U of T track stars attack Rio

Four U of T track and field athletes to represent Canada at Olympic games

U of T track stars attack Rio

Although they were missing from the opening ceremonies, Canada has sent, arguably, its best track and field squad to the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio.

Among the 65 athlete roster — including London 2012 bronze medalist in the men’s high jump, Derek Drouin, and 100m sprinter, Andre De Grasse, are four female athletes: Alicia Brown (women’s 400m and women’s 4x400m relay), Gabriela Stafford (women’s 1,500m), Andrea Seccafien (women’s 5,000m), and Micha Powell (women’s 4x400m relay), who are not only representing Canada, but U of T as well.

Alicia Brown

Graduating with a bachelor of Communications, Culture, Information and Technology from U of T in 2013, Brown had an incredible intercollegiate career with the Varsity Blues. In 2013, she was the winner of both the provincial and national 300m titles, and was also a member of the national record-breaking women’s 4x200m relay team. Brown was also named U of T’s 2013 female athlete of the year. 2013 was a breakout season for Brown, who, along with all of her university accolades, won the national championship for the 400m.

After graduation, Brown continued to train with Blues sprint head coach Bob Westman and competed for the University of Toronto Track and Field Club (UTTC) where, this year, she crushed the women’s 400m Olympic standard and won the national championship in a personal best time of 51.84. Alicia competed in the preliminary heats of the women’s 400m on Saturday, August 13, where she placed 28th. You can catch her again in the women’s 4x400m relay on Friday, August 19 at 7:40 pm.

Micha Powell

Joining Brown on the Canadian women’s 4x400m relay squad is 21-year-old Micha Powell. Powell, who trains with the University of Toronto Track Club, had a successful season competing in the NCAA Division I Track & Field championships for the University of Maryland, where she holds the indoor and outdoor 400m records. Although the decision of which four of six possible athletes will be chosen to run in the four-woman relay lingers, with a personal best 400m clocking in at 51.97, Powell is a strong contender to represent Canada next Friday in the 4x400m relay preliminaries.

Gabriela Stafford

Third-year U of T psychology student Gabriela Stafford is the third track and field athlete to represent Canada and U of T in Rio. The 20-year-old middle distance phenom will take to the track in the women’s 1,500m event where she has clocked a personal best time of 4:06.53. Stafford is no stranger to success — her career as a Varsity Blue has seen her win multiple accolades, including a silver at the 2015 CIS Cross-Country Championships, two individual golds at the 2016 CIS Championships (over 1,000m and 1,500m), as well as several provincial titles. Stafford booked her trip to Rio after finishing first at the Canadian National Track and Field Championships back in July where she dominated a field of senior athletes in the 1,500m final.

Andrea Seccafien

A member of the UTTC, 5,000m specialist Andrea Seccafien booked her ticket to Rio at the Canadian Olympic Track and Field Trials in July by winning the 5,000m event with a time of 16:00.41.

After sitting out last season due to injury, Seccafien, who is a University of Guelph Alumni, joined the UTTC and has had a stand-out season, winning the prestigious Hoka One One Middle Distance classic in Los Angles where she clocked a personal best 15:17.81 — placing her well below the Canadian Olympic standard. Andrea raced on Tuesday, August 16, at 8:30 am, in the 5,000m preliminaries at Olympic Stadium in Rio. She ranked 20th after the race.

Times Higher Education ranks U of T twenty-third in 2016 world reputation rankings

U of T also places first in Canada

<em>Times Higher Education</em> ranks U of T twenty-third in 2016 world reputation rankings

The University of Toronto placed first in Canada, and twenty-third in the world in the Times Higher Education World Reputation Rankings 2016.

For the past twelve years, Times Higher Education has been evaluating universities around the world based on an invitation-only academic opinion survey. Unlike Times Higher Education World University Rankings, these rankings are solely based on subjective, expert judgment.

Meric Gertler, president of U of T, stated that these ranking systems are essential because, “They provide an opportunity for us to benchmark ourselves against other universities across the world.” Gertler continued, “Externally they are a significant source of information for students and faculty.”

The University of British Columbia, ranked thirty-seventh, and McGill University, ranked thirty-ninth, are the only other Canadian universities that were included in the list.

In November 2015, Times Higher Education also ranked U of T tenth in employability of graduates. “That is one of those rankings that you really feel good about and you really want the world to take notice of,” Gertler explained.

“Having high rankings instils a sense of pride in knowing that my university is recognized,” said fourth-year student Katya Carvalho. “[It’s] nice to know [it’s] competitive and that the hard work I put into school is recognized.”

Juliana Bertosa, another fourth-year student, agreed: “When I was looking into applying for university, I chose the University of Toronto primarily because of its prestige and notoriety. If anything, it will make a degree from U of T stand out even more. It may also streamline the ability to find jobs abroad, which I think will be beneficial for our high number of international students.”

Silence is Violence

Anti-sexual violence group develops branch at U of T

Silence is Violence

A new anti-sexual violence group has opened a chapter on campus; Silence is Violence is the University of Toronto’s survivor-led collective that aims to tackle problems related to sexual violence and rape culture.

The Silence is Violence organization started at York University and has branches at other post-secondary institutions, including the University of British Columbia (UBC). The group at U of T met for the first time recently to discuss issues surrounding the university’s ineffective responses to sexual assault and violence.

Silence is Violence takes an intersectional feminist approach to mobilizing solutions. Survivors of sexual violence may share their ideas for organizing and are at the forefront of the initiative. The group is open to connecting with related movements and coalitions.

According to the UBC branch of Silence is Violence, the organization is “not a rape relief organization but endeavours to gather and share various resources for survivors of sexual violence, particularly those navigating the difficulty of the university reporting process.”

The organization also states that they would have universities “[put] survivors of sexual assault above their commitment to image and brand.”
Organizers with Silence is Violence U of T were unavailable for comment at press time.

U of T forecasts net income of $138.2 million, $70.1 million deficit

Actual outstanding debt $1 billion, credit rating remains investment grade

U of T forecasts net income of $138.2 million, $70.1 million deficit

The University of Toronto’s financial results and report on debt reveal that U of T forecasts a net income of $138.2 million and projects net assets to be at $4.35 billion. The forecasted net income is a decrease from last year’s net income of $287.8 million, while the value of last year’s net assets was $4.38 billion.

The forecast, which includes the university’s projected revenue, expenses, net income, and changes in net assets for the fiscal year ending on April 30, 2016, was presented on January 25 to the Governing Council Business Board. The board oversees the university’s financial transactions.

These forecasts are based on a projected investment return of 0.4 per cent, an endowment payout of $78.3 million, an increase of $96.4 million in reserves, and an increase of $23.7 million for future divisional capital expenditures. The university acknowledges that it only has interim information regarding divisionally controlled revenue and expenses, and that investment returns are uncertain.

The university also projects a deficit of $70.1 million, which is a drop from the $89.5 million deficit run during the 2015 fiscal year. This has been partially attributed to the $22.9 million increase in tuition fee revenue, correlated with an increase in enrolment from international undergraduate students, who currently pay over five times more than domestic students.

The debt report

This report is comprised of three parts: the annual debt strategy review, the status report on debt, and the credit report by Moody’s Investors Service.

According to the status report on debt, the university allocated $1.218 billion in borrowing room, with $150 million allocated to pensions and $200 million allocated to other internal debt. The university also allocated $868 million for external components, which includes $15 million for the expansion and renovation of the Recreation Wing at UTSC.

The University of Toronto’s actual outstanding debt as of October 2015 totals $999.9 million. Of that figure, $123.3 million is pension debt while $158.9 million comes from other internal debt.

External debt makes up $717.6 million, the bulk of which is in the form of unsecured bonds issued by the university.

The university’s credit rating is unchanged from last year; Moody’s gave the university an Aa2 rating, while Standard & Poor’s and Dominion Bond Service assigned a rating of AA. These ratings are considered investment grade.

Currently, U of T’s debt policy limit is set at a debt burden ratio of five per cent. This means that the debt and interest should not exceed five per cent of total expenditures. This is only the university’s acceptable limit; the recommended upper limit is set at seven per cent.

According to the annual debt strategy review, the university’s debt policy limit was set to $1.401 billion as of April 2015, and the university expects this to increase by an additional $350 million to $1.75 billion by April 2021.

The review also states that a one per cent increase in the interest rate would result in the reduction of the limit between $53 million and $88 million, while a two per cent increase would see a reduction between $95 million and $158 million.

Seed, Steal or Borrow?

On the moral dilemma of torrenting

Seed, Steal or Borrow?

Hypertabs is The Varsity‘s online features subsection about all things Internet. Our goal is to explore the depths of the online world and understand how it shapes our habits and affects our communities. You can read the other articles included in this project here.


Currently, the economy is tough, especially for young people: jobs are hard to find, wages are low, and living near a metropolitan area is ridiculously expensive. On the bright side, we have access to a variety of cheap entertainment in the form of digital media streaming services like Netflix and Spotify, which are reasonably priced and offer plenty of options for the modern consumer. If streaming services don’t have what you want, or if spending money isn’t your jam, you can still visit your favourite torrent sites and download almost any song or movie you could desire.

The rapid increase in the availability of digital media has given people access to movies and music that used to be prohibitively expensive — at least if you were collecting. Today, people are more likely to experiment and broaden their tastes because of the accessibility of media, trying new things for which they never would have paid. Now anyone with a computer and an Internet connection has freedom to explore today’s rich cultural landscape by torrenting. As Drake and Future would say: “what a time to be alive.”

Too bad it’s illegal, though.

I interviewed Martin Loeffler, director of information security at U of T, about torrenting using the campus Wi-Fi. “Torrenting itself isn’t illegal,” he pointed out, because it’s just a way to share files between computers. “If people are torrenting or downloading or otherwise accessing copyrighted materials without authorization, I want them to know that it is against the law, and  . . . [there are] potential penalties for that just like breaking any other law,” Loeffler said.

The Copyright Modernization Act (Bill C-11) states that for non-commercial infringements, a Canadian’s liability is a maximum of $5000 for all infringements per proceeding. In other words, it can be expensive if you get caught downloading free stuff. As part of this bill, Internet Service Providers (ISPs) are obligated to notify their clients when the copyright holder informs the ISP that they suspect a copyright infringement has taken place. The ISP must also hold the information of the client for at least six months, or longer depending on whether or not the complaint goes to court.

Loeffler doesn’t keep statistics on how many of these notices U of T has forwarded to alleged infringers, but he said “If we receive a copyright infringement notice for somebody using the Wi-Fi environment, we block their Wi-Fi access, and they have to go to the help desk to get their access unblocked.”

The help desk also advises the infringer to stop torrenting. Copyright holders, like record labels and movie studios, are interested in what you’re torrenting, but Loeffler’s office isn’t: “We monitor the network activity for use, for threats. It’s our role to look after the well-being of the network and people using the network — we’re sort of like Batmen — but we don’t get into what you’re actually doing… [W]e’re not in the position to make that judgement. So if we noticed that there was a torrent happening, unless it was consuming too much bandwidth, we have no reason to get involved.”

Andrew Sepielli, assistant professor of philosophy at U of T specializing in metaethics, normative ethics, and philosophical psychology, had some insights on the topic of torrenting. I confessed my dilemma of wanting to torrent Justin Bieber’s newest album, but feeling guilty about taking an artist’s work for free. “The more grievous wrong is clearly just listening to the Justin Bieber album,” he quipped. Sepielli doubts people feel all that bad about torrenting: “I’m not convinced that most people think it’s wrong, and even if they say it’s wrong, I suspect … [that] doesn’t reflect their sincerely held views about right and wrong.”

Sepielli’s argument for torrenting not being that immoral of an action is that one person’s torrenting has only a small negative effect. “Some people have this kind of view that [if] you’re one member of a group where the group together is having a huge impact and the impact is bad, that kind of redounds to the discredit of what you’re doing. I guess I just don’t think that’s right,” he explains. Sepielli feels that “what’s relevant in assessing my action is the impact my action makes specifically.”

On the website for the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), the organization claims that music copyright infringement is music theft. There are similarities between torrenting a copyrighted album and stealing in a traditional sense: both result in undeserved benefit of the person committing the act at the expense of the owner of the work. Sepielli points out some differences between torrenting and stealing, however, stating “the expressive value of the act is different.” He explains that stealing is an expression of disrespect for the person from whom you’re stealing.

In contrast, when you torrent an album from an artist you like, even though you may be harming them financially, you’re respecting them as an artist by listening to their work. “Because of the technology available, it’s really getting difficult to exclude people from enjoying other people’s creations,” Sepielli said.  He notes that getting consumers to pay for the production of music and movies is becoming increasingly difficult, and that digital media is moving towards becoming a public good.

Sepielli’s academic interest is in combating nihilism and anomie manifested online. For him, torrenting is an example of online behaviour that can’t be compared to negative Internet discourse and cyberbullying, which are much more concerning. “Discussions on the internet are, like, terrible.” Sepielli said. They’re “shallow and mean.” On the topic of cyberbullying, he notes, “I’ve never experienced it, but I have two young children so I worry about that kind of stuff.” He’s currently writing a therapeutic philosophy book to combat these problems. When it comes out, he doesn’t mind if you torrent the book — although he does want the publisher to make money through legal sales.

Some of us obey copyright law to the letter; some of us torrent everything we can get our hands on; some of us torrent successful artists and support the struggling ones; some of us torrent when we’re feeling poor and buy when we’re feeling rich; and some of us torrent movies but never software. Everyone has their own ‘bit-ethics’ that they follow when deciding whether or not to torrent. The new Kanye West album — whatever it’s called — just came out, so it’s time to make my decision: Kickass or Piratebay?