Comment in Briefs: Week of October 1

Students react to price tag for writing surfaces in Daniels Building Main Hall, UTSC Al Berry lecture, and university policy on student-professor relationships

Comment in Briefs: Week of October 1

Intentional design flaw reflects ableist ignorance

Re: “$30 price tag for writing surfaces in lecture hall stirs controversy at Architecture & Visual Studies town hall”

It is appalling and absurd that the Faculty of Architecture, Landscape, and Design (FALD) intentionally designed a lecture hall without writing surfaces. It seems like the FALD is trying to make the lives of students more difficult.

Dean Sommers asserted that the decision to exclude writing surfaces was, in part, because it provides pedagogical value by discouraging students from using their laptops during lectures. He ignores the fact that a laptop, by definition, can be used on one’s lap without a surface.

Professor Jeannie Kim seemed to reiterate this pedagogical value excuse, claiming that it is better to take notes by hand. She ignores the fact that taking notes by hand is a lot easier when there is actually a surface to write on.

The pedagogical value excuse used by the FALD is laughable, and once again exemplifies the ableism embodied in the university’s mindset. Many students struggle to keep up with the pace of lectures as it is, and not everyone is an expert at shorthand. Some students may have a disability that requires the use of a laptop. A student’s level of dependence on technology does not, and should not, reflect on their academic abilities.

Adding insult to injury, the FALD opted to sell lap desks instead of offering a rental program, showing a blatant disregard for the inequitable economic context of student life.

Ultimately, the dean chose chair stackability over the best interest of students.

Madeleine Kelly is a fifth-year Ethics, Society, and Law and Environmental Studies student at New College.


Development comes at the monumental expense of equality — and it shouldn’t

Re: “‘Development or Justice?’: Jeremy Adelman speaks at annual UTSC Al Berry lecture”

Adelman is a professor at Princeton University. SHANNA HUNTER/THE VARSITY

Jeremy Adelman’s recent remarks at the sixth annual Al Berry lecture are now, more than ever, essential to keep in mind. Speaking about the unequal distribution of wealth, Adelman pointed out that the current drive for international development may further divide the global community.

With increasing nativist and nationalist movements at home and abroad, Canadians must remember that to consider ourselves a nation that truly stands for equality, we must care to leave no one behind. While traditional forms of global divide, such as colonialism, have been gradually disrupted, the innate competitiveness of capitalism has quickly replaced tangible partitions with less visible ones.

The development of one group inevitably comes at the vast expense of the other. Neocolonialism, especially at the hands of international fiscal institutions, tends to put non-western countries at severe disadvantages. As Adelman describes it, development is simply a “new form of empire” that serves to divide the globe into its northern and southern hemispheres.

Reconciliation with Canada’s past must also play a part in lessening the divide. The liberal Canadian government tends to focus on the more social aspects of reconciling with our painful history of colonization. However, it seems to forget that the western model of development is not a universal one. The traditional drive for profitable trade has seen Indigenous peoples all over the globe being “excluded from their land that was made valuable to the public.” This lack of integration is seen all too well in First Nations reserves, where over 80 per cent have a median income below the poverty line.

To settle this global crisis, countries must look beyond their local interests and ensure the redistribution of wealth across and inside their borders. This work begins with education. Adelman aims “to keep the global horizons open and to teach that to students” at Princeton. U of T and other Canadian universities would do well to adopt those principles of teaching in their classrooms.

Ori Gilboa is a first-year Humanities student at Victoria College.


U of T’s current disclosure policy regarding student-professor relationships is sufficient

Re: “What are U of T’s policies on student-professor relationships?”

TIAN ZHENG/THE VARSITY

Discussion surrounding student-professor relationships has never crossed my mind, as I have always just assumed that they were not allowed at U of T or at any university. However, while examining student-professor relationships at face value may indicate inappropriateness, we do need to remember that university students are in fact adults and may choose to have a relationship with any other consenting adult.

The student-professor dynamic does spark the issue of having a conflict of interest, such as the professor giving the student an unfair advantage in comparison to the rest of their students. There are also more extreme cases that raise questions, such as the case of the UBC student who accused her professor of sexual assault. He has denied this allegation although he did admit to having an affair with said student.

Nonetheless, U of T’s current policy of requiring professors to disclose their relationship to the chair of their department seems to be sufficient without being too constrictive. Consenting adults should be able to be in relationships with whomever they choose. In cases where sexual assault come into play, investigations and punishments concerning that case should be handled appropriately. These particular cases should not be the sole influence on whether or not students may be in relationships with their professors though.

With any relationship, when sexual assault or any form of abuse occurs, it should be addressed appropriately by the authorities. As long as student-professor relationships are consensual and are disclosed, I do not find any immediate issue with the matter.

Areej Rodrigo is a fourth-year English, Professional Writing and Communications, and Theatre and Performance student at St. Michael’s College.

“Development or Justice?”: Jeremy Adelman speaks at annual UTSC Al Berry lecture

Lecture criticized developmentalism as “new form of empire”

“Development or Justice?”:  Jeremy Adelman speaks at annual UTSC Al Berry lecture

Redistribution of wealth and resources has been a common theme in the study of development over the ages. At the sixth annual Al Berry lecture at UTSC on September 26, Princeton University Professor Jeremy Adelman aimed to bring attention to “the concentration of wealth and income” and its stresses on our “togetherness.”

The event was organized by the Centre for Critical Development Studies. Al Berry, professor at UTSC and the namesake of the event, invited Adelman, one of his former students, to speak about how the current model of development may be dangerous to the global community.

Adelman spoke about how the growing interdependence of countries on one another made them more vulnerable to inequity. He claimed that “as the world was being laced by railroads, cables, and free trade, it was also producing more stratification.”

The professor detailed how the convergence of countries with one another “promoted hierarchy,” creating a dichotomy between the Global North and South.

“Everything is now development,” Adelman told The Varsity in an interview at the event’s pre-lecture reception. “All of the grand challenges that the planet faces, whether it’s climate change or the global migrant crisis, are, at root, issues of development.”

As a historian, Adelman advocated a historical perspective when approaching development in other countries. He noted that as the world became more interdependent, the competition for economic success spun out of control. Evidence of inequity could be seen in the fact that as economic development progressed, Indigenous people were globally “excluded from their land that was made valuable to the public.”

According to Adelman, since the nineteenth century, the study of development has been one of debate.

Debate arose when people looked at the successes of development, such as poverty decline and increased literacy rate, and forgot about the inequalities within these development efforts.

Adelman criticized what he sees as the hypocrisy that comes with developmentalism. He explored the idea that development “was just a new form of empire,” for it seemed to favour the European bourgeoisie. He outlined the delusion of “foreign expert syndrome,” stressing that a Western or linear model of development may not work everywhere.

According to Adelman, models of development required dramatic solutions for underdevelopment such as “breaking unequal trade” and “overturning feudal forces.”

Yet this harsh approach has reaped little benefits. Adelman suggested that the Global South started “a new history,” separate from the Western model of success and development.

One thing Adelman said he has done to tackle these inequities and promote a humanitarian way of thinking is by running the Global History Lab at Princeton. “It’s an online course in which my graduates interact with undergraduates and learners in other parts of the world, including refugee camps and Middle Eastern Africa.”

Adelman told The Varsity that the theme of his studies is “always global, and our fragile togetherness, in spite of the whole rise of nationalism, and nativism, and tribalism.” His goal is “to keep the global horizons open and to teach that to students.”

Redistribution of wealth to close the gap between the “haves and the have-nots” and remodeling development would bring the the global community closer to equity, said Adelman.

For Adelman, the importance of all this is that “how we handle our fragile togetherness will shape the lives of generations to come.”

Starbucks at College and Beverley closes doors to make way for new condo

Local residents concerned about pollution, noise, influx of students to area

Starbucks at College and Beverley closes doors to make way for new condo

The Starbucks on the southeast corner of College Street and Beverly Street has closed its doors permanently. In January 2020, a 29-storey condo tower will replace the five-storey, mixed-use building that housed the coffee shop.

The condo will consist of 26 floors sitting atop a three- to five-storey space designated for retail and office. It will provide 309 residential units at the southern end of UTSG.

SOFIA LUDWIG/THE VARSITY

The current proposal for the project was sent to the Ontario Municipal Board in March 2016, and the tower will be built by Page and Steele of IBI the Group. The developer is Parallax Investment Corporation.

“[The District Manager] confirmed that everyone was offered a new position,” said Tim Gallant, Senior Manager of External Communications at Starbucks Canada. “So nobody was left unemployed as a result of this closure.”

Gallant added that Starbucks has no plans to open a store in the new tower or in the same vicinity as the old one. Students expressed their disappointment about the store’s closure.

“I’m going to miss it because it’s in a perfect location,” said third-year student Alex Pavel. “I didn’t know it was closing.”

Pavel was not the only person surprised; many students did not know about the closure, although some flyers were handed out by employees.

Thalia Charney, a neighbourhood resident who lives right across from the building, is mainly concerned about the noise generated by the construction. “It could take a long time to build this, so it’ll make the street noisy,” she said. She also believes pollution may be a potential problem.

“It doesn’t fit the neighbourhood,” said Gale Fraser, another resident of the area. She could not see any benefits to the project and is concerned about noise and garbage disposal issues. She also fears that the tower would block sunlight from its surrounding buildings.

Fraser is worried about traffic as well. “There’s supposed to be limited vehicles,” she said. “But it’s never what they say it’s going to be.”

She added that the new building would increase the number of students in the neighbourhood.

“It’s a transient population,” said Fraser. “We want people who are going to stay and be a part of the community.” She believes that, because students live in the neighbourhood only during their time at U of T, there is no real investment in the community.

She raised concerns about vandalism as well, citing a park that was “destroyed a year and a half ago.”

According to the City of Toronto staff report, the project is proposing 58 underground parking spots located underground and an entrance via College. This would not be sufficient to meet the demand created by a project of this size.

The report also specified that no information had been provided regarding the additional loading space required for solid waste management vehicles.