Free speech on campus: an in-depth look

The topic of free speech on university campuses continues to provoke debate and criticism in the wake of recent on-campus incidents.  One incident saw Carleton University President Roseann Runte coming under scrutiny in January, after an email titled “A Reflection for 2017” was sent out to students to promote the principle of free speech. The email was sent following various protests on campus in the fall semester. The email appeared to call campus protesters “noisy persons” who “fail to recognize [that] by preventing their duly-elected representatives to carry out their mandate, they themselves are contravening the basic principle of a civil society.” Samiha Rayeda, the volunteer, outreach, and programming coordinator for Carleton’s Ontario Public Interest Research Group (OPIRG), said the term […]

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Universities promoting courses in lesser-known languages

As the world becomes increasingly more interconnected, learning a second language can seem practical for many looking to get ahead and take advantage of unique opportunities. While statistics from the British Council place Mandarin and Spanish as the most commonly spoken languages worldwide, many Canadian universities have taken to offering and promoting classes in an increasing number of lesser-known languages. The University of Toronto (U of T) began offering a course to students in January on the dead Ethiopian language of Ge’ez. The language course is the first step towards the university’s future Ethiopian studies program. According to the Varsity, the program has received over $100,000 in donations from community members to aid in its creation. Robert Holmstedt, professor of […]

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U of T students’ union, CUSA support leaving the CFS

Executive members of the University of Toronto Students’ Union (UTSU) released a statement on Jan. 24 supporting leaving—or defederating from—the Canadian Federation of Students (CFS). The statement was released two days after the end of the CFS-Ontario annual general meeting, and was signed by four members of the UTSU executive committee, including president Jasmine Wong Denike.        “Continued membership of the Canadian Federation of Students is something that we, as executives, can no longer support,” the statement reads. “We still believe in a progressive, national student movement, but the CFS as an organization is beyond reform.” The CFS was founded at Carleton in 1981, and lobbies the provincial and federal governments to support student issues, in addition to […]

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Do student newspapers need public editors? The Varsity thinks so

The Varsity, one of the University of Toronto’s student newspapers, recently hired its first public editor. Sophie Borwein, the paper’s public editor, wrote in an article for The Varsity that she will “hold the newspaper accountable,” and “ensure the gap between the newspaper’s readers and its journalists doesn’t become too wide.” Multiple news organizations already have public editors, including the Toronto Star, The Globe and Mail, and the New York Times. These publications define the public editor role as someone who provides a critical opinion on behalf of the reader, separate from the editorial staff. This is likely the first time a Canadian student newspaper has incorporated a public editor on staff, according to Alex McKeen, The Varsity’s editor-in-chief. She […]

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U of T investigating online threats sent to transgender community

Members of the transgender community at the University of Toronto (U of T) have reported receiving online threats in the wake of recent controversial statements by a university professor, according to a recent news release from the school. Toronto police and the U of T community safety office said they are currently investigating the threats. The university has received media attention following a recent series of lectures by psychology professor Jordan Peterson, posted publicly to his account on YouTube, in which he said he refuses to use gender neutral pronouns to address students. He also criticized anti-racial bias training for U of T staff. In response to Peterson’s videos, several campus groups have published an open letter denouncing the professor’s […]

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