The University of Toronto’s Student Newspaper Since 1880

Support 140 years of campus journalism — The Varsity’s levy is worth it

Why the student press is vital under the Student Choice Initiative

Support 140 years of campus journalism — <i loading=The Varsity’s levy is worth it"/>

In 1890, on the 10-year anniversary of The Varsity’s founding, its editors wrote to the student body to thank them for their support of the young newspaper. In words that still ring true to this day, they promised “to make The Varsity a mirror of the events, the lights and the shadows of college life, and moreover a true exponent of the views of the undergraduates of the University of Toronto.”

The Varsity is one of Canada’s oldest student newspapers and one that takes its role as a platform for student voice no less lightly. Yet we are presently facing an existential threat: the Ontario provincial government’s Student Choice Initiative (SCI), which allows students to opt out of our levy.

After almost a century-and-a-half of serving the University of Toronto community, we are writing to you now to ask for your continued support of our mission to provide meaningful and balanced journalism. Please stay opted in to The Varsity’s levy.

We know that this is no small favour. While our per-semester fee is one of the lowest in Canada — $2.87 for undergraduate students and $0.80 for graduate students — there are students for whom opting out of all fees would provide enormous financial relief. However, for those with the means to do so, we ask that you consider supporting The Varsity’s work. 

This includes our efforts to keep students informed about our community, to act as a watchdog for campus institutions, and to provide a platform for students to speak on the issues of the day. We also provide a wide range of opportunities for students to develop their professional skills, whether through writing for seven different sections, or through photography, illustration, graphic design, and copy editing. Through their contributions, students can be a part of the larger student life and community at U of T. 

With our consistent record of financial transparency and journalistic excellence, we hope that you will put your trust in us to keep you informed.

Our recent work

Whenever news breaks that affects campus life in a major way, The Varsity is always there to uncover the truth and deliver it to more than 100,000 students, staff, and faculty at the University of Toronto.

Consider when the then-Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities and current Minister of Long-Term Care, Merrilee Fullerton, announced the SCI back in January under a cloud of suspicion. Our reporter was the only journalist at the Queen’s Park press conference to ask about an apparent lack of consultation with students and campus organizations in the decision-making process.

We were also the first newspaper, ahead of other more established media outlets, to publish the unofficial guidelines of the SCI, lifting the veil on what had been a highly secretive process until that point. It was the first time that the public was able to see which groups were specifically targeted.

Our reporting has also drawn attention to important administrative decisions on campus. In the fall of 2017, we revealed that U of T was proposing a university-mandated leave of absence policy, which allows the institution to unilaterally place a student on leave from school for mental health reasons.

We covered the policy from start to finish, amid strong public outcry from students and even the intervention of Renu Mandhane, the Chief Commissioner of the Ontario Human Rights Commission. And since then, we have been on the ground to document the ongoing mental health crisis on campus.

The Varsity’s journalism has also brought along real change. When The Varsity and The Queen’s Journal, the student newspaper of Queen’s University, reported that the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities had come under fire for delaying the results of the provincial survey on sexual violence on campus, the survey was released to the public soon after, shining a light on the important topic.

The SCI as a challenge to student community

A student newspaper provides a service central to a campus community from which all members can benefit, as we’ve noted in a past editorial. Levies enable students to collectively pool resources to provide services accessible to all. As noted in that editorial, the opt-out model is problematic because it treats students as private, individual consumers, as opposed to participants in a broader community.

Consider Canada’s single-payer health care system: we all pay into and benefit from essential health care services. But the dilemma, as with health care, is that students do not always know that they need a particular service until they actually need it. Even if you do not regularly interact with The Varsity today, you could benefit from our services in the future — such as our ability to hold campus institutions, especially the U of T administration and student unions, accountable.

National media outlets also rely on campus newspapers like The Varsity to pick up on campus stories that would otherwise be underreported. We have a track record of doing this, from reporting on Muslims Students’ Association executives receiving surprise visits from law enforcement, to covering protests to student death on campus. These are just two recent examples of U of T stories that have received wider attention.

We also understand that students are frustrated that their levies might be abused, especially by student-run organizations. But The Varsity is on the frontline when it comes to student union accountability and financial mismanagement, such as when broke the story about the University of Toronto Students’ Union’s (UTSU) lawsuit against its former executive director and two executives.

While student unions such as the UTSU still have much of their levy considered to be “essential” under the provincial government’s guidelines, The Varsity does not. Staying opted in to The Varsity enables us to ensure that student organizations spend your essential fees responsibly.

The opt-out option makes it difficult for us to hold institutions accountable. The challenge is not just the possible loss of our funding. Each year, The Varsity must wait until autumn to determine our funding, rather than be assured of it well in advance. The opt-out option therefore destabilizes our operational stability by creating financial uncertainty and thereby obstructing long-term plans and projects.

Future projects 

With the federal election coming up, we hope to be the definitive source of information on student issues for the University of Toronto community. Much like how we covered the recent provincial and municipal elections, we aim to profile candidates running in all three University of Toronto ridings, host debates, and provide political analysis.

The Varsity also aims to increase coverage of the crucial issue of the global climate crisis. The University of Toronto is an immense institution and there are a myriad of stories waiting to be unearthed about how the school and the people in it are helping — or not helping — the fight against the climate crisis.

Moreover, we hope to continue our expansion of UTM and UTSC coverage, which was made possible with the creation of bureau chiefs for the two campuses last year following a successful levy increase the year before. Having these positions enabled us to break major stories and cover student unions more effectively, and we plan to expand into covering other areas of student life.

Finally, there are countless ongoing projects that require more resources, such as our blog, our efforts to highlight marginalized groups on campus, our video coverage of U of T sports teams, and our new events calendar, which we hope will become the go-to place to find a comprehensive list of events around the university. 

These projects are made possible through our student levy, without which we would not be able to fund them. We are very excited to bring them to life and others like it, but we need your support to make it happen.

Earning your trust

We are humbled by the past century of trust placed in us by students and we hope to keep it through not only continued truthful reporting but also through financial and governance transparency.

On our website, you can find our audited financial statements of the past decade. The Varsity is grateful to be funded by students and we are committed to telling you where your money goes. This includes how we pay our editors a fair wage in line with other student publications and provide professional development opportunities to our hundreds of contributors.

The Varsity is also committed to openness in governance, and our Board of Directors, which is run by students and open to all members, provides oversight on our operations. Any student can run to serve on it. Likewise, our Public Editor holds The Varsity accountable and addresses readers’ concerns.

For the past 140 years, The Varsity has been fortunate to have had the support of the students it serves, and we hope to be able to continue to provide the U of T community with comprehensive and trustworthy coverage for years to come. The University of Toronto is a vibrant university filled with brilliant, compassionate members from diverse backgrounds. It is only with your support that we can continue to be both a mirror and a spotlight for our community.

Students can choose their opt-out selections for the fall 2019 term on ACORN by September 19.

To learn more about our work, and why you should stay opted in to The Varsity’s levy, visit https://thevarsity.ca/dont-opt-out.

The Varsity’s editorial board is elected by the masthead at the beginning of each semester. For more information about the editorial policy, email [email protected]

Op-ed: Why you should ChooseUofT this year

U of T students depend on services threatened by the Student Choice Initiative

Op-ed: Why you should ChooseUofT this year

When the Ontario Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities released the official Tuition Fee Framework and Ancillary Fee Guidelines document in March 2019, student societies all across Ontario braced for the changes to come. Here at the University of Toronto, that story was no different.

Under the framework, certain incidental fees are considered “essential,” while many other fees that are important to student life have been designated as “non-essential.” These can no longer be charged on a compulsory basis like in previous years.

Over the past few months, the University of Toronto’s Office of the Vice-Provost, Students has assessed all student groups to determine which, if any, areas of their budgets could fall into the “essential” categories. Unfortunately, the provincial government’s fee framework does not take into account the importance of some of the programming that is provided by many of the student groups on campus. This has regrettably rendered certain groups with extremely high percentages of their budgets considered ‘non-essential,’ putting their ability to operate at serious risk next year.

While many of the services categorized as ‘essential’ are important, much of what has been deemed as ‘non-essential’ by the framework is equally so. Regardless of how important these resources may be for students, the provincial government has inadvertently placed them in serious financial jeopardy. Many services pertaining to orientation, clubs, and student activity are now classified as non-compulsory.

One example of such organization is Downtown Legal Services (DLS), a community legal clinic that offers counselling to low-income community members and U of T students with housing, employment, immigration disputes, and more, all at no cost. Its entire levy has been deemed ‘non-essential’ by the university. Coupled with cuts to Legal Aid Ontario and tuition cuts affecting the Faculty of Law also impacting revenue streams, this places DLS in serious danger of having to drastically reduce the services it provides.

Other important humanitarian-based organizations that have been similarly affected include The World University Service of Canada, which, as part of its services, sponsors student refugees to study at the University of Toronto by providing tuition, housing, and employment support. Students for Barrier-free Access, which provides important supports and services for students with disabilities, and the University of Toronto Students’ Union (UTSU)-run Food Bank at the Multi-Faith Centre which provides food services for low-income students, also face an uncertain future.

Unfortunately, the list of threatened services just keeps going. Fees for financial aid bursaries, family care, and housing services are all considered to be ‘non-essential’ under the framework. 

Students who depend on these services are now subject to the will of individual students, each deciding on their own on whether or not to pay their fees. Since these changes have been so dramatic, and since there’s no concrete way of knowing how these services will be affected this year until September, it is no surprise that talk of a campaign began to surface when student society executives entered their new roles this past May.

Realizing how serious these changes were going to be, many student societies across campus started discussing their planned reactions to these new guidelines. These early meetings kickstarted a series of deliberations that would ultimately result in the ChooseUofT Campaign, which you may have recently spotted on your Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram feed.

As a result of collaborative work between the UTSU, Arts and Science Students’ Union, eight service groups, seven colleges, and five faculty student associations, ChooseUofT asks students to consider the value that student groups and their services add to our campus. It asks students to remember their favourite experience from orientation, the night out they might have had at a formal, and the free snack they received at a library during exam season. While we may have had the privilege of these experiences, future students may be barred from doing so in light of these changes.

ChooseUofT has given campus groups the opportunity to show students just how essential their ‘non-essential’ fees are, each in their own unique way. Surprisingly, what started out as a dilemma has now given groups the opportunity to look deeply at what they offer to students. We have learned from each other and found ways to improve what we provide for this year and the years ahead. 

With that being said, the only way we can all benefit from these changes is if we decide to support each other. Now, more than ever, student societies are fighting to keep their services and activities alive. Each of the participating student groups and services is being showcased on the ChooseUofT website in great detail. It is imperative that we as students support each other and improve our student experience together. 

Now, more than ever, it is imperative that we ChooseUofT, because the student experience that we take for granted will never be the same if we do not.

From the ChooseUofT campaign, we ask that you join us in investing in our student life, and that you consider what a service or fee means to you and others prior to unchecking that box. We ask this for the students who do not have a choice, for the students who rely on these programs, and for the students who would not be a part of our community without them.

This fall, we ask that you choose your peers, classmates, and friends. This fall, we ask that you ChooseUofT in the least cliché way possible. There’s so much at stake this year, and it is up to all of us to support our peers and help keep our community great. 

Students can choose their opt-out selections for the fall 2019 term on ACORN by September 19.

Joshua Bowman is a fifth-year Political Science and Indigenous Studies student at St. Michael’s College, and the President of the UTSU. Keenan Krause is a third-year International Relations, History, and Diaspora & Transnational Studies at Trinity College, and the UTSU Director of Humanities. Dermot O’Halloran is a third-year student at the Faculty of Music, and the Vice-President of Professional Faculties at the UTSU. Devon Wilton is a fourth-year Human Physiology and Ethics, Society and Law student at Victoria College, and a Chief Executive Assistant for the UTSU. They are members of the Choose UofT campaign.

How to keep money in your pocket

Make your tuition work for you

How to keep money in your pocket

This article was written while listening to “Money” by Cardi B on repeat. I recommend playing it as you continue, to enhance your overall reading experience.

General

University of Toronto Students’ Union (UTSU) coupons: If you’re looking for the hub of student savings, the UTSU website’s student discount page is it. Need a refresher from studying? Cineplex tickets go for $10.25, and a Night Out deal that includes two tickets, two drinks, and one popcorn goes for $32. Need an adrenaline rush to make you feel alive after chugging four Monster Energy Drink to write an essay that is due the next day? Canada’s Wonderland tickets here go for $45 including tax -— compared to the $53.99 plus tax online. Scream therapy included, free of charge.

Student Price Card (SPC): Now, this card requires a $10 fee for a year-long membership, but as any good business course will teach you, sometimes you’ve got to spend some to save more. You’ll get exclusive discounts at a wide variety of stores and restaurants, from Roots — 15 per cent off with a SPC card and student ID — to Pizza Hut —10 per cent off regular price. 

Transportation 

PRESTO transit discount: As a general rule of thumb, don’t pay more if you don’t have to. If you are aged 19 or under, go to a Shopper’s Drug Mart and change your TTC pass fare for cheaper with your ID. You’ll pay $2.15 instead of $3.10 per ride, which seems like a small difference, but trust me — it adds up. If you are aged over 19, consider purchasing a student monthly TTC pass, which goes for $112.25 — much cheaper than the regular selling point of $151.15. 

Greyhound: Planning a first-year reading week trip to Montréal so that verybody can drink without breaking a sweat over fake IDs? As a student, you get 10 per cent off tickets with a student ID and an enrollment form, class schedule, or any other documentation verifying enrollment. Time to break out your middle-school level French.

Food 

Future Bistro: Located 10 minutes away from campus, this place is a safe haven for broke university students. They usually have a discount for all-day breakfast meals, from Monday to Friday, if you have a Toronto student ID. So that means you can have breakfast for dinner, which is university living at its finest.

Metro on Bloor  Street West and Spadina Avenue: Need a place to pick up groceries? You get a student discount on your heart’s desire on Wednesdays and Thursdays with your student ID. 

Shoppers Drug Mart on Bloor Street and Bedford Road: Need a more conveniently located place to pick up groceries as a Vic or St. Mike’s student? There’s a 20 per cent discount on Thursdays for all students here as well.

News

U of T libraries free newspaper access: Log in on the U of T Libraries site and get free access to The Globe and Mail and the Toronto Star. These won’t be the most recently published articles, but you’ll still be able to access older articles for no charge. 

Free Toronto Star subscription: Stay updated on the upcoming federal election. Make sure you know all the breaking news, because why not, it’s free! The Toronto Star is giving postsecondary students a free subscription until October 31 so they can be informed voters. We love the healthy intersection between patriotism and the lack of paywalls. 

Entertainment and lifestyle

Criterion on Demand: Sure, you have illegal streaming websites for all the movies not on Netflix. But how exciting would it be to do something legally? Now, all U of T students can be the true law-abiding citizens that they’re destined to be with the extensive free film collection on Criterion on Demand. Log in with your U of T account, and you won’t even notice all the due dates looming closer and closer until it’s too late, like the rest of us.

Amazon student discount: Are you too tired to walk to the Shoppers a couple of streets down from you to buy that bottle of shampoo? Is it abnormally cold outside — which it will be, for many months? Amazon Prime it. If you sign up as a student, you get a free six months of Prime, which will score you access to Prime video, shipping, and more. When the six months are up, you get 50 per cent off Prime. 

Spotify Premium: The only thing worse than doing work in the library on a weekend is doing it to the sound of keyboards clacking and dull silence. Get a Spotify Premium for $4.99 per month instead as a student. Enough said.

Nights out

Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) Tuesday nights: Do you want a date night that fulfills the two most important criteria for love: cultured and cheap? Go to the ROM on Tuesdays for free as a full-time university student. 

The Dance Cave: Blow off some steam on Friday nights to take full advantage of the 19-and-over drinking law in Ontario. This club has free cover for students with student ID, which I wager is a better bet for all you guys out there so you don’t have to pay that extra $10–20 fee at frats. Equality, people — it’s beautiful.

Please sir, may I have a reference letter?

How to build positive relationships with your professors

Please sir, may I have a reference letter?

When you enter the world of university, professors may appear simply as distant spectres that you will never be able to interact with. The truth is that is really not the case. For those fresh out of high school and in the kaleidoscope of U of T, here’s a guide to building positive and enriching relationships with your professors. 

Positive engagement

While sitting silently in the lecture hall in front of your professor surrounded by hundreds of other students, going unnoticed may seem like the easy way out. But what’s the harm in saying ‘hi’? Here is the first step: after a lecture, walk right up to your professor, extend a hand, introduce yourself, and perhaps even share what you’re looking forward to in the class. While you may be one face out of the hundreds in your class, it doesn’t hurt to say ‘hello’ and smile. It may take a couple more greetings for your professor to associate a name to your face, but taking that first step by introducing yourself is definitely a solid start.

Emails — keep!n’ !t [email protected]

Here’s the thing. Yes, your professor will definitely be the top priority of your mailing list. No, this does not mean that they should become your newest pen pal. When you’re writing emails to your professors throughout the years, the key to positive communication is keeping it professional. Start with a ‘good morning’ instead of a ‘hey what’s up,’ and sign-off with ‘sincerely, instead of a peace-out emoji. Trust me, your professor on the receiving end appreciates your choice of words. 

With even a glance at a blank subject line or a poorly written greeting, your professor may simply choose not to acknowledge your email. The timing of your message may also add to the pile of make-it-or-break-it emails. If you find yourself confused at the end of a feverish study session at 2:00 am, don’t send your professor a series of separate emails with different questions. Write your questions down, sleep on it, and send an email in the morning. Not only does poised, timely, and organized email writing make your relationship with your professor healthy and professional, but it presents you as a polite and respectful student. 

Ask your questions 

Raising your hand in a class full of students may seem like the scariest thing in the world at first. You may think to yourself, ‘No one else is raising their hand, so I don’t need to.’ If you think that everyone else in the class understands exactly what the professor just said and is 100 per cent getting it, think again. When you ask a question, you may be receiving the answer that hundreds of other students around you have been pondering as well. So, the next time your professor stops in the middle of a point and asks, ‘Any questions?’ Know that they genuinely mean that. 

Office hours, office hours, office hours

It’s written down on the syllabus sheet and it is probably brought up in class as well. Office hours are a chance for one-on-one time with your professor. Remember that cluster of questions that was keeping you up at 2:00 am? Well, here is your chance to ask for clarification on course content that you don’t understand while simultaneously building a healthy rapport with your professor. Your professor’s office hours are there for you, so why not take them up on this offer and drop in for a chat?

Everyone is human 

It all comes back to this. At the end of the day, your professor is just as human as you, so treat them like you would like to be treated: with respect and kindness. This way, you are not only creating a positive and comfortable experience for yourself in class, but also for your professor. 

Where to find community at U of T

It’s important to nurture a sense of belonging ⁠— here’s how

Where to find community at U of T

Roseto, a small town in Pennsylvania, drew the attention of scientists in the 1950s for its peculiarly low rates of heart disease. When compared to the neighbouring towns, there were no noticeable differences between the diet, exercise, water supply, income levels, or race of residents. In fact, Rosetans smoked, drank, and had a high cholesterol intake. Employment often entailed hazardous conditions which sometimes led to diseases and industrial accidents.

So, what was Roseto’s secret? 

It was a tight-knit community. Researchers called it the “Roseto Effect,” a phenomenon in which a group experiences decreased rates of heart disease because of their communal bonds. Everyone in Roseto felt welcomed, supported, and, most of all, healthy. 

As you embark on a new academic experience, one of your main priorities should be finding a community in which you can grow and learn. In other words, finding your own group of  ‘Rosetans.’ On a campus as large as U of T, it can be difficult to find a space where you feel like you belong, so we compiled a list of helpful, but often overlooked, places to find a supportive and welcoming community of your own. 

Small classes  

First-year students have a wide variety of small classes to choose from during their studies. The most notable ones are the First-Year Foundation Ones Programs and First Year Seminars. These classes cover a myriad of interesting topics, including representations of the underworld in classical mythology, cell and molecular biology portrayal in the news, time travel narratives, and popular culture in the digital age.

Small classes are excellent places to build relationships with like-minded peers, engage with professors, and find your spot at U of T.

Faith 

Campus faith groups are some of the most active clubs at U of T. Many of them even have their own orientation events! Engaging with groups such as Power to Change, the Muslim Students’ Association (MSA), or U of T Hillel is a great way to find people who make you feel welcomed, regardless of your religion or level of faith. There are several rooms and meditation spaces around campus where you can drop in to relax, pray, or meditate in between classes. 

Hobbies, leadership, and arts 

There are over 800 clubs across all three campuses at U of T, and members present their clubs twice over the course of September during the Clubs Carnival and the Street Festival, in addition to college- or faculty-specific fairs. Making the choice as to which club to join may be overwhelming simply because of the sheer numbers. One strategy is to reflect on your interests and narrow them down to one or two you would like to engage with. Then, use those as a guide to help you find the best club through the Ulife database. 

Being a first year also gives you access to year-specific opportunities, such as acting as a first-year representative in a club you care about. Check out Hart House and Ulife clubs for announcements about applications opening for first-year representatives. Such experiences will enhance your leadership skills and introduce you to like-minded people. 

Being around people who share the same love you have for holding a brush, playing basketball, or standing on a stage can be empowering. Also, many clubs, such as the Hart House Debating Club and the U of T Improv Club, have excellent opportunities for travelling to compete or perform.  

Classmates 

The people you sit beside in class are people who share your goals, struggles, and curiosity. Overcome your fear and social awkwardness by turning to the person next to you and asking them how they found the lecture or assignments. You can form study groups, attend office hours together, and help each other with course material. The stranger you sit next to on your first day of class could very well be your lifelong best friend. 

Orientation and mentorship 

Orientation is an excellent pathway for finding your place at U of T. Regardless of what people tell you about orientation, you should not miss out on it. You will be surrounded by lots of other first-year students who are all looking to make connections. Each college and faculty hosts their own orientation, but there are also academic, religious, and accessibility orientations in order to ensure that all students feel welcome.

Another option is U of T’s mentorship programs. The university has several mentorship programs that pair first-year students with upper-year students who can guide them through the year, answer any questions they may have, and provide advice regarding their classes. Your mentor can be a great resource for both academic help and finding communities in which you can grow and learn. 

Culture 

One of the advantages of being at a big university is the diversity among students. There are over 157 countries represented in the U of T student body and dozens of cultural clubs for members of different ethnic and racial groups, such as the Black Students’ Association and the Middle Eastern Students’ Association. There is also the Centre for International Experience’s Language Exchange and the Sidney Smith Commons’ Global Language Café, where you can drop in and practise a language with fellow students at beginner, intermediate, and advanced levels. Whether you are interested in improving your Spanish skills or reconnecting with your roots, these clubs always welcome new members! Drop by the Student Life Clubhouse or find them during the Clubs Carnival or Street Festival. 

Volunteering

Your community might not necessarily be found on campus. There are several great organizations and groups in Toronto that always welcome university students to join their team. Volunteering at homeless shelters, local food banks, or community beach clean-ups is a great way to connect with your community. You could meet amazing people, while also working on great causes that give back to the Toronto community.

As the new academic year approaches, be open to seeking your own group of Rosetans that can drive away your heart disease, fend off your mental struggles, and be the shoulder you can lean on during this journey.

 

Disclosure: Shahd Fulath Khan was the 2018–2019 Secretary of the MSA at UTSG.

How to report sexual assault on campus

Know the resources available to you

How to report sexual assault on campus

Content warning: discussions of sexual violence.

It’s no secret that university campuses continue to experience high rates of sexual assault and harassment. UTSG, UTM, and UTSC are no exception. As you begin your time as a U of T student, it is important to ensure that you are well-informed of potential avenues for action should you require or choose them.

Don’t be too alarmed though. We all share space with and responsibility for one another, and people know to keep an eye out for their fellow students.

However, if you experience sexual violence as a student, know that you are not to blame and that you have agency moving forward. Sexual violence survivors are not obligated to pursue formal resolution, nor to disclose their experiences to officials affiliated with the school. They may want to consider seeking safety and support from their family or close friends, visiting a hospital, or getting in touch with a shelter. 

But should you ever need or wish to access the resources which are available to you or report a sexual assault as a student, here’s what you should know: 

Recognizing sexual violence 

The University of Toronto’s Policy on Sexual Violence and Sexual Harassment defines sexual violence as “any sexual act or act targeting a person’s sexuality, gender identity or gender expression, whether the act is physical or psychological in nature, that is committed, threatened or attempted against a person without the person’s consent.” This also includes acts committed online.

In short, “sexual violence” is an umbrella term which includes both sexual harassment and assault. If you are uncertain whether your experience qualifies as sexual violence, harassment, or assault, you can consult the University of Toronto’s Sexual Violence Prevention & Support Centre (SVPSC).

To disclose or to report? 

The university has two distinct avenues of response for sexual violence: disclosing and reporting. The decision to carry out one, both, or neither is entirely up to you. However, it can be useful to seek independent legal advice when weighing your options.

Disclosure occurs whenever you share your experience with any member of the U of T community, including students, faculty, staff, and postdoctoral fellows. Deciding to disclose your experience allows you access to support and resources from the university itself. These can be helpful for coping with the complex emotions that result from assault or harassment.

A report occurs when a disclosure is made with the intention of pursuing a formal response through either the university or the criminal justice system. When a report is made, it may result in an investigation with measures to be implemented depending on the findings. You can report an incident of sexual violence if you so choose.

To make a report to the university in a non-emergency situation, you can get in touch with the SVPSC. Consequences for offenders may include imposition of disciplinary measures, like expulsion, based on investigative findings. The university may take further steps to prevent interaction between you and the respondent, or they may grant you academic or workplace accommodations.

It is also possible to file a report with campus or local police. This report, and any resulting police investigations, remain separate and distinct from any processes you undertake with the university, although the university will be notified that the investigations are ongoing. Reports to the police differ from the SVPSC reports in that they may lead to criminal proceedings, thus allowing for any resulting sanctions to be imposed by the legal system.

Making a police report is appropriate in both emergency and non-emergency situations — if you are in immediate danger, contacting the police may be a wise course of action.   

Your resources

If you encounter sexual violence as a member of the U of T community, you can reach out to your closest SVPSC. The SVPSC staff are trained to provide confidential consultation sessions for students who have been affected by sexual violence or harassment. 

SVPSC staff members are able to provide support in the aftermath of sexual violence, as well as guide you through your options, which may vary based on your circumstances. A consultation can provide you with advice regarding the processes of disclosing or reporting, referrals to resources like counsellors, instruction on self-care techniques, and more. 

Speaking to the SVPSC does not constitute making a report unless you want it to.

You can call the SVPSC at 416-978-2266.
Alternatively, you can visit one of its locations:

UTSG: 

Gerstein Science Information Centre, 9 King’s College Circle, Suite B139

UTM: 

Davis Building, 1867 Inner Circle, Room 3094G 

UTSC: 

Environmental Science & Chemistry Building, 1065 Military Trail, Room 141

Hours of operation for all three campuses:

Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday

9:00 am to 5:00 pm

Wednesday

11:00 am to 7:00 pm

Your off-campus resources

The SVPSC does not provide immediate medical care, but it recommends that you seek out medical care regardless of whether or not you’re aware of any injuries. You can do so at Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence Care Centres.

These centres are equipped to gather forensic evidence in cases of sexual assault. Evidence is best collected within 72 hours of an incident. Waiting longer than that, changing your clothes, or taking a shower will make evidence collection more difficult, but not impossible. The process of evidence collection does not automatically initiate  a report with the university or police, but can be useful if you choose to open one.

UTSG: 

Women’s College Hospital, 76 Grenville Street, Acute Ambulatory Care Unit, Room 1256

416-323-6040

UTM: 

Trillium Health Centre, 100 Queensway West, Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence Services

905-848-7493

UTSC: 

Scarborough Health Network, Birchmount Site, 3030 Birchmount Road, Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence Care Centre, third floor

416-495-2555

The Varsity’s summer send-off playlist

For the hour after golden hour… and every hour after that

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Jumping into the new school year is exhausting. Between course selection, tying up loose ends, and trying to make the most of the weather — when it’s not so oppressive — we trudge into September with well-worn bags under our eyes.

Not to worry, though, because this summer The Varsity’s Arts & Culture section has handpicked 10 summer jams to cure your end-of-summer blues and give you an extra spring in your step. No, we are not approved by the Food and Drug Administration, and no, our research on this matter is not published — yet. But these songs are guaranteed to work wonders on a brain wracked with the exhaustion of doing nothing for four months! 

Peruse our prescriptions below. Take them with a spoonful of sugar if you must, but, either way, relax to the beat of a summer well spent, starting with the exuberant chords of Sir Woman.

Sir Woman’s single, “Highroad,” matches bright, upbeat R&B motifs with a brass section fit for any open-air jazz bar. Her lyrics float in and out of sweeping melodies that build into a cheerfully sunny musical narrative bustling with self-love and gumption, matched only by Lizzo herself.

Complementing the gentlewoman is the effervescent Kaiit, performing “Miss Shiney,” an expository R&B perusal into her artistic process with beats reminiscent of ’90s hip hop, with an 808 drum to boot! Her consistent flow and ad libs add structure to an otherwise weightless song. Its minimalist production value, despite itself, manages to fill the room with gorgeous volume.

Look no further than “Seventeen” by Peach Pit for an accompanying aperitif: a cool beach rock serenade that will leave you bouncing your foot despite yourself. Its charming chord progression keeps the song simple enough to love on the first listen, while its vocals grant it a unique calling card that makes playing it again a pleasure.

Kevin Abstract of BROCKHAMPTON wields a syrupy-sweet rhythm guitar in “Peach,” bouncing along to a steady snare-kit beat that whips the whole ensemble into a warm summer daze. You can practically see this song lounging on a Muskoka chair. 

Contrasting the rolled-back instrumentals of Abstract’s performance, Ocean Heights’ “Out the Way” leans into production and instrumentation to administer a dose of smooth, pop-R&B perfection. Ocean Heights’ vocals drape over the crisp melody like caramel, complementing its layered manufacture to produce one sweet earworm.

“U Used To” by Charlie Burg embraces the cool tones of summer’s palette, propping itself up on pop-y notes and synth-shades to paint a fresh image of a summer fling. Don’t let its high production fool you — its acapella ad libs break through the chorus to give Burg’s foray into summer a sincere and palatable note.

Similarly sincere but with an added tender glean, the abstracted “Freakin’ Out on the Interstate” brandishes Briston Maroney’s distinctive voice alongside killer guitar and a meaty bassline to deliver an experience evocative of those erratic summer nights.

And what kind of mixtape would it be without songs to dance wildly to?

“Honestly” by The Bantams forms one edge of a rug-cutting triad completed by Hounds’ “Shake Me Up” and The Lost Boys’ “Sober (feat. Griff Clawson).” All three bank on their upbeat tempos and lyrics to get you on your feet and moving to summer’s final beats. 

Strewn throughout the mixtape, these songs bring you back to basics to remind you what the best summer music’s all about.

With these songs you’re practically destined to make it through the first two weeks of school. Don’t worry if it’s a slow start to begin with — just think of it as a slow burn to a climax worth waiting for.

So what are you waiting for? Get out there and soak up the summer! We at Arts & Culture will catch you on the flipside!

Summers are meant for The Beaches

Discussing the band’s past, present, and future

Summers are meant for The Beaches

Traversing the roads of Toronto in an all-black SUV is one of Canada’s newest and most exciting rock bands. While they are not yet a household name, the group did spend an entire day going from one interview to another. It’s no surprise that people cannot get enough of The Beaches, and yes, they’re named after the Toronto neighbourhood — The Beaches — which they call home. 

The band, which consists of Jordan Miller’s vocals and bass, Kylie Miller’s lead guitar, Eliza Enman McDaniel’s drums, and Leandra Earl’s keyboard and guitar, officially started in 2013 with their first studio album released in 2017. Since then, the band has continued to grow their success through hit music and captivating live shows. 

For one of their many interviews that day, The Beaches sat down with The Varsity to discuss their newest EP, opening for some of the biggest bands in the world, and snacking on tour.

The Varsity: Firstly I’d like to congratulate you on your new EP, The Professional. Can you tell me a bit about it and how it came together?

Jordan Miller: The Professional is really exciting. It came together really fast. We’ve had a few crazy years where a lot of things have changed for us, so we’ve been really inspired. Our last album, Late Show, was sort of a collection of four years worth of material. The Professional — excluding “Lame” — was essentially written in the last six months. We’re really excited about it.

TV: Having known each other for many years at this point and finally getting the recognition and accolades that you deserve, can you speak on the challenges individually or as a group that you’ve faced in the last couple years?

Kylie Miller: I think right now rock music hasn’t been as prevalent, which is disappointing. So being an all-female rock band in this time has been a little bit challenging, but it’s also been exciting because we’re starting to see younger people become interested in rock music and coming to live shows and supporting this whole movement. It’s kind of like a rose and a thorn.

JM: We’re definitely a unique band in that we play everything live. We’re dedicated to making sure that our performances are unique each time we play the songs. We’re creating an experience, not just pressing a button on a computer.

TV: Do you think it’s an untraditional or traditional way of doing it?

JM: Well, it used to be the traditional way, but it’s sort of become weird, you know?

KM: Yeah, it’s a dying breed.

Eliza Enman-McDaniel: We’re trying to bring it back. Women are the most rock ‘n’ roll thing right now because there aren’t enough women in rock ‘n’ roll. So, that in itself, being a woman in rock ‘n’ roll, is just the coolest.

TV: Toronto in recent years has pushed out a high-level of musical talent. How has this city helped to shape you, apart from just your band name?

KM: I think we are so lucky to be able to live in this city and to be able to go and experience shows here. We have a really great community of Toronto musicians and friends in bands, and we all support each other. It’s really kind of helped us grow individually, as friends, and as a band.

JM: There’s a totally collaborative and supportive music scene here. People go to each other’s shows… share each other’s music and offer advice, and help when it comes to making choices within your own career or even with your own songs.

KM: And this doesn’t really happen in a lot of other places. For instance, in Los Angeles, New York, even Montréal, everything is really competitive, and yet in Toronto, everyone is really supportive.

 

TV: Last year you won the JUNO Award for Breakout Group of the Year. Tell me about that experience, going up and accepting your award. It seems almost like you were surprised that you won.

JM: It was such an honour to be recognized by our community and peers. I think it was especially an important moment for us because we’ve been sort of a band for about four years, and a lot of our friends have graduated from university and are coming back to their families with degrees. And so we got to come back and sort of give our parents this sort of symbol of all the work that we’ve done.

TV: 2018 was a big year for the band. Apart from the JUNO Award, you also released a couple of hits. I’m also interested in hearing about your experience opening for the Foo Fighters and playing at the Rogers Centre.

EM: That show was crazy for so many reasons. When I walked out by myself as we opened our show, I walked out to 55,000 people. I sit down and this massive full pint of beer comes hurtling through the air, knocks one of my sticks out of my hand — and I’m playing at the time. I have to find a way to get my second stick. So, it was a mess.

KM: It really kind of was crazy because that’s never happened to us as a band before. It was eye-opening, and it proved that we can be put into really shitty circumstances. But somehow we’re that close and that connected as a band that we can just pull through and not let that affect our performance.

TV: What do you hope to achieve, learn, or experience when you open for other big bands, for instance, when you opened for The Rolling Stones in June?

JM: Something that’s very interesting between The Rolling Stones and The Glorious Sons is that I’ve heard that they both have… an improv-ish type of show; it’s not a very formulaic set. They don’t really pick a setlist until like 20 minutes before their show. Sometimes they’ll do super long jams in-between songs even though they won’t plan for it, but they’re like such tight performers that they’ll just sort of be able to look at each other and do stuff that’s very spontaneous like that. So, it’s interesting to see how our sort of theatrical, sort of prepared, cohesive set works with their more jamming sets. 

EM: I think just being able to play rock music in front of a crowd that’s there for rock music, and to expose our music to people who haven’t heard our music before. Just keep trying to keep rock music alive. I think that’s what’ll be the best outcome.

TV: Do you have a goal in mind for the end of 2019? 

EM: We’re planning on releasing another body of work, hopefully by the end of the year. I’d love to just tour, travel to more places, and play for more audiences that haven’t seen us before and just keep touring.

Leandra Earl: Canada has been very nice to us, but moving toward the UK and the US are a goal.

KM: We have a lot of support here — it’s amazing — but it’s also important to establish yourself in other places. So, going to Europe, going to the UK, maybe going to Australia at some point early next year, and then hitting the US again for a headlining run.

LE: Take The Beaches worldwide — ‘International Beaches.’

TV: Before you go, I have one final question. Following your Twitter, I’ve noticed your go-to fast food is Taco Bell. What is your go-to Taco Bell order?

EM: Crunchwrap Supreme and a side of a Soft Beef Taco.

JM: Crunchwrap Supreme with Ghost Pepper Sauce.

EM: Oh, Fire Sauce, always!

LE: The whole tour I’ve been having two crunchy beef tacos, but on the last day, I tried a Crunchwrap Supreme — and woah! That hit me. So next time, it’s that.

EM: We’ve been telling her all along it’s the best thing, but she had to try it for herself.

KM: Crunchwrap Supreme, and always Dr. Pepper. Always. That’s the best thing.  

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

The Professional was released on May 16, 2019.