As an Indigenous student, UTSC can be an isolating space. It is UTSG that hosts the majority of Indigenous spaces at U of T, such as First Nations House and the Centre for Indigenous Studies. Over the past year, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission committee has been advocating for UTSC to invest in and create Indigenous spaces as well hire Indigenous faculty and staff. This has yet to happen.
For years, UTSC has not taken a role in engaging the local urban Indigenous community, often resulting in a huge lack of awareness and education around Indigeneity. UTSC does not offer courses in Indigenous studies, leaving many disciplines lacking foundational knowledge on the history of settler-colonialism in Canada and contemporary issues such as reconciliation. UTSC needs to do more work to meaningfully engage Indigenous peoples and perspectives in the university space.
Diane Hill is a fourth-year student at UTSC studying Health Studies and Anthropology.
When I first walked through the sad-looking doors of UTSC’s Instructional Centre, I remembered a tip that was given to me: to do well on exams, I must practice test questions using old exams. It made sense to me — practicing on previous exams would familiarize me with the exams’ format and questions. I could also practice writing the exam within the time limit, reducing stress and time pressure.
So, approaching midterms, I searched for my courses’ past exams in U of T’s Old Exams Repository — but my courses were not included in UTSC’s limited exams list. I realized that, unless restricted by faculty request, the repository provides UTSG students with all of their courses’ three most recent years of previous exams. UTSC instructors, however, submit previous exams on a voluntary and inconsistent basis. As a result, the repository hosts an overwhelming number of UTSG exams and only a meagre number of UTSC exams.
Given our school’s stressful environment, having the ability to access old exams would help improve students’ mental health by ensuring they are well prepared for finals. Yet it seems that in U of T’s eyes, UTSC is never a priority. It is difficult to grasp how a university prides itself on being ‘tri-campus’ without giving students at all three of its campuses the right to see all their courses’ past exams online.
Jayra Almanzor is a first-year student at UTSC studying Journalism.
‘Scarbage,’ the high school of U of T, and the place where academia goes to die — I’ve heard UTSC called all of these things by St. George students. Frankly, the name-calling is a bit childish at times, but during frosh, when every college is spitting out insults like sunflower seeds, it is considered acceptable and admittedly fun to watch. But these stereotypes are only vaguely true.
I’ve lived in Scarborough for nearly half my life and can personally understand the ‘Scarbage’ claims — referring mostly to the location of the university rather than the people. There’s no way a university located in Scarborough wouldn’t be made fun of for being in Scarborough, so I’ll give them that.
It’s also true that UTSC looks like a high school. But being a smaller campus has its advantages, like smaller class sizes, shorter walking distance between buildings, and, of course, the sense of community.
The one stereotype that I strongly disagree with is the quality of academia. UTSC’s small environment comes with one important advantage, and that’s the fact that I can go to my prof’s office hours and have a three-hour conversation about democratic tyranny without being interrupted. The academic minds at U of T are world-class, and at UTSC they are easily accessible.
Tebat Kadhem is a third-year student at UTSC studying International Development, Public Policy, and Public Law.
Many believe that UTSC is like a high school, especially when compared to UTSG, which is both larger in size and more established. These two facts steal the attention away from UTSC and don’t allow it to come out of its older sibling’s shadow.
As a student who has taken classes at both campuses, I can say that UTSC is definitely the friendlier campus. It is important to note that large campus size doesn’t always equate to a happier student population. For many, the small size of UTSC allows for strong friendships to be made. This doesn’t hold true for the downtown campus, as arguably the only surefire ways to make long-lasting friendships is to either live on campus or to join school clubs.
UTSC may be smaller than UTSG, but it creates a warm and welcoming atmosphere for all students who attend it. The campus size provides students with ample opportunities to create strong bonds with people that they meet, which also includes staff and faculty at the school. UTSG may get the glory of being an older and larger campus, but UTSC’s friendliness makes up for it.
Tania Sleman is a third-year student at UTSC studying Human Biology and Psychology.
While students and tourists flock to appreciate the Gothic architecture at UTSG, I find more beauty when taking a rejuvenating stroll down the Valley at UTSC. The Valley, also known as the Ravine Zone or the Highland Creek Ravine, is a little gem of a place tucked away behind the lower campus. It is hugged by tall maple trees and unique native trees and overgrown bushes, parting a paved path in the middle that is perfect for strolls. The beautiful Valley acts as the meditation spot for many students, travelers, and trekkers who wish to escape from the stressful institutional spaces of university life and enjoy the wildlife or outdoor activities.
I have walked down the majestic steps of the Valley during the hard times in my life. Whether it was coping with exam stress or personal issues, the Valley has helped me escape reality and reboot myself — something that is much more difficult to do on the crowded downtown campus. The fact is that UTSG does not have secluded, natural spots that allow people to remove themselves and recover from the everyday stress of student life, and it is too bad that what UTSC has to offer in this regard often gets ignored.
Madiha Turshin is a fourth-year student at UTSC studying Media Studies and History.
As an English and History student, I have sometimes browsed the UTSG course calendar and been shocked at the number of courses available in comparison to the ones at UTM. Don’t get me wrong, I love my campus and the feel of a close-knit community, but sometimes I wish that we had the same options as students at UTSG.
This academic year, UTM is offering 54 English courses over the two terms, compared to the 62 available at UTSG. UTM is a great and resourceful campus, but we could use just a little bit more choice and variety to align us with the opportunities available at UTSG.
When it comes to reputation and attention, UTSG is seen as the superior campus, and course options certainly play a role in establishing that status. It is important to recognize the importance and influence of the two other campuses as well. We are privileged to be students at the University of Toronto, and perhaps that privilege can be spread across the three campuses in a more satisfactory manner.
Aisha Malik is a fourth-year student at UTM studying English and History.
Four years ago, I was just your typical UTSG student. I was attending a prestigious school and working toward a prestigious engineering degree, all with the prestigious backdrop of Toronto to keep me company. I had it all. When I switched into a writing program at UTM, I expected to feel isolated due to the commute and distance from friends, but I could not have foreseen the disappointment my decision would awaken in others.
Professors, peers, the parents of children I babysat — everyone seemed shocked and personally disgusted by my decision to go to a ‘lesser’ program, a ‘lesser’ school. Even now, after the switch and with no reference to my past, my studies at UTM are met with polite nods and smiles. My GPA receives congratulations that sound inauthentic or patronizing, because everyone assumes it’s easier to achieve academic success at UTM. Everyone behaves as if my professors do not bear the same credentials as the professors at UTSG, and furthermore, as if every UTSG professor is outstanding, even though we all know that isn’t true.
It’s time to stop treating UTM like a second choice to UTSG — they are unequivocally both parts of the same institution.
Jenisse Minott is a third-year student at UTM studying Communications, Culture, Information & Technology and Professional Writing. She is an Associate Comment Editor for The Varsity.
Whenever I reveal the ‘secret’ that I’m a UTM student to the people I meet at UTSG, I’m constantly met with confusion, shock, and sometimes hostility. Statements like, ‘What do you mean?’ and, ‘Oh, you’re not supposed to share that’ are just some of the responses I’ve received, and I’ve never understood why.
A similar response was heard on a larger scale during The Varsity’s UTSU presidential debate on March 13, 2017. Micah Ryu, then-disqualified presidential candidate for the Reboot UofT slate, answered a question about how Reboot planned to reach out to students on the UTM campus with the response, “Frankly, UTM students should fuck off.”
Why are UTM students as a whole seen as otherworldly creatures that live on a satellite light years away from the metropolitan UTSG campus? Many of the experiences UTSG students face are, in fact, not unique to them. Surprise! We all have the same Blackboard maintenance, ACORN lags, and waitlist troubles. UTM students are not less deserving of anything. I’m tired.
Elham Numan is a student at UTM studying Art & Art History and English. She is The Varsity’s Creative Director.
I’m a copy editor at UTM’s The Medium. Both The Medium and The Varsity get their funding from student levy fees. The stark difference between the two, however, is that The Varsity gets fees from both UTM and UTSG, whereas The Medium only gets funding from UTM.
Funding determines not only where we can afford to publish our papers and magazines — without compromising professional quality, that is — but also how often we can publish. I find it unfair that The Medium does not also get funding from the UTSG campus, because many students who attend UTSG are also from the City of Mississauga. The Medium does not only publish Mississauga-focused content; it focuses on issues pertinent to students across all campuses. Likewise, The Varsity does not produce enough Mississauga-focused content, even though they receive levy fees from students in Mississauga.
Many students from both campuses take courses from the other. Let’s unite and not compete — we’re on the same team here.
Ayesha Tak is a fourth-year student at UTM studying Sociology.
I was accepted to both UTM and UTSG about four years ago, and I weighed the pros and cons of each campus before I made the decision to attend UTM. When I accepted my offer, I received looks, questions, and worrisome expressions of concern. That was the summer I began to realize that there were real differences between UTM and UTSG. However, I am ultimately glad that I chose the campus where I have spent some really good years.
The UTM campus is small, but feels like a community. You will probably pass by the same people daily and know everyone in your program within the first year. Although our campus doesn’t rival Hogwarts, the newer architecture is aesthetically pleasing. Plus, freaking out over where to find your classes in first year isn’t an option, given that everything is within a few minutes’ walking distance.
Choosing UTM is not a consolation prize after not getting into UTSG. It’s an experience that regenerates you without needing city lights or a vast campus space. UTM has given me what I needed because it’s been like a friend — a place where I don’t get lost, literally and figuratively — and a place that is still U of T, but a warmer, more tightly knit version.
Keena Alwahaidi is a fourth-year student at UTM studying English.
There is something inherently powerful and enjoyable about memes. A single picture or phrase can be reworded and reshaped as needed by the user to express emotions that words alone can’t quite express.
As enjoyable as memes are, however, they can often become hurtful rather than humourous — ignorant, hurtful, and even banal at times. The memes about UTM are often all three. From mocking how frequently UTM students spot deer to confessions deeming UTM an inferior school, these memes reduce the second-largest division of U of T, whose diversity and research know no bounds, to a barn overrun by deer. Joining the deer are undergraduate students whose grades and intellect, apparently not meeting the standards of UTSG’s requirements, have damned them to a bland, personally unfulfilling, and academically undemanding life at UTM.
It is time to move away from these stale and overtired memes and focus this meme-making energy to shed light on other sides of UTM, even if it is for mocking purposes. For starters, our athletic centre is called the RAWC, we have a cricket pitch on campus that nobody uses, and every ride on the UTM Shuttle is wild from start to finish — meme those things, if you will.
Zeahaa Rehman is a third-year student at UTM studying Linguistics and Professional Writing.