with government from the standpoint of funding, running research projects, running contracts, dealing with intellectual property.

TV: As a VP-Principal, what are your main roles and duties?

UK: My role, in a sense, is… to create strategy for this particular campus and then to integrate that strategy, building on the strengths we have from the academic platform of teaching and research and working with the outside community, to actually implement that.

TV: So, are there any particular first courses of action you are looking at with this new position?

UK: I think the answer is probably best said that, as I was in an interim position, we are going to keep that work going. When I took the interim position, I had spoken with the president of the university and indicated that I would take this role if it were understood that it was not simply trying to manage the portfolio until a new person was selected, that I would have some license in terms of driving forward initiatives. The initiatives I had in mind were to support the visioning exercise which would lead to the strategic plan, implementation of a direction for this particular campus that now extends from the history of the campus. Remember, we’re in the 50th year. It’s time to reflect on where we are and where we are going… Those are the directions we are going in, continuing with the visioning exercise, and we will now develop an academic strategy. The material is posted online for everybody to take shots at and try to tune it.

TV: Lastly, do you have any new plans, hopes and dreams for the position? What are the long-term goals you are looking at?

UK: I will put to you some important goals that are perhaps less quantitative than, say, building a building. What I am looking for is a change in culture at a couple of different levels. One, how we participate in research overall, within the University, making it possible for individuals that are appointed at UTM to actually find value on this campus to do research here. So, we are prepared to put in resources to build out clusters that do not exist elsewhere in the university and provide an interesting home and unique distinctive flavor to this particular campus… I’m also very interested to see what we can do to improve the student experience… I think we have some real value there that we can offer students and we need to explore that value in several different ways. One way is for more students to get involved with research but, in a sense, what we are talking about would be called ‘experiential education’ – the whole concept of providing more and improved avenues here at UTM, particularly [for] undergrads, to have experiences beyond the classroom that will help them develop leadership skills, confidence, and skill sets to be able to move out as individuals in their own right, leaders in their own right.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

U of T releases “Guiding Principles” for sexual violence education and prevention

Report released following criticism of the university’s handling of sexual violence

U of T releases “Guiding Principles” for sexual violence education and prevention

On June 23, U of T released a report entitled “Guiding Principles for Sexual Violence Education and Prevention Initiatives.” The report aims to develop a curriculum of university-wide training initiatives for staff, students, and faculty. The report is further intended to “provide advice and guidance on updating the content and delivery of existing programs.” Its release follows a tumultuous year of student activism against the university’s response to sexual violence.

In March, a postering campaign by campus group Silence is Violence drew attention to what it saw as negligence on behalf of the university in responding to sexual violence on campus. In addition, U of T student Tamsyn Riddle filed a human rights complaint this April against the university and Trinity College for allegedly mishandling her sexual assault investigation.

Riddle claims to have been sexually assaulted at a party sponsored by Trinity College in the spring of 2015. Following the assault, Riddle claims that the university was negligent and mishandled the investigation of her case, allowing her assailant to continue attending the university. The alleged assailant only faced a ban from the dining halls and participation from certain clubs.

Among the principles listed in each section of the report, the panel recommends that the curriculum define the various behaviours that are included under sexual violence and that all initiatives should “address power and privilege, and understand their historical context with respect to identified communities.” The panel also reports that the curriculum should not only be based on theory and research, but also lived experiences and “Indigenous ways of knowing.”

The report comes from an expert panel chaired by Professor Gretchen Kerr, Vice-Dean of the Faculty of Kinesiology and Physical Education. In order to develop the report, the panel reviewed extensive research and literature on the subject and developed a campus engagement plan to acquire feedback from the larger U of T community. They also had to create a draft of the guidelines, make an anonymous feedback tool available, and revise the report into the document submitted to the Provost.

Kerr was selected by the Provost to chair the panel because of her research and applied experience in the area of abuse and harassment. The rest of the panel was comprised of students, faculty, and administrative staff.

These panelists were chosen from nominations made to the Provost in April 2016. Nominees were selected by Kerr and Provost Cheryl Regehr based on applicants’ “relevant background for the panel’s work, diversity, representation from the various stakeholder groups and representation across the three campuses of U of T,” Kerr told The Varsity.

The stakeholders that are referred to throughout the report encompass various intersectional identities, along with the different faculties across all three campuses.

“We will be looking at a diversity of perspectives, so that includes people from the Indigenous community, persons with disabilities, racialized groups, sexually diverse groups and those whose gender identity or gender expression doesn’t conform to historical norms,” Executive Director of Personal Safety, High Risk, and Sexual Violence Prevention & Support Terry McQuaid explained to The Varsity.

According to McQuaid, the curriculum is currently entering its planning stages. “Part of the planning process right now is to identify all the key groups across the university and to have a lead person in each of those groups — so somebody trained by the centre, knowledgeable of the centre’s activities, who can help roll out collaborative training with the groups. We’ll train a core group of individuals including these lead reps, and then the centre will work with these lead reps to roll out training.”

McQuaid said that the university is looking to develop more content for the curriculum with involvement from people knowledgeable in the field. In addition, they are going to begin training for each of the key stakeholders moving forward.

Construction begins at Robarts Library

New initiative marks first addition to library in 42 years

Construction begins at Robarts Library

The construction of Robarts Common, the current project of the Robarts renewal intiative and the first addition to the library in 42 years, began on the week of July 24.

According to the University of Toronto’s Chief Librarian, Larry Alford, the construction was set to begin in March 2016 but was delayed due to a building tender that went over the budgeted amount.

The five-storey addition, expected to be completed by the fall in 2019, will provide 1,200 new study spaces and expand the existing seating in Robarts Library to 6,027 seats. “I sometimes see students sitting on the floor in various parts of Robarts at peak times when they simply can’t find enough seating. So it will take care of that,” said Alford.

The Common will include alcoves, reading rooms, and a significant number of group study rooms. Alford said that there will be both casual seating as well as a lot of “very quiet seating.”

“One needs only to walk through one of the reading rooms to detect the current lack of space. Come exam season, finding a spot in the library is nearly impossible,” Anne Boucher, Vice-President External at the University of Toronto Students’ Union, told The Varsity. “It is clear that space in Robarts has passed its current capacity.”

Third-year Rotman Commerce student Dawood Younis is glad to see new innovations and updates to buildings on campus. “[Robarts Commons] is a sign of continued investment in new and updated facilities on campus,” Younis said. “Ryerson has a state-of-the-art student center… There is no reason why funds cannot or should not be allocated to refresh the aging facilities.”

Not all students were happy with the news of the Robarts Common addition, however.

“[Robarts Library] is a success story in architecture… It’s imposing, terrifying, spectacular and carries the flag of the brutalist movement in ways other Toronto Brutal monuments simply cannot,” said Daniel Lewycky, an Architecture student in the John H. Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape and Design. “Not that I would want to preserve the poor thing, but unlike, say, the ROM expansion, U of T isn’t taking any kind of risk with this design. It’s the same glass box you’ve seen a thousand times before.”

The addition of diverse study spaces in libraries on campus is something that Innis College Student Society President Yolanda Alfaro is happy to see.

“A few students I’ve spoken to appreciate the effort to create different types of learning environments,” said Alfaro. “From personal experience, I know how hard it is for undergraduates to find an open and welcoming area suitable for group projects and studying.”

There will be no ground-breaking ceremony for the new Robarts Commons addition, but the start of construction will be celebrated alongside library heritage celebrations in October.