UTSC closed due to severe weather

UTM closed, UTSG remains open

UTSC closed due to severe weather

UTSC has closed campus due to severe weather.

U of T announced the closure early Tuesday morning and said classes, tutorials, labs, tests, meetings, and other on-campus activities are cancelled.

The City of Toronto is under a winter storm warning, with Environment Canada saying there will be heavy snow in the morning and ice pellets in the afternoon. The agency also said there’s a risk of freezing rain.

UTM is also closed. UTSG remains open.

A roundup of Black History Month at U of T

Where you can celebrate Black history on campus

A roundup of Black History Month at U of T

In honour of Black History Month, equity groups and student unions across U of T’s three campuses are organizing a series of events from panels to workshops throughout February. Here’s where you can participate and celebrate Black excellence on campus.


Student unions, college governments, and equity collectives at UTSG have a plethora of events in celebration of Black History Month.

As part of the eXpression Against Oppression series, the University of Toronto Students’ Union (UTSU) will be hosting an event on February 15 titled “Anti-black Racism and Mental Health.”

This event will take a look at mental health from an intersectional perspective while addressing the role of anti-Black racism and discrimination. The event will be moderated by Sudanese-Canadian writer Rania El Mugammar.

In collaboration with Hart House, the UTSU will also be hosting a career drop-in event, titled “Black Futures,” featuring résumé checkups and professional LinkedIn photography.

College student unions such as the Victoria University Students’ Administrative Council (VUSAC), the Innis College Student Society (ICSS), and the Woodsworth College Students’ Association (WCSA) are hosting respective Black History Month events run by their equity commissions.

Along with the ICSS and the WCSA, the Woodsworth Racialized Students’ Collective will be hosting a panel discussion featuring three U of T graduates drawing on their experiences going through academia while Black.

VUSAC’s equity commission hosted an event on February 7, titled “A Taste of Black History,” highlighting the importance of food in Afro-Caribbean diasporas. It is also running a social media campaign highlighting the contributions of Black-Canadians to Canadian society.

The Varsity spoke with Vibhuti Kacholia, a member of VUSAC and organizer of its Black History Month programming, on the significance of commemorating Black histories in an academic environment.

“It is important for the U of T community to celebrate Black History Month because it is important for us to recognize and celebrate our Black students, faculty, and staff and provide spaces for that prioritizes them,” she said.

The Ontario Institute for Studies in Education Graduate Students’ Association (GSA) will also be hosting various events throughout February and into March. Of note, the GSA will be presenting Black History “An Evening of Black Excellence” on February 28. This event will “showcase a variety of visual and performing artists” and those interested in presenting are encouraged to sign up.


In collaboration with the U of T Black Students’ Association, the Scarborough Campus Students’ Union (SCSU) and the Olive Branch of Hope, a foundation aimed at breast cancer research, will be hosting Hoops for Hope, a tri-campus basketball tournament, on February 22.

Tickets start at $8, with the proceeds going toward cancer research.

The SCSU is also hosting the Black Joy Banquet on February 15, celebrating Afro-Caribbean culture over a three-course meal.

The UTSC Department of Student Life and International Student Centre will be hosting a Black History Month poetry slam competition on February 13 in collaboration with Hart House.


UTM will be hosting a Black History Month Luncheon on February 28, featuring Masai Ujiri, president of the Toronto Raptors and co-founder of Giants of Africa. The event is free but space is limited.

The University of Toronto Mississauga Students’ Union, the UTM Black Students’ Collective, and Caribbean Connections UTM have partnered to host multiple events throughout the month of February. These events centre around themes such as mental health, self care, and more. They will also be hosting a Closing Ceremony on February 27 which includes an art showcase, which students can sign up to be a part of. 

Who knew cannibalism could be sexy?

The male redback spider has evolved to offer himself to females as a post-sex meal

Who knew cannibalism could be sexy?

During sperm transfer and climax, the male redback spider does a somersault of sorts, placing his abdomen in the perfect position for the female to eat, and more often than not, she goes for it.

Whether you think it romantic or horrific, there is something captivating about this ultimate sacrifice during the moment of climax. But because of this, the female redback may remain a lonely single after sex, albeit a little less hungry.

Black widows are also members of the Latrodectus genus to which redbacks belong.

This act of sexual sacrifice, called ‘terminal investment,’ has been extensively studied by the lab of Dr. Maydianne Andrade at UTSC, where thousands of black widows — notorious for their highly potent and neurotoxic venom — share refuge.

However, if you think it romantic, perhaps the male spider’s reasoning for sacrifice may make you think again. It appears that the male redback’s terminal investment serves an evolutionary, or depending on how you look at it, selfish purpose.

Though it may seem counterproductive for a male spider to sacrifice his entire existence for just a single shot at producing progeny, there are several adaptive advantages that he gains by taking this risk.

Self-sacrifice serves to enhance male paternity both by increasing the number of eggs the male spider fertilizes and by decreasing the chance that their female partner will mate with another competitor.

Andrade’s team found that six out of nine females that cannibalized their partners refused to mate with a second male, while only one in 23 females that didn’t have the pleasure of consuming their mates did the same.

Also, the chance that the male could mate again if he escapes the fangs of his lover is meagre. Therefore, his self-sacrifice offers a way to give it all he’s got by partaking in the ultimate act of evolutionary fitness.

Though female redbacks can be violent in their courtship, they do offer some mercy to the fittest of their male counterparts.

‘Premature cannibalism’ — which occurs before copulation is complete — is much less common if the male offers courtship for over 100 minutes, a marathon of sorts for the reward of paternity. However, males that are ready for this marathon must be wary of cheating competitors that can sneak in at the finish line, disguise themselves as the winner, and avoid being prematurely eaten.

And when it comes to being eaten by their mate, size does matter. Females are less likely to prematurely cannibalize a large marathon runner than a small sprinter.

However, more importantly, a male is less likely to be eaten by his female counterpart if she is well-fed — he only offers a meal sized at one or two per cent of her body mass.

Unfortunately for him, food is typically a rare commodity for a plump female redback in her native Australian habitat, so she may well take the meal that he offers in addition to her potential future offspring.

While this extreme sacrificial gesture and its violent ending could be seen as a spider’s ultimate Valentine’s Day gift, in the end, it is neither the life of the female nor the male redback that is rewarded, but their offspring that ultimately earn the gift of life — and go on to do the same.

UTSC to close campus due to severe weather

UTM also closed, UTSG remains open

UTSC to close campus due to severe weather

UTSC is closing campus at noon due to severe weather.

U of T announced Wednesday morning that all classes and academic activities at UTSC will be cancelled starting 12:00 pm. The whole campus will close for the rest of the day at 2:00 pm.

UTM announced that it was closed due to severe weather earlier today.

UTSG remains open.

The Underground hosts Scarborough Campus Students’ Union executive candidates debate

Disagreements over qualifications, “Free Palestine” sign

<i>The Underground</i> hosts Scarborough Campus Students’ Union executive candidates debate

UTSC’s student newspaper The Underground hosted a debate on February 1 for the Scarborough Campus Students’ Union (SCSU) executive candidates. The presidential candidates discussed their platforms and students’ needs, and the debate grew heated over accusations of a lack of qualifications, and debate over a “Free Palestine” sign at the Student Centre.

“Come up with your own ideas for once in your life”

The presidential candidates answered questions about what they thought of the opposition, the most pressing needs of UTSC students, and what oppositional platform point they would like to incorporate into their own.

Independent candidate John John said that the opposition promises a lot of things but “they’re not going to do anything for you.”

John said that he does not have a platform and that he does not want to know what the students’ problems are. “I’m really here because I want to start a movement on campus… Come up with your own ideas for once in your life.”

SCSYou’s Anup Atwal said that the student union needs “fresh faces and fresh ideas.”

Atwal also commented that John was outlining the main problem with the SCSU, but “it seems that John doesn’t actually want to do things. It’s more [to] just make the noise.”

Atwal believes that financial security and academics are the most pressing needs of UTSC students. “If you don’t have financial security, you don’t eat, you don’t socialize as much… that affects your mental health and ability to perform… in the classroom.”

For Shine Bright UTSC’s Chemi Lhamo, UTSC students need diverse representation the most. She provided the example of courses in which the teachers do not represent the community being taught.

When asked about an oppositional platform point that she wants to incorporate into her own, Lhamo said, “I can spill you a little bit of tea. There is a lot of alignment in between [Shine Bright UTSC’s and SCSYou’s] campaign points. Perhaps because some of our campaign points were leaked prior to us knowing, because of certain implantations?”

The audience both booed and clapped in response to her statement.

“My opponent is utterly unqualified for the position”

The candidates for Vice-President Academics & University Affairs were asked about what would be their biggest worry if their opponent wins.

Shine Bright UTSC’s Raymond Dang said that his biggest worry was that if SCSYou’s Carly Sahagian wins, “no action will happen.”

Dang said, “Number one, my opponent is utterly unqualified for the position,” to which the audience interrupted Dang with murmurs and grumbles.

Dang continued, “It is my political opinion, that it is utterly unqualified —”

The audience started to boo and grumble louder. Somebody in the audience said, “Don’t be rude!”

Dang, referring to Sahagian’s two years of registrarial experience, said that the registrar’s office is still the same. “And additionally, we have known that [having] no DSA [Departmental Students’ Association] experience within Academics & University Affairs is actually harmful for the position.”

Sahagian was given a chance to respond, during which she said that her Student Recruitment Assistant position at the registrar’s office did not give her any power over student services. She mentioned her other qualifications, including being a secretary for the Women’s and Gender Studies Association and serving the Campus Affairs Committee.

“I’m representing every department, not only Political Science,” said Sahagian.

Dang is currently the SCSU’s Director of Political Science. He has also worked with the Political Science Students’ Association at UTSC.

“Free Palestine” signage

The Vice-President Equity candidates were asked whether the “Free Palestine” sign at UTSC’s Student Centre creates a hostile environment for Jewish students.

Shine Bright UTSC’s Leon Tsai said that she does not think that the sign is antisemitic or anti-Jewish. She mentioned that the union supported Palestine and also Holocaust Education Week “to make sure that it’s not one or the other.”

“We need to have all these discussions… to make sure everyone is heard,” she said.

SCSYou’s Tebat Khadhem said that the problem with the banners is that they are “single-sided on one political issue… [so] the other side will feel marginalized.”

“Our slate will make the option of putting up a poster equitable for all student clubs… as long as they are within the limits of the Charter of Rights,” Khadhem said.

Voting for the SCSU 2019 Spring Elections will take place February 5–7 at the Bladen Wing Tim Hortons, Instructional Centre Atrium, and Student Centre.

Recapping the Scarborough Campus Students’ Union executive candidates forum

Students ask about leadership experience, funding, bursaries

Recapping the Scarborough Campus Students’ Union executive candidates forum

Executive candidates running in the Scarborough Campus Students’ Union (SCSU) 2019 Spring Elections faced student questions about their experience and platforms at a forum hosted on January 29. There are two slates in this race, Shine Bright UTSC and SCSYou. Voting will take place from February 5–7 at three locations on campus.

To the presidential candidates, UTSC student Ghaith Hanbali asked what experience the candidates have that makes them fit for this leadership position.

Shine Bright UTSC’s presidential candidate Chemi Lhamo answered that she is a Director of Marketing for social media for the UTSC Chemistry Society. Lhamo is also the current SCSU Vice-President Equity.

“I thought that organic [chemistry] was the best thing since sliced bread,” said Lhamo. “Hence, why I wanted to help students with their lab coats, lab notebooks… I made sure I was there for them… [and] that people knew about Chemistry Society events.”

SCSYou’s presidential candidate Anup Atwal was the co-president of the Scarborough Campus Punjabi Association and is the founder and President of the Scarborough Campus’ Union Reform Club.

Atwal has also helped students at the Math and Statistics Learning Centre. “Student leadership… is not just being the person who’s always at the front… I do believe that part of being a leader is educating people around you.”

UTSC student Sarkis Kidanian said to the Vice-President Operations candidates that they have “lots of promises… that require money” and asked them where that would come from.

SCSYou’s Vice-President Operations candidate Ray Alibux replied that giving students the option to vote in and out of different levies would free up a lot of money.

He said that students are paying for levies that not all students may want to pay for. “An example is the Blue Sky Solar Racing… this [money] could be going toward something like the Food Centre.”

It is unclear how the union would gain money for other projects if students were allowed to opt out.

Shine Bright UTSC’s Vice-President Operations candidate Kevin Turingan said that since people are going to be able to opt out of the union next year, “he can’t give… an exact answer for that.”

If elected, Turingan plans to look at the funding and figure out how much money the union has before providing an answer. He said that he “would prioritize what students want.”

Among Alibux’s campaign promises are lobbying for more charging stations, longer food vendor hours, an on-campus free food kitchen similar to Good Shepherd Ministries, and a recreation room.

Turingan wants to introduce more food trucks, a food justice campaign, and a Presto card machine on campus. He also wants to give the SCSU Food Centre its own room, and open it at least three times a week, instead of two.

In light of Premier Doug Ford’s government announcement of changes to postsecondary education, which includes a 10 per cent cut to domestic tuition, a student asked the candidates for Vice-President Academics & University Affairs about how they might introduce new bursaries.

Shine Bright UTSC’s Raymond Dang emphasized that “as soon as [he is] in office” in May, he will introduce scholarships and bursaries. He also has plans concerning petition costs and green leadership.

“A vote for Raymond is a vote for a break with the past,” said Dang. “A vote for Shine Bright UTSC is a vote for transparency, ambition, accountability, and positivity.”

SCSYou’s Carly Sahagian said, “As someone who works with admissions, we offer a lot of scholarships for students.”

She said, “[Student services] fees should be able to cover some of the extra services that we pay. For example, the deferred exam fee.” Sahagian wants to remove UTSC fees such as the $70 exam deferral fee and the $36 exam re-read fee.

UTM, UTSC closed for the morning due to weather

UTSG fully open

UTM, UTSC closed for the morning due to weather

Following yesterday’s class cancellations on all three U of T campuses, UTM and UTSC will remain closed for the morning, while UTSG has returned to being fully open.

UTM will be closed until at least 12:00 pm today. All classes, tutorials, labs, tests, and other course-related activities are cancelled. In addition, all university buildings are closed. UTM will post an update by 10:00 am in case the campus does not reopen.

UTSC will be closed until 10:00 am today, after which all academic activities will resume as scheduled. Non-essential staff should report to work when campus opens.

UTSC to close at 5:00 pm due to severe weather

UTM also closing later today

UTSC to close at 5:00 pm due to severe weather

UTSC will be closed as of 5:00 pm today due to severe weather conditions. All classes, tutorials, labs, tests, and other academic activities will be cancelled.

This decision comes shortly after UTM announced that it would be closing at 4:00 pm today.

UTSG remains open.

In emergency situations, students, staff, and faculty should call 9-1-1 or Campus Police at 416-978-2222. General inquiries for Campus Police can be directed to 416-287-7398.

UTSC will update its campus closure status by 6:30 am tomorrow.