Wednesday, March 27, 2013


Probably UTSC's architecture is so familiar to you that you just tune it out. That would be a shame, because many of these buildings are award-winning, and are art forms as valid as as the paintings lining the walls of the Doris McCarthy Gallery. Love it or hate it, UTSC's aesthetic was designed very deliberately. Here, take the time to appreciate the place you call home.

The Andrews Building

The Science and Humanities Wings are actually one giant structure, originally called The Andrews Building when UTSC first opened in 1965. It was named after its architect, John Andrews, who is best known for being the architect behind the CN Tower.

Anyway, Andrews constructed the building in the Brutalist style, a style in vogue in the 1960s and 1970s and inspired by Japanese Metabolism, Russian Constructivism, and the New Brutalism of post-WWII England.

It was designed to blend seamlessly into the landscape, and so the forest area around UTSC was left to grow, and the Andrews Building was built against the edge of the ravine, almost seeming to extend the lip of the valley.

At the time it amazed the architecture world for being the largest concrete building ever made. The interior of the Andrews Building was designed to be like a city, with the long corridors meant to resemble streets. Plenty of natural light was let in to reinforce this effect. I'll admit that the corridors do indeed look like city streets, albeit the stark dystopian kind.

The Science and Humanities wings were fashioned so that students never had to go outside between classes (we're in Canada, after all). Originally the residences were to be build at the ends of both wings, so that students could roll right out of bed and into class, but that plan was scrapped for monetary reasons. All the city streets converge on the central hub, the Meeting Place! It was built for students and faculty to mix and mingle, presumably so that science and arts students would learn to get along. That last part didn't work out.


The Academic Resource Centre was the next major academic building to be built, in 2003. It was designed by Brian MacKay-Lyons in the Modernist style. The exterior was plated with copper, which as it aged turned brown and, nowadays, is just beginning to turn green. According to Canadian Architect magazine, "The understatedness and richness achieved through the patina of the copper cladding complements the strength of the massie Inca-like concrete structures initially laid out by Andrews."

In the interior of the ARC, Mackay-Lyons took influence from Andrews in the use of elevated walkways, overlooks, and plenty of natural light. The plan of the building is organized on a grid, with 25-foot-wide "boats" being "docked" on the grid. Between the "boats" are two-storey hallways and suspended walkways. The lecture theatre, AC223, is meant to be a giant "ark" docked on concrete. 

Mackay-Lyons used repetitive materials, like concrete columns, concrete block walls, suspended and exposed circulation system, and cherry plywood millwork "as a means of demarkating spaces, from points of arrival to back-of-house activities," says Canadian Architect. Of course, the major landmark of the ARC is the University of Toronto Scarborough Library, which was relocated from the Bladen Wing.


The Social Sciences Wing (originally the Management Wing) was designed by architectural firm Kuwabara Payne McKenna Blumberg. Like Andrews's Brutalist work, it's made chiefly of concrete, but Douglas fir was used on some walls to give it a lighter touch. The "city street" aesthetic from Andrews was again borrowed, and the architects lined faculty offices along the outside walls of corridors in the building, separated from the noise of the social areas but still open to each other. The architects also took cues from Andrews in the generous use of natural light, with one wall being entirely window, and minimal artificial light. The 60-seat lecture rooms with desks in a horseshoe around the professor were modelled on rooms at Harvard Business School.

AA and Student Centre

The Arts and Administration building is made largely out of brick and limestone. It was also inspired by Andrews, but its use of wood and polished concrete makes it warmer and more elegant.

The Student Centre was opened in 2004 and funded by students themselves. It's clad in titanium, and its butterfly roof establishes a clear main entrance to the campus. It was designed from the ground up to be energy-efficient (and LEED-certified!), with a green roof, bamboo floors in lounges, and its use of recycled steel.


Finally, the Instructional Centre is the newest building on campus, and the most indicative of modern architectural styles. Painted in white and grey on the inside and clad in green opaque glass, photo-voltaic solar panels, a green roof, and no shortage of windows, the building is meant to have an airy feel. A glass bridge connects the two sides: one for students, and the other for faculty offices. Cementing its modern approach, the IC is built to Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Silver sustainability standards and features a two-storey-tall piece of modern art on the wall in its skylight atrium.

And that, folks, is all. I hope I've given you a new appreciation for the intelligent design of our campus. All photographs were taken by yours truly.

Monday, March 25, 2013

National Nutrition Month

I know this is the last week of March but since I haven't been able to write all month I just thought I'd share that March is national nutrition month!

For us as students, I know that free time is just a theory. With mid-terms, assignments, part-time jobs and trying to get the most sleep we possible can, there are things we have to compromise. Usually, it's sleep. Sometimes it's a meal, sometimes it's physical activity. I believe that compromising nutrition is one of the biggest mistakes we can make, especially as students. There have been countless studies performed linking good nutrition to better grades, enhanced learning ability, etc.

The slogan for this year's nutrition month is plan, shop, cook.This basically means that planning meals and snacks ahead of time will help you stick to a better diet.

The planning stage should start from when you're making a grocery list. If you minimize on junk, there won't be any junk in the house to be tempted with. Instead, substitute the junk with healthier snacks. I personally recommend baby carrot sticks because they're so good, they're vegetables and everybody knows how hard it is to find that combination. Greek yogurt is great because it's low in fat and greater in protein content; it also tastes delicious. Fruits are definitely a delicious way to stay healthy, apples especially. You've obviously heard the cliche before so I won't say it but if you're tired of eating boring old apples, you can also try dipping them in peanut butter. I've never tried it because it doesn't sound very appetizing but my sisters say it's delicious and peanut butter is a great snack as well, so why not? The last thing I can personally recommend are nuts (almonds in particular), they contain healthy fats that your body needs making them a great post-workout snack.

The "shop, cook" part of the slogan is fairly simple. Shop for only what you planned for and cook all your meals. No matter where you eat out, it's always a better idea to cook meals at home. That way you know exactly what is in your food and you can prepare accordingly.

If you want more information on National Nutrition Month, visit:

That's all for this week.

Until next time,

Peace and love

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Top 10 worst reasons to be late

Welcome to the third last week of school! Insert dramatic music. We're almost near the end of this magical rainbow, formed by our tears.

He knows.
I was on the TTC this week, contemplating how I managed to be 30 minutes late again, when I began counting the worst reasons I've had for being late. For comedic purposes I shall include my friends, who shall not be named, as inspirations.

1. I woke up on top of my alarm clock. Apparently having muffled the alarm sound with my body. Basically body smash my phone daily.

2. I left something at home and had to get it, three times, one morning.

3. I really needed to know who won on The Price is Right.

4. My TTC bus driver had a sudden coffee craving and left everyone in the bus waiting for as long as it took to beat the line. It took a while.

5. My dog hid my shoes. 
Can you be angry at that face? CAN YOU?
6. Thinking the toilet seat was down, but wasn't, and smashing your pelvic region on the porcelain rim. Then spending the next half an hour recovering from the pain. This is a true story from a friend who I'm trying desperately not to name.

7. Forgetting to wear your shoes and not noticing till almost reaching school. How my friends manage these extraordinary feats I do not know.
8. The TTC bus driver drove past you. Twice. Happened to my friend on Tuesday. Tuesday was a cold day.

9. Cattle barring your path. This is a very 'developing country' specific problem but used to be a legitimate concern for me back in the day.

10. Tim Hortons. You know the line is at least a 15-minute commitment.

If you have any stories you would like to share there is a handy dandy comment section at your service.

Hip hip old chaps and keep a stiff upper lip.

<3 Zarish

Wednesday, March 20, 2013


Samantha Wong studies her textbook. Jim Heiliger studies his textbook. Parth Subramanaim studies his textbook. Pamela Wick flips back and forth between two different pages, frowning at each. Jenna Li hunches over her computer. James Gonzalez studies his textbook. Jasun Singh clears his throat loudly and swallows the rest of his phlegm. Sunjay Rupani studies his textbook. Patricia D’Silva plays a game on her phone. The sound of squeaky shoes from students walking on the concrete floor. Jim Heiliger chats dully with his friend. Samantha Wong pulls her hair. Parth Subramanaim puts on earbuds. Jenna Li’s finger skates on her trackpad. Ambient temperature is 20°, made warmer by coats and too many people. Pamela Wick writes something in her textbook and promptly erases it. Jim Heiliger laughs loudly and is shushed by someone beside him. Parth Subramanaim studies his textbook. Sunjay Rupani  studies his textbook. Patricia D’Silva talks with a friend who happened to be randomly walking by. Andrew Ping types excitedly. A grey day outside and heavy snow. Patricia D’Silva is told to keep it down by a library monitor in a yellow shirt. Samantha Wong studies her textbook. James Gonzalez studies his textbook. Parth Subramanaim studies his textbook. Jim Heiliger leans back in his chair, his legs open at 90°. Bill Eichenwald stands up and adjusts his hat, and sits back down. Jenna Li coughs on her computer screen. Sunjay Rupani studies his textbook. The overall decibel level of the room is too loud. Parth Subramanaim studies his textbook. Jasun Singh runs his hands over his face. A library monitor looks like she’s considering telling Patricia D’Silva to shush, but changes her mind and walks away. Rustling papers and clacking keyboards. James Gonzalez studies his textbook. Jim Heiliger bites his nails. Parth Subramanaim’s music is too loud, and disturbs the people around him. Bill Eichenwald chokes with laughter at a YouTube video. Pamela Wick’s pencil tip breaks, and she scrambles in her case for another one. Ambient temperature now hovering around 19°. People walking around like herds of cows. Andrew Ping bounces his leg against the desk while studying his textbook. James Gonzalez studies his textbook. A disturbingly neutral smell, or maybe one you’ve merely gotten used to. Parth Subramanaim adjusts his chair, which makes a loud squeak. Jenna Li’s back will remain hunched when she’s 60. Jim Heiliger’s hair is blown back from a person walking by. Sunjay Rupani studies his textbook. Pamela Wick slams her book closed. Samantha Wong studies her textbook. Jasun Singh’s jaw is slack. Bill Eichenwald stares at the ceiling. Almost no one is happy. Kim Poon sits down and opens a bag of Hero Burger onion rings. Patricia D’Silva swallows her gum. Jenna Li goes into a coughing fit that makes everyone around her scooch away. Buzzing fluorescent lights. Jasun Singh’s face appearing lifeless and droopy. Samantha Wong studies her textbook, making little tears at the edges of each page. Ambient temperature back at 20°, give or take. The lights harsh and warm, like spotlights. Andrew Ping studies his textbook. Pamela Wick studies her textbook. A cackle from somewhere like the voice of death. Sunjay Rupani studies his textbook. Jim Heiliger studies his textbook. Every person here spends a full 1/3 of their day in a sitting position. James Gonzalez studies his textbook. Bill Eichenwald’s eyes glaze over browsing Facebook. A friend stops by Kim Poon’s desk and grabs one of her onion rings. Samantha Wong studies her textbook. Parth Subramanaim studies his textbook. The A/C making roughly the same sound as a jet engine. Clomps of high heels. Sunjay Rupani’s hemorrhoids are acting up, and he gently shifts his position on his seat. Ambient temperature perfectly calibrated to enhance studying efficiency. Patricia D’Silva looks outside at the snow. A little bit of drool hangs from the edge of Parth Subramanaim’s mouth, and is quickly sucked up. Samantha Poon thinks that if she died over her textbook like this, no one would notice for days. Kim Poon studies her textbook. Sunjay Rupani studies his textbook. Jim Heiliger studies his textbook. Andrew Ping studies his textbook.

         Inspired by David Foster Wallace

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

The science of art? The art of science?

It’s difficult to compress five opinions into a couple of hundred words, more so when those opinions come from some of the most accomplished minds in our generation. No, I’m not talking about Emma
Watson (I’ve recently realised that people really, really like her and all these face book jokes/meme revolve around her...yikes). What I am actually referring to are the opinions of our students here at UTSC. Our school environment at the least encourages a funny but belligerent sort of competition between the arts and the sciences. With the faculty of science greatly superseding that of the arts (in sheer numbers, if nothing else), it’s not difficult to figure out what sort of academic environment is prevalent at UTSC, and U of T in general (did I mention that I’m definitely not on board the psychology-is-a-science express? #sorry #myapologies #hashtag #hashtag ).

So I actually sat a few people down (well, five to be exact...I JUST realized they were all women..woohoo!), and asked them to allow me to pick their brains a little bit, let me in on the great secret. Turns out there isn’t one, UTSC is a conflicted place when it comes to what people think about programs and major choices, but there are a lot of those who believe this ongoing Art vs. Science pseudo-war needs to come to an end. Some are apathetic. It’s not that ignorance is bliss; just that ignorance saves many of us the trouble of getting into ridiculously irrelevant arguments.

Beth Jarrell, a second-year student in the Joint-Centennial Journalism Program said, “My friends all belong to such a diverse range of majors. Of both my closest friends, one is an IDS major and the other a Math specialist. I would be lying if I said that it hasn’t greatly affected their personalities and in turn, our friendship. I can talk about Canadian politics or Canadian History for hours and come out on top of any argument, but all the while, I am painfully aware of the fact that I can’t code or solve a differential equation to save my life. It’s a feeling of inadequacy that is ingrained within us. I’m sure my ‘scientist’ friend’s freak out a little every time they need to write an actual paper for one of their biology classes or whatever”.

Marwa Sheikh, second year with an undeclared major, was particularly frustrated with the subject matter. “It’s an extremely annoying atmosphere of competition, because it really shapes students’ decision making processes in the worst possible way. I was an all-science sort of kid in high school, Physics and chemistry all the way. Yet, I’ve been taking a bunch of political science and media studies courses at UTSC. Regardless of how much I enjoy or learn from my classes, I feel the need to constantly remind myself and others that I have transfer credits for science courses. I’m originally a science geek or something like that. Why must we swing one way or the other? Why do we have to anyway? I can fulfill my breadth requirements and be happy with who I actually am. It greatly annoys me that Science students call us the ‘artsy kids’, all those joke about handing us a paint brush to shut us up or something. Whilst they think solving a differential equation is the be all and end all of humanity. The worst part is, I WAS one of them. It makes me come out of all this feeling extremely conflicted, we’re into mid-March and I have yet to decide upon a major. I’m afraid of how much these stigmas will play into my ultimate decision."

Some were even more honest and graphic in their statements. Jess Manley is a third-year French major, but she is minoring in Math and was previously a Math specialist. She said, “I feel like I’ve been on each end of the spectrum, and the only thing that’s changed about me is my level of comfort with my homework. I liked Math, I did well on some particularly difficult courses, but I was never happy doing it. French comes so much more naturally to me; I get along more easily with my professors and to be frank, it takes a LOT LESS to get a better grade. I was once having a conversation about a science journal with a friend, and all she had to say was that she didn’t really understand what she was talking about because she is an ‘arts’ major and all she knows how to do is finger painting."

These people might not have their irritations soothed anytime soon. Joanna Yuen, a fourth-year Biochemistry major from Hong Kong, is very blunt about the fact that she chose a program she hates, does assignments she can’t stand, and accepts grade she otherwise wouldn’t because it all comes with the validation of having a BSc. “I wouldn’t have come all the way to Ontario to major in the humanities. I don’t think there are a bunch of jobs in the field of bio-chem, but of course I sleep easier knowing I’m a science major. I just don’t respect the other fields. I wish I did, but I don’t and that’s all there is to it." It’s safe to say that Jess Manley would disagree, “We all have our own strengths. You may be good with labs and numbers, but I am better with grammar and language. What’s the question here anyway?”

Pulse’s very own Zarish Asif will round up this mini-rant of ours. “I’m technically in the arts community, but coming from the inside has shown me how glaring the misconceptions in the field are. Some of my favorite artists come from science backgrounds and vice versa. These are not two mutually exclusive entities, but are seeded off of the polarization that society develops in favor of keeping these disparities alive. Life is more interesting with the science geeks and artsy hippies are facing it off.  No one knows if anyone will ever win."
Before I shut up until next week, I am more conflicted-but-compassionate than ever. What is the science of art? Or is science an art?

S’long....? Till later...?

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Why high school shouldn't be the best years of your life

Alright its time to address those 'growing old' concerns that seem to be plaguing everyone in my age bracket. I myself am turning 23 this year and get comments like, 'Oh you getting old girl'. First of all if you're still calling me a 'girl' how old could I really be? Second please stop talking. The early twenties are, thanks to the standard of living in Canada, just a quarter of your life. If I'm supposed to slow down and feel old at 25% of my life cycle I would be near suicidal.

In all seriousness, guys, what the fudge bars? How am I an aunty/grandma/decrepit old coot at 22 or 23? Did a cane just pop out my backside when I went over the hill? Did the pimples I had only a few years ago spontaneously combust into wrinkles?

If this is you after high school........... might have a serious problem.

You see, I'm not particularly hip. I don't listen to the radio much. The TTC just isn't keeping me up to date with what kids are listening to nowadays. Then again I did catch a song the other day with the chorus 'I look good in your grandpa's clothes' and remembered why I don't care about what the kids are listening to. Back to the point... Since I am unconcerned with the eternal fountain of youth, this descent  into old age (at 22) is not troubling me all that much. Frankly speaking I'm really glad I'm from basically the last generation that grew up listening to some kind of rock (RHCP, Pearl Jam, Nirvana represent!). 

That one year I spent in a Canadian high school drilled it into me that university would be a massive jump. A leap of faith where if you didn't ingest your textbook and generate that work ethic you didn't have in high school you would drop out faster than an anvil in a Looney Tunes cartoon. From my experience this really only applied to the people in high school who worked really hard or the random slacker that got into university and decided not to go to class, ever. I am a product of a different school system though... You think school is your ally. But you merely adopted the education system; I was born in it, moulded by it. I didn't see the light until I was already a (wo)man, by then it was nothing to me but BLINDING!

Last but not least one major complaint is the beating everyone's social life took in this journey from high school to university. Well I can't speak for the GTA but I've noticed a lot of high school friendships didn't really stand the test of time. Pretty much two or three survivors make it out of the mire of time. There are 10,000 people at the Scarborough Campus and twice that at St. George, sorry UTM but you're too distant. Two hundred campus clubs, an SCSU that literally only throws parties and well the other thousands of students in Toronto and people tell me that their social life takes a hit? HOW? You quite literally have to hole up in a corner of the library and maintain an exclusive relationship with your textbook to manage this. 

Dear old chaps, I'm just trying to prod you into opening your eyes to the reality of our situation. If high school was the best years of your life you've basically prematurely curbed the glory of your existence. I know I was a complete idiot for the greater part of my teens. (Why why did I think turquoise bellbottoms were so cool?!) If you just forget for a minute that your biggest concern went from being what to have for lunch to OSAP you gotta take the  good with the bad. The world is just waiting for you to blossom into the creature of marvel you could be. Don't give up hope because that girl/guy you met in high school probably isn't the same as they were back then, there are nice profs and bad profs like teachers, money doesn't grow on tress but you can't live off your parents the rest of your life either. SO BUCK UP and prepare for the ride of your life because you have a life left to live.

I got 99 problems but...

<3 Z

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

The Internship Scam

Half of working adults in the GTA hold precarious jobs, according to a recent study, and as young adults we know that better than anyone. Our unemployment rate, at 16.5%, is double that of people above age 24. As more university students and recent grads find that entry-level jobs are frustratingly scarce, many turn to the seemingly brutal but necessary unpaid internship.

Canada and the United States are in the midst of an “intern boom,” writes Ross Perlin in Intern Nation: How to Earn Nothing and Learn Little in the Brave New Economy. Many students see internships as the de facto way to get a foot into the door of the working world, a fact that’s drilled into one’s head from schools and labour agencies and parents. The recent recession, however, has changed the role of the intern in the modern economy. “Internships used to be paid gigs at blue-chip companies that focused on training and recruitment. It was considered a marker of a good internship program that it hired between 50 and 70 percent of its workers to full-time jobs,” says Perlin. “Today, people sometimes have to do five or six internships in order to land the work they’re ultimately looking for. You also have a number of companies that are freezing future hires or simply replacing their paid employees with interns.”

Internship programs exist in a sort of legal grey area. “It’s an industry term,” says David Doorey, professor of employment law at York. “There seems to be a widely held belief that an employer avoids our basic employment law rules simply by labelling someone an intern. That’s wrong.” The Employment Standards Act lists several rules that govern unpaid internships, but these rules are frequently ignored. “One of the most frequently violated conditions states that the trainee should provide no immediate advantage to his or her employer,” says Perlin. “Whether it means making Xeroxes or writing speeches for senators, interns are always expected to contribute to the bottom line.” Interns lack the employment standards given to paid workers, and there are no rules against exploiting interns. Statistics Canada doesn’t even keep track of unpaid workers, so we have no data about interns in this country. Many interns find themselves sucked into the implicit idea that an internship will lead to a paid position, but this is frequently not the case.

The Toronto Star and The Globe and Mail recount some internship horror stories in recent articles. “My experience has been really frustrating,” says Toronto’s Anya Oberdorf, who spent over a year working two unpaid internships, neither of which led to a job. “I can’t afford a third internship, but I don’t want to sit around at home, either.” Dan Dolan had to live at home with his parents after graduation to afford an unpaid internship at an advertising firm, but the experience was 5% working with clients and 95% custodial work, like cleaning the kitchen and taking out the trash.

Then there’s the problem that unpaid internships are only viable for students whose parents can support them. “Unpaid internships may make the fortress accessible, sometimes, sure,” writes journalism student Bethany Horne, about the difficult path to employment in media companies. “But they only make it accessible to some people, the kind of people who are already over-represented inside. Those who can afford to work for free. So the young people who don’t come from the city, and who don’t come from money, are shit-out-of-luck.” She adds, “I am boycotting the system. It’s not that I won’t work for free exclusively on ethical grounds. Practically, I can’t afford it.”

It is the unique desperation of university students and new graduates that employers exploit. Even after paying thousands of dollars for a university education, we are herded into unpaid internships that guarantee no jobs or even relevant experience. Writes Carol Goar, columnist for the Star, “No Canadian politician has taken up their cause. No corporate leader has said it is wrong to take advantage of debt-burdened graduates. No university president has gone to bat for young people trained at his or her institution.” 

The intern nation may be great for companies, who are essentially getting free labour, but it’s a stressful, precarious precedent for young university students like us.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

The Debate (1) - Art vs Science

It’s the age old question every university student hears/asks/ignores at some point during this long journey we call education. The battle between art and science, if we never thought about it before Frosh cheers and the various –isms of solidarity coerced us into picking a side. Is science the most irrefutably logical system of study, one that is based on a logical progression of ideas and theories? It is easy to think so, until that charismatic sculpture major walks in and passionately rants about all the reasons why Michelangelo was the father of modern socialism or something.

I’m not saying that’s true -- I mean who really understands the hyperbole that is political theory -- but the arts have this way of bringing life into everything and convincing many that a well-paying job is less important than fulfillment or self-actualization or some crap like that. BUT IS IT CRAP?

It’s important to note at this point that while all we artsy/scientist students are fighting over the carcass of our argument, the Management/business students of the world are putting their suits on and going to their next job interview at Johnson & Johnson or something. Accounting seems so much more fun once you've graduated and aren’t living in your old bedroom in the parents’ house. They probably laugh at us all day everyday for worrying about cells and molecules and movies and the expressions of paintings, as they calculate those risk ratios or GDPs or whatever it is they do in bo-rrrinngg seeming courses of theirs. Thus, they do not really factor into this questioning.

So coming back to the original questions of what is ‘better’, ‘more useful’, ‘better paying’, it’s easy to get reeled into examples of the big names in each field. Stephen Hawking vs. Andy Warhol, Siddhartha Mukherjee (guy’s a world-renowned oncologist) vs. Quentin Tarantino. It’s a shame their contributions to civilization are brought down to comparison, especially since both Art and Science are meant to coexist such that they contribute to each others, progress and work together to further our understanding of the universe.
Ultimately, all we want to do is influence the environment around us in whatever capacity we choose to. How is Art or Science better than the other in doing so? Neither this blog, nor a million others will actually answer that question. The only opinions that matter are of students like us, people taking the first steps towards life and productivity; we can defend and understand our choices in programs, and should be able to do so for so many others.

Science – Based on fact and the discovery of significance
Art – Based on argument and giving things importance based on how they affect another.

Science – The largest department at UTSC (very dependent upon whether you categorize Psychology as a science or not). We are constantly finding out the most fascinating facts about the world around us, and being taught the mechanisms behind the way everything (literally everything) works.

Art – The liberating, tantalizing quirks of UTSC’s most ‘free spirited’ students. I still remember those guys from the Annual UTSC  Rainbow tie Gala (LGBTQ event) , who kept changing their clothes with each other...I THINK as a symbolization of the ideologies we have regarding transphobia/transgendered and what not. Anyhoo, I just thought it was cool that they randomly dropped their clothes in the middle of the meeting place because the bathroom just wasn’t as interesting an option.

Science – Get’s more challenging over time
Art – Get’s more challenging over time.

Still don’t understand where to start, do you? There is no way of reconciling their differences with their similarities, and I highly doubt the drama between the two departments is going to leave the Frosh monologue anytime soon. BUT, this is the first of a three-part blog about the way Art and Science have been shaped over the centuries, and the perceptions students have about them. Stay tuned for next week, where you’ll hear from someone OTHER THAN ME, about the same issue. If it is an issue, I definitely cannot think of an appropriate word and maybe if I were a poetry specialist this would not be happening.

G’day UTSC. Winter is over, the new pope might be an African Cardinal and not our usual Italiano/German. March is one month before April. April is the month the semester ends. There is so much to look forward to, but mostly just the pope thing.


Friday, March 8, 2013

Misadventures of Jakub at UTSC

So I made some comics for y'all this week, I also found out that scanning them on the computer is a terrible idea. The drawings will all be destroyed and you'll have to redo most of the lines again by hand. :D Enjoy.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Making headlines

Hello all!

I realise that my blog is usually the satirical, mildly offensive ode to my innermost musing but not this week. My Facebook news feed is overrun with news update that I feel the need to share with you all.

Who-go Chavez?

This week saw the death of Hugo Chavez. For those of you who aren't familiar with Mr.Chavez he was the President of Venezuela. He had been in power from 1999 till 2013, democratically elected. Chavez was a character -- he partnered up with the premier villiain of world politics, Iranian president Ahmadinejad. Bonding over their mutual distaste for the USA they had numerous trade agreements, all of which qualified Chavez as the rebel of international politics. If that wasn't bad enough he was also an outspoken Socialist. With his nationalization of oil production and other key industries he attempted to make Venezuela an economically independent state.

Painted as a the hero of a nation, Hugo Chavez will most likely be remembered as the caped crusader of Socialist Latin American.

In other news we have my homeland, Pakistan. A superficial understanding of Pakistan will dictate that it is country plagued by political turmoil, a society in constant threat of 'Islamization' by fundamentalists and, and with income disparity of proportions comparable to those before the French Revolution. Then again an in depth understanding of the state of the nation may afford you that very same conclusion.

Recently there have been a string of bombings in a tirade of sectarian violence. Karachi, the Toronto of Pakistan, is slipping into a state akin to that of anarchy. I woke up this morning to a mass bbm message saying that the army was going to march through the streets, cell phone service was to be cut off soon and that children are especially being targeted by kidnappers.

I went on Facebook and this is the sort of thing I read:

"Girls being kidnapped in large numbers all over the city and the only thing your family can say to you is 'if anything happens to our reputation it's your fault'. Wow."

                      The Karachi I know
The Karachi I did not know

If you ask me what the link is between these two happenings I can not give you a straight answer. All I can say is that Pakistan needs a hero and Venezuela lost theirs.

Last but not least is the University of Toronto's recent string of awards and nominations. We also got ranked as the 16th best university in the world! Ah UofT you grant me intelligence bonus points in the world of academia. Not to detract from this great achievement but the fact of the matter is U of T is Canada's researching powerhouse. If the awards didn't go to us, let's be honest, who would they go to? We're big fish in a small pond considering those were national awards and if we took on MIT or Yale competition would be far stiffer. 

The world ranking is a far more interesting predicament. Bearing in mind the variable used to determine this kind of statistic are in accordance with principles the researcher emphasizes. That being said McGill slipped into the 30s as well as UBC. Thus U of T must be doing something right? Either way lets not get too fat headed about this. My grades are definitely not a good enough reflection of this great university's creme de la creme. 

Here's to hoping for the best! 

Over and out.

<3 Z

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Extern job shadowing and you

One day you’re reading the Intranet and you spy this entry about a U of T job shadowing program, and, intrigued, you open it. You fill out a few forms about your vocational interests and sign up for an orientation meeting, and just like that you’re in.

You show up for the orientation meeting with a sort of mild social anxiety because you’re not sure what it’s going to be about, or whether you’ll have to do much talking. You’re not even 100% sure you’re going to the right room at the right time, because the instructions were a little like, information overload; there were so many numbers and dates and there’s the possibility that you might have gotten confused. But you end up showing up to the right room anyway, and are lured into comfort by the nice solid wooden surroundings of the room and the cherubic program leader. This is the part where you discuss which kind of vocation you’re going to job shadow in, and your overall attitudes/knowledge/stage of self-actualization in regard to your career choice. There's this sinking feeling when the program leader makes you talk to the person next to you about afore-mentioned attitudes/knowledge/stage of self-actualization but you strike up a comfortable rapport and it’s OK.

The next stage is to apply via the Career Centre website to various employers, filtering by field (e.g. journalism, medicine, finance) and then choosing a specific company. You get to  apply to three or four locations, ranking them in order of preference. And then in the application you have to write several 250-word essays about various topics, e.g. what you know about the vocational field, what makes you interested in it (incld. relevant experiences and skills you might possess), and then you have to repeat this process for every position you apply to (the cherubic program leader was not lying, you come to find out, when he said that you should not leave this stuff to the last minute)--and if you're like me you probably end up applying to positions within only one field so you can copy-paste some of your application answers to other positions.

If you come up with some fantastically deep and philosophical answers to these questions, and/or at least show some rudimentary mental engagement while writing them, you’re accepted into the University of Toronto’s Extern Job Shadowing program! Next up is a second meeting, this time to discuss logistics of contacting your host and what to wear/how to act, planning questions to ask them, and generally how to represent U of T flatteringly and not appear like a slobbering York neanderthal. Rules: no begging for employment, no inappropriate dress, no bluntly asking how big someone's salary is, etc etc. You have to again talk to the person beside you, this time preparing questions to ask your host, a lot more painful than last meeting because it’s like, unless you’re actually really on top of things you’re thinking about this for the first time and a lot of the conversation is umms and ahhs and blank stares. After this meeting you have a month before your job shadowing starts.

And so like if you’re as bad as I am you left all the preparation to the last minute, and so on the morning that you’re supposed to first meet your host you’re scrambling to think of questions to ask and picking clothes, and the pants you were vaguely planning to wear end up being too tight (because of course you only try them on right before having to leave, pants  which the last time you wore them was in 2011) and the zipper won’t go all the way up so that pretty much eliminates wearing a tucked-in dress shirt, and all your nice sweaters are in the wash or lost somewhere, adding to the stress of a blizzard outside and the fact that you’ve gained weight seeing as your pants no longer fit. And so by the time you’re out of the house you’re completely out of your mind with confusion and general social anxiety and a lack of sleep because of said social anxiety the night before, and of course there’s a huge accident on the DVP so that you arrive half an hour late (something you should emphatically do everything that is humanly possible to avoid doing to your host) to the office of Canada’s #1 News Station with traffic updates on the 1s of each hour so that your host has already finished the whole tour with the other job shadowing students. Basically, don’t be like me.

But then things go pretty smoothly. Your frazzle and anxiety appear outwardly like flushed interest and you get to meet all the employees and they’re all friendly and nice and give you some valuable tips on how to approach your career, and you leave the offices feeling much better than you did when you entered and it’s OK.

The final steps are to write a physical thank-you letter to your host and to fill out an online reflection form from the U of T Career Centre, and once all that is done you can request a certificate of participation. The experience is truly valuable, in my opinion: there’s no better way to see what a job is actually like than to visit the workplace and talk to the workers. If you’re on the fence about your career path, as many people probably are, this is the thing for you. It’s completely free, and runs twice a year, and is easier than I make it sound here. Go for it.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Your guide to UTSC government 2: getting meaningfully involved as a student

So last week I wrote about the structure of UTSC’s government, the various roles that people have within it, and how it functions. Today I thought it would be good to explore how to get involved within your school, what you can do as a student to participate in this government or inside the various functioning bodies of the school in general.

1. Work and Volunteering
Probably the most practical thing that you can do while you study at UTSC is get a job while you’re there! The work study program allows any full time student at UTSC to apply apply for a medley of jobs that will pay you for the entire summer semester, or fall/spring term.

The SCSU also hires 
also hires students regularly to work in many positions, both paid and voluntary.

You can also gain valuable experience through the various volunteer roles available on the SCSU employment site.

The Department of Student Life offers a
great website to browse through the various student jobs available, as well as matching you with good volunteer opportunities. 

2. Student Organizations - Campus Groups, Student Societies, Departmental Student Associations, and Greek Clubs

Student clubs (or, campus groups as they’re officially called) are the meat and potatoes of student life. It’s probably the most obvious way to get involved at school as a student. If you’ve ever stepped foot on campus you’d have noticed the various banners, fliers, and events in the school thanks to the effort of so many people like yourself who just want to get together with an idea and have fun with it. Campus groups celebrate our diverse religious, ideological, and political affiliations, and also provide a place to discuss and promote various sports and hobbies. Campus groups are approved, supported, and funded by the Department of Student Life, you can apply to make your own as per the instructions on their website. You’re pretty much allowed to make a campus group for anything you want as long as it’s not illegal, some kind of weird money making scheme, or discriminatory (you know, the bad kind of discriminatory).

The benefits of starting up a campus group as opposed to having your own secret club is eligibility for $funding$, access to school resources (your own emails, ability to book rooms, etc.), and street cred (everyone will know the badass non-alcoholic flip cup club was YOUR idea).

If you would like to join an existing campus group, a full list of them, their objectives and contact info, can be found here.

There are also Student Societies that collect levies directly from your school tuition fees, (eg, fusion radio). These are like Campus Groups but they follow much stricter guidelines. Student societies can also have formal relationships with Student Society Affiliates (like the Women’s Centre), and they can recieve funding from their parent Student Society.

Departmental Student Associations (DSAs) are great to get involved in because they allow more formal relationships to form between you and the various faculty and administration. They also make you seem like the cool ‘leader’ of your whole student department. DSAs represent your academic department, and they also advocate on the behalf of those students, so they’re a great channel to air your academic grievances through, and stand up against academic injustices. (Also great for finding that cool nerdy leader guy who can help you with helping yourself do homework).

There are fraternities and sororities that hang around campus, but the University does not officially associate with them, although many of them provide a lot of great charitable and social services too.

3. Student Unions, Public Interest Research Groups, and Community Organizations
The Scarborough Campus Student’s Union represents the undergraduate students on campus. It is a local chapter (99) of the Canadian Federation of Students, a Canada-wide student union that provides student services and lobbies on their behalf. You’ve probably heard of the CFS because of all the ‘Drop Fees’ literature, posters, and campaigns that they produce and organize. They have half a million members (you probably are one), and use their collective power to provide some great student run things like Travel CUTS, the International Student Identity Card (which provides cheap movie tickets and train fares when you’re in Bolivia for example), the Studentsaver Card (which gives you discounts at home),, the Student Work Abroad Program (SWAP), and the National Student Health Network.

The SCSU does the same thing but on a more local level. They provide many part time jobs for students, as previously mentioned, and they also provide services like discounts on Metro Passes, Raptor’s tickets, health and dental plans, and more. They lobby local governments and the school administration on our behalf. It’s also probably the most actively political group on campus (lately), which is proven by the very loud hallway dj election campaigns you’re probably familiar with. Love it or hate it, it’s probably really good to get involved with them because they represent you as a student.

There are also Public Interest Research Groups (PIRGs), that research, act on, and organize around social and environmental justice issues. Scarborough Campus doesn’t have one per se but there is one at the Hart House. PIRGs can have a lot of political clout, for example, in many of the English Universities in Montreal during the Maple Spring protests last year, they were the organizational bases for much of the actions, research and literature that supported the protests. Although they are broadly progressive by definition, they’re good to get involved with if you feel very strongly about social and environmental issues as a student and want to create effective change in those areas.

Finally there are community social and political organisations (like the Toronto Youth Council, and Scarborough Youth Council), that also broadly try to influence the community at large, including the education system. The Toronto Youth Cabinet allows people between the ages of 13-24 to sit in city hall, and work directly with the city counselors, mayor, and community partners. It’s a great place to see the inner workings of politics on the city and how it impacts your day to day life and education, and to feel like you can create a direct impact on that.