Truthfully speaking, writing this has been hard. When so much has been done, it feels like an injustice to compile everything into just a few hundred words. But I’ve been told to highlight at least some things, so here it goes.
On my second day on the job, Politico leaked a draft majority opinion stating that the US Supreme Court had voted to strike down Roe v Wade.
This decision marked a turning point for reproductive rights in North America and sparked a global debate. It’s no surprise then that the first article I published as comment editor focused on the overturning of Roe v Wade and what this could mean for Canadians. Throughout the rest of my time as a comment editor, I’ve given a special importance to reproductive rights in the work that I choose to put out — and I sincerely hope that’s been reflected.
In this past year, I’ve pursued an equity beat unlike any other. Being a first-generation immigrant from the Caribbean has undoubtedly impacted the way I view journalism and the U of T community. It’s hard to describe — when I first got here, something felt off; maybe it was a kind of diversity I wasn’t used to or maybe it was the feeling that there wasn’t much representation. Since then, it has been my goal to highlight people’s voices, and Comment has allowed me to do exactly that, as both a writer and an editor.
I’ve never been one to share my story, and for that Comment suited me perfectly. This section has allowed me to make bold sweeping statements — backed up by facts of course — without ever getting too personal. But I’ve come to realize that that’s actually impossible: an opinion section will inevitably be personal, and I have been putting my voice into these stories, into this section, all along.
If I had to use one word to describe Comment this year, it would be: balance. Whether it’s advocating for climate justice at U of T or critiquing TikTok trends, discussing violence on the TTC or the meaning of love, we’ve created a section that balances the fun and the solemn, the eye-rolling and the tear-jerking. And for a section that’s traditionally been known to be rather serious, I could not be happier with how it turned out.
Of course, I could never have done it alone. I’d first like to thank each and every contributor. Whether you wrote one article or six, you gave life to this section. I simply put your words in order.
Thank you to my columnists: Rubin Beshi, Urooba Sheikh, Shreya Vanwari, Kayla Litschko, Chloe MacVicar, Noshin Talukdar, Emma Dobrovnik, and Jocelyn Mattka — who brought diversity to our coverage. A special thanks to Noshin and Chloe: as equity and climate columnists, respectively, you have pursued every story from a critical lens, and I am extremely grateful for your commitment and dedication.
Without a doubt, I’d need to thank the entire masthead team. Special thanks to Jadine, our Editor-in-Chief, and Artie, our Managing Editor Internal: without their support, my special initiatives wouldn’t have been possible. I’d also like to thank the Editorial Board: the work we covered this year was important but heavy — and you guys handled it perfectly. I could not think of a better team to represent The Varsity’s opinion.
And finally, to the dream team: Eleanor Park and Isabella Liu, the best associate comment editors I could’ve asked for. The support that you guys brought has been unrivaled, and being a teacher and mentor has been a fulfilling experience in a way that extends beyond what I ever anticipated when I came into this role.
To Isabella, your witty and sarcastic opinion writing has never failed to make me smile. And to Eleanor, your clever pitches and infectious energy have also never failed to make me smile. I know that you will both go on to do great things.
Lastly, to my successor: make this section your own. Take your passions, and let it dictate the work that you put out. It’s no easy feat to run an opinion section at the largest student newspaper in Canada — you will have to keep your guard up while simultaneously being willing to take criticism; the hours are long, and the articles are longer. But at the end of the day, I wouldn’t exchange this position for anything. It has been impactful, it has been insightful, and it has been an experience.
I lied — there is one other way to describe Comment this year: unmatched. Whether it is the topics we’ve covered, the issues we’ve highlighted, or the community we’ve built, it has been an honour to lead this section.
Everyone has an opinion — don’t be afraid to tell yours.
— Shernise Mohammed-Ali, Comment Editor, Volume CXLIII