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How to survive a lab

Tips and tricks for scientific success

How to survive a lab

What are labs? Awful three-hour block of red in your timetable starting at 9:00 am on Mondays? A torture chamber for life sciences students? Not always! Yes, labs are terrifying. Yes, they are often a lot of work. But they can also be fun if you know what you’re doing. 

I had so many questions before my first lab: What do I do during the lab? What am I supposed to do before a lab? Why is a lab worth 25 per cent of my grade? But I’m here to tell you to relax, firstyear life sciences students. All you have to do is read up on how to survive your first lab and maybe, just maybe, you’ll even enjoy it.

1. Be prepared

Do your pre-lab readings and prepare your notebook! Preparing for labs not only means that you will ace your pre-lab quiz, but it will also make the lab work feel like smooth sailing — which is the best feeling ever, trust me. You’ll thank yourself when you’re done ahead of time while everyone else is still confused and running after your teaching assistant.

2. Don’t do lab on an empty stomach and four hours of sleep

Get some sleep, caffeine, and breakfast. Imagine trying to get through a three-hour lab with a grumbling stomach and constant yawning. You’re just asking to break that watch glass, miss an observation, or forget a crucial step — and, consequently, redo your trial. Instead, be nice to yourself and go to bed!

3. Write everything down

You have a lab notebook for a reason — use it! Write down all the steps, record all reagents and materials used, observations made, and data recorded. Not only because it’s worth marks, but also because it will help you in solving your post-lab blue sheet, writing your discussion and reviewing for exams; yes, you can be tested on your labs.

4. Start early, and don’t be afraid to ask for help

Nothing is more stressful than sitting down the night before and struggling — and maybe crying — over pre-lab problems that you could have solved a week ago at your teaching assistant’s drop-in office hours. They are an awesome bunch and always willing to help, you simply have to reach out.

5. Have fun!

Very cliché, but very true. Get close to your lab partners. You don’t have to be best friends, though you absolutely can be, but say “hi” outside of the lab and work together on those pre-labs. Get to know your teaching assistant as well. They’re super involved in some really cool research in your area of study and are usually very willing to share. Connect and enjoy!

Meric Gertler on mental health, international tuition, and more

U of T President reflects on his sixth year in the job

Meric Gertler on mental health, international tuition, and more

After an eventful 2018–2019 academic year that was filled with student protests and provincial government changes, U of T President Meric Gertler sat down with The Varsity to reflect on the past 12 months. Gertler spoke on a number of issues, including mental health, international tuition, and truth and reconciliation. 

The Varsity: One of the biggest stories this past year was students’ mental health, with some students viewing U of T’s action on the topic as lacklustre. What do you say to people who believe U of T should be doing more?

Meric Gertler: We were certainly very concerned by the issues that arose during the past year and felt very strongly a responsibility to act. So I took the unusual step of writing to every member of our community. I don’t do that very often, but I just thought that for an issue like student mental health and its relationship to their well-being, it was really important to be able to communicate directly to all of our students as well as our faculty and staff to say, “We’ve heard you, we acknowledge how big an issue this is and how huge a challenge this is, and we’re committing to actually doing something concrete about it.” 

TV: In the letter that you sent out to all students, faculty, and staff, you mentioned that two of your priorities would be engaging with Toronto resources as well as the province. Would you say that the onus would be more on the province and the city to provide mental health services rather than the university? 

MG: So, we are not funded by the provincial government to be a health care-delivering organization, even though we deliver a lot of health care services to our students. This has been the subject of a lot of conversations with our provincial government partners. They recognize the challenge that we have. They have allocated additional funds in their last provincial budget towards mental health, in particular with a focus on student mental health. 

So we continue to expect to see some financial assistance from them. But, also, as your question quite rightly implies, this is a shared responsibility. Obviously, we have primary responsibility for the well-being of our students, but it is something that we expect to address jointly with health care institutions that are primarily funded by the provincial government. 

TV: Speaking of the provincial government, there have been a lot of changes this past year under the Ford administration to both university operations and university life for students. How do you view U of T’s relationship with the province?

MG: I’ll be quite honest here. We were really disappointed that the province did not communicate more openly with us before they made these many changes. That to me was the most disappointing part of the approach of the new government, and we were not quiet in communicating our unhappiness with the whole style with which they interact with us. 

The Strategic Mandate Agreement changes — which are putting a focus on performance-based funding — in theory, at least, we think this can work very well for U of T. It’s designed to enable each university to come forward and articulate what it thinks its distinctive strengths are, and then to base funding on those strengths. This is actually something we’ve been arguing for for 25 years in many ways and advocating for, so at least on paper, that seems to be very nicely aligned with the approach that we’ve been taking.

Other changes, like the 10 per cent cut to tuition we, frankly, think were unhelpful. I know that that particular move has been quite damaging to our budget… Now what are the consequences of that? Well, the consequences are that we have less money available to finance our own financial aid system within the university. 

TV: On the topic of affordability, international students pay much more in tuition than domestic students. How do you see this issue of increasingly unaffordable international tuition?

MG: International students have always paid more than domestic students. That gap has grown over time but this has been true for a long, long time, and it reflects a couple of things. It reflects the fact that we receive no government grants for international students, so there’s no subsidy at all from the province of Ontario for those students… The families of those international students have not been paying taxes in Ontario either, and I suppose that the provincial government may feel that that’s some justification for the fact that there is no grant support for those students. 

We are, though, mindful of the fact that we want to encourage a diverse community of international students to come to this university. It should not just be international students from wealthy families, but we want to enable all international students if they are academically qualified to potentially come here. So there too we’ve been active in creating scholarships for international students and fundraising for them.

TV: U of T has committed to the goals of the federal Truth and Reconciliation Commission, and there was a Steering Committee report released in 2017 with recommendations for the university. Since that report came out, do you see any major gaps that U of T should be filling when it comes to truth and reconciliation? 

MG: This is another topic that’s near and dear to my heart, and also near and dear to the provost’s heart. We were greatly influenced by the work of our Steering Committee and enthusiastically adopted all of their recommendations. We’ve done some amazing things since then.

This past year we have hired 18 new Indigenous scholars, which is a remarkable achievement if you think about it, because every university in Canada is trying to do the same thing so it’s a very competitive labour market right now. We’re thrilled to have this incoming talent. So I would say that’s one area where we have really succeeded dramatically in. 

In the longer term, of course, we’re looking at the future of First Nations House and how best to accommodate all of the important activities that go on there. There have been discussions underway about whether the current location is the right location or not, and we’re looking at alternatives for that as well. I think we’ve got some impressive momentum underway, but there’s still a lot of work to be done.

TV: Do you think that U of T has any institutional problems with addressing barriers of access for people?

MG: We’re one of the most open and accessible institutions in the world. If you think of our 90,000 students, the incredible diversity that we have, measured along any dimension you can think of, whether it’s the language that you spoke at home, the country you were born in, the ethnicity of your parents, your sexual orientation, your political views, you name it. 

I think it’s one of the things that is most defining of the University of Toronto is not just our academic excellence and the great rankings and we have every year, it’s our ability to combine that academic excellence with an incredible degree of openness and access which very few other universities around the world can match.

TV: And then once these students do get here, what accommodations do you think are necessary to make sure that everyone feels welcome at the school? 

MG: Making sure that everyone understands what our codes of student conduct entail, and what our policies entail with regard to freedom of expression and these kinds of important principles of academic freedom on which a university is based. That does require a little bit of effort to make sure that people understand those principles but I think we’ve got a pretty good system in place.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Where to find community at U of T

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

Where to find community at U of T

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

So, what was Roseto’s secret? 

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

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

Small classes  

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

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

Faith 

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

Hobbies, leadership, and arts 

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

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

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

Classmates 

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

Orientation and mentorship 

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

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

Culture 

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

Volunteering

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

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

 

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

How to report sexual assault on campus

Know the resources available to you

How to report sexual assault on campus

Content warning: discussions of sexual violence.

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

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

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

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

Recognizing sexual violence 

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

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

To disclose or to report? 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Your resources

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

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

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

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

UTSG: 

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

UTM: 

Davis Building, 1867 Inner Circle, Room 3094G 

UTSC: 

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

Hours of operation for all three campuses:

Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday

9:00 am to 5:00 pm

Wednesday

11:00 am to 7:00 pm

Your off-campus resources

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

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

UTSG: 

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

416-323-6040

UTM: 

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

905-848-7493

UTSC: 

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

416-495-2555

OSAP changes threaten equitable access to education

Ford’s policies exacerbate the burden placed on students who rely on financial aid

OSAP changes threaten equitable access to education

In mid-June, the Ontario Student Assistance Program (OSAP) became the top trending topic on Twitter in the GTA. Many students shared how the changes that the Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario announced in January will affect their ability to afford higher education. Notable changes include a decrease in grant-to-loan ratios, changes to the definition for independent students who are eligible for more support, and scrapping the free tuition program for low-income students. Some Twitter users posted screenshots comparing past OSAP payments to their current assessments to emphasize the substantial decrease.

Hundreds of thousands of students depend on OSAP to fully or partially cover their tuition, easing the financial burden of higher education. These changes may even determine whether students can afford to attend college or university at all. 

Students should not have to live in fear and trepidation while trying to better their lives. These changes intensify the economic barriers that can prevent promising students from accessing opportunities equal to those of their wealthier peers. Although many students work while going to school, a job may not be able to fully fill the gaping hole left by these cuts.  

Some students claimed that their final OSAP loan and grant recalculation differed drastically from their initial estimations they received in the beginning of the summer. Twitter user @natashambeckett wrote that her estimate was “8k less than [OSAP] originally totalled,” and that she didn’t “have that kind of money” to pay the difference — especially so late in the summer.

For me, the estimate did not change much: I am receiving approximately $1,600 less than last year. A glance at my own funding reveals that approximately 75 per cent of my OSAP funding would be through loans. My previous applications indicate that my funding has always been around 60 per cent loans, with the remaining 40 per cent coming in the form of grants. 

This kind of change from previous years will cause students to accumulate more debt once they leave their higher education institutions. Nonetheless, the most significant change is the overall funding that OSAP will provide. 

As a full-time student in a deregulated program, my yearly tuition is roughly $13,000. While in previous years OSAP covered about 80 per cent of my tuition, it is now estimated to only cover 65 per cent. With my last year only a month away, there is little opportunity for me to make up for this cost. This is the difficult situation that many students now face.

Ontario already has the highest tuition rates in Canada. Additionally, the loans-to-grants ratio has increased, with “a minimum of 50 per cent” of OSAP payment being through loans. If the steep tuition costs did not discourage many potential postsecondary students from enrolling in Ontario’s universities before, the inability of the province’s student aid program to cover a considerable amount of postsecondary education expenses may now.

These cuts potentially dissuade many students from pursuing higher education, especially with additional changes to funding eligibility,  such as a new definition of “independent” student. In calculations, students who have “been out of high school for six years or less, rather than four years” will have their parents’ income considered in the assessments. This means that students entering graduate programs are expected to rely on their parents’ support, preventing a considerable number of students from receiving aid that they expected.

It is also important to consider that students from affluent households already have a greater chance of obtaining a college or university education. Higher education is a known pathway to high-income jobs, and yet these OSAP changes threaten to further deepen the wealth inequality between low- and high-income students and serve as a barrier between economically disadvantaged students and tertiary education.

According to Statistics Canada, 81.4 per cent of graduates aged 25–64 were “in fields important for building a strong social infrastructure.” A more educated population creates a stronger, more fulfilled society, so placing financial barriers on students’ ability to learn is a poor long-term investment.

Students should not have to worry about financing their education. Education should not be something restricted to and exclusively for the wealthy. Currently, a bachelor’s degree is a must for entry into most mid-to-high income industry positions. Postsecondary education has become less of an asset and more of a requirement, meaning access to higher education is a necessity. 

With economic barriers to education, fewer students will enrol in postsecondary studies. Research shows that people with more education lead healthier and happier lives. When people are given access to postsecondary education, they are given the opportunity to forge better lives for themselves and ultimately create a more productive society.

Belicia Chevolleau is a fourth-year Communication, Culture, Information & Technology student at UTM.

Who runs this place?

The hierarchical structure of the University of Toronto

Who runs this place?

When you walk on St. George street in the morning, seeing students and faculty rushing to their lectures or offices, you may wonder how this place keeps running. 

As a university with over 90,000 students and over 20,000 faculty members, U of T has developed a unique and complicated structure of governance over the past 192 years. 

The administrative system

The first thing you need to know is that the executive power in this university is shared by the Chancellor, the President, and the Governing Council. They play different roles for the same purpose — making U of T a better academic community, making essential decisions to guide its future, and ensuring that, above all else, we are ranked at least 25th worldwide, or God help us all.

The Chancellor: Dr. Rose M. Patten is an Executive in Residence, an adjunct professor in executive leadership programs at the Rotman School of Management, and a member of Massey College. She has served as the Chancellor of the university since July 1, 2018 for a three-year term. She also had a 30-year career as a senior leader in the Canadian financial services industry.

Apart from shaking thousands of hands at convocations, the Chancellor is responsible for serving as the university’s advocate in relations with government partners and others in the wider community.

The President: Professor Meric Gertler is the other person at the top of the governance structure and is Chief Executive Officer and President of the university. He joined the Department of Geography and Planning as a lecturer in 1983, served as the Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Science, began his first term as president on November 1, 2013, and is currently on his second.

He generally supervises over and directs the academic work of the university and the teaching and administrative staff under the University of Toronto Act.

The University of Toronto Governing Council (GC): The core of governance at the university is the GC and its Boards and Committees. The GC is formed by 50 governors, of which two are the Chancellor and the President, 18 are appointed, and 30 are elected. Some elected members include undergraduate, graduate, and part-time students. 

This council makes some of the essential decisions for the academics and livelihood of the student body, while also overseeing the academic, business, and student affairs of the university. Both the UTM and UTSC campuses also have Campus Councils which address campus-specific issues on behalf of the GC.

The college system

All students from Faculty of Art & Science (FAS) are registered in a college on campus. The colleges help students with academics, enrollment, and some even house students. 

The colleges owned entirely by the university are Innis College, New College, University College, and Woodsworth College. Federated colleges with their own board and buildings include St. Michael’s College, Trinity College, and Victoria College. 

Independent theological colleges form the Toronto School of Theology, including Knox, St. Augustine’s, Wycliffe, Regis, Emmanuel, Trinity and St. Michael’s. 

Faculties and Schools

There are in total 13 professional faculties and schools. They have independent academic systems and offer different programs for students. The largest faculty is the FAS with a 2017–2018 population of over 27,000 undergraduate students and over 4,300 graduate students.
The diverse range of professional faculties specialize in certain fields — for example, the Joseph L. Rotman School of Management specializes in business, and the John H. Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape and Design specializes in architecture. Aside from its main St. George campus, U of T also has two satellite campuses: UTM and UTSC. 

Other organizations and groups on campus

U of T has no shortage of organizations and clubs on campus. Some of the most significant for student life include the University of Toronto Students’ Union, which is the largest student organization on the St. George campus, the University of Toronto Graduate Students’ Union, and Association of Part-time Undergraduate Students. UTM and UTSC have their own student unions, known respectively as UTM Students’ Union (UTMSU) and Scarborough Campus Students’ Union (SCSU). Student unions play a pivotal role in helping with rescheduling exams, student services, and advocating for students’ rights.

Guide to the UTSC campus

Where to eat, study, and hang out

Guide to the UTSC campus

UTSC has lots of amazing places on and around campus to check out when you’re not in class. Here is a look at some of my favourite spots to visit for food, to study, and for entertainment.

Food options

To start off my day, I normally head to the Meeting Place to get my morning calories and caffeine servings from Starbucks. A White Chocolate Mocha Frappuccino and a cheese danish help get me through most early mornings. Gathering Grounds, a recently opened café in UTSC’s newest building, Highland Hall, also has some great options for breakfast and lunch.

For a healthy lunch option, I’ll sometimes stop by Fit for Life in the Student Centre for a sandwich or veggie wrap. If I’m feeling a bit more indulgent, I’ll go to Rex’s Den in the basement of the Student Centre for a classic poutine, or to Nasir’s Gourmet Hot Dogs, which is just outside of the Student Centre. Just note that most food places on campus close early, so be sure to grab a bite earlier during the day!

Study spaces

My go-to study spot on campus is the UTSC library, which has a lot of places to study — from the computers and group study rooms on the first floor to the quiet study areas and silent study rooms on the second floor. 

There are even more study spaces scattered across campus. The most recent additions are located in Highland Hall, which was designed with lots of common areas and study nooks. Since its construction, the building has been furnished with desks and lounge furniture for students to sit, study, and hang out.

Entertainment

After I’m finished with my classes and studying, I like to spend time with friends by trying out different activities on campus and around Scarborough.

I like to integrate exercise into my day by working out at the Toronto Pan Am Sports Centre. This extensive sports centre has various classes and sports that you can sign up for, like yoga, swimming, and indoor soccer. If you’re more of a nature person, taking a walk through The Valley behind the Marketplace in the Humanities Wing, or in the nearby Morningside Park, is a great alternative to stay active. Both have incredible views of Highland Creek and the surrounding forest, especially in the fall.

I also love going to the Scarborough Town Centre to end the day with a night of shopping, dining, and movie-watching at the Cineplex theatre. You can get there directly by the UTSC bus stop, which makes for an easy trip.

A guide to UTM

Your four-stop guide to survival at U of T’s deer-filled campus

A guide to UTM

Welcome to UTM, the University of Toronto’s second-largest campus! 

While it is possible to survive U of T’s one-of-a-kind postsecondary experience without any sense of direction — I am living proof — it might be easier if you let me guide you through the four cornerstones of your stay here at UTM.

Your first stop: caffeine, the unhealthy addiction that will stay with you well into your mid-thirties!

If you want hot bean water without breaking the bank, the two Tim Hortons Express locations in the Davis and Communication, Culture, & Technology (CCT) buildings are the way to go. If you opt for a frozen or iced caffeine hit, prepare to wait for at least 10 minutes in line at the Tim’s in The Meeting Place.

Alternatively, you can join the queue at the Starbucks across the Hazel McCallion Academic Learning Centre — or what us mere mortals just call the library. The only coffee places without much of a wait are the Second Cup in the Kaneff Centre and the coffee vending machine in the Instructional Centre (IB).

Your second stop: food, because the Freshman 15 won’t gain itself. 

If you want overpriced and undercooked food, feel free to head to the Temporary Food Court in Davis, Oscar Peterson Hall, or the eateries at Deerfield Hall and the new North Building. 

If you want to consume food without bankrupting yourself, The Blind Duck ­— the University of Toronto Mississauga Students’ Union’s student pub — is the place to go. Its meat is halal, it has vegetarian options, and it’s neighbours with Chatime, meaning you can go get your bubble tea fix after your meal. 

The Subway in the IB and the Pizza Pizza in Davis also provide edible food. However, if you want to go the fast food route, take either the 110N, 101E, or 1CE buses to the South Common Popeyes. You can get a sandwich for $4.49 on Wednesdays, which includes lettuce and tomatoes with your fried chicken, so you won’t feel like you’re completely poisoning your body. If the nagging feeling of guilt after eating is what you’re going for, then head to the Pita Land next door, which offers The Cheesecake Factory cheesecake slices for $4.99!

Your third stop: study, because you need a 1.50 cumulative GPA to remain in good standing.

The library is the best and quietest place to study at UTM if you need to access technology and Wi-Fi. However, if you don’t want to rub elbows with plebeians from York, Ryerson, and McMaster — who sometimes also come study at UTM — there are many desks and couches available on the upper floors of the IB, Deerfield, and the new North Building. If you work best amidst noise, the Meeting Place in the Davis building just got a facelift. If waiting forever for your Wi-Fi to connect is more your vibe, try Kaneff, and if you want your laptop to die on you because none of the outlets work and there is no place to charge it, the CCT is perfect!

Your fourth stop: sleep, the only place where U of T won’t haunt you — much.

The Student Centre has a nap room, but I cannot vouch for whether or not it is… appropriate. The best places to rest your eyes are either the couches in the basement of the library or those on the upper levels of the IB. Wherever you choose to sleep, however, remember to BYOB ­­— bring your own blanket. 

Disclosure: Zeahaa Rehman was the 2018–2019 UTM Bureau Chief of The Varsity.