Putting colour in print

A growing anti-press climate should not preclude critical self-reflection on race in the newsroom

Putting colour in print

Freedom of the press, on a global scale, is under threat. From the alleged Saudi assassination of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi at its consulate in Turkey, to the US President’s ban of CNN correspondent Jim Acosta from the White House, the ability of media to criticize power can carry heavy consequences.

Trust in the press is fading too. The Varsity itself had to grapple with issues of trust following criticism of our coverage of Jordan Peterson in the fall of 2016.

Beyond campus, ‘anti-establishment’ forces accuse and dismiss mainstream media of ideological bias. In the US, outlets like CNN and The New York Times are labelled “fake news” and “the enemy of the people” by some on the right. In Canada, some call to defund the CBC.

Though not necessarily new, this is undoubtedly a dangerous environment. Journalists play an important role for the public in uncovering truth and holding power to account. They should be valued and protected.

However, this narrative of an oppressed press — which is important — must be coupled with an otherwise neglected story: that of race in the newsroom. Internal power dynamics demand as much scrutiny as external ones. In fact, racial equity can help media to better fulfill its role and legitimacy in the eyes of the public.

Freedom of the press comes with a responsibility to tell untold or undertold stories and bring underheard storytellers to the centre. In engaging in more self-reflection on its shortcomings, the media can take a step toward improving its commitment to the public interest and regain legitimacy.

The Sunny Dhillon case

The departure of reporter Sunny Dhillon from The Globe and Mail in late October exemplifies the importance of discussing race and journalism in a Canadian media landscape that is largely white.

In a Medium article, Dhillon revealed that he chose to leave the paper because of both a “single incident and a continuing pattern.” The instigating factor was that, in his coverage of the Vancouver municipal election, his editor told him to focus more on the election of women to the city council, and not on the fact that a city of almost-half Asian background had no corresponding ethnic representation at all. When he disagreed on the angle, she informed him that the newsroom is “not a democracy.”

Last year, a Varsity editorial argued that there is no such thing as unbiased reporting because “reports are created by authors and shaped by editors whose perspectives and personal experiences are inherently injected into the final product.”

The obsession with ‘objectivity’ is flawed because the very same ‘objective’ reality — such as the Vancouver municipal election — can be covered differently, based on who the reporter is. One’s personal identity, which includes race, class, gender, and more, cannot be divorced from one’s professional journalism. Identity informs what is valued, reported, discussed, and published.

But it’s not that this nexus is a shortcoming and that we should strive for total ignorance of colour. In fact, it is what makes the presence of journalists of colour so crucial.

Intrinsic and instrumental value

Representation in the newsroom has intrinsic value. Workplaces should look like general society, and they should actively seek to hire people of colour, given the discriminatory tendency of institutions to overlook qualified and competent racialized candidates.

But it also has an instrumental value: without it, the media risks insufficiently or inaccurately covering a story or missing a story entirely. This is as much about self-interest as it is about racial justice.

Last week, a Guardian article noted that “appearance is not the real problem. A democratic media is.” Not only should journalists of colour be ‘included,’ in a numerical sense, but they should take up space, voice, and power in the newsroom to identify gaps in a paper’s coverage and tell stories in a more accurate and nuanced way. In turn, the communities that they reflect can be better represented in media and become a readership that fully trusts such organizations.

Media reports also shape public opinion and dialogue. By not reporting on the racial gap in the Vancouver municipal election, the general public was left unaware of the problem. Instead, the public is left with misrepresentative and stereotypical stories that only portray Asians as “foreign real-estate buyers and money [launderers].” Until the media addresses its own race problem, the general public will continue to be misinformed and racism will continue unaddressed.

Dhillon’s story headlined because his experience of the fact that what he “brought to the newsroom did not matter” was shared by many other journalists of colour, who feel ignored, silenced, and overlooked when it comes to race. But many continue to endure it all because leaving the newsroom would mean abdicating responsibility to represent what is already so unrepresented.

In a follow-up Medium article, Dhillon shared some of these responses from other journalists of colour, which pointed to another side of the issue: they are not just their race. They are also individuals with a diverse range of abilities and interests. They should not be hired to serve as essentialized, go-to ‘ethnic’ reporters.

The Canadian media problem

Dhillon’s story should be understood in the context of other Canadian media’s shortcomings on racial equity.

In 2017, columnist Desmond Cole, best known for his activism and journalism on anti-Blackness in the Toronto Police, resigned from the Toronto Star. After being told that he wrote about race too often and that journalists can’t simultaneously be activists, Cole ultimately chose “activism in the service of Black liberation” over his column.

Writers like Cole are expected to deliver diversity quotas and improve media’s inclusionary image, but when they attempt to reshape journalistic culture and public conversation about anti-Blackness in this country, they are pushed out. As a Varsity editorial noted, media coverage on anti-Blackness had already been disappointing. The loss of Cole, who was also one of the only Black columnists in mainstream Canadian media, made the situation even worse.

Around the same time, prominent Canadian media figures defended disgraced Hal Niedzviecki in the “appropriation prize” controversy. He had encouraged writers to “imagine other peoples, other cultures, other identities” in their work. This swiftly drew criticism from Indigenous peoples, given the connection between cultural appropriation, Canada’s colonial history, and the record of Canadian media in the misrepresentation and exclusion of Indigenous communities and voices.

Last week, Maclean’s released the cover of its December issue, which unironically represented white Conservative Party leaders as “the resistance” to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s carbon tax plan. This decision dangerously reinforces the view of many far-right figures and movements today that white conservatives are oppressed and marginalized in this country. Furthermore, it co-opts the struggle of actually marginalized communities — queer folks, Black people, Indigenous communities — who are the real resistance in Canada to establishment leaders.

It is clear that Dhillon’s story is not isolated. Canadian media organizations must do much better in deciding which stories to tell and who to tell them — especially when it impacts how the public understands the world around them.

The responsibility of student journalists

In a Globe and Mail piece this summer, Amy O’Kruk, former editor-in-chief of Western University’s Gazette, Western University’s student newspaper, commented that for mainstream media, doing better on diversity starts with, and should draw inspiration from, student papers. After all, whereas columnists in Canada are mostly cisgender, straight, white men, student paper mastheads do better with representation.

However, this should not be cause for celebration alone. As The Strand indicated in an editorial last month, student journalism should strive not just to be accurate, but equitable. As student journalists, many of us are the future of Canadian media — and therefore we have a responsibility to be the generation that does better on equity.

At The Varsity, we realize that we are no exception when it comes to journalistic fallibility. Although we are proud of our diverse masthead, our reporting and publishing can and has come up short for underserved communities in recent memory. We realize that the presence of journalists of colour must be qualified with power.

We continue to strive to improve our newsroom culture and practices in order to better empower marginalized voices, including by building relationships with those communities. We know that what we cover — and don’t cover — has implications for student public opinion, and we don’t take that responsibility lightly.

Today, the press is threatened on multiple fronts. On the one hand, powerful actors seek to undermine the legitimacy of and trust in media. On the other hand, the press is undermining its own legitimacy when it fails to serve marginalized communities. This is especially concerning because, with the global growth of the far right, race and identity are increasingly at the heart of all things political. Media must therefore strive for sensitive, responsible journalism when it comes to race — more than ever.

And it starts with internal reform. Of course, media leaders should hire and elevate more people of colour to positions of power to ensure that they have a strong voice in the newsroom. But as a recent J-Source article described, it is not those at the top who will lead the change.

Rather, it is the workers — reporters, fact checkers, designers, photographers — who must collectively organize and demand change for a more equitable workplace. They are to whom the newsroom belongs.

When the Globe editor said to Dhillon that there is no democracy in the media, she wasn’t wrong. But there should be. Let’s start by putting more colour in our print.

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

UTSU AGM 2018: Where’s the spirit of union democracy?

The failure to maintain quorum points to a disengaged student electorate and stains the night’s otherwise progressive motions

UTSU AGM 2018: Where’s the spirit of union democracy?

The University of Toronto Students’ Union (UTSU) is, on paper, a powerful force. As one of Canada’s largest student unions by membership, it governs over 50,000 full-time undergraduate and professional faculty students.

While providing services — like club funding or the health and dental plan — is its most tangible mandate, the UTSU’s most interesting role is to lobby for student interests on behalf of its massive electorate. Be it directing action against rising tuition costs or taking symbolic stances in opposition to university or government policies, it is advocacy that ideally lights a fire in the hearts of university students.

Yet at its recent October 30 Annual General Meeting (AGM), the UTSU was unable to retain the presence of even 50 members to maintain quorum for the duration of the event. This is despite interesting, progressive, and engaging motions on the docket — a golden opportunity for the UTSU’s large membership to openly debate and shape the UTSU’s advocacy role.

Of the 40 or so members who remained at the end of the meeting, the overwhelming majority were what union executive Tyler Biswurm called “insiders.” The failure to maintain quorum is disappointing and highlights that the UTSU has an engagement problem with its membership.

A questionable decision on quorum

Quorum for the AGM is 75 voting members, of which 50 must be physically present. The rest can be proxied votes. This is stated in the UTSU’s bylaws, in accordance with the Canada Not-for-profit Corporations Act (CNCA), which governs the operations of not-for-profits like the UTSU — and The Varsity — in Canada.

Before a vote on a member-submitted motion that would increase the direct democracy of the union, there was a roll call to establish whether the meeting still had quorum. There were less than 50 members present, and for a brief moment there was hushed chaos as many assumed that the meeting would be forced to adjourn.

However, a member spoke up, citing language from the CNCA that describes how a meeting may continue conducting business even if it loses quorum, as long as quorum was established at the beginning. The AGM’s speaker ruled that the meeting would continue.

This scenario is not described in the UTSU’s bylaws. But there is precedent for halting an AGM when quorum is lost, as was done by the Scarborough Campus Students’ Union (SCSU) in 2015.

Whether or not continuing the meeting without quorum was in order is subject to interpretation. However, that doing so was counter to the spirit of union democracy is not. The lack of engagement from the UTSU’s membership, underscored by the regrettable loss of quorum, hurts both the spirit and the substance of the resolutions passed at the AGM.

Exhibit A: The motion on the campus free speech mandate

Take, for example, the member-submitted resolution, which passed, that the UTSU formally oppose the campus free speech mandate from Doug Ford’s Progressive Conservative provincial government.

This is a step in the right direction. Ontario campuses, U of T included, enjoy the benefits of free speech already. Ford’s ‘campus free speech’ mandate serves as a dog-whistle of encouragement to far-right groups that support him.

However, the lack of engagement from students at large and other interested parties was shocking. The Campus Conservatives — an official affiliate of the Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario and the Conservative Party of Canada — are a voice we could expect to advocate on behalf of Ford’s mandate at the AGM.

When asked by a Varsity reporter about why the Campus Conservatives was absent from the AGM, the group’s president, Matthew Campbell, answered resoundingly: “Because I was at a bar with friends.”

“They’re a fucking joke,” Campbell said of the union. “Do I give a fuck about what the U of T Student Union represents? No.” Campbell’s language is crude and inappropriate, but is nonetheless indicative of the general disengagement between the union and student body.

Ironically, the resolution on free speech was passed without much constructive debate. Yes, there was discussion of the motion’s use of the term “Orwellian,” and a vote to strike part of the motion, but the debate lacked a sense of action and left questions about how advocacy should take shape unanswered. The lack of engagement hurt the spirit of the progress that the union made on that front on October 30.

It also hurts the substance of this progress: without diverse and engaged voices, the union’s membership is left wondering what exactly the UTSU’s new stance means. If U of T’s current free speech policy is compliant with Ford’s mandate, the question emerges as to whether the UTSU will now oppose it, or if its rejection is strictly limited to provincially-mandated changes.

Whether the union will engage with the university on this issue — as the original resolution mandated — or if this is a purely symbolic act, as the amended motion suggests, remains a concern for students. These are the types of questions that could have been debated by a more engaged membership, but weren’t.

Exhibit B: The motion on policy and bylaw changes at AGMs

Similarly, the motion to allow members to propose policy and bylaw changes at AGMs — as opposed to having the union’s own Governance Committee handle these matters — was stained in both spirit and substance by a lack of engagement.

Again, like the free speech policy, this motion is a step in the right direction. It’s important for members to be able to enact change in their union, and a move toward direct democracy is principled and progressive.

However, concerns raised in the discussion of this motion highlighted the ease with which members could force through hostile or ill-intentioned policy changes, by simply bringing in a crowd of friends or even a small group wielding stacks of proxies.

We share these concerns. If this new policy were applied to the October 30 AGM, 10 attending members, each carrying 10 proxied votes, could have formed a majority and opposed any motion that went before the membership.

A middle ground must be struck between a union whose policies and bylaws are confined to small governance discussions between engaged insiders, and a union whose policies and bylaws can be derailed by a small but ferocious force at an AGM.

Yet that middle ground couldn’t be struck on October 30. Perhaps this is because the overwhelming majority of those present at the AGM were themselves “insiders.”

This motion was also passed without quorum. As well as calling into question the validity of the motion, this underscores the lack of engagement with the UTSU. In years past, AGMs have been fraught with fierce and divisive debate. A motion like this would have been unthinkable then.

Rather than letting the membership ignore the potential danger of swinging too far in the direction of direct and underrepresented democracy, a better-attended and more engaging AGM would have put these matters into better context.

The need to cultivate an engaged student democracy

This AGM made it clear that the UTSU has much work to do when it comes to engagement with its electorate. With the power to represent, govern, and advocate as one of the country’s largest student unions comes a responsibility to cultivate an engaged, robust student democracy. We hope that the UTSU takes action to fulfill this responsibility.

We also hope that next year’s AGM builds on the progressive spirit of this year’s motions with the added quality that the room’s tension pertains to healthy and plentiful debate, rather than a struggle to maintain quorum.

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

Reconciliation must mean action, not words

U of T must implement tangible changes to campus space and curriculum to better reflect our Indigenous communities

Reconciliation must mean action, not words

Three years ago, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) released its summary report on the racist history of the residential school system. It provided settler Canadian institutions with 94 calls to action in order to address this legacy and achieve ‘reconciliation’ with Indigenous peoples.

The discourses of the educational system have historically justified the practices of separating children from their communities and by extension their culture, land, and livelihood. Schools and universities are arguably central sites in which redress for past and ongoing wrongdoings must occur.

As U of T scholar Monica Dyer notes, this is especially true for our university. U of T played a role in shaping the racist discourse that informed residential schools. Religious colleges and missionary organizations on campus were also connected to the propagation of residential schools.

Education is a vital mechanism for acknowledging and respecting the treaty relationships to which we are bound and for confronting settler Canadian ignorance about Indigenous communities. Hence, the TRC specifically calls for educational institutions to do better for Indigenous peoples.

Namely, it recommends increased funding to ensure that First Nations students have better access to postsecondary education, the creation of postsecondary programs in Indigenous languages, the education of teachers on the inclusion of Indigenous knowledge and teaching methods into classrooms, and the establishment of a national research program to “advance understanding of reconciliation.”

Since this summer, universities across Canada have been stepping up initiatives in response to the TRC’s calls. At U of T in particular, it is a timely moment to reflect on education in the reconciliation era. Last week, First Nations House hosted its annual Indigenous Education Week — an important opportunity for the U of T community to “celebrate Indigenous contributions” and “Indigenous presence on campus.”

Last month, the Decanal Working Group (DWG), commissioned by the Faculty of Arts & Science (FAS), announced its report’s recommendation — among 19 others — to create an “Indigenous College with residence space” by 2030. According to the report, the FAS has an important role to play in the inclusion of Indigenous languages, cultural expressions, and knowledges within academia.

Aside from the Indigenous college, the report calls for enhanced services and support for Indigenous students, curriculum changes, new programs of study, increased recruitment of Indigenous students and staff, and training for staff and faculty. All these recommendations are commendable and should be implemented by the FAS.

However, a major point of concern surrounds the report’s call for the dean to respond to the report and provide a roadmap for implementation “as soon as possible.” FAS Dean David Cameron, who established the DWG, is leaving next summer, and there is no indication as to whether or not his successor will be committed to the report’s recommendations.

This reflects a central issue with the university bureaucracy’s approach to reconciliation: it largely revolves around promises. Concrete action is slow to materialize.

The DWG’s report largely echoes many of the recommendations that were made by U of T’s Steering Committee in response to the TRC in January 2017. It also called for the creation of a physical space for the Indigenous community, increased recruitment of Indigenous faculty members, and curriculum changes to reflect education about Indigenous peoples.

The Varsity interviewed President Meric Gertler and asked about the progress made on reconciliation since the 2017 report. Gertler pointed to increases in funding to hire more Indigenous staff and faculty.

However, as a result of other universities pursuing similar initiatives, he noted that there is a “competitive labour market” for this objective — and that this corresponds to a lengthy time frame for realization. When asked about specific projects, he often deferred his answers to specific divisions and campuses, or the newly appointed advisor on Indigenous issues, as sources of action. Above all, he seemed most excited by the existence of “conversation” about reconciliation on campus.

In essence, U of T appears to be stuck in the realm of words, ideas, and slow progress as opposed to concrete action. This shortcoming was cautioned by Indigenous leadership at the time of the release of the TRC report. U of T’s lack of action cannot simply be excused as the result of administrative processes that are natural to the governance of universities.

Indeed, other schools are considerably ahead of U of T in taking action for reconciliation. For example, in 2016, the University of Winnipeg and Lakehead University became the first two universities to introduce an Indigenous course requirement for incoming students.

Rather than solely rely on the labour of First Nations House to annually educate the community, U of T must take responsibility and implement its own initiatives — including an expedited implementation process in response to the DWG and Steering Committee reports. This, in turn, will show that settler society is committed to re-educating itself on its true history and reforming educational institutions to do more for Indigenous peoples.

We must move beyond the complacency and comfort of land acknowledgements and cultural appreciation. We should especially be creating physical spaces on campus and altering curriculum to reflect Indigenous histories, knowledges, and voices.

This performative reconciliation that lacks action is not unique to universities — it reflects a broader trend. The federal Liberal government may offer apologies and tears in the name of reconciliation, but it continually fails Indigenous peoples — for instance, by building pipelines without adequate consultation. Most recently, the Supreme Court announced that the government is not obligated to consult Indigenous peoples before drafting laws that affect treaty and Indigenous rights.

Frustration about the hypocrisy of settler institutions is most clearly articulated in MP Romeo Saganash’s claim in parliament that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau “doesn’t give a fuck” about Indigenous rights.

Reconciliation is meaningless if institutions continue to perpetuate colonialism under the guise of empty promises. Indigenous students across Canadian universities know this firsthand as they continue to experience racism on campus. Campuses should not unilaterally pride themselves on reconciliation or ‘Indigenization.’ Rather, it is up to Indigenous students to determine the effectiveness of reconciliation policies on campuses.

The very discourse of reconciliation is also problematic because it implies resolution between two equal parties; it obscures the power dynamic between the colonizer and the colonized. We should acknowledge that reconciliation, if it is to be effective, is an uncomfortable process. It commits to decentring settler voices and centring Indigenous voices, and, most critically, to making material concessions that change how we organize our institutions.

At The Varsity, we know that we can and should do better as a media organization. This year, we are striving to improve our coverage of Indigenous issues and become a stronger platform for Indigenous voices.

Ultimately, university campuses must institutionalize a new mode of education that reflects the true history of this land, and take concrete action in pursuit of reconciliation. Until then, reconciliation is doomed to remain an idea as opposed to becoming a reality.

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

A gateway policy — not a ‘gateway drug’

The legalization approach for cannabis should be extended to all drugs

A gateway policy — not a ‘gateway drug’

As the theme of this week’s issue may make you aware, recreational cannabis use will be legalized on October 17. While this is grounds for celebration, cannabis legalization should also open up serious consideration for the legalization and regulation of all presently illicit drugs.

Drug use should not be viewed through a criminal justice lens, which results in unnecessary arrests and imprisonments and forces drug users to live with the lifelong consequences of a criminal record. Instead, drug use should be dealt with as a matter of public health. This is especially true given the opioid crisis that is currently afflicting the country.

Understanding addiction

By criminalizing the possession of drugs, addiction — recognized by both the American Psychiatric Association and the World Health Organization as an illness — is also being criminalized. This means that people addicted to drugs face legal penalties, including imprisonment, as opposed to medical intervention and support in order to overcome their addiction.

According to a 2012 Statistics Canada report, approximately 21.6 per cent of Canadians 15 and older met the diagnostic criteria for a substance use disorder at some point in their lifetimes. At the time, four per cent of Canadians had symptoms of dependency on a substance other than alcohol or cannabis at some point in their life. Substance use disorders were most common among young people between 15 and 24.

When a person addicted to drugs stops using the substance, they are faced with painful or otherwise unpleasant withdrawal symptoms. These occur as the person’s brain chemistry slowly returns to normal.

These symptoms can prevent people from maintaining normal lives. As a result, people may feel forced to continue using drugs simply to get through the day. For users of harder drugs, such as heroin, withdrawal symptoms can manifest as soon as six hours after their last hit.

Although treatment for addiction is available, access to it is not equal nationwide. Some people have more difficulty accessing care due to their location or socioeconomic status.

Considering the opioid crisis

With the ongoing opioid crisis, considering drug policy reform has become even more critical. In 2017, Toronto saw 303 opioid overdose-related deaths — a 63 per cent increase over the previous year. The chance of accidental overdose is increased when a drug user’s hit contains a dangerous amount of even more potent opioids, such as fentanyl or carfentanil — two extremely powerful painkillers that have, in recent years, begun to show up in supplies of street drugs, such as heroin.   

In an attempt to self-manage the situation, some drug users have begun carrying naloxone, which can temporarily reverse an opioid overdose. Concerns about accidental overdoses have also spread to university campuses, where student leaders at some schools have been trained to administer naloxone in the event of an overdose on campus. Four colleges at U of T confirmed to The Varsity last year that their dons do not carry naloxone.

Since people who use drugs can never be sure if their drug supply will be lethal, criminalization furthers a lack of quality control, which endangers drug users’ lives. As well, criminalization forces drug users to buy and use substances in secret, and often in unsafe spaces, where the risk of overdosing or contracting a bloodborne infection is more likely.

Furthermore, criminalization stigmatizes drug users, making them less likely to seek help for their addiction if they desire it. It also contributes to the number of overdose deaths, since drug users and those around them are more hesitant about getting medical attention for an overdose for fear of police intervention.

Legalization as the best course of action

In June, Toronto’s Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Eileen de Villa, presented a report to the Toronto Board of Health about the importance of taking a public health approach to drug policy.

The report noted that Canada’s decision to criminalize some substances, such as cannabis, but not others was not based on scientific assessments of the risks posed by different substances. Instead, these decisions were made according to “moral judgements and racist ideas about people and the drugs they were using.” De Villa’s report goes on to point out that the War on Drugs, which began in the 1970s, has not been effective at reducing drug use. Thus, it is time to consider the alternatives.

Among the recommendations, de Villa highlights the need to decriminalize personal drug use and possession. The possibility of full legalization and regulation is also discussed, though, as the report points out, establishing an effective system through which to regulate substances would be extremely complicated. Thus far, no country has opted for full legalization.

Despite this, total legalization, if managed correctly, seems to be the best course of action for Canada. Unlike decriminalization, legalization would allow the government to regulate drugs and control their distribution. This means that money would be funnelled away from organized crime, and regulated producers would ensure that drug supplies are not laced with even more potent, more addictive, and, potentially, more dangerous substances.

The need for safe injection sites

Until harder drugs are legally regulated in Canada, the introduction of more safe injection sites is necessary. These sites allow for more regulated drug consumption and ensure that people are using clean needles. Furthermore, staff members are able to intervene if an overdose occurs.

Unfortunately, Ontario’s current Progressive Conservative (PC) government has decided to put a hold on the opening of three new sites, one of which was to be located in Toronto. The government is also considering whether or not to continue funding existing sites.

During the 2018 election, PC leader Doug Ford voiced his opposition to safe injection sites. “I believe in supporting people, getting them help,” he said. “I ask anyone out there, if your son, daughter, or loved one ever had an addiction, would you want them to go in a little area and do more drugs? I’m dead against that.”

This stance shows a fundamental lack of understanding of addiction on Ford’s part. As Co-Director of the Ontario HIV and Substance Use Training Program Francisco Sapp pointed out to The Canadian Press, abstinence-based treatment programs have low success rates, with forced rehabilitation likely to be lower still.

Ford’s position ignores evidence that these safe injection sites facilitate access to rehabilitation programs and other social supports when a drug user is ready for them.

Most importantly, these sites save lives. According to The Canadian Press, the overdose prevention site at Toronto’s Moss Park had reversed about 200 overdoses as of April. The closure of this and other sites would be a huge step backward in the management of the opioid crisis.   

Public health, not criminal justice

Canadian drug policy in general can and should be reimagined. Cannabis legalization provides us with a unique opportunity to learn important lessons about establishing new systems through which to regulate substances — lessons that can and should be applied to other substances in the future.

At the very least, cannabis legalization will hopefully start a critical conversation about how drugs, users of drugs, and drug policy should be understood as concerns of public health, not criminal justice.

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

To not publish, sometimes, is the highest form of journalism

The publication of Jian Ghomeshi’s essay points to an urgent need for media organizations to recognize the relationship between platform, voice, and power

To not publish, sometimes, is the highest form of journalism

Content warning: this editorial discusses the intersection of journalism and sexual violence.

It has been almost a year since #MeToo became a viral social media movement, through which survivors exposed a slew of sexual misconducts, harassments, and assaults by high-profile perpetrators, among others. Yet a number of the powerful men exposed in the #MeToo movement are now attempting to make comebacks in the public arena.

Last month, comedian Louis C.K. performed an unannounced set at the Comedy Cellar in New York. He made no reference to the accusations that had ostensibly ended his career. He received a standing ovation before he even began performing. 

Also emerging from the shadows, though, are those whose ‘silences,’ a natural consequence of public scandals, have stretched beyond the #MeToo movement. These individuals are being aided by media organizations that choose to enable them to tell their side of the story.

On September 14, The New York Review of Books (NYRB) published an essay entitled “Reflections from a Hashtag” by disgraced CBC broadcaster Jian Ghomeshi. In 2014, allegations of sexual harassment and assault against Ghomeshi became public. He was fired by CBC, but following a high-profile trial, he was acquitted of all charges in 2016.

On September 16, New York magazine profiled Soon-Yi Previn, wife of director Woody Allen, in which she described her adoptive mother and Allen’s former partner Mia Farrow as an abusive parent. In response, Previn’s adoptive brother, Ronan Farrow, accused Previn of “planting stories that attack and vilify my mother [Mia] to deflect from my sister’s credible allegations of abuse” — referring to the longstanding allegation that Allen sexually assaulted his stepdaughter, Dylan Farrow.

Both of these cases have resulted in backlash because they provided a platform for alleged perpetrators, or defenders of alleged perpetrators of sexual violence. The backlash is entirely justified: the NYRB and New York should not have published the pieces. In the era of #MeToo, the responsibility of media organizations is to report and publish in accordance with a sharp awareness of the power dynamics that underlie voice and narrative.

In the context of sexual violence, survivors are often pushed into positions of shame and silence. If they choose to come forward with their stories, they risk being treated with skepticism, disbelief, harassment, and threats. In contrast, perpetrators are shielded by public sympathizers who demand the legal principle of ‘innocent before proven guilty,’ and who criticize the ‘court of public opinion.’

The voices of survivors, then, are often not heard and are often overpowered by their abusers and their supporters. Given the risks, they already have less access to the media. For media organizations that seem to attempt to ‘level the playing field’ by publishing the perspectives of high-profile figures like Ghomeshi, their decisions reflect a false sense of journalistic balance that is, at best, ignorant and, at worst, dangerous in its reproduction of trauma for survivors.

Given his connection to Toronto, Ghomeshi’s case warrants a closer examination. In his essay, Ghomeshi manipulates the reader through a ‘self-humanizing’ narrative — a narrative that dismisses the stories of his accusers as “inaccurate” and fails to portray any genuine remorse. He attempts to rally sympathy by sharing how he became an “outcast”; how he was “weeping in shame”; how he has been reduced to a “singular, sexualized identity”; and how he has felt “hopeless,” “pathetic,” and “suicidal.”

Most reprehensible, though, is how he manipulates his identity as a person of colour. Indeed, he has, and wrongly so, received racist backlash from those who associate his behaviour with his cultural background. However, describing oneself as a victim after abusing others is a deflection tactic whereby a position of power is used to appropriate the status of the abused. This complicates the otherwise straightforward narrative that they are the perpetrators and should accept responsibility.

Rather than take responsibility, Ghomeshi largely blames the structures around him for his mistreatment of women, pointing to careerism and the attainment of success as a broadcaster. He describes how he tried to use fame to impress and manipulate women. “Dating and having sex became another measure of status.”

The conclusion of the essay suggests that anonymity — no longer manipulating his fame or being “a Somebody” — is the way forward. Indeed, perpetrators should pursue the route of silence and cede space for the voices of those who have long been voiceless as a first step toward rehabilitation.

But the reality of Ghomeshi’s essay contradicts this very suggestion. Ghomeshi emerged from his silence last year with a podcast commentary series, The Ideation Project, with no acknowledgement of the circumstances surrounding the downfall of his career, just like Louis C.K. He decided on the terms of justice and unilaterally made a comeback. And with this essay, he demonstrates that he still capitalizes on his fame — or infamy at this point — to draw an audience and attempt to polish his image. He may no longer be abusively “dating and having sex” to attain status, but by manipulating his status, he challenges the naive assumption that #MeToo would be a turning point in existing power dynamics.

The circumstances surrounding the publication of the essay are also troubling. Following backlash against the essay, the editor, Ian Buruma, felt forced to resign after the threat of an advertiser’s boycott. However, Buruma continues to stand by his decision to publish the essay.

Furthermore, the NYRB amended the essay with a preface stating that they should have made an acknowledgement of the allegations against Ghomeshi, and that the following issue would feature letters to the editors in response to the essay. Yet this preface does not reflect any remorse for having published the essay in the first place. There is therefore concern as to whether it was the financial threat of an advertiser’s boycott, rather than the ethics and responsibilities of journalism, that compelled the NYRB to take action.

Last year, alongside the emergence of the #MeToo movement, The Varsity Editorial Board noted that the role of the media is to ensure that journalism “does not further contribute to the conditions that make coming forward about sexual violence so difficult.” Ultimately, it is difficult to understand what media organizations hope to achieve by featuring the perspectives of alleged perpetrators. It does not advance meaningful conversation about sexual violence; rather, publications like these undermine it by confusing perpetrator for victim.

The Varsity’s mission statement expresses a commitment to the “provision of meaningful, just coverage for our readership.” A diverse range of opinions, perspectives, and stories, and reasonable debate and discussion between them, is what renders media coverage holistic, fair, and credible. However, coverage must also be committed to justice.

For publishers and editors of influential media organizations, meaningful journalism means making principled choices. The heart of ethical and responsible journalism is to amplify the voices of those who have not spoken, as opposed to those who have always spoken. By locating the maldistribution of power in society, media can recognize that, sometimes, to not publish and provide platform is itself a worthwhile ideal of journalism. 

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

Doug Ford, stop trying to be the Premier of Toronto

Ford’s first months in office culminate in an assault on Toronto city politics, reflecting a faux populism that threatens Ontario's most vulnerable

Doug Ford, stop trying to be the Premier of Toronto

Last September, Doug Ford announced that he would again run for Mayor of Toronto in 2018 — having lost the 2014 election to John Tory. Ford’s experience in City Hall, however, was never commensurate with his eagerness for the mayoralty. As a city councillor, Ford had one of the worst attendance and voting records among his colleagues, often spoke of his frustrations with the council as “dysfunctional,” and even spoke about “running away” from Toronto politics.

Ford first expressed interest in running for Premier of Ontario in 2013, and so he did successfully this past year. His platform was particularly focused on eliminating the “inefficiencies” in government. He also promised to represent Northern Ontario and everyday Ontarians, as opposed to the elites.

But instead of “running away” from Toronto politics, Ford dove right in. One of his most targeted “inefficiencies” seems to be the size of the Toronto City Council, which he tried to halve earlier this summer with the passing of Bill 5.

Superior Court Justice Edward Belobaba recently struck down Bill 5 as unconstitutional, ruling that it violated the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Belobaba’s ruling states that the cuts “undermine an otherwise fair election and substantially interfere with the candidates’ freedom of expression.” In response, Ford is attempting to invoke the notwithstanding clause of the Charter, which would enable him to override certain portions of the Charter and overwrite the judge’s decision.

The number of wards is being debated and contested in the middle of the campaign cycle, with the municipal elections just five weeks away. Opposition and protest against the council size cut has intensified. Former Chief City Planner, U of T instructor, and 2018 candidate for mayor Jennifer Keesmaat even expressed support for Toronto’s secession, though she later retracted this, saying that it was in “frustration.”

Ford claims that he is standing up for the 2.3 million Ontarians who elected him, “because it is the people, not the judiciary, who should ultimately decide how we are governed.” Ford’s reasoning that he is entitled to push through legislation because he was elected, whereas the judge was appointed, is fundamentally flawed.

In an imperfect but functional liberal democracy, it is not sufficient to govern based on the will of the majority, as represented through the government. Rather, there are checks in place to protect individual and minority rights and freedoms. The independence of the judiciary reflects a separation of powers, which is intended to hold the government accountable if it tries to breach those rights and freedoms in the name of ‘democracy.’

It is vital to remember that judges are not elected because the insertion of politics into the judicial system would undermine the very impartiality needed to hold governments accountable. Ford’s disrespect for the judge’s decision undermines the very rule of law upon which our society functions, and sets a dangerous precedent to further invoke the notwithstanding clause whenever he sees fit.

His appeal to majoritarianism is also questionable. Only a plurality, not a majority, of Ontarians, voted for his government; he was handed a majority of seats in the legislature because of the first-past-the-post system. He should therefore be careful when trying to use majoritarian rhetoric, and should understand that his mandate is to govern Ontario, not Toronto.

Like US President Donald Trump, Ford is a faux populist. He claims to be challenging the elites, when in fact he is a millionaire businessman who is very much one of them. Thus far, his policies have not attempted to dismantle the elites, but rather have targeted democratic norms and Ontario’s most vulnerable communities.

His interference with Toronto’s election, for instance, happened without any consultation or electoral mandate — it was never a part of his campaign platform. Furthermore, the impact of the council size cut promises to be devastating. Fewer wards translates to more residents per ward; this means that each individual resident has less representation and voice in government.

This particularly worsens conditions for marginalized communities, who already lack voice when it comes to issues related to low-income and race. They would have benefited from the 2016 decision to increase the number of wards from 44 to 47, as well as the emergence of newcomer candidates from those communities. Instead, they are left with less access to city democracy than ever.

Ford’s intervention, by adding confusion and uncertainty about the fate of the election, has also shifted public attention away from the actual content of the election. Issues like affordable housing and transit, which are key for students, have unfortunately taken a backseat.

Some argue that Ford’s obsession with Toronto is revenge for his mayoral loss to Tory four years ago. But this understates Ford’s ideological scope. Since the beginning of the summer, Ford’s pursuit of “efficiency” has meant cuts to social, educational, and environmental policies that would have benefited marginalized communities. He scrapped the basic income project and made cuts to welfare increases; reversed the 2015 sex ed curriculum, which addressed LGBTQ+ issues; cancelled a curriculum update that would have included more Indigenous content; and is challenging the federal government over climate change on the carbon tax plan.

While making cuts, Ford has invested in disciplinary surveillance tactics that threaten marginalized communities. For instance, creating a ‘snitch line’ to report teachers committed to the 2015 sex ed curriculum; threatening universities into adopting ‘free speech’ policies at the risk of losing funding, which invariably targets critics of oppression; and investing millions into the Toronto Police Service in response to a violent summer, even though racialized communities have indicated the need for socioeconomic investment.

Ford’s assault on Toronto parallels his attack on universities, schools, and marginalized communities. All reflect an anti-democratic agenda, which exploits ‘for the people’ rhetoric, but in reality stands up for no one but the most privileged in society.

Democracies function by achieving a fine balance between the will of the majority and the protection of minorities. Ford does neither: he has failed to respect the will of Torontonians and engage in fair democratic processes, and through strongman politics he has made an aggressive assault on vulnerable communities in Ontario.

If Ford is truly committed to the people, he should stop making harmful cuts in the name of “efficiency” and spending time on unconstitutional power plays. He should stop trying to be the Premier of Toronto and undermining the city’s jurisdiction, and focus instead on improving the lives of all Ontarians.

Students’ political, social, and economic interests are at stake. We should be aware and ready to resist Ford if there is no end in sight to his faux populism.

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

Restoring the 1998 sex ed curriculum makes little sense in 2018

The Ontario PC government’s decision to scrap the 2015 curriculum undermines youth education on crucial topics like identity, consent, and the digital world

Restoring the 1998 sex ed curriculum makes little sense in 2018

Shortly after taking office over the summer, Ontario Premier Doug Ford’s Progressive Conservative government announced its decision to repeal the 2015 Health and Physical Education curriculum, replacing it with the previous 1998 curriculum, which was taught until 2014.

During his campaign, Ford had accused the previous Liberal government of creating a curriculum that reflects an “ideology” that turned schools into “social laboratories” and children into “test subjects.” Ford’s politicization of the sex ed curriculum as a central campaign issue panders to a vocal minority of social conservatives who have opposed the update since its inception in 2015.

However, the 2015 curriculum is a huge step toward helping all students navigate social norms in the twenty-first century. The repeal of this curriculum brings us backward by two decades: gay marriage was still seven years away from legalization in Canada, consent meant the absence of a ‘no’ rather than the presence of an enthusiastic ‘yes,’ and social media as we know it had yet to come into existence.

For U of T and other university students, many of the critical issues on campus reflect the sex ed battleground. For instance, the gender pronouns controversy in 2016 and the C grade assigned by Our Turn to U of T’s recent sexual violence policy demonstrate a systemic inability to sufficiently normalize sexual and gender diversity and consent among youth.

The Progressive Conservative government’s position does not reflect the best interests of youth — who themselves could not vote in the election. Youth, as future postsecondary students, workers, and members of society, stand to lose the ability to make informed, safe, and healthy decisions on campuses, in workplaces, and beyond.

Sexuality, gender, and consent

Unlike the 2015 curriculum, the 1998 curriculum makes no mention of different sexual orientations or gender identities. In the 2015 curriculum, Grade 3 students learn about same-sex relationships, Grade 6 students discuss assumed gender roles and the issue of homophobia, and Grade 8 students develop an understanding of gender identity and sexual orientation.

Those opposed to the 2015 curriculum have claimed that elements of it, such as discussions about same-sex relationships, are not age-appropriate. The notion that same-sex relationships are less appropriate than the heterosexual ones discussed in the 1998 curriculum is, quite simply, homophobic.

All students should have the opportunity to learn information that may help them to improve their understanding of themselves and of others. Instead, the government’s move eliminates resources and support for students trying to figure out their sexuality or gender identity.

The 2015 curriculum also made strides toward helping LGBTQ+ youth feel both accepted and included. Although Canadian society has become more accepting of people who identify as LGBTQ+, LGBTQ+ students are still the targets of bullying and violence.

For this reason, learning to accept and respect these differences at a young age is crucial. Raising a generation of Ontarians who are more accepting has the potential to be lifesaving, since bullying contributes to the higher-than-average suicide rates among LGBTQ+ identifying people.

Like LGBTQ+ issues, consent also goes unmentioned in the 1998 curriculum. The 2015 curriculum, on the other hand, has students as early as Grade 2 learning that they have the right to say ‘no’ to activities with which they are uncomfortable. In Grade 8, students develop the understanding that consent is not automatically implied just because someone has agreed to other romantic behaviours in the past.

These lessons are necessary because they can help to prevent sexual abuse and because many adults still do not fully understand what constitutes consent. According to research conducted by the Canadian Women’s Foundation, less than a third of Canadians fully understand consent: that it must be both positive — there must be clear indications that sexual activity is desired — and continuous — it must continue throughout the sexual encounter and can be revoked at any time.

Beyond sex: the digital world and comprehensive education

Opponents of the 2015 curriculum also overlook the fact that it teaches about topics beyond sex, including internet usage, bullying, body image, and mental and emotional health. Lessons about internet and technology safety are absent from the 1998 curriculum because many of today’s technologies did not exist at the time.

According to the 2015 curriculum, students in Grade 4 learn about cyberbullying, and how to retain privacy and vigilance when using the internet. In Grade 7, students are educated on the dangers of sexting. The understanding of these digital matters is crucial to society in 2018, and reverting back to a lesson plan created before grade school students were born places them at risk of not being able to adapt to the digital world.

Some opponents to the 2015 curriculum believe parents should be responsible for teaching their children sex ed. However, just because parents can teach their kids themselves does not mean they will, or that they will do so adequately. This leaves young people dealing with complex matters, such as sexual orientation and gender identity, without support.

Students will face many of the topics that have now been excluded from the curriculum, whether they are taught in class or not. They can easily access information whether from friends or the internet. Including these topics in a formal school setting provides a comprehensive and open way to learn and helps limit the misinformation and shame often attached to them.

Moving forward in September

Following fierce backlash from parents, community members, educators, and opposing political parties, the Ford administration appeared to be backpedaling. On July 16, Education Minister Lisa Thompson said gender, same-sex relationships, and internet safety would still be taught in the fall, despite not being included in the 1998 curriculum. She also said that educators would be returning to what was taught in 2014.

However, the curriculum used in 2014 was still the 1998 curriculum. As Interim Liberal Leader John Fraser points out, there is no third curriculum, different from either the 1998 or 2015 curricula, which includes these topics.

To muddy the waters further, teachers, as of the beginning of August, do not have access to the 1998 curriculum to organize their lesson plans for the upcoming school year, which is only weeks away. As of press time, the Ministry of Education’s website still features the 2015 curriculum. Furthermore, the Ontario Public School Boards’ Association has not been given any instruction on how to proceed in the fall.

Typically, when switching curriculums, training and resources are offered to teachers so they can be better prepared to teach new material. This has not occurred. Teachers need to know what they will be legally required to teach come September, especially since newer teachers may be unfamiliar with the 1998 curriculum entirely.

This uncertainty demonstrates how the Progressive Conservative government is irresponsibly reversing a policy through an irresponsible process. Come September, a number of teachers do plan to supplement the topics outlined in the 1998 curriculum by continuing to teach their students about LGBTQ+ issues, consent, internet safety, and other contemporary issues. Nearly 30 school boards have released statements expressing such intent, while one board is refusing to teach the 1998 curriculum entirely.

While expressing concern about the government’s decision to repeal the 2015 curriculum, the President of the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario, Sam Hammond, said that he would support any teachers who choose to teach beyond the 1998 curriculum. However, since the teaching of social issues will no longer be a standardized requirement, some students will lose out.

The need for accountability and inclusion

The government has indicated that the 1998 curriculum will be taught until province-wide consultations lead to a new curriculum in the 2019–2020 year. The government claims there had not been enough consultation with parents during the development of the 2015 curriculum.

However, the curriculum underwent almost a decade of consultation, which, according to Fraser, included discussions with 2,700 teachers, 4,000 parents, and 700 students. Hammond described it as the “largest, most extensive consultation process” for curriculum development in Ontario.

The Progressive Conservative government has provided no details as to what topics they wish to include in the 2019–2020 curriculum. Premier Doug Ford has promised consultations that would involve discussions with parents in all 124 ridings.

Students must hold the social conservative pushback on education policy to account, lest regressive reforms to elementary and high school settings become the prelude to dangerous policy changes on university campuses — for instance, Ford’s campaign vow to make university funding conditional to ‘free speech.’ Students and teachers should continue to advocate for the 2015 curriculum, both in policy and practice.

When it comes to Ford’s consultation process, students must demand that the government be inclusive of all genders, sexual orientations, races, ethnicities, and socioeconomic backgrounds so that the curriculum adequately addresses the needs of all students and is representative of all Ontarians. The Progressive Conservatives claim to be “for the people.” It’s time for them to prove that they are for the children, too.

 

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

Back to work, but for how long?

While it facilitated students’ return to classrooms, the Ontario government’s response to the college strike was an unsatisfactory approach to resolving the labour dispute

Back to work, but for how long?

The five-week-long college faculty strike, which brought over 12,000 workers to the picket lines, has come to an abrupt end after just over a month of grueling standstill. On October 16, employees from 24 colleges, collectively represented by the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU), went on strike to fight for at least 50 per cent of faculty members to work full-time and to improve job security. The College Employer Council, which bargains on behalf of the college administrations, said that OPSEU’s demands would cost $250 million, which would result in thousands of lost contract positions. As a result, both sides dug their feet into the sand, refusing to come to an agreement.

What ultimately broke the tension was the Ontario government’s decision to swoop in with back-to-work legislation — thereby sending both workers and students back to the classroom. Although this undoubtedly came as a relief to many students previously left in limbo, we cannot in good faith praise the province’s actions without critically examining their consequences. The fact is that the conflict between college administrations and faculty is far from resolved, and the invocation of back-to-work legislation was but a band-aid solution to the underlying struggles that pushed employees to the picket lines in the first place.

It is true that, in stopping the strike, the province has at least temporarily alleviated the concerns of the many students who suffered substantially as a result of missing classes. While college administrations and faculty played tug-of-war, half a million students across the province had their educations abruptly suspended or halted altogether. Over 1,000 students at UTM and UTSC have also been affected, given the joint programs the university hosts in conjunction with colleges in the Greater Toronto Area.

While it is encouraging that the province plans to provide students with compensation for the coursework they missed, there is no tangible way to turn back the clock. A recent press release by the Canadian Federation of Students–Ontario outlined the dilemma students now face: either call it a wash and bear the temporal and financial burden of a lost semester, or try to cram five weeks worth of course material into the little time that remains before end of session. Some colleges have suggested that classes will extend into winter break, ridding students of time that might otherwise have been spent with family and friends over the holidays.

International students were put in a particularly vulnerable position in this regard, given that their very ability to remain in Canada is often contingent on their ability to continue their studies. The strike’s indeterminate end time resulted in a scramble to extend study permits, which likely resulted in substantial stress for many students. Now, though other students have the option of taking time off to re-evaluate, some international students will be forced to remain enrolled in order to maintain their immigration status. This is on top of the financial costs associated with having to stay longer than necessary in a foreign country.

There is therefore a clear need to prevent the negative repercussions of strikes on students and other affected parties, as opposed to merely trying to remedy them after the fact. What this requires is long-term, sustainable support for workers, as well as meaningful negotiation mechanisms. By abruptly bringing an end to the conflict, Ontario has merely postponed its resolution.

Strikes are actions of last resort that result from logjam in the collective bargaining process. When workers have exhausted other options, taking to the picket lines may be the only reasonable way to push administrations to step up to the plate. In this case, it is reasonable to assume that the tensions that brought faculty to the point of no return will come to a head again in the future.

The Canadian Union of Public Employees’ Local 3902 Unit 1, which represents teaching assistants among others at U of T, went on strike in 2015. The dispute’s ultimate conclusion was unsatisfactory for many people. In a move that some workers felt was inadequate, the union voted to stop striking and enter binding arbitration — a process that ultimately favoured the administration. Meanwhile, the underlying issues that culminated in the strike were left to fester until partially addressed in 2016, when the university eventually acquiesced to some of the union’s demands. Today, negotiations are ongoing between the administration and Unit 1, along with Unit 3, which represents sessional lecturers and other academic instructors and assistants. Unit 3 recently voted overwhelmingly in favour of a strike mandate, citing familiar concerns about precarious job security and lack of paths to permanent employment, though a tentative agreement with the administration has now been reached.

The fact that the Ontario government ultimately sent students back to school also does not absolve it of its share of the blame for ongoing problems between administrations and workers. Despite the government’s recent labour law reforms, as reported by CBC Newsabout 80 per cent of college faculty members are part-time workers, and colleges and universities continue to rely on part-time staff. The province has yet to put forth any substantial remedies to the precarious conditions often associated with this type of employment — conditions in which contract workers are being paid less than their full-time colleagues and have far fewer benefits.

It might also be argued that the province’s ability to invoke such measures comes at the expense of ensuring labour negotiations are as meaningful and genuine as possible. While both OPSEU and the colleges are responsible for ensuring staff have adequate working conditions, college administrations are the ones that directly collect fees from students, meaning they bear the additional responsibility of ensuring their educations are not unduly disrupted. With the cloud of back-to-work legislation hanging over their heads, college administrations are not given enough incentive to bargain in good faith with their faculty, putting workers at a clear disadvantage in the process.

It’s a good thing that students are back in class — but considering the strategy taken to get them there, the ends don’t justify the means. Negotiations between administration and faculty must continue in the spirit of securing a long-term, sustainable solution to this conflict. The province also has a responsibility to create conditions that are conducive to meaningful negotiation instead of waiting until the eleventh hour to take action.

Meanwhile, it would serve the U of T administration well to revisit its responsibilities to students and employees alike. Hopefully what happened with the college strike has not set precedent for how labour negotiations will be resolved in the future, particularly in the event that another strike threatens to break out at the university.

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