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UTSU election result delayed, set to be released today

Close of voting marked by spate of demerit point rulings

UTSU election result delayed, set to be released today

Unofficial results for the University of Toronto Students’ Union (UTSU) spring elections have not yet been published. The results were to be announced this weekend, but are now set to be announced at some point on Monday, March 17. In a statement posted on the UTSU website, Chief Returning Officer (CRO) Alex Flor wrote: “The delay is in respect to awaiting further information from the online voting company used for these elections.” Flor did not reply to further requests for comment.

The end of the election was marked by a spate of rulings from the CRO, which assigned several candidates demerit points for alleged violations of the Elections Procedure Code (EPC).

In a ruling dated March 14, Anna Yin, vice-president, internal and services candidate for Team Unite, was assigned 58 demerit points, bringing her total points to 63. Executive candidates are disqualified if they receive more than 35 points.

Yin received these demerits for allegedly claiming “that the UTSU membership fee was $345,” “that the UTSU has no report indicating where funds are spent,” “that UTSU’s largest expense is executive salaries,” “that the UTSU allowed the University of Toronto Mississauga to leave the organization in the past and divert fees to UTM,” “that the UTSU is preventing autonomous organizations from ‘leaving’ the UTSU by citing UTSU bylaws,” and “that a Student Society [sic] Summit was created to investigate undemocratic UTSU bylaws.”

Flor ruled that these statements constituted “misrepresentations of facts,” “intentional misrepresentation of facts,” and “gross misrepresentation of facts,” each of which is a separate infraction under the EPC. Flor also ruled that Yin’s alleged violations constituted “failure to comply with the spirit and purpose of the election” and “malicious or intentional violation of the EPC,” for each of which she received additional demerits.

The ruling stated that the CRO possessed “audio evidence of the alleged violation.” The ruling did not offer any quotations of Yin or details as to when or where these violations occurred.

Yin can appeal the ruling to the Elections and Referenda Committee (ERC). Yin declined to comment on the ruling or whether she would be seeking an appeal.

On March 3, Flor ruled that speaking to The Varsity regarding unresolved conflicts with her decisions constitutes “Failure to follow the grievance procedures outlined in the Elections Procedure Code or Policy,” an offence for which up to 15 demerit points can be assigned.

The election was complicated by severe winter weather, which forced UTM to close early on March 12. To compensate for this, the CRO reopened physical polls at UTM for five hours on Friday, while online voting and polls at UTSG, which did not close because of the weather, did not have extended hours.

Team Unite has issued a series of complaints in regards to this decision, and has claimed that they were not informed of an extra polling station opened on Friday at UTM. The team alleges that Grayce Slobodian, a current UTMSU executive as well as a candidate for Voice, was informed of the new poll (she posted on Facebook about it) prior to the start of voting, whereas they say that their team was not informed that there was another station for voting — and they consequently were unable to campaign there.

Seven other candidates received points in rulings issued Friday night. Yolen Bollo-Kamara and Cameron Wathey each received two points for misrepresentation of facts. The CRO alleges that one of U of T Voice’s volunteers “misrepresented their status as a University of Toronto student,” and found that, under the EPC, the candidates are responsible for the action of “non-arms-lengths parties.” It is unclear whether this ruling refers to Ryerson Students’ Union vice-president, equity Raejan Hoillett, who identified himself as a U of T student when approached by a reporter from The Varsity.

In a separate ruling, Yin received two points for campaigning in an unauthorized area, as did directorial candidates Ryan Gomes, Kevin Lunianga, and Silviu Kondan. Unite’s VP equity candidate, Balquis Hashiru and directorial candidate Abhi Amalsadia received points for using unapproved campaign material. Finally, Ryan Schwenger received points for unintentional misrepresentation of facts.

The ERC met on Sunday afternoon and into the evening, but had not released any rulings as of press time.

University needs to lay stronger foundations for graduating students

U of T needs to increase innovative programming to support student success

University needs to lay stronger foundations for graduating students

Most of my graduating friends seem to fall into one of three schools of thought about their future plans after undergrad: professional school, graduate school, or “taking a year to figure things out.” The apparent growing trend of fifth-year undergraduates at U of T highlights the indecision many seniors feel on campus. Future prospects seem only to point to further schooling for many. What schooling this will entail seems to be the question many graduates are left ill-equipped to answer.



Currently, the academic trajectory for students studying in the Faculty of Arts & Science — similar to that of other institutions — is the pyramid. The logic is that after three years of marginally smaller lecture classes, it pays off in fourth-year intensive seminar courses typically related to your professor’s narrow research expertise.

Unfortunately, the expectation that fourth-year students should bury themselves in further academia and longer reading lists is not helpful or reflective of the reality that exists for the majority of graduating students. Whether one is looking to further their studies or find gainful employment, the current model seems to be doing a disservice.

For students planning to attend graduate schools in their chosen field, the earliness of many applications means fourth-year seminars come too late. After three years of large lecture classes, many students are left unable to build the relationships needed for strong references. Their lateness also means they can only reinforce the decision students have already made, or turn students off furthering their studies at the graduate level.

More critically, requiring fourth-year students to further commit to their studies is ignorant of the reality facing soon-to-be graduates. Profiling the typical fourth-year class, many students have largely disengaged from their field of study. Having realized that their knowledge of post-colonial literature will soon be of little use, many students prioritize part-time jobs, internships or leadership positions with organizations that help lead to gainful employment. Unfortunately, these commitments place unrealistic and contradictory expectations on a student who is being instructed by the university to intensify their efforts in a narrower, soon to be irrelevant, field of study.

U of T has already begun addressing the changing demands of students. During his tenure as dean, president Meric Gertler expanded the number and variety of innovative courses available. The most notable recent success was the expansion of the Foundational Year Programs across our campus. Additionally, many of the 199, 299, and 399 courses aim to incorporate professional skill development as a pillar of the requisite coursework. However, these successes remain piecemeal across departments and new programming seems to be frontloaded, hoping to attract top high school students to the university through exciting first-year opportunities.

U of T needs to begin considering not only what innovative programming will best prepare incoming students for success, but also how to facilitate the success of graduates — who are increasingly dissatisfied with the outcomes of their undergraduate education. Currently, many students are forced to choose between menial work to pay off osap debt, and volunteering with some ngo as a means of honing real-world job skills. University programming must begin to formally incorporate opportunities for students to build the skills employers are demanding.

Faculty and administrators must begin exploring the grey area that exists between the ‘traditional’ classroom and a professional (intern) work environment. The newly installed Munk One Program successfully includes lab work designed to synergize professional and academic skills. Does it make sense that these opportunities are available to first-years, but not fourth-year students?

Given the talent and expertise found in most fourth-year classrooms, many engaging initiatives could be undertaken through collaboration in the classroom. One fourth-year seminar course that has recently gained attention is eng434, entitled “Cook the Books,” where students work together in culinary experiences and publish a cook book at the end of the term.

Classes such as eng434 should not be the exception for senior-level students at the university. In this day and age, creative and tangible research projects should be the expectation for all senior-level students. Since many of my friends already prioritize their projects outside the classroom, the university should promote its students’ ambitions by creating academic programming across departments that exploit the originality needed to be competitive.


Ben Crase is a fourth-year history student and Male Head of College at Trinity College.

Two-and-a-half million cities

Exploring the patchwork identity of Toronto and its neighbourhoods

Two-and-a-half million cities

Toronto recently celebrated its one hundred and eightieth birthday. I have lived here all my life, but I’m always surprised when reminded of the city’s age; looking around, there is little to suggest that it predates confederation. It grew in shaky steps as more and more plots of fertile lakebed farmland were paved, built on, and tunnelled under. Over the decades, we’ve razed entire slums and industrial districts and, more recently, we’ve reinvented blocks with new roles and relevance.

Greek street signs on the corner of Danforth and Carlaw. ADAM ZACHARY/THE VARSITY

Greek street signs on the corner of Danforth and Carlaw. ADAM ZACHARY/THE VARSITY

Toronto has grown as a collection of neighbourhoods, or villages, that are exquisitely distinct yet governed by a central power. As such, ours has become a city with no one, coherent, internal identity. There is little beyond proximity that links Forest Hill to Kensington, or the downtown maze of towers to the placid Beaches.

Our experience of the city is totally informed by which subway stop we come home to at night, which corner store we buy our cigarettes at, whether we wake up in a glassed-in high-rise or a bay-and-gable basement. In adult life, others’ opinions of us will be founded upon the answer to that question; we, too, may in part define ourselves by it. We perceive neighbourhoods based on their outstanding traits such as their ethnic communities, architectural styles, and unique landmarks. These are the traits that both make up and display their character.  How the rest of the world sees Toronto is equally informed by this patchwork identity.


Cultural lines

Last month, The New York Times’ travel section characterized Toronto as an “ethnic buffet” — a city of overlapping neighbourhoods, full of immensely different populations that live calmly side by side. The article made me wonder if tourists visit Toronto not to see Toronto, but to, for example, go dancing on Church Street or shop in Yorkville. We, as residents, have this psychology; the high school experience in this town is coloured by day trips to Kensington and nights spent sneaking into Annex bars.

OCAD's Sharp Centre for Design rises high above McCaul Street. ADAM ZACHARY/THE VARSITY

How Toronto came to be this way is not easily understood, but one important element is the different immigrant populations that settled in different areas of the city through the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. A common trend in the movements of these populations was to start in a place once known as The Ward. This was bound by Queen Street West, University Avenue, Dundas Street West, and Yonge Street — we know this as a built-up northern stretch of downtown, but it once housed the city’s largest and most notorious slum.

Irish, Jewish, Polish, Italian, and Chinese communities, in that order, congregated in The Ward upon arriving, as it was where the cheapest housing could be found. As such, conditions were hardly livable. As each community gained a stronger foothold in the city, it developed the means to move out of The Ward, leaving it for the next wave of huddled masses until it was mostly demolished in the 1950s to make way for Viljo Revell’s soaring new City Hall, Nathan Philips Square, and the new courthouse.

This Jewish-Italian restaurant is a neighbourhood landmark in Baldwin Village. ADAM ZACHARY/THE VARSITY

Toronto went on to attract communities of Portuguese, Korean, Indian, Hungarian, Somali, Vietnamese, and other immigrants who established support networks to welcome others. A friend from Greece, Angelos, told me how he was drawn to the Danforth when he moved to Toronto decades ago; the street signs were in Greek, he said, and the restaurants cooked real Greek food. He could go to work and speak English, but when he went to the local bars, he would speak Greek with new friends so he wouldn’t forget the language.

These stories are common in this city, where forced cultural assimilation of immigrants is not so prevalent as elsewhere in the world. One of my favourite things about living here is the ability to drift between different nations by walking a few blocks along a thoroughfare. In places like Kensington and The Annex, these cultures come together; it is in these instances where we might find the one, uniquely “Toronto” feeling.


Creative class communities

In keeping with global trends in postmodern urbanism, a more recent phenomenon in the evolution of Toronto’s neighborhood character is the advent of “creative class” communities in former industrial spaces. Liberty Village and the Distillery District are examples of postmodern, master-planned neighbourhoods whose “artistic” reputations were made up by the developers.

A repurposed toy factory in Liberty Village now houses lofts and a coffee shop. ADAM ZACHARY/THE VARSITY

On the other hand, places like The Junction and Lansdowne grew organically around communities of artists who were exiled by gentrification to the city fringes. Toronto used to be a far more industrial city, earning the nickname “The Big Smoke.” Today, there is no more soot caked into stones, nor smells of slaughterhouses.

The repurposing of obsolete industrial spaces fits into Toronto’s timeworn love affair with the phenomenon of spatial “creative destruction,” a concept identified with economist Joseph Schumpeter. At its most basic definition, creative destruction is the process by which new opportunity is created and capitalized upon in space left vacant by the fall of a former economic order. Gentrification is similar, but the key difference is that, in gentrification, a more powerful economic order imposes itself upon a space that is not vacant. Many neighbourhoods we know as constant are products of gentrification; who, today, would guess that Yorkville was once a vibrant village of young creatives?

These homes on Grace Street, Little Italy, were once derelict but are now being renovated to keep up with the area's development. ADAM ZACHARY/THE VARSITY

Gentrification is discussed to death in this city, but for good reason. Toronto is becoming more and more prosperous, and more of a global city, at a time in urban demographic history called the “great inversion.” For the first time since the postwar dawn of auto-loving, modernist urban structure, upper- and middle-class households are finding urban neighbourhoods more desirable than the suburbs, and the return of their daily economic interests to the city centre is a mixed blessing. It begets the pricing-out of local businesses and lifelong area residents. Both ethnic and long-established working class communities are at risk.

An older woman, Anne, bought her Yorkville house in the 1970s when the street was mostly home to academics and musicians. She described how she not only feels like more of an outlier with every passing year, but even feels unwelcome among the new neighbours. She claims they resent her family for not having “made over” their unique old home to match the others on the street. This was once a neighbourhood where people trusted and loved each other, she said. Kids played on the road, men sat on their porches. Now it feels like New York, she said, like another boring block.


Village life 

My own nearby house is similar to Anne’s. Last year, two new neighbours showed up in my yard and made a grandiose offer to buy it, to replace it with something “respectable” so the lot could live up to its “potential.” I don’t speak to many of my neighbours.

Looking up from the corner of Bay and Wellington. ADAM ZACHARY/THE VARSITY

In my lifetime, I’ve watched the high buildings and prices of Yorkville encroach west upon the Annex, watched Parkdale shed its stigma and start to attract young families, and watched faux-lofts rise on every corner, ground floors full of the same franchises. The trend has sparked the creation of several industries dedicated to easing the process: house “flippers,” prefab skyscraper builders, exclusionary but “independent” shops. This is the greatest threat of gentrification — its potential to homogenize much of the city (ironic, as the appeal of at-risk neighbourhoods is often their unique, “authentic” characters).

The diversity and eccentricity of our city must be preserved. We are drawn to these neighbourhoods that feel like villages — independent, but thriving within a greater fabric. One falls into village life; you create a village around yourself, fall into a routine pieced together from the first reliable things you find — grocery store here, a shortcut there. Slowly, it expands; your walks get longer, and the nights seem brighter. Maybe all city dwellers live in their own villages. All live in others, too — those of strangers we see on the subway, neighbours we love or hate. There is not one Toronto; there are many, all with different names.

A city of villages

Toronto’s neighbourhoods interpreted by writers through poetry, fiction, and prose

A city of villages

Kensington Market

Street art on Augusta Avenue welcomes the eye to Kensington. ADAM ZACHARY/THE VARSITY

Street art on Augusta Avenue welcomes the eye to Kensington. ADAM ZACHARY/THE VARSITY

Down the road where Bellevue leans in

and curves are houses with driveways

like thick plopped tongues leaking

onto the main street. Walking up

I see three boys holding BB guns

and an empty one abandoned

on the ground next to two stacked cans of pop.

Empty bullet shards drape their feet.

They only quickly look up at me, one boy

shuffling his hand across his hair revealing

little brown eyebrows. I imagine them

flexing up and down, doing a jig. The boys

galloping over driveways, shooting

at brick walls and small animals and girls,

the neighbourhood a bag of shrapnel

with a string tie that sometimes puckers,

sometimes yawns. Instead of hurling down

in clatters, the shrapnel turns to sugar

and the roads absorb it, sweating a little bit.

We swim, cupping our arms in and out

until the streets get too full and crack,

little boy tadpoles pirouetting and dying.


When I get closer the boys run inside the house,

their thin summer shirts are curtains refracting

an evening — a dissipating wilderness of space.

— Melina Mehr


Yonge & St. Clair

I live on Yonge Street, above a bar that attracts revelers who smoke cigarettes on my doorstep late at night. It’s an upscale area pocketed with reminders of an underclass. During the day, suits and heels fill the elegant clothiers and cafés, ignoring the panhandlers stationed outside — but in the evening, I have the streets almost to myself.

This is the best time to ride my bike, looking for a market that sells affordable vegetables. There are no bike lanes on Yonge so I take side streets, winding through imposing houses with impeccable landscaping.

Before dark, I seek refuge from the perpetual noise of the city. I descend for an hour at a time into the stillness of the ravine, trying to find a new path to follow each evening. Most trails are dead ends. I’m always looking for one that leads to some place other than Deer Park, away from the Rosedales and Forest Hills and Avenue Roads of this city. Perhaps one day I will find a path that is not forked.


Trinity Bellwoods

Street art near Trinity-Bellwoods Park reinforces the countercultural atmosphere. AZAM ZACHARY/THE VARSITY

Street art near Trinity-Bellwoods Park reinforces the countercultural atmosphere. AZAM ZACHARY/THE VARSITY

I was to meet her at the corner of Bathurst and Queen. My commute had been quicker than expected, and I had gotten there a good half-hour before our agreed-upon time. There wasn’t a whole lot else to do except wait, unless I could find a way to occupy myself — which, being in an unfamiliar part of town, I was not terribly certain how to do. I was nervous enough as it was,— this was to be our first actual date — so I turned my anxious pacing into leisurely strolling.

The late July sun oozed pleasant warmth onto the pavement, and my shadow and I fumbled our way towards it, walking west along Queen. The notion of exploring a previously untapped neighbourhood was exciting — the actualization of local wanderlust. It was the realization that something could have existed all this time without you knowing it, and the stunned disbelief that it had taken you this long to see it.

I took in as much of the stretch as I could. I found the cupcake place where she and I were to go, and I found Trinity Bellwoods Park, a place of which I had heard but had never seen.

I memorized the neighbourhood by the time I met her at the corner. But as we walked through it, I forgot it entirely. She was all that mattered. We ate cupcakes and read beneath a tree. Trinity-Bellwoods was not geography: it was summer and love and wonder.

— Daniel Konikoff


Christie Pits to Trinity-Bellwoods


the street

bends and twirls


switching directions

trying to find its way

she recalls a change


the street remembers how a haven

for summer swimmers

was once a place of industry

and recalls a night of violence


the street holds up

a man from Pakistan

on the steps of his Portuguese store

he smiles at three children

running past

creating a cloud of dust

that hovers above the sidewalk


onto the street

the man flicks the ash of his cigarette

and gives a friendly nod to the professor-parents

who wearily follow

their overzealous spawn

to the promised after-dinner gelato


glancing across the street

an old woman hears the commotion

she is reminded of the days when

it was her house full of noise

she laments,

her sons have all left for

backyard pools in suburban lands

that seem a world away


the street watches

young men brawl at midnight

fueled by cheap martinis and churros

interrupted by an insomniac

pushing past their brawn

into a store that never closes

the street rolls down the hill

reminiscing about a creek

that once past through her

she widens

where men in robes once walked

scarved lovers dodge unleashed dogs


the street pauses

wary of the streetcars whizzing past her

— India McAlister


Bloor West Village

Bloor West Village clings to its traditional soul — Pizza Pizza and McDonald’s are juxtaposed against quaint flower shops and hand-crafted jewellery stores. I can see the lifelines disappearing, one by one. Laura Secord first, where I used to go for $1 chocolate, and Hallmark, where I would laugh at the musical cards. Then Book City followed; Baskin Robbins next, where 30 cent scoop day would be the highlight of April in middle school; then the smaller cafés and Write Impressions last summer. There are ten coffee shops here now: Starbucks, Timothy’s, Coffee Tree, and seven more. Seven beauty salons, five elementary schools, and a movie theatre. We have managed to avoid condos until now, but we lost the historic-theatre-turned-bookstore to another Shoppers Drug Mart this month.

The quiet, serene side-streets and grassy parks lace into bustling Bloor like veins feeding a beating heart. It’s a different world just one minute down the road, where stray cats hiss at raccoons and kids toboggan down Rennie hill after an hour at the skating rink. It is a simpler world of swing-sets, brightly coloured playgrounds, and lakeside trails down to High Park and lakeshore. In the middle of it all, tradition and and change are wrestling for the upper hand. We have the best of both worlds, but it’s unlikely to stay that way.

— Linh Nguyen

Honest Ed’s holds massive sign sale before closing in 2016

Handpainted signs an integral part of store's history

Honest Ed’s holds massive sign sale before closing in 2016

Standing in line on a Monday morning outside Honest Ed’s, I noticed two construction workers smoking from the balcony of the B.streets condos, currently under construction at Bloor and Bathurst. They were laughing, looking incredulously upon the massive line — stretching from the Bloor Street entrance to Honest Ed’s.

To the disgruntled fist-shaking of hipsters and old people alike, Honest Ed’s is closing its doors on December 31, 2016, and the block that was once home to the Toronto landmark will be developed, likely into more condos.

Ahead of its closure, Honest Ed’s will be holding “special ‘looking back’ and nostalgic events,” according to a press release announcing the show card sign sale that took place on March 10. Over 1,000 of the landmark’s hand-painted signs were sold to the public on a first-come, first-serve basis.

The signs began at only 50 cents — a modest price for what many consider a piece of Toronto’s history, but fitting given Honest Ed’s promise of unbeatable prices, which are prominently displayed on much of its signage.

Honest Ed’s signs are hand-painted by Wayne Reuben and Douglas Kerr, who work full-time for the store creating the signs. The show-card signs are written in almost entirely capital letters, and are usually painted in bright, primary colours. The most coveted signs contain Ed’s renowned puns (“Honest Ed’s a nut, look at the cashew save!”). Honest Ed’s has employed full-time sign painters since the store was founded in 1948.

Each sign sold on Monday was given a stamp of authenticity, and many were signed by the artists. Proceeds for the event went towards Victims Sources Toronto.

The event was advertised for children; taking place during the beginning of March Break and included an opportunity for kids to make their own signs with the show card artists. The line, however, consisted mostly of older people and young adults who grew up shopping at Honest Ed’s.

Many have expressed frustration with the sale of Honest Ed’s, which is perceived as a sign of the impending gentrification of the area.

The lineup for the signs stretched around the block. CAROLYN LEVETT/THE VARSITY

Like Honest Ed’s, the signs are divisive — while some find them nostalgic, others consider them an eyesore. The mass turnout to the sign sale testifies to the former sentiment, as Torontonians flocked to Mirvish Village to get a small, charmingly obnoxious artifact of Honest Ed’s to hang on their own condo walls — from “Ed’s Bargain! Tampax Multipax Tampons $9.99,” to “Rugs — Ed’s price will ‘floor you’ $14.99.”

My father used to talk about how he would watch a line wrap around the block with my grandfather as Torontonians gathered at Honest Ed’s to collect their free turkeys for Christmas. Watching the line curve around the corner at Bathurst and Bloor, I wondered if it looked anything like this back then — perhaps with fewer coffee cups and camera-equipped bloggers: chilly Torontonians waiting patiently in the queue to enter the crazy, circus-like depths of the department store and abide by the slogan below the dancing lights of the marquee: “come in and get lost!”



Why do you want a sign from Honest Ed’s?



Christine | Arrived at 7:45 am, eighth in line

“I grew up with Honest Ed’s. It’s part of Canadian history.”



Aida | Arrived at 10:00 am

“I want a piece of Honest Ed’s before it closes.”



Coco | Arrived at 10:15 am

“I like the puns and it’s like a piece of history.”



Patrick | Arrived at 10:30 am

“I’ve been coming here since I was a kid. It’s a good piece of nostalgia.”



Calvin | Arrived at 4:00 pm

“I don’t know I’m just here”



Zach | Arrived at 2:30 pm

“It’s a cool place…something to remember it by”

Exploring the ecology of U of T’s three campuses

There's more than just squirrels to be found in the GTA

Exploring the ecology of U of T’s three campuses

Squirrels are common to all three U of T campuses. The evil but deceptively cute creatures whose sole pleasure is derived from terrorizing the U of T student body. However, comparing the three campuses reveals unique landscapes, flora, and fauna.





Possibly the campus which is best integrated into its surroundings, UTM is located in the Credit River valley, sandwiched between the Carolinian and Great Lakes-St. Lawrence forest regions in a protected Greenbelt area. It is not uncommon for students to catch a glimpse of deer from the neighbouring Erindale Park, and studious patrons of the Hazel McCallion Library overlooking this park can often watch the deer during moments of academic frustration. The 225-acre campus is also located along the Credit River, a major watershed that flows into Lake Ontario. Mississauga is home to a diverse set of flora and fauna, including mudpuppies, leopard frogs, snowy owls, musclewood, prickly gooseberry, ostrich fern, and witch-hazel. Many of those plants can be used for medicinal or cosmetic purposes: witch-hazel has traditionally been used to treat menstrual pain, and major cosmetic companies now use it as a base for toners.





UTSC is surrounded by the world-famous Scaborough Bluffs. Its geology provides a great deal of historical information about the area. The Scarborough Bluffs are 14 kilometres long and 100 metres high. They were created by the breakdown of packed clay soil, and they record the final stages of the Great Ice Age. Alternating layers of soil represent the different stages of ice’s advance and retreat across the land from as recently as 12,000 years ago. The first 46 metres of the bluffs contain a multitude of fossilized plants and animals. The present-day animals are plentiful, too. Nearby Rouge Park is at the northern edge of the Carolinian life zone, which contains more species than any other Canadian life zone: 762 plants, 225 birds, 55 fish, 27 mammals, and 19 reptiles and amphibians. Set apart from the other two campuses, UTSC exists in a residential neighbourhood, although, notably, the Highland Creek that runs through it is the most urbanized watershed in the Toronto area. UTSC students also have incredible access to animals from all over the world, with the Toronto Zoo only a bus ride away.



Located in downtown Toronto, the St. George campus exists in the midst of the urban cityscape quite different from the Scarborough and Mississauga campuses. The broad landscape surrounding the downtown campus includes beautiful views of skyscrapers, giving the campus its exceptional individuality. This is not to say that the downtown campus is free of wildlife. Summertime brings about the best in terms of exploring the flora on campus, which is rich with the colours and scents of flowers. Though the city landscape does not provide a suitable habitat for deer, the fauna within the downtown campus, as any residence student will tell you, consist largely of squirrels. UTSG’s “boundless” squirrels are a source of pleasure to some, but a nuisance to many students, as they gnaw their way in through the windows and relish every bite of food they come across in residence. The studious, who at work late at night, may glimpse a raccoon. More easily spotted are the starlings and pigeons.


The effects that urbanization has had on the natural environment around the three campuses may have caused irreversible changes to the environment as the campuses react to a drastically growing number of students, but students can still seek natural beauty just off-site.  The areas that surround our campuses are much like the education and courses they offer to students — diverse, distinct, and attractive.

With files from Ishita Petkar

Rainbow Blues

Varsity Blues athletes speak up about their experiences as LGBTQ athletes

Rainbow Blues

LGBTQ athlete rights came under spotlight in preparation for the Sochi Olympics this past February. There were a total of six openly gay athletes competing in the games, and Russia’s restrictive policies toward the LGBTQ community led to significant international outcry. For years before this outburst in Sochi, LGBTQ athletes around the world have been inspiring change at the professional level as well as at the university level.

sports_Karen Zhou


Ken McNeilly was a student at U of T on the varsity rowing team in 2010 and 2011. As a doctoral candidate at the age of 41, McNeilly noted that, “I was nervous about joining because I was a novice to the sport, because I was 41 years old, and because I was gay.”

To McNeilly’s relief, his teammates were eager to welcome him in spite of any differences existing between them. Until this day, McNeilly still considers many of these teammates as friends and allies.

“In the boat, nobody cared about my sexual orientation; they only cared about whether I could lead them to victory,” he said. After a very successful and enjoyable season, McNeilly was named Male Oarsman of the Year in 2010.

McNeilly has completed his doctoral dissertation, and will be presenting his findings in the form of a 60-minute musical at the Toronto Fringe Festival this summer. He hopes that his “musical dissertation” will be an accessible and enjoyable way for people to learn more about the ongoing challenges LGBTQ teens encounter on a day-to-day basis.

Jordan Prophet joined the varsity men’s swimming team in 2012. Prophet’s decision to try out for the team was not affected by any concerns about his acceptance as a member of the LGBTQ community.

“I have always found swimming to be a very open-minded sport towards the LGBTQ community, which I am very thankful for. It isn’t like they have any more reason to be than a hockey or football organization, but they just appear to be from stories I have heard and what I’ve been told by friends,” said Prophet.

Prophet appreciates the signage around campus provided by the Positive Space Campaign, and believes that this contributes to the overall progressive nature of the university’s attitude and policies toward students of the LGBTQ community. He believes that the signs acknowledge discrimination as being unacceptable on campus, and lets victims know that there are organizations willing to offer help and support.

Bailey Rudnick is now in her second year with the varsity women’s rugby team. Much like McNeilly and Prophet, Rudnick has yet to encounter any homophobic incident as an athlete at U of T. She is grateful for her supportive friends, family, and classmates, who make her experience all the more enjoyable. As a member of the varsity rugby team at St. Francis Xavier University several years ago, Rudnick said that, “From my experience, all university rugby teams are accepting. St. FX, which is located in a tiny rural town, still had a very LGBT friendly environment.

“The women’s rugby team is one of the few places where no one or at least few people assume that you are straight, which is refreshing. It is also a place that is more comfortable than the wider world with people remaining label-less, which again is refreshing,” said Rudnick.

It is uplifting to know that a great number of U of T’s varsity teams have provided LGBTQ athletes opportunities over the years to showcase their talents, while also serving as a safe and welcoming community. That being said, this sentiment is more than likely not one shared by all.

Programs like the Positive Space Campaign and Athlete Ally are aimed at raising awareness and providing campus-wide security for the LGBTQ community. These programs make it possible for athletes like Rudnick, McNeilly, and Prophet to serve as role models for others in similar positions. They have contributed to the commendable atmosphere of acceptance in university athletics over the past several years.

Veg-friendly food haunts

A guide to meatless fare can be more than salad

Veg-friendly food haunts

Although vegetarianism and veganism are becoming more commonplace in today’s society, it still surprises me to see shocked reactions from people when I hear others announce their dedication to a plant-based diet. Statements such as, “aren’t you, like, always hungry?” and of course, the winner of them all: “But bacooooooooon.” Ultimately, the reasons behind one’s decision to abstain from eating animal-based food products are entirely personal.  Even so, it’s hard to convince your meat-eating friends that vegetarian food is more than than just bags of iceberg lettuce and bland tofu.

This is a guide for those who are willing to leave their judgements about eating vegetarian at the door. This is a guide for adventurous eaters, for those who want to try something that’s a little bit different, a little bit unconventional, and perhaps even a little bit daunting. This is for those who just want to have a really delicious meal before they spend two hours in lecture, getting drunk off knowledge.

I can’t promise you anything, but one thing I can do is guarantee you won’t be hungry in the next hour and your tummies will be very satisfied. Here are several restaurants that are not only veg-friendly, but also delicious.


Hot Beans

Hot Beans

A good indicator of whether or not a restaurant is worth trying out is the presence of a not-so-secret, “secret” menu. The Burger’s Priest has it, and so does Hot Beans. Vegan burritos and tacos are the restaurant’s featured fare. While Hot Beans does use mock meats as burrito filler, it does not try to replace your standard burrito. I would advise against ordering the Mac ‘n’ Cheese burrito — vegan mac and cheese is an ambitious endeavour, and the mac here in conjunction with the fried potatoes makes for a rather bland burrito experience. Personal recommendations would include the TVP burrito and the pizza tacos off of Hot Bean’s secret menu.

Address: 160 Baldwin St. #1 (Kensington Market)




Here at Grasshopper, the speciality is “cross-cultural comfort food.” Their vegan take on pulled pork and grilled chicken banh mi sandwiches are top notch, although the crust of the French baguette that they make their sandwiches with have a tendency to be more on the softer side than I would personally like it. The beauty of banh mi is how easy it is to walk in and eat, and there are no exceptions made here at Grasshopper. It’s open till 9:00 on weekdays and till 10:00 on Fridays and Saturdays, making it a pretty good alternative for post-evening class eats.

Address: 310 College St. (College and Spadina)


APieCalypse Now!

Apiecalypse Now 2

APieCalypse Now! is a bakery dedicated to delicious vegan desserts and other tasty little treats. The owner, Jennifer Bundock, has won numerous awards around Toronto for her meat and dairy-free creations. Those who are hesitant to believe that good vegan treats exists should try one of Bundock’s massive cookie sandwiches. Available in vanilla and chocolate, these treats can be a bit overpowering, but will surely to satisfy anyone’s sweet tooth. Plan your visit accordingly because APieCalypse is only open Thursday to Saturday.

Address: 589 Markham St.  (Mirvish Village)


One lone vegetarian 

One Love Vegetarian

Surprisingly enough, One Love is the only vegetarian restaurant that actually boasts the word “vegetarian” in its name. If you don’t know what love is, I should let you know that it will probably manifest itself in a roti. Traditional Caribbean roti comes with a variety of different stuffings, with meat as the main component. However, One Love doesn’t try to make mock meat versions of traditional favourites. Instead, they do their own special take on the roti. You can get your roti with  the vegan protein staple — textured vegetable protein (TVP) or chickpeas, but the clear favourite has and probably will always be the seasoned Jamaican pumpkin roti.

Address: 854 Bathurst St. (Bathurst and Bloor)


Honorable mention: The Burger’s Priest

Burger's Priest 2

The Burger’s Priest  is home to one of the best beef burgers in the city, however, the true star here is the “Option,” one of the most killer veggie burgers anyone could ever feast on. It defies everything we know about vegetarian burgers. The “Option” is composed of two juicy portobello mushrooms stuffed with cheese. The Priest takes it a step further by coating the whole thing in panko-style bread crumbs, and then deep frying it until it is nice and crispy. It’s delicious enough to turn any veg-skeptic into a true believer.

Address: 1636 Queen St. E. (The Beaches)


A final note

Another place worth visiting is Harvest Noon, the student-run cafe located above the Grad Student Pub. Furthermore, Kensington Market is a goldmine for vegetarian options. In fact, the last time I went to Kensington Market with a friend who wasn’t so keen on eating tempeh for lunch, we went into a number of restaurants in search for “anything with meat.”