All posts by Elham Numan

Creative Director 2017–2018 Illustration Editor 2016-2017 Associate Illustration Editor 2015-2016

Letters from us

I was hoping that my second attempt at writing a letter from the editor would be easier — it’s not. It’s still nearly impossible to sum up the number of hours, the amount of effort, and the sum of coffee cups that go into producing a magazine.

Nonetheless, since completing The Varsity’s fall magazine, I’ve worked to ensure the winter magazine’s articles push boundaries and shift perspectives.

The theme ‘physical’ followed a deep ponder sesh I had while making dinner. I liked the multiplicity of it. Turns out, it was appropriate given the timeliness of many of the articles that were inspired by it.

For example, in light of the #MeToo movement and societal discussions of sexual violence, Teodora Pasca wrote a shocking article showcasing the stories of 15 students who have experienced sexual harassment or assault online (page 28).

Additionally, the current state of youth homelessness in the city was explored by Steven Lee — a student who has experienced homelessness — and Ilya Bañares. Both writers worked incredibly hard to ensure that this article became a reality, and the final product is jarring (page 42).

I’m extremely proud of all of the contributors, designers, and those who helped out with the magazine; the stories were inspiring, funny, and important.

I invite you to grab a coffee, find a cozy seat, and enjoy flipping through the Physical Issue.

—Kaitlyn Simpson

After the first Varsity magazine, I thought I knew everything I needed to know about what goes into creating a magazine. Bold. But then I remembered how many times articles changed, how many visuals shifted, and how all the ideas I started out with were nothing like what was eventually executed. I guess that’s part of the fun of it all.

The process of coming up with the cover was a result of a creative back and forth that sounded something like this:

“So this is the physical issue.  Think body, touch, aggressive… maybe texture?”

“That’s not really going anywhere. What are the main colours in it?”

“There’s quite a bit of orange.”

“How about an orange on the cover?”

Plus a number of other changes. The image featured on the back cover is a close-up of Bernini’s “The Rape of Persephone,” with the frame highlighting the hyper-real sense of touch that you would never usually associate with a material like marble.

Alongside the cover, the Physical Issue brings together in-your-face visuals that invite you into stories that often feel out of reach. The designs facilitate these stories to take up the space they deserve. Please enjoy!

—Elham Numan

Letters from the editors

I’ve quickly discovered that writing a letter from the editor is hard. It’s challenging to sum up countless hours of editing, email-sending, and coffee-drinking into a mere couple hundred words. Nonetheless, here’s my two cents on the Futures Issue.

We’re living in an interesting time. We’re experiencing a shifting political climate, evolving social norms, and unprecedented technological innovation. Global customs are being questioned, and seemingly stable institutions are increasingly scrutinized. Our future is murky.

Alongside this, we as students are living in an interesting time. While school is comfortable, what happens post-grad can be foggy – I, for one, don’t know what I’ll be doing five years from now.

When creating this magazine, my goal was to showcase various representations of this uncertainty while simultaneously highlighting the exciting nature of the unknown.

The contributors of this magazine do just that. Teodora Pasca explores how our society is responding to technological advancements, Rachel Chen shares the stories of five students whose mental health struggles make it difficult to move forward, Nathan Chan photographs students and asks them to imagine what their future will entail, and Etiquette Squirrel (from the future) tells us the future of humankind.

Undoubtedly, the future comes in different shapes and sizes. When reading, I encourage you to  ponder the unknown and question what comes next. I know I certainly did.

—Kaitlyn Simpson

I wish I were funny enough to write an interesting letter.  I also wish I could have seen into the future about seven months ago to mentally prepare myself for the process of directing this magazine.

The designs featured through these pages are in response to their respective articles, much like how the future is shaped by the actions taken in the past. For instance, Sonali Gill’s piece on citizenship and immigration incorporates the implied borders of the topic with illustrations dividing the text, while Tom Yun’s article plays on the chance, uncertainty, and fragility that I’m sure many people feel is in store for the expensive fruit of our labour: the illustrious U of T degree.

The amalgamation of the magazine’s articles shape up the cover’s visual, which juxtaposes the journey of the missing key found in Rachel Chen’s piece on seeking help through hardship, except with some directional support provided by the inside pages.

If you were to ask me, the missing key looks like it’s got a great journey ahead.  Who knows? The future is up in the air, after all.

—Elham Numan

Non-library study spots at UTM

This year marks the 50th anniversary of UTM’s opening. What began as a single-building campus called Erindale College is now the second-largest campus at U of T. Its rapid growth from 155 students in 1967 to 13,500 undergraduates in 2017 strained a number of aspects of student life, including the ability to find available study spaces on campus.

Luckily, with three new buildings opening in the last six years with study spaces integrated in their design, it’s become easier to find a place to sit down and hit the books. Thankfully, there are finally more options than just the library.

Deerfield Hall


Opened in 2014, Deerfield Hall boasts conference rooms that hold 8–24 people, as well as lecture halls and classrooms available to book for those times when you want to study with 100 of your closest classmates. The main level has a mix of individual and communal study spaces, and the Northside Bistro is only a few steps away. 

Instructional Centre



The Instructional Centre has collaborative and private study spaces, as well as a computer lab and 500-seat auditorium. There’s a small computer lab area on the second level and casual seating on the main level, if you don’t mind working in noisier environments. The building has a geothermal heating and cooling system, a green roof, a rainwater system, and is run on solar power energy. Its relaxed atmosphere should provide you with the peace of mind to get through your paper.

Innovation Complex


Home to multiple offices, departments, and units, including the Office of the Registrar, the Innovation Complex opened in 2014 and was partially funded by a $10 million investment over 10 years by the City of Mississauga. The main rotunda is always bustling with students, but it’s a great place to meet with others for collaborative work in one of the more unique spaces on campus. Study breaks can include stepping into the Blackwood Gallery across the hall to engage with contemporary art, or grabbing a drink and snack at Second Cup.