Category Archives: Student Handbook 2016

Sports teams to look out for

[dropcap]W[/dropcap]hether it’s overhearing a conversation on the subway, seeing someone repping their team colours, or watching a game in a sports bar with a panoramic view of more screens than you could possibly take in at once, sport permeates nearly every facet of our lives. The university boasts some of the best amateur sport in the country and some of the best athletes in the world — the best part is that U of T students can attend Varsity Blues regular season games free of charge.

The Varsity Blues make up a total of 44 teams competing in 26 different sports, which can make finding a team to follow or a sporting event to attend very overwhelming. The following is a brief look at the standout teams and players to keep an eye on this year:

One of our most decorated teams last year was women’s volleyball, whose home games are held at the Goldring Centre for High Performance Sport. They are the defending Ontario University Athletics (OUA) and Canada Interuniversity Sport (CIS) champs, winning the CIS banner for the first time since 1976. Following their 19–0 undefeated season, the team was awarded the OUA Team of the Year Award, and Alina Dormann was awarded the CIS Rookie of the Year Award.

In swimming, both the men and women posted unparalleled seasons, each winning the CIS banner this past year. Blues swimmer Kylie Masse also qualified to represent Canada in the 100m backstroke at the Rio Olympics and holds the Canadian record in the same event.

Despite winning only three of their eight games last season, Blues football will forever be a must-see. Attending a post-secondary football game is a rite of passage and Varsity Stadium is a venue steeped in football history. The stadium used to be the home field for the Toronto Argonauts and hosted some of the most legendary Grey Cup games — notably the 1950 ‘Mud Bowl’, where bad weather and field conditions covered the players in mud from head to toe by the end of the game.

U of T track events will also be great to watch. The women’s team successfully defended their CIS title last year, while the men brought home the OUA banner to hang in our halls, earning their first CIS podium finish in over 20 years.

Watching varsity sports is not only a show of support for your school and fellow students — it is a fun and rewarding diversion from academic stress. While we may not be a Pac-12 school, the calibre of our teams and athletes make Varsity Blues games a worthy way to spend your night out.

Top news stories

UTSU lawsuit

The University of Toronto Students’ Union (UTSU) launched a lawsuit against former Executive Director Sandy Hudson in October 2015. The union alleges Hudson deliberately destroyed confidential information and was improperly issued $247,726.40 severance pay — about 10 per cent of the UTSU budget. The union is suing Hudson for the alleged fraudulent money, plus $200,000 in damages.

UTSU previously sued former President Yolen Bollo-Kamara and former Vice-President, internal & services, Cameron Wathey. The union has since reached settlements with both former executives. In December 2015, Hudson countersued the union for $300,000 in damages, claiming the union violated a non-disparagement and confidentiality agreement. UTSU has expressed a desire to reach a settlement; the legal dispute is still ongoing.

Campus revitalization

The Landmark Committee at UTSG is redesigning the Front Campus area by: eliminating motorized traffic from King’s College Circle; replacing surface parking with underground parking; planting more trees; and realigning traffic at Hart House Circle. A final draft of the proposal is expected in September.

The UTSC Master Plan was released in 2011 and includes: realigning Military Trail; adding more pedestrian-friendly green space; and constructing new buildings. Highland Hall is scheduled to open in spring 2018 and will house the Social Sciences departments and the registrant’s office.

At UTM, the university is working on the second phase of the new North Building, which is set for completion in summer 2018.

Victoria University’s property taxes

In April 2016, the City of Toronto Treasurer and Solicitor issued a staff report advising City Council to request provincial government changes to the Victoria University Act. Victoria University leases out land to several private companies, which use the land for office buildings and a condominium under construction.

Most universities are required to pay property taxes on non-university buildings; the Victoria University Act does not require this. Victoria University has been exempt from paying over $12 million in taxes from 131 Bloor Street West since 2009 and almost $3 million since 2013 from other properties.

City Council has requested a meeting between the City Treasurer and the Victoria University administration; the findings will be brought back to the city’s Government Management Committee in November.

Transit developments

In January, John Tory announced his plan to extend the under-construction Eglinton Crosstown Light Rapid Transit eastward to UTSC and to replace the Scarborough Rapid Transit with an extension of the Bloor-Danforth subway line to Scarborough Town Centre. Projected costs for the extensions increased after further analysis. In July, City Council voted to move forward with the project. In the west end, Brampton Transit is launching an express bus route from Brampton Gateway Terminal to UTM as part of a pilot project.

A day in the life at UTSC

UTSC is relatively small in comparison to UTSG and UTM, which is why navigating through it is much easier. More than anything we value a positive community and campus experience, so look around, make friends, and join a club to get the full UTSC experience.

8:30 am: Most morning classes start around 9:00 am, so before lecture, I usually swing by the Tim Hortons near the library to get my caffeine and donut fix for the day. If you are in the mood for something fancy, there is also a Starbucks at the Meeting Place.

10:00 am: Take advantage of time between classes. If you need an absolutely quiet, I-have-a-test-tomorrow study session, your best bets are the silent study rooms or study carousels located upstairs in the UTSC library. For group studying, bring your friends to the study spaces near the AC223 lecture hall or the tables in the Humanities Wing.

12:00 pm: Around this time, I am normally craving lunch. I usually go to the Market Place and grab a shawarma from Paramount. There are plenty of restaurants at the Student Centre, which is just across from the Arts & Administration building (AA). If you are like me and crave Popeyes all the time, there is one near the Pan Am.

2:00 pm: For those days when you forget your laptop, do not fret! Computer labs in the Bladen Wing (BV) will come in handy. Take the stairs up by the bookstore, and there is a helpful IT desk to answer all of your questions.

5:00 pm: For a quiet place to chill with your friends, The Valley is a great spot. A trail located near the patio outside the Market Place will lead you there — Drake once showed up there to play kickball.

7:00 pm: Before you head home, Scarborough Town Centre (STC) is only a bus ride away. The mall includes a Cineplex where you can watch a movie at the end of a busy day. If you have school work to do though, you should probably skip this step and go home to study some more.


A day in the life at UTSG

Since your first time setting foot on this campus, I’ll bet the question, “How will I ever familiarize myself with this place?!” has run through your mind at least one hundred times.

A campus as big as UTSG may seem intimidating, but it is also yours to explore with an amazing variety of libraries, study spots, and social spaces. If you’re curious, or not sure where to start, here is one way to make the most out of your day.

8:30 am: The 9:00 am lecture that I dread every week looms. Before it starts, I can always count on Café Reznikoff to fuel my system with a bit — or a lot — of coffee. Located in Morrison Hall at 75 St. George Street, Reznikoff is always my go-to place for a quick sandwich or a bag of M&Ms and sour keys — especially when my next class is close by at UC or Con Hall.

10:00 am: After class and before lunch, I usually like to get in some studying. I may be a bit biased as a proud New College student, but I believe Ivey Library is one of the best libraries at UTSG. It has a bright, sunlit working area and a convenient computer lab. Unlike Robarts Library, you rarely have to worry about not being able to find a place to sit, and Ivey is never too loud or deafeningly quiet.

11:00 am: Some days, when I feel like I’d much rather be studying witchcraft and wizardry at Hogwarts, I like to visit University College. Unfortunately, I’ll be frantically writing a COG250 essay instead of memorizing cool spells, but at least UC’s beautiful quad and fresh air will put me at ease.

Just a minute away, Hart House is also one of UTSG’s more notable buildings. The Map Room, the Quad, and the Arbor Room are just a few places I love to visit in my spare time.

12:30 pm: If you are a fan of ramen, I suggest checking out Ryu’s Noodle Bar, which is just five minutes from the Exam Centre. I recommend the Spicy Miso ramen, which has ‘mild’ to ‘super hot’ options. My dining experience is always pleasant there and I find myself going back pretty often — and not just because you get a free ramen after your fifteenth visit.

2:00 pm: I also love to study in the Bahen Centre for Information Technology. The modern interior of the centre designed for computer science, computer engineering, and IT research is inspiring; it’s definitely somewhere you can spend hours focused on your work.

4:30 pm: The Cat’s Eye Lounge located in Victoria College is undoubtedly a comfortable place to hang out. I have been to many open mic events here and without fail, the Cat’s Eye always provides a relaxing, inclusive atmosphere.

On the other side of campus, inside the Terrence Donnelly Centre, is a beautiful bamboo garden that I like to visit regularly. The architecture is undeniably beautiful and the bamboo garden is a great place to hang out, take your mind off of academic stress, and relax for a bit.

7:00 pm: For dinner, I find myself heading to the Howard Ferguson Dining Hall quite often, as the food there is delicious, well-prepared, and affordable. Like Reznikoff, it’s also part of University College and conveniently located on St. George Street.

3:00 am: As a night owl, my favourite thing about Smoke’s Poutinerie is how late they’re open — until about 4:00 am! Also, their poutine is always delicious and made with fresh, hand-cut fries. Smoke’s has several locations downtown, with the 455 Spadina Avenue being the closest one to campus. I recommend my favourite dish: the Smoked Meat Peppercorn Poutine. If you’re not a meat-eater, Smoke’s also offers vegetarian options, such as the Rainbow Poutine or the Veggie Deluxe.

Robarts Library was the prison in Resident Evil: Afterlife (2010). MASHAL KHAN/THE VARSITY
Robarts Library was the prison in Resident Evil: Afterlife (2010). MASHAL KHAN/THE VARSITY

A day in the life at UTM

This campus is home to students from all walks of life. It’s large enough to host 13,000 students every year, but small enough for you to bump into everyone you know every day — each day becomes a different journey.

8:00 am: With two hours to spare before my morning class, I wander around the campus and wind up at the Nature Trail by Principal’s Road. Walking up towards The Principal’s House, I am struck by how picture-perfect the scenery looks. With insects and birds chirping cheerfully, I twirl in place with my head up and take in the peaceful setting.

10:00 am: I rush down the path back to civilization, into one of UTM’s biggest lecture halls, CC1080. Right before I enter the hall, I decide to grab a bite at the mini Tim Hortons. With a muffin in one hand and my laptop in the other, I walk into class.

12:00 pm: I stumble out of class with a growling stomach, walk to Deerfield Hall, and try North Side Bistro’s signature Caesar salad. Sitting on the couches near the café, I do some school work on my laptop.

12:45 pm: I decide to head to the Hazel McCallion Academic Learning Centre, better known as ‘The Library.’ My favorite spot is by the fireplace on the third floor, where I occasionally go after classes to flip through a novel.

1:30 pm: I rent a bicycle for free at the UTM BikeShare, which is open from 11:00 am to 3:00 pm on weekdays. From there, I bike to Erindale Park, which is very close to campus.

4:00 pm: My friends and I have a midterm coming up, so we book a study room in The Library. Here we can have discussions without bothering anyone or having anyone bother us. The Library offers charging kits for smartphones and some laptops, so staying there later than anticipated is never a problem. They also offer laptops that you can rent for a few hours.

7:30 pm: As I walk to my car in the parking lot, I stop to see a flock of geese crossing the road, with the cars politely stopping to let them pass. Nearby, I see a family of deer grazing through the grass, unfazed by the modern life surrounding them. This moment in nature reminds me why the campus has become home.

A deer sighting in Mississauga. KASSANDRA NERANJAN/THE VARSITY
A deer sighting in Mississauga. ELHAM NUMAN/THE VARSITY

Names to know


Meric Gertler: President

An urban theorist who has conducted authoritative research on cities and urban geography, Gertler is the sixteenth president of the University of Toronto. He is responsible for overseeing the university’s operations. Prior to his appointment in 2013, Gertler served as Dean of the Faculty of Arts & Science.


Cheryl Regehr: Vice-President and Provost

Regehr oversees the university budget, as well as academic priorities. She previously served as the university’s Vice-Provost, academic and as Dean of the Factor-Inwentash Faculty of Social Work. Regehr’s extensive professional and academic background is in forensic social work and mental health programs.


Sandy Welsh: Vice-Provost, students

Welsh is responsible for supervising programs, services, and policies relevant to students and student groups. This includes enrolment, financial aid, international student services, and programs and services at Student Life. Welsh has previously held numerous administrative roles in the Faculty of Arts & Science and in the Department of Sociology.


Jasmine Wong Denike: President, UTSU

Denike previously served as vice-president, external of the University of Toronto Students’ Union (UTSU) for the 2015–2016 year. During the election cycle, Denike pledged to make the union’s operations more accessible to students. The UTSU represents and collects fees from all full-time undergraduate students at UTSG and UTM.


Nour Alideeb: President, UTMSU

Alideeb was previously the University of Toronto Mississauga Students’ Union’s (UTMSU) vice-president, university affairs. Alideeb ran on a platform that included supporting ethical divestment, creating nap spaces on campus, and combatting tuition and fee increases.


Jessica Kirk: President, SCSU

Kirk served as vice-president, equity of the Scarborough Campus Students’ Union (SCSU) last year after being the only independent candidate to have won in the election. She has prioritized community involvement and engagement for students.

Exploring campus cultures

[dropcap]U[/dropcap] of T is known for its expansive environment, which can make people feel small and unimportant. But with over 450 student groups between the three campuses, there is not a shortage of areas for involvement. Before you know it, you will be seeing people you know all over the place.

The best place to start is the ULife website, because it has an extensive list of the recognized student groups. Here are some categories to consider:



Involvement with student politics and political interest clubs has many benefits. Not only can you help serve your peers, you also contribute to positive change. It serves as an opportunity to develop leadership skills — something lecture halls do not always teach.

Examples: (s)he, Debate Club, Model United Nations


Hobby and leisure

Rank a list of everything you love from one to 10. There is likely a campus group relevant to each of your picks. While studying our respective program material, we tend to lose sight of the other activities we love. It is important to keep those forms of personal enrichment, and it is also the best way to meet like-minded people such a large institution.

Examples: Hart House Chess Club, Electronic Music Community, Beekeeping Education Enthusiast Society, Harry Potter Club



Groups that focus on leadership development are invaluable, because it is not a skill you can develop on your own. Practice is key, which includes interacting with others, making connections, and building relationships — these experiences are at the heart of many campus groups.

Examples: college student councils, Black Ties, STRIVE, Greek life



U of T has a reputation for being dull and dreary. Social groups add much needed relief from the everyday grind of lectures, labs, homework, and exams. Forming new friendships is also a great way to learn, explore, and shape your experience at U of T.

Examples: LGBTOUT, Life Science Student Network, The U of T Commuter Club, Unhaltable Hackers



There is more to life than studying and community service groups can help you find just that. Generosity, consideration, selflessness, and altruism help enrich your soul while you enrich your community.

Examples: Best Buddies, Helping Hands, Supporting Grassroots Initiatives, Youth for Humanity


Work and Career Development

Let’s not forget that university is a training ground for your future. Groups that specialize in professional career development can lend an advantage in today’s competitive job market. Build experience, network your way to the top, and it will be smoother sailing when you graduate.

Examples: Pre-Law Society, Etiquette Club, Entrepreneurs Society, The Public Speaking Club


Campus athletic facilities

The University of Toronto has some of the best sports facilities in the country. With Tcard in hand, students have access to the same resources that our national teams used to train athletes for the TORONTO 2015 Pan Am/Parapan Am Games and the Rio 2016 Olympics. The facilities provide opportunities for students to train, compete in intramurals, attend drop-in programs, and watch the Varsity Blues compete against other universities.


The downtown Toronto campus is littered with fields, arenas, and high-performance athletic centres. Perhaps the most iconic is Varsity Centre located at Bloor Street West and Devonshire Place. It houses a 5,000 seat stadium and a 400m running track. The varsity football, soccer, lacrosse, and rugby teams all compete here.

At the Hart House Athletic Fitness Centre, you can work out in a building that’s nearly 100 years old. The state-of-the-art equipment is almost anachronistic against the stunning gothic architecture. The building houses a suspended indoor track, an art deco pool, as well as gym and fitness equipment.

The Goldring Centre for High Performance Sport is in its second year and is home to brand new weightlifting facilities. The varsity basketball and volleyball teams play their games here. The building also houses the David L. MacIntosh Sports Medicine Clinic, which offers athletic therapy, message therapy, physiotherapy, and chiropractic treatments.

The Athletic Centre (AC) is the most comprehensive of all the UTSG facilities — though it may be the ugliest. A 200m indoor track, three swimming pools, seven gymnasia, and a strength and conditioning centre are but a few of the features located within its massive, concrete walls. The AC hosts varsity swimming and track and field events.


This campus is home to the Toronto Pan Am Sports Centre (TPASC). Built for the games, it offers a strength and conditioning studio, a cardio studio, a 41-foot rock climbing wall, a diving tank, and a hardwood field house. TPASC is one of the most technologically advanced sports facilities at the university: there is a portion of running track equipped with pressure sensors and motion capture technology, and the depth of the pool is adjustable.


The Recreation, Athletics and Wellness Centre (RAWC) is another multi-purpose sport facility comprised of a 25m pool, three gyms, a sports medicine clinic, and an indoor running track. The centre also has a dance studio and hosts both the national and provincial training centre camps for Olympic weightlifting.

How to survive first-year Life Sciences

[dropcap]L[/dropcap]ife Sciences students find themselves battling low course averages and large class sizes in an effort to maintain competitive GPAs for admission into professional and graduate schools. However, U of T also has one of the most diverse programs, led by brilliant and dedicated professors. The price to pay? Our sanity. Fortunately, according to upper year students, anyone can survive their first year with the right mindset, the right friends, and the right dose of caffeine.


Ariana Tang, second-year Life Sciences

“Go in with not super high and not super low expectations. Go in knowing it’s going to be hard, but also with the mindset that you’re going to do what it takes to do well. [A] lot of people don’t really do that well in first year because they go in thinking that they’re going to get 50s, that they’re going to fail everything. And then they fail because they don’t expect that they are going to do well.”


Abiramy Jeyagaran, fourth-year Molecular Biology Specialist

“Once you get a good group of friends to study with, it makes it easier. Everyone else is motivating you. You just have to find that group of friends that you can study with, that you feel comfortable with, that you can trust. I found my group with First Year Learning Communities.”


Marta Haniszewski, fourth-year Molecular Genetics and Microbiology Specialist

“Don’t go to class if you’re just going to sleep. It’s a waste of your time. Don’t waste your money on textbooks, go to short loan. Just be aware of deadlines and make sure that you’re studying, but don’t beat yourself up because it’s a new experience and you’re going to have hurdles. But that’s okay, that’s part of the learning process.”


Jesse Li, fourth-year Neuroscience and Physiology Double Major

“Time management is something you will learn throughout first year. A lot of the profs tell you to read things in advance, but I think that is very, very unpractical and doesn’t really happen. It depends on the style of learning, what works best for you.”


Soomin Maeng, third-year Immunology and Physiology Double Major

“Facebook groups were very useful because people post notes and the really good seniors were posting their notes; most of them were really good. That’s something that you can trust.”


Sean Ihn, third-year Biochemistry Specialist and Neuroscience Major

“If you see people that are better than you [or] see people that have accomplished more than you, of course you’re going to feel a little inferior. It’s natural, but don’t give up because of those people. Instead, be motivated by those people.”

In the scientific 6ix

SickKids Hospital

The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids) is among the leading paediatric hospitals in the world. With an integrated network of care, research, and education, SickKids receives almost 300,000 visits in their clinics alone each year. It is considered one of the most research-intensive hospitals in Canada.

A cohesive team with diverse skill sets make up the foundation of this teaching hospital affiliated with the University of Toronto. Over 800 researchers work together in a spectrum of disciplines, from cell biology to neuroscience. Clinicians and scientists search for innovative solutions and technologies that would provide the best care for children.

SickKids is a global leader in medical research and is recognized internationally for its discoveries. It is also home to many Canadian firsts, including the first successful separation of conjoined twins, first bone marrow transplant program, and first living-donor kidney transplant in the paediatric population.


Bringing together an interdisciplinary group of entrepreneurs, researchers, educators, and scientists in a centre of innovation, MaRS is on a mission to transform ideas into a ground-breaking reality.

MaRS provides a platform of commercialization for scientific discoveries: entrepreneurs get access to capital, mentorship, and laboratories to experiment with their designs and inspirations; and corporations are able to invest in talent, creativity, and entrepreneurship.

In partnership with its stakeholders, MaRS has developed several programs to help its clients access the market. Current initiatives include the Advanced Energy Centre, Building Future Leaders, Data Catalyst, MaRS Catalyst Fund, MaRS Centre for Impact Investing, MaRS EXCITE, MaRS Solution Lab, and Studio Y.

MaRS empowers entrepreneurs, which is why the impact of its discoveries resonates beyond its glass walls.

Gairdner Foundation Awards and Talks

The Canada Gairdner Awards, valued at $100,000 each, distinguish seven top scientists for their contributions to medicine, global health, and scientific leadership. As the most esteemed medical award in Canada, they are presented annually in October at a black tie gala hosted by the Royal Ontario Museum.

The Gairdner Foundation hosts National and Student Outreach Programs, where current and past awardees tour the country and speak with the next generation of scientists at over 20 universities. An annual symposium is also held in Toronto to further explore the themes presented in research by current Canada Gairdner Awardees.

University Health Network

Toronto Western Hospital, Toronto General Hospital, Princess Margaret Cancer Centre, and the Toronto Rehabilitation Institute make up the University Health Network (UHN).

As teaching hospitals affiliated with the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Toronto, the UHN provides education and medical training. It is at the forefront of research and patient care with over 1,000 trainees; it’s known for the mentorship and support system it provides for the next generation of researchers.

There are currently five research centres based in these hospitals that cover the spectrum of translational, clinical, and basic science research. From cardiovascular sciences to population health, the UHN is consistently on the edge of new discoveries. Just this past year, the UHN performed the world’s first triple-organ transplant of the liver, pancreas, and lung in a single operation.

Dalla Lana School of Public Health

The Dalla Lana School of Public Health (DLSPH) at U of T is a leader in public health, with world-renowned experts training hundreds of graduate students each year. The field of public health encompasses the prevention of disease and injury through education, policies, and research.

The DLSPH’s HIV Studies Unit has pioneered the social and behavioural approach to HIV research. Its faculty members have worked in overcoming health crises, such as the 2003 SARS outbreak. DLSPH graduates continue to apply their education beyond the school. Alumni have gone on to academia at Harvard University and biosciences with the Canadian Armed Forces.