IMAGE COURTESY OF SILENCE IS VIOLENCE U OF T

We have the facts, so will U of T comply?

Re: “Silence is Violence releases years-long report on sexual violence at U of T”

The 2019 Silence is Violence (SiV) report was thorough, wide-ranging, and, unfortunately, not shocking in the slightest. It revealed just how much students have suffered and continue to suffer, along with the little confidence that they have in Campus Police when it comes to reporting sexual harassment cases.

Although U of T has established a Sexual Violence Prevention and Support Centre to deal with reports of sexual misconduct, I’m pretty sure the SiV report was the first time most of us had ever heard of the centre. Nevertheless, the report has shown us that we still have a long way to go. That starts with the university prioritizing sexual violence as a central threat to student safety and health. It’s also about creating more systemic changes within both the U of T centre and the branches that work around it, including rehabilitation and protection for students dealing with this type of violence.

SiV also shed light on the number of students who were unable to differentiate between sexual violence and harmless interactions. Not enough is taught and said about sexual violence on campus, other than the very basic education on consent during frosh week.  

The university must also delve deeper into different dimensions of sexual violence that include coercion, power imbalances, and intersectionality. It is important to consider how and why Indigenous, disabled, mentally ill, genderqueer, transgender, and queer persons reported the highest estimated numbers of sexual violence on campus.

It would not only be a disservice but also a dishonor to our student body if these numbers continue to rise or remain the way they are now.

Janine Alhadidi is a Political Science and Diaspora and Transnational Studies student at St. Michael’s College.


Let’s carefully consider the VUSAC residence rename proposal

Re: “Victoria students’ council attempting to rename Ryerson residence building, Vic One stream”

NATHAN CHAN/THE VARSITY

In his novel Crabwalk, Nobel Laureate Günter Grass, himself disgraced by his teenage WWII service in the notoriously evil Waffen-SS, advised future generations that wherever there are grievances, one should confront issues directly instead of simply  dismissing what’s difficult and uncomfortable. The concern is that, if we do dismiss unresolved matters, we forfeit control of the narrative at our peril, and often to those with perverse interests.

This is especially important today, given the recent emergence of nationalist populism, with venomous personalities like Faith Goldy in Toronto and Kevin Johnston in Mississauga, and, also at U of T, with the recent appearance of white nationalist posters on campus.

It’s in the best interests of society that the dark legacy of residential schools never be owned by nationalist populists, especially as they might misconstrue the removal of Egerton Ryerson’s name from landmarks as an attack on Canadian identity. This is how they derive an exclusivist sense of belonging, build their movement, and push their own twisted political agendas to indoctrinate others.

We shouldn’t shrug off the past. However burdensome it may be, it can still instruct us. Yes, Ryerson can still serve to instruct us, especially on how not to go about designing an educational system that ensures the wholesale and systematic annihilation of human cultures.

A solution is to keep Ryerson’s name while also providing comprehensive educational displays at the residence that inform students and the public about his true history.

Perhaps future residents of the college will take the duty upon themselves to learn that history and share it with others on campus so we never forget or repeat such shameful mistakes, which continue to haunt and blight Canada’s international reputation, however false,  as a moral leader.

Oscar Starschild is a second-year Mathematics, Philosophy, and Computer Science student at Woodsworth College.


PC youth and party leadership are on the same page, at least for now

Re: “Ontario Campus Conservatives debate public transit, mental health at regional conference”

NATHAN CHAN/THE VARSITY

For most parties, policy conventions are typically inconsequential. While it is true that they often produce official election platforms, there is little that binds leaders to their promises, especially when they enter office. Thus, more than anything, conventions have become public relation performances in which parties can project unity, a strong leader, and the image of a diverse, open dialogue.

Nevertheless, policy conventions are often a good place to determine where party membership is, as it is rare that the tightly-controlled communications of leader takes a secondary role.

As part of an Ontario-wide program of the Ontario Progressive Conservative Campus Association (OPCCA), the South Regional Policy Conference will contribute to the understanding of OPCCA’s broader policy preferences, which will then, it seems, be brought to the attention of the party during the policy convention.

The policies adopted here don’t seem unusual, nor do they contradict the party’s current agenda as of yet. There was a particular focus on expanding transit service to Niagara, which seems to be the current position of the province, as it has begun to do so. The biggest decision that the government seems to be moving forward with is the provincial ‘takeover’ of the TTC, which appeared to draw divides among party members. The dispute, however, was less about the principle than it was about the financial cost. Mental health resolutions, the second topic of discussion, remained vague and difficult to dispute in and of themselves.

Thus, while there appears to be some minor disagreement, there is no indication that some sort of confrontation between the PC youth and party leadership will occur in the near future. Although, should the government continue in its current policy direction for postsecondary institutions, I would not be surprised if this outlook changes.

Sam Routley is a fourth-year Political Science, Philosophy, and History student. He is The Varsity’s UTSG Campus Politics Columnist.

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