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Young MA to perform at UTSU’s Frost Week

Former UTSU Vice-President Campus Life explains how they booked the popular rapper

Young MA to perform at UTSU’s Frost Week

This Thursday, Young MA will be performing for U of T students at the Velvet Underground as part of the University of Toronto Students’ Union (UTSU)’s Frost Week

Former UTSU Vice-President Campus Life Stuart Norton, who organized the Frost Week concert prior to his resignation, wrote to The Varsity, “We went with Young M.A because she’s an artist that has a lot going on. She is committed to crafting her music and her identity as an artist in her own way, and she’s definitely on the brink of a come up.”

“[The UTSU] had been working with a few different agents and looking at quotes for their artists,” said Norton. “Ultimately we decided we wanted to pursue her as a potential artist. From there we reached out directly to her agent and began the booking process.”

Born in Brooklyn, Young MA has been rapping since the age of nine, and is best known for her 2016 summer hit “OOOUUU,” which currently has over 144 million streams on Spotify. The song has been remixed by artists including French Montana, A$AP Ferg, and Remy Ma, and has been referenced by Beyoncé.

Young MA’s music is catchy, fluent, clever, and showcases vital parts of her identity as a queer black rapper. “I held in being sexually attracted to women for so long that once I got that out of me, the music became easy,” she told Vogue in 2016.

Young MA will perform at the Velvet Underground on January 18 at 7:00 pm. Tickets are $25 plus fees.

Editor’s note: A previous version of this article misidentified the location of the concert as the Danforth Music Hall. The Varsity regrets the error.

Protests hit local Tim Hortons as franchises cut workers benefits

Workers at U of T’s four locations not affected

Protests hit local Tim Hortons as franchises cut workers benefits

A recent decision by some Tim Hortons locations to cut employee benefits in response to the rise in minimum wage has elicited strong responses from members of the U of T community and the general public.

The news first broke on January 3 that a Tim Hortons in Cobourg, Ontario would be ending paid breaks and some benefits, such as full dental and health coverage. The branch, which is owned by the children of Tim Hortons’ co-founders, said that the cuts were due to the provincial government’s decision to raise the minimum wage from $11.60 per hour to $14 per hour, effective January 1, 2018.

The changes were also blamed on “the lack of assistance and financial help from Head Office and from the Government.”

While Tim Hortons has called these cuts the actions of a “rogue group” of franchisers, the news prompted backlash from members of the U of T community, including employees at the university’s own Tim Hortons.

An employee at the Tim Hortons located in the Medical Sciences building, who asked to remain anonymous, told The Varsity that though her location wasn’t being affected by the cuts, she could not be sure that it would remain that way.

“We’re happy with everything here… but I’m very unhappy about the other ones… [the labour board] should step in and so should the government,” said the employee.

According to U of T Director of Media Relations Althea Blackburn-Evans, “The Tim Hortons locations at Sidney Smith, Medical Sciences, UTM and UTSC employ unionized workers, so they would not be exposed to the kind of cost-cutting measures that may be taken by other franchises.”

At the Tim Hortons location in Sidney Smith, an employee said that they were not allowed to comment on the issue.

In response to the cuts being made by some locations, labour groups in Ontario held demonstrations at over a dozen Tim Hortons locations across the province on January 10. The events were planned by the Ontario Federation of Labour, which represents 54 Ontario unions, and Fight for $15 and Fairness, a group that focuses on protecting workers’ rights and defending labourers from the “attacks by the corporate lobby and right-wing politicians.”

One of the protests was held at the Tim Hortons at Bedford Road and Bloor Street, just off of the UTSG campus, and was well attended by students and labour groups. Demonstrators could be seen carrying picket signs that read, “I love donuts but not pay cuts” and chanting “Hold our sugar, hold our cream, Tim Hortons don’t be mean.”

Julia DaSilva, a student representing the U of T chapter of Fight for $15 and Fairness, said that it was important to stand up to the “scare tactics” being used by some franchisers.

“Companies like Tim Hortons rake in massive amounts of revenue and are using tactics like these… in order to create fear around this rise in minimum wage that should be benefiting workers and easily could be,” said DaSilva.

Enver Harbans of the United Food & Commercial Workers International Union said that he was there to oppose the “draconian measures” being taken by the company.

“We’re here to let Tim Hortons know and corporations know that as a movement, we’re always going to be in support of workers, and we’re always going to be struggling for workers.”

Events of January 15–20

Here's what's happening on and around campus this week

ST. GEORGE CAMPUS

 

https://www.facebook.com/events/1743984082335006/

Event: The Future of Canadian Mental Health

Organized by: Hart House Debates and Dialogues Committee

Where: Hart House Debates Room

When: Jan 15, 7:00–9:00 pm

Admission: FREE

 

Event: UTSU Frost Week

Organized by: UTSU

When: Jan 15–19

Highlights:

Choir! Choir! Choir!

Jan 17, 8:00–11:00 pm

Isabel Bader Theatre

FREE

Young M.A

Jan 18, 7:00–11:00 pm

Danforth Music Hall

$27

19+ [valid government issued ID]

 

https://www.facebook.com/events/312043389274448/

Event: Women March On: Defining Our Future

Organized by: We Talk Women

When: Jan 20, 12:00–2:00 pm

Where: Nathan Phillips Square

Admission: FREE

 

https://www.facebook.com/events/1996917167299976/

Event: A Toronto Tasting with the New York Times

Organized by:U of T

When: Jan 15, 5:00–6:45 pm

Where: Isabel Bader Theatre

Admission: $24.18

 

https://www.facebook.com/events/158769298100399/

Event: Latin Night Dance Lessons

Organized By: Spanish Student Organization U of T

When: Jan 18 7:00 pm

Where: Hart House East Common Room

Admission: FREE

 

http://las.utoronto.ca/events/current/9-public-events/218-cpdvla1

Event: Health, Human Rights, and Sustainable Development

Organized by: Department of Latin American Studies at U of T

When: Jan 17 5:00–7:00 pm

Where: Emmanuel College, Room 119

Admission: FREE

 

MISSISSAUGA

 

https://www.facebook.com/events/1765065266891059/

Event: Theatre Erindale Presents a Reading of “A Raisin In The Sun”

Organized by: Theatre Erindale

When: Jan 19, 12:00–3:00 pm

Where: Theatre Erindale

Admission: FREE

 

https://www.facebook.com/events/1974193746237623/

Event: VAM40 Jurors Walk the Talk

Organized by: Art Gallery of Mississauga and Visual Arts Mississauga

When: Jan 20, 1:00–3:00 pm

Where: Art Gallery of Mississauga

Admission: FREE

 

https://www.facebook.com/events/239413089930592/

Event: Get Hired: Summer and Full-Time Job Fair

Organized by: UTM Career Centre

When: Jan 17, 10:00 am to 2:00 pm

Where: RAWC

Admission: FREE

 

SCARBOROUGH

 

https://www.facebook.com/pg/SCSUuoft/posts/?ref=page_internal

Event: SCSU Winter Clubs Week

Organized by: SCSU

When: Jan 15–26

Where: Student Centre and Meeting Place

Admission: FREE

 

https://www.facebook.com/events/467024967026863/

Event: Policing Bodies & Borders

Organized by: SCSU, Caribbean Solidarity Network, and Students of Sociology at UTSC
When: Jan 18, 5:00–8:00pm

Where: Ralph Campbell Lounge (BV-380)

Admission: FREE

 

The Adderall age

A student with ADHD explores the science behind ‘study drugs’

The Adderall age

I have ADHD. After receiving my diagnosis a year ago, the first person I told was my mother, who happens to be a physician. She wasn’t nearly as surprised as I was, mainly because my excessive distractibility, impulsiveness, and restlessness could hardly go unnoticed. The need for a diagnosis, however, was masked by my high marks in school, which hit rock bottom when I started at U of T.

When I informed my mum, the first thing she told me was not to take the medications my doctor suggested. “You know [ADHD medications] are highly addictive and classified as a Schedule III drug, right?” she told me. “It’s basically a descent into drug addiction.”

While she strongly advised me to avoid these meds due to their highly addictive nature, the psychiatrist who diagnosed me — and whose opinion I highly valued — was quick to suggest I start taking the medication. He told me that if I followed my prescription exactly, I would be unlikely to form a dependency on it.

Unsure of what to do, I decided to research. After rummaging the internet for hours, I discovered that ADHD medications were commonly abused by students and employees when working under pressure. Curious, I decided to learn what prompted those who don’t have ADHD to take these highly addictive pills.

‘SPEED’ IN SCHOOL

The main type of ADHD medication is stimulants of the central nervous system (CNS), which are also used to treat narcolepsy. Stimulants fall into two main categories: amphetamines and methylphenidates. Amphetamine brands include Adderall, Dexedrine, Vyvanse, and others, while Ritalin and Concerta are common methylphenidate brands.

Since U of T is a competitive and highly stressful environment, I looked to find people who had tried these drugs among my peers. Finding students who had taken ‘speed’ pills at least once was easy, but not many were willing to have their stories published. All the students I talked to had used Adderall, Vyvanse, or both.

Sara*, a fourth-year student, experimented with Adderall twice. The first time, she obtained the pill from her friend’s boyfriend. After keeping it in her wallet for a while, she decided to use it one night when she had to write an essay on deadline. She found she was able to focus on her readings more than usual. “It was a class I really hated,” she said.

It was only the next day that she decided to research the chemical she had ingested the night before.

Unlike Sara, Nate*, also a fourth-year student, did not have a very productive experience with Vyvanse. He tried it in his third year, after his friend suggested it. He decided to test the drug in hopes of finishing his 2,000-word essay the night before it was due. But it was a counterproductive experience. “I was scrolling through Twitter,” he said, “I’d suddenly look up and three hours have passed.”

“I was really zoned out; it was an out of body experience. I was almost too focused. It was too much.”

DIAGNOSING ADHD

In my pursuit of students who had used these pills, it seemed common for people to justify their actions by thinking, ‘Everyone has a little bit of ADHD anyway, so why not just take these meds?’

Dr. Paul Sandor, a psychiatrist at Toronto Western Hospital and a professor in the Department of Psychiatry at U of T, was quick to contest this belief. “Although some people have the ability to stay on task [and are] not distracted for long periods of time, others may be less so, but still within normal limits.”

The diagnosis of ADHD requires that symptoms impair normal activity and have been present for a long time in more than one setting. A student who recently started to notice an inability to focus in a classroom does not necessarily have ADHD.

Dr. Michelle Arnot, an associate professor who teaches a course about drug misuse in society and the Undergraduate Coordinator at U of T’s Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology, agrees. She said that a little inattention is normal, adding that our bodies are not designed to “sit in front of a screen for five hours.” However, she mentioned that people with ADHD have trouble controlling their attention or behaviour even when they want to. Arnot believes that drug therapy is only acceptable if there is a significant impairment or an inability to control behaviour and pay attention, and a formal diagnosis has been received.

YOUR BODY ON ADHD DRUGS

In your brain, neurons communicate with one another by releasing chemicals called neurotransmitters. Dopamine and norepinephrine are two neurotransmitters whose release is affected by ADHD medications. Amphetamines inhibit and sometimes reverse the reuptake of dopamine and norepinephrine; as a result, communication between these cells is prolonged.

Feeling anxious on amphetamines is not uncommon, and most of the students I talked to also reported a loss of appetite, sleeplessness, and an increased heart rate. In addition to the CNS, amphetamines also stimulate the sympathetic division of the peripheral nervous system, which is responsible for the fight-or-flight response. As a result, the body is tricked into thinking that it needs to respond to a life-threatening situation — blood vessels tighten, heart rate increases, and blood flows to the limbs. The digestive and urinary systems are also suppressed.

Once the drug is out of their system, a person starts to experience withdrawal effects, which are the opposite feelings they had on the drug. For amphetamines, sleepiness and agitation are common.

Kalai*, who took 10-milligram pills of Adderall throughout his first year as a Life Science student, said that the day after he took Adderall, he felt anxious, sluggish, and unmotivated. His withdrawal symptoms would disappear around two days after taking the pill.

A DANGEROUS DEPENDENCE

With time, a person on amphetamines may become desensitized to the dose they’re used to taking and need to increase it to achieve the same effects. This tolerance is one of the three aspects of drug dependence. The other two are the ‘reward pathway’ and the speed of the drug’s onset and offset.

The reward pathway is a dopamine pathway that involves the mesolimbic system of the brain — an area that reinforces learning and behaviour. Food and sex are both activators of the mesolimbic system. “It is important because it provides a sense of euphoria,” said Arnot. “It makes us want to do something again.”

“I don’t like to use this term but drugs ‘hijack’ that pathway,” she explained. The artificial increase of dopamine in the space between neurons caused by amphetamines and other stimulants results in an above-average euphoria, which the brain associates with this drug. As a result, the person may seek this ‘high’ again by taking more of the drug.

Additionally, the speed at which the drug reaches and affects the brain — called the onset of the drug — is a factor that affects the potential of addiction. The faster this euphoria is achieved, the more addictive the drug will be. For example, injected heroin has a faster onset and offset than methadone taken orally because it goes straight into the bloodstream rather than the digestive system. Thus, due to its very slow onset and offset, methadone has a lower abuse liability.

Vyvanse has a duration of 10–12 hours. It has an onset of two hours, meaning that its speed is slower than Adderall, which has a duration of only four to five hours and an onset of 30 minutes to an hour. When injected, methamphetamine — or meth — has an onset of a few seconds to a minute and is the most addictive of its drug family.

Although Vyvanse and Adderall XR — a version of Adderall that lasts approximately 12 hours — have slow onset and offset speeds, they are still controlled substances and have adverse effects at high doses. They may cause psychotic episodes, insomnia, and cardiovascular complications.

Since they may be fatal for people with cardiovascular diseases and other medical conditions, a physician should know a patient’s medical and family history, especially pertaining to strokes, hypertension, hyperthyroidism, heart and blood circulation diseases, seizures, substance use disorders, and mood or mental disorders. Medical tests must also be conducted before prescribing these drugs. Without the consent of a physician, taking Vyvanse or Adderall can be extremely dangerous for someone whose family has a history of medical conditions.

“There’s a lot of energy spent right now looking for that magic nootropic, cognitive enhancer, whatever you want to call it,” said Arnot. Amphetamines are studied because of their ability to increase dopamine and norepinephrine between neurons in the areas of the brain responsible for controlling attention, memory, and learning. Research suggests that amphetamines have no significant effect on the performance of people without ADHD. Although they slightly increase alertness and focus, they have mild to moderate impacts on memory.

Arnot said that the results may also have been linked to a placebo effect. “If you took [the drug] and thought you were going to do well because of taking it, you did better than if you think you were getting the null drug.”

Amphetamines also shorten the rapid eye movement (REM) stage of sleep. REM is crucial for forming and consolidating memory. Due to its sleep-altering ability, this agent is used to help students stay up at night to cram for a test or finish an essay. “It doesn’t suppress the need [for sleep], it artificially stimulates the release of neurotransmitters which overrides those driving forces of sleep,” emphasized Arnot. As a result, the misuse of amphetamines is counterproductive and worsens memory.

UNDERSTUDIED AND OVERRATED

I was surprised to learn that the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH), Canada’s largest mental health and addiction teaching hospital and one of the world’s leading research centres in its field, had not conducted any research specifically relating to the impacts of ADHD medications as cognitive enhancers among students. I contacted them to ask for any Canadian studies on this topic, but there weren’t any.

“That would be part of the problem,” said Sean O’Malley, Senior Media Relations Specialist for CAMH. “I think it’s just an understudied issue.” The Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction also had no experts to speak about stimulant misuse among university students.

Besides the obvious health disadvantages associated with taking Adderall, Vyvanse, or other stimulants to advance studies, consuming these substances without a medical reason is not as effective or appealing as it might seem. Methylphenidates are classified as Schedule III drugs in Canada. They have a high potential for abuse and may lead to severe psychological and physical dependence.

According to the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, and depending on the specific drug, possession of amphetamines or methylphenidates without a prescription or license is an indictable crime and may result in up to seven years in jail, while offenders found trafficking, importing, exporting, or producing these drugs could receive life imprisonment.

While the urge to cram in some extra study time may be strong, science is saying that these drugs don’t improve performance for non-ADHD brains, are dangerous for your health, and are illegal — the cons far outweigh the pros.

* Names have been changed at individuals’ request

 

Excessive board absences undermine the UTSU’s commitment to accountability

The UTSU needs to hold directors responsible for their lack of commitment to the board

Excessive board absences undermine the UTSU’s commitment to accountability

Attendance has long been an issue for the University of Toronto Students’ Union (UTSU). The Annual General Meetings typically attract only a small fraction of the student body, and a recent analysis in a Varsity news story revealed that this issue is prevalent among Board of Directors members as well. Based on the UTSU Bylaw X.2 on “Abandonment of Office,” 29 per cent of this year’s board can be assumed to have resigned from their positions for excessive absences. This bylaw excludes members of the Executive Committee, General Equity Directors, and University of Toronto Mississauga Students’ Union directors.

The attendance of directors is crucial to fair representation. While the members of the student body may not have the time or means to attend meetings, the directors who are elected to represent them should be committed to the responsibilities of their roles.

UTSU executives are held accountable by a board of directors whose members are either elected or appointed to their positions. These directors are expected to influence UTSU decision-making according to the varying needs of their constituents. In the case of the seven General Equity Directors, they are specifically responsible for advocating for marginalized groups within the student body.

Consequently, attendance is necessary to ensure that constituents are being fairly represented at these meetings and that they are informed of the board’s decisions. It is important for directors to be present and to make informed decisions with their constituents in mind.

This is not to mention that each director has a perspective and mandate that is unique to their position — meaning that directors are absolutely critical to maintaining checks on the actions of the executive committee. Holding executives accountable is an important aspect of the director role, as they are required to stay mindful of executives’ conduct as well as the content of their decision-making.

In 2015, the UTSU board impeached a director for excessive absences that resulted from a “lack of involvement and representation” on the part of that member of the board. Former UTSU President Ben Coleman justified what had happened by saying, “The UTSU board has often been criticized in the past for not taking absences seriously, and this strikes a different tone where the expectation for representatives are much higher.”

In contrast, on the recent absences, current UTSU President Mathias Memmel said, “The role of the board is to hold the executives accountable, so it would be inappropriate for us to start disciplining directors or trying to remove them from the board.”

Memmel’s approach suggests that the board holds substantial power over the executives. This ignores the representational duties that absentee directors are neglecting, as well as the reciprocal nature of accountability between executives and board members that underlaid Coleman’s previous leadership.

Admittedly, it can be difficult for all members of the board to get highly involved with UTSU affairs. As Vice-President Internal Daman Singh wrote, “There is a small group of very involved directors but a larger group of directors who are less involved… it’s difficult for individual Directors to feel meaningfully engaged in the work of the organization.”

Although the sheer size of meetings can indeed be daunting and might explain why some directors are less present than others, it does not provide an excuse for absence. In choosing to hold office, directors have a responsibility to engage in these meetings for their constituents. This does not require every director to be vocal during debates, but they should at least be physically present and actively listening to the discussions.

The accountability role of directors on the board arguably plays a more important role than ever today, as the UTSU Executive Committee has filled two vacant seats with appointed representatives following multiple resignations. Carina Zhang, one of two elected executives who were not part of the Demand Better slate during the 2017 UTSU elections, resigned in September. She was replaced by Adrian Huntelar, a former General Equity Director. Similarly, former Vice-President Campus Life Stuart Norton, who resigned late last year, was replaced by Ammara Wasim. The UTSU now faces accountability concerns in two respects: poor attendance on the part of elected directors, and two of its current executive members not having been democratically elected at all.

Without a strong board whose members are both engaged in its politics and present for its meetings in the first place, the UTSU may be left vulnerable to issues of accountability and abuses of power. Likewise, directors must be held accountable for their actions by the other members of the board. If the UTSU does not comply with its own policies by removing absentee directors, then it brings the legitimacy of all of its actions into question. Repercussions for absences and tighter regulations on director attendance at meetings will reinforce the UTSU’s commitment to maintaining accountability and equitable decision-making.

Angela Feng is a second-year student at St. Michael’s College studying History and Cinema Studies. She is The Varsity’s Campus Politics Columnist.

If the internet isn’t free, neither are we

How the FCC's decision to nix net neutrality in the US affects us all as students and Canadians

If the internet isn’t free, neither are we

On December 14, 2017, the United States Federal Communications Commission (FCC) voted three against two to repeal net neutrality laws introduced during Barack Obama’s presidency.

FCC chief Ajit Pai, one of three Republican members of the five-person panel, had proposed the repeal of net neutrality on November 21, 2017, stating that the current rules were overly restrictive for consumer and service providers and did not allow them to offer different tiers of internet service.

Put simply, net neutrality requires internet providers to treat all online data in the same way and not discriminate based on content, source, or platform. As such, it protects internet freedom and preserves user agency. It ensures that profit-driven providers do not block or slow down traffic to certain websites or apps, and that users and developers are not required to pay more to gain access to content posted online. Without net neutrality in place, US telecommunications giants like Comcast, AT&T, and Verizon can effectively become gatekeepers of entertainment and information, gaining the ability to demand more money for faster internet, as long as the companies state that they are doing so beforehand.

The repeal of net neutrality might affect Canadian internet users as well. For instance, Canadians might have to pay extra for their favourite US-based streaming services like Spotify and Netflix, as those companies in turn will have to pay more to stay in the US internet providers’ fast lanes.

More concerningly, unbeknownst to many Canadians, Bell Canada, one of the country’s leading internet providers, is also pushing to repeal net neutrality. According to CANADALAND, Bell recently submitted a proposal to the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC). If approved, this proposal would allow Bell to create an organization called the Internet Piracy Review Agency (IPRA), which, in alliance with US movie studios and broadcasters, would blacklist certain websites on the grounds of combating piracy. Bell’s proposal has since been endorsed by Cineplex, and Rogers is also considering granting it support. However, given Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s recent affirmation in favour of net neutrality, it seems unlikely that the CRTC will accept Bell’s proposal.

Nonetheless, Pai’s proposal has understandably thrown the internet into an uproar. Users have flooded various social networking sites, urging American internet users to file complaints with the FCC or to contact their local senators or representatives in Congress. Those who were hesitant to go through those probably long and arduous processes were implored to text a service line and to sign a widely circulated petition to ensure that net neutrality remained in place.

Raising various defences to his actions, Pai has stated that repealing net neutrality “is not going to destroy the Internet,” is “not going to end the Internet as we know [it],” is “not going to kill democracy,” and is “not going to stifle free expression online.” These statements ring hollow given that before net neutrality rules were established by the FCC in 2015, telecommunications companies took advantage of the lack of regulation.

From 2007–2009, AT&T, which then had the exclusive rights to sell iPhones, forced Apple to block Skype to avoid competition. In 2010, digital subscriber line provider Windstream Communications started redirecting search results made from the Google toolbar to Windstream’s own search engine. In 2011, wireless carrier MetroPCS announced that it would only allow streaming from YouTube over its 4G network. In 2012, Verizon blocked its mobile customers from using mobile hotspot applications, forcing them to pay Verizon’s $20 tethering fee.

From 2011 to 2013, AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon blocked mobile payment systems — Google Wallet being a notable one — since they competed with Isis Wallet, a mobile payment app backed by the three companies. In 2012, AT&T blocked FaceTime from its iPhones unless customers subscribed to a more expensive text-and-voice plan.

All these instances highlight that the repeal of net neutrality will hinder competition rather than promote it. In 2015, the FCC forced telecommunications companies to stop blocking services, and net neutrality rules demanded that they start being transparent and stop paid prioritization and unreasonable interference. Now that the rules are no longer in place, telecommunications companies have free reign to block websites and apps that offer services in direct competition with their own, be they search engines, mobile wallets, voice and video calling apps, or music and video streaming services.

It should also be noted that Pai formerly held the position of Associate General Counsel at Verizon, one of the giants that stands to benefit from the repeal of net neutrality laws. Given this, one might wonder whether Pai is really acting in consumers’ best interests or whether he has ulterior motives.

We are living in a time when internet communication and open access to information is necessary to fact-check every statement made by the President of the United States, to mobilize movements and protests, and to decry and spread awareness of injustice in public forums. Accordingly, the loss of net neutrality is potentially devastating given the possibility that telecommunications companies will deliberately withhold information from users in order to turn a profit.

Despite Trudeau’s support of net neutrality, it is worth noting that Canada could hypothetically meet the same fate as the US on the matter. Bell has violated rules of net neutrality in the past: it was forced to amend the pricing model for its mobile TV app after the CRTC found that Bell allowed consumers to use its mobile TV app for longer durations than other mobile streaming services without incurring extra charges. Bell was also sued for throttling internet speeds in 2008.

It would be dangerous for the CRTC to approve Bell’s proposal to create an organization able to block websites on grounds of piracy — the websites that the proposal would apply to could very well be those websites in direct competition with Bell’s services. This concern arises whether or not the claims of piracy are justified. It should be noted that when Verizon blocked Google Wallet from its smartphones, it tried to use “security concerns” as a guise for preventing other wallets from competing with AT&T, T-Mobile, and the Verizon-backed Isis Wallet.

In today’s political landscape, and given that students rely so heavily on the internet to stay informed, it is nettling to find it held captive by corporations — especially given that much content on the internet is created and distributed through US-based channels. One source of potential relief, however, is that US internet providers will probably not block numerous websites or slow down surfing speeds at once — it is more likely that customers will be eased into a system of multi-tier service, meaning American internet users will likely not see a drastic change in the quality of their internet coverage anytime soon. Given that the FCC is being sued by multiple US state attorneys, the hope is that net neutrality will be reinstated before that time comes.

Zeahaa Rehman is a third-year student at UTM studying Linguistics and Professional Writing.

Marking delay in some courses leaves students without first-semester grades

Arts & Science registrar says marks should be posted by mid-January

Marking delay in some courses leaves students without first-semester grades

Students in at least six undergraduate courses have yet to receive their marks from the first semester, a delay that has not been explained by the university as of yet.

The Faculty of Arts & Science registrar has tweeted that grades should be available on ACORN by mid-January and has thanked students for their patience.

Students took to online forums over the past week to voice their concerns regarding the missing grades, largely among Computer Science classes.

“So, I’m over a week into the winter semester, and I don’t know whether I should be re-attempting the course (in order to get into the POSt), or continuing my studies in computer science,” wrote reddit user DMihai on the U of T subreddit. “I was hoping I would be out of this limbo soon. Since admission into the computer science post is already incredibly stressful, releasing CSC236 marks this late is insulting.”

Komania, another Reddit user in a different computer science course, CSC324, wrote that prior to writing their final exam on December 16, the class had only 20 per cent of their total mark returned. “I’m venting because I’m really annoyed. I just wish there would be some communication but [the professor] just ignores all of us. I pay $13,000 in tuition and they can’t hire enough TAs to adequately mark.”

Reddit user jjstat4 expressed concern for students who have to decide on back-up courses if they fail CSC236, “as the wait-list end date and drop date rapidly approaches.”

As of press time, marks for CSC236, CSC324, CSC411, STA347, JAV200, and ARC251 have not been posted to ACORN.

U of T Media Relations did not respond to The Varsity‘s inquiries on the grading delays by press time.

If you are a student who has been affected by the grading delay, The Varsity would like to hear from you. Email [email protected] with tips.

Editor’s Note (January 17): A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that CSC165 had not released course grades by January 15. CSC165 had, in fact, released course grades by January 15. 

In conversation with Adrian Huntelar and Ammara Wasim

The Varsity sits down with the newest UTSU executives to discuss appointment, transition, upcoming student life and advocacy projects

In conversation with Adrian Huntelar and Ammara Wasim

This past semester saw two University of Toronto Students’ Union (UTSU) executives step down from their posts. They were replaced by Adrian Huntelar, formerly one of the union’s General Equity Directors, and Ammara Wasim, Vice-President Communications of the Muslim Students’ Association.

The Varsity sat down with both new executives to discuss their new positions and their future plans.

Unelected student politicians

In an op-ed that appeared last December 3 on The Varsity’s website, Huntelar, who is serving as Vice-President University Affairs, wrote that he understood that some students may have some concerns over the fact that he did not go through the democratic process of election. “I’m a political science major, so I know very well that appointed leaders rarely have the time or the mandate to get anything meaningful done,” he explained at the time.

Huntelar further addressed this concern in the interview. “I think the best way to address those students’ concerns is just to make myself as open as possible, listen to as many students as possible, to be in as many open forums as possible for students to raise their concerns with the UTSU.”

Wasim, the new Vice-President Campus Life, took the same view, but she maintained that it was less about their qualifications and more about the necessity of having someone fill their roles during the academic year. “As a student,” she said, “I would want someone to be in my position rather than having the position being vacant for three months.”

Transition process

Huntelar described the past two months as being “very informative,” detailing the learning curve he was initially met with. “I’m learning about just how many different aspects of university policy and governance actually influence students’ day-to-day life,” he said, noting that many factors like textbooks or accessibility accommodations fall under his portfolio.

Wasim highlighted the help the other executives and full-time staff have provided throughout her transition into the role. “They’ve been really nice and really supportive and helpful with everything,” she said. She also thanked her predecessor, Stuart Norton, for meeting with her and helping her out.

Both Huntelar and Wasim understood the limited amount of time left in their posts, but they underlined their commitment to make improvements on campus. “There isn’t a lot of time left, three months isn’t a lot of time to do a lot. I think it’s better to just focus on what really needs to get done and enhance what’s there,” said Wasim.

Student life and advocacy projects

Huntelar also spoke about food security, one of his top priorities. He said that the UTSU is working on multiple projects to raise awareness within the university and provide related services. “We’re working to create an online grocery store, so that students can purchase their groceries online on utsu.ca and have them shipped to the office,” he said.

The online grocery store concept will involve working with FoodReach, an organization that connects community agencies, like the UTSU, with wholesalers who provide foodstuffs.

“It offers a benefit to students who are pressured for time and money,” he said. “The main group that this supports is those who live off-campus without access to a dining hall, but also who are responsible for essentially making their own food.”

Wasim will first be focusing on the UTSU’s Winter Week of Welcome. In an earlier interview with The Varsity, UTSU President Mathias Memmel mentioned that one of the reasons why the hiring process was sped up was due to the need to have someone in the post by this week.

Wasim noted, “[Norton] had the plan in place already, I’m marketing and promoting mainly, and I’m attending all the events and running them on the day itself. I’m taking care of the smaller details, logistically.”

She also highlighted her intention to concentrate on the Campus Life Commission, which she chairs as part of her portfolio, and looking through requests for clubs funding. “I have to try to expand upon the Campus Life Commission in a way where it doesn’t necessarily have to be sitting down to a meeting,” she said, adding that she wishes to make meetings less “boring.”

With the UTSU elections coming up in March, Huntelar declined to comment on his intentions to run for a position or not, while Wasim mentioned being undecided at present. “I would tell you if I knew myself,” she said. “Right now, I have to figure out my course load that’s already hectic.”