10 reasons you should not go to U of T

The University of Toronto was recently ranked number one in Canada and number 20 globally by U.S. News & World Report.
However, as an undergraduate student here in her third year, I can DEFINITELY say there are many reasons I wish I never came to this godforsaken school.

1. The weather in this city is always, always horrible – and to make it worse, U of T rarely gives any snow days! (Seriously, what is up with that?)

I don’t remember the last time I walked outside without the wind hitting my face at 27 miles per hour. The weather in this city is basically bad all school year – it starts to get chilly in September, followed by five months of an excruciating winter, and a sad spring till April. To put it simply: the weather is only good in this city from May till August.

And the worst part is that U of T doesn’t give enough snow days. Seriously, we were forced to go to school and write our exams during a polar vortex. On top of that, they don’t put enough salt on sidewalks.

2. Downtown appears thrilling to incoming freshmen till you find out this city is practically unaffordable for students.

It’s all fun and games till you’re forced to pay $1 500 for small student unit downtown. Additionally, there’s nothing really to do in downtown that doesn’t involve spending money. Textbooks are so expensive you’d want to gauge your eyes out, food is expensive, and a single night out can cost you a lot.

Your other options include living outside the city and commuting every day, but come on, who are we kidding? The TTC is the worst.

3. U of T is a real GPA killer.

It’s relatively easy to get into U of T but undergraduate studies here is no joke. U of T is known for having really low-class averages. The competitiveness and the high expectations here can adversely impact your GPA and basically harm your chances for graduate school.

On top of that, bell curves certainly do not make it better.

4. The WiFi on campus is the worst.

To begin, you hardly get network in a lot of the buildings in U of T. On top of that, I find that the internet is super slow and keeps on disconnecting. The WORST of all is Convocation Hall – seriously, it’s a nightmare.

5. U of T is simply way too big.

Seriously, the class sizes are way too big, and the student-teacher ratio is really bad. Large class sizes and frequent impersonal approaches to teaching can often make you feel isolated.

6. Campus life is pretty bland.

Don’t get me wrong, there are a lot of clubs to choose from and there’s always something or the other happening on campus. However, due to overburdening course loads it’s too difficult to keep up with any extracurricular activities for most students. U of T doesn’t even have a large homecoming. In my opinion, the Greek life isn’t all that happening here either.

7. Trying to find a spot in Robarts during exam season is near impossible.

U of T has 44 libraries, and still it’s somehow impossible to find a study spot during exam season. For starters, most of the libraries aren’t open 24 hours. Even though Robarts is open during exam season, only a few floors are functional at all hours – and trust me, there’s barely any sufficient seating. I think it has to do with the fact that we also have thousands of kids on a campus with crowded study spots?

8. Campus food is the worst – the only thing that’ll save you is the brown food truck in front of Sidney Smith.

For a school that’s so big, there are barely any decent places to eat on campus.

9. It’s actually really difficult to get a job in Toronto.

Unless you’re from Rotman, or you’re exceptionally good at balancing grades and extra curriculars, I find it’s really hard to get a job. Because there are so many students in Toronto, competitiveness is really high over here. Sometimes even people with straight 4.0’s don’t even get decent jobs in the city.

10. You could avoid all these and go to UTSC or UTM instead – but come on, why would you? 

I mean, you could avoid all the city problems and move to the other two campuses, but that’s even worse. For example, UTSC is too small and it’s in the middle of nowhere.

10 reasons you should go to U of T

Mid-terms and exam seasons are dreadful. While you’re in Robarts contemplating your life choices, spare a minute to remind yourself why it is still worth cramming for!

1. Your future is going to be so bright.

It’s no Ivy League or Oxbridge, but it’s the best university in Canada – and 23rd best in the world! Your parents and relatives are proud, and it looks good on your resume. That’s why we are all here in the first place…right?

2. You become the better version of yourself here.

There are a lot of empowering moments at U of T. Perhaps it was when you finally memorized your ten-digit student number at the end of the year, or when you pushed through the snow and got to class when it was -40 outside. Cheers, I’m proud of you.

3. It always has your back when you need some space.

Can’t find a seat at Gerstein? Go to Robarts, E.J. Pratt, Knox, Kelly, Law, OISE…all around the campus, U of T has a variety of libraries for your selection. Don’t worry. You can always find that study space that you desperately need.

4. Because work-life is perfectly balanced.

Work-life balance is a big deal here. You even see the flyers in the bathroom. Most frat houses get lit every weekend, or you could also go to a nice club nearby for a night-out with your friends, let some steam off the stressful week. Of course, a safe and cost-efficient alternative is study-hanging at Robarts.

5. It polishes your LinkedIn profile

By the time you graduate, your LinkedIn page is not going to be empty. Throughout your journey at U of T, you obtain tons of key skills that increase your employability. These include speed reading, speed writing, efficiency working under pressure, stress, and crisis management.

6. It equips you with essential life skills.

Next time your TA shoots down the essay you wrote or when you are cramming and crying in Robarts for that test tomorrow (uh, like now?), think about the hidden lessons. U of T doesn’t want you to know…but it’s all tough love to get you ready for adult life.

7. Because you can study anything. Literally, anything.

Enrolled in social science but changed your mind? You can always start over with a major in computer science. But if you’re interested in a challenge, you can even do another major in Caribbean Studies, Buddhist Studies, and many more programs that look lovely on your CV.

8. Because campus is beautiful.

Remember the moment you fell in love with the campus during your tour that one summer? Thinking about a picnic on the front campus or a stroll with your boo at Queen’s Park? It will happen someday when it’s neither freezing cold nor too muddy.

9. U of T keeps tabs on your physical health.

We get a good work out at least once a week. Got a class back to back? You have ten long minutes to go all the way from New College to St. Mikes. If you run fast enough you might even manage a bathroom stop!

10. Because we’re all proud to be here.

Let’s be honest. It is a complicated love-hate relationship we have with this school. But at the end of the day, we all share a good laugh whenever someone mentions Ryerson.

5 concerts to see in Toronto this Summer

Beat the Toronto summer heat and try your best to snag tickets to these hot-selling concerts in the city this summer.

Billie Eilish

She’s one of the hottest artists right now, so you know that this concert’s going to be a popular one in the city this summer. Tickets are actually already sold out, but if you’re lucky you may be able to snag one from someone who can’t go.

When: June 11

Where: Budweiser Stage

Queen + Adam Lambert

You may have seen the Oscar winning movie Bohemian Rhapsody this past year, and no matter how you felt about it or Rami Malek’s Best Actor win, you can’t deny that Queen’s catchy chart-topping hits aren’t something you’d want to miss live.

When: July 28

Where: Scotiabank Arena

Snoop Dogg

He supposedly wants to be a Canadian citizen. Well, we’ll see how well he fits in, and if he ends up leaving REBEL nightclub up in smoke…

When: May 20

Where: REBEL

Backstreet Boys

To all you 90s kids out there: get excited for this sweet throwback. Backstreet’s back to make you swoon with their pretty boy looks, catchy hooks, and smooth dance moves. Alright!

When: July 17

Where: Scotiabank Arena

Morrissey

After boycotting Canada 15 years ago, he’s back for 2 dates in Toronto. The former Smiths frontman will debut songs from his latest album and throw it back with some classic poetical alternative hits from the 80s and 90s.

When: April 26 & 27

Where: Sony Centre for the Performing Arts

 

Top 5 washrooms at U of T

There’s a truth we all figure out eventually: only the truly desperate use the Robarts washrooms. The Robarts washrooms, especially on the second floor, are usually busy, dirty, and generally unpleasant. Why would you use them when there’s so many other (marginally) better options?

If you’re looking to explore the campus and expand your horizons, let this list serve as a guide to bring you to the multi-faceted buildings— and washrooms — at UTSG.

New College — Wilson Hall

On the lower level of Wilson Hall at New College, there exists my personal Ole Faithful of washrooms. Brightly lit, never busy, with a floor length mirror.

You really can’t go wrong with this one.

Hart House — Basement

This one gets a boost because of the recently installed tampon and pad dispenser, as well as new (scented!) disposal units. Plus it’s at the central convenient location of Hart House. You can go to the gym, read a book, and have a moderately pleasant washroom experience all in one building. Truly the cultural center of U of T.

Vic Goldring Student Centre1st floor

I’m not sure exactly why I need this in a washroom, but there’s a bit of a skylight, which is a nice touch. The washrooms on the lower floor of Goldring near Ned’s Cafe aren’t bad either.

Goldring Student Centre — serving the students and their biological needs.

Innis College — Basement

Secluded in the basement of Innis college, this smaller washroom is a solid choice. Perhaps you can stop by on your way to Robarts, saving yourself from the dim, paper-toweled floors of the Robarts washrooms.

Myhal Centre — 1st Floor

I’ve only been in this building for exams, but honestly, I was wracking my brain for a fifth best washroom at U of T. The competition this year was…not strong.

But I went back for the benefit of YOU, readers of The Squirrel. And I got to say, not bad! Although if any of you out there have any better suggestions, honestly hit me up. Because writing this list was slightly depressing. I’m getting sick of these subpar washrooms and I deserve better.

I was at the Queen’s Park Flood

On the eleventh day of March came the Flood, where the students of Toronto, expelled from the verdant fields of Queen’s Park, were swept up in its current. Spring thawed the accumulated snow, and the narrow footpaths began to fill with water. I was there upon the surging plain, journeying home from my lecture at St. Michael’s, when I saw them all, hundreds perhaps, before the banks of Queen’s Park Crescent, thronging along the fence. In the deluge, a long depression in the ground had become a murky chasm, barring us from the safety of Hart House.

Some quailed at the treacherous crossing before them, but I knew there was nowhere to go if we turned back. The brave, or perhaps those with nothing left to fear, began to form a single-file line gripping the fence, one trembling foot before the other, backs to the torrent inches below. I took my place amongst them. Soon I discovered why the procession moved slowly: first, the thin strip of land on which we tiptoed was not land, but ice; we had to lean entirely on the fence, or else slip and plummet backwards.

 

Posted by Jacob Harron on Monday, March 11, 2019

 

Second, this fence was not built to support the weight of even a single human frame. As I and twenty others clung on, it groaned beneath us, and began to teeter ever more sharply, like the nodding head of one battling exhaustion, verging every second on collapse. I knew speed to be my only hope, but the procedure was too delicate. Those in front would not be hurried; those behind surged against me, clamouring for space. My footing wavered. I danced in place upon the frozen ledge in a sort of treadmill motion. The barrier swayed. I clenched my teeth, and inched on, trying to ignore the panic on either side of me, and the dark plummet behind my back. What did not help at all were the snide comments of those who chose simply to walk through the water, and cruelly chided, “It’s only a puddle,” or “Don’t those people own winter boots?” Classists, the lot of them.

At this point, the fence was distressingly malleable. Straining almost parallel to the water’s surface, it offered roughly as much support as a slice of salami nailed into the ground. Just as I prayed that I would be able to reach shore, I slipped. My left foot hurtled backwards, landing upon a small outcropping, which unfortunately turned out also to be ice. Before I knew what was happening, I was ankle-deep in black water, flailing towards shore in desperation and soggy shame. Though I escaped with my life, I relive the experience constantly. I hope never to return to Queen’s Park. I may never attend class again.

I have heard some compare the incident to Moses’ parting of the waters in Exodus, and casting of Pharaoh’s army into the sea. For my part, I left feeling less like a freed slave of Egypt than one of those ugly or abstruse divine accidents that Noah left behind. “Dreadfully sorry,” Meric Gertler calls down from aboard the Ark. “No room for, uh, you lot.” Some of the young, I have heard, go so far as to assert there never was anything behind those fences, and that Queen’s Park was always a metaphorical space, not something literal. Part of me wants to believe them, as I huddle under my blankets for warmth, and nurse my trench foot. Whatever that gated garden is or was, if I must pass it again, I pray less for salvation than survival.

Happy 192nd Birthday, U of T!

To commemorate the University of Toronto’s 192nd birthday I considered the number 192 and why – at least mathematically – it’s special.

A Wikipedia search of the number 192 came up with these reasons:

  • 192 is an even number.
  • 192 is the sum of ten consecutive primes – 5 + 7 + 11 + 13 + 17 + 19 + 23 + 29 + 31 + 37. I like this one in particular.
  • 192 is a composite number, having as its factors 2 × 2 × 2 × 2 × 2 × 2 × 3; based on this factorization, it may also be seen to be a regular number – as its only prime factors are 2 and 3.
  • 192 is the smallest number with 14 divisors, namely 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 8, 12, 16, 24, 32, 48, 64, 96, and 192 itself.
  • 192 is an abundant number, as the sum of its proper divisors (like, 319) is greater than 192.
  • 192 is a practical number, subsets of its divisors can be chosen to add to any number up to 192.
  • Based on its decimal expansion, 192 is a Harshad number (it is divisible by 1 + 9 + 2 = 12) and a happy number (repeatedly summing the squares of its digits leads from 192 to 86 to 100 to 1).

Those are the reasons why, mathematically speaking, the number 192 is special. Yet, why is U of T special?

Personally, I find U of T special for many reasons but ultimately, the most important reason is:

  • It brings together wonderful and diverse people from all over the world, not just to disseminate knowledge but also to share and cultivate in the advancement and development of new knowledge.

That said, here’s to wishing U of T a very happy 192nd Birthday!

Why is U of T special for you? Let us know in the comments below.

Five must-have phone apps in Toronto

If you’re new in the city, or if you’re just a student, here are the top five apps you definitely need to have in the city.

Transit

If you’re a consistent TTC rider and you don’t use this app, I don’t know how you’re surviving this city.

We’ve all had our fair share of the outstanding services that TTC has to offer – buses that never show up, streetcar delays, or shuttle buses replacing the out-of-service trains.

Well, to put it straightforward: Transit, the app, will save your ass.

Transit is simple, reliable, and gives you *updated* timings of nearby transit lines. With accurate real-time predictions, Transit helps you plan your trips, gives you service disruption notifications, and step-by-step navigation.

Not impressed? It even lets you book an Uber, find a Carshare, or grab the nearest Bikeshare!

It does the jobs of three different transit applications in one single app. Seriously, it’s a lifesaver.

Toronto Parking Finder

Driving in Toronto? Congratulations, you’re free from the wrath of the TTC. And yet, how do you do it? The only thing that’s worse than driving in downtown Toronto is trying to find a parking spot here.

Well, thanks to the wonders of technology, the Toronto Parking Finder app is here to save you.

Partnered with Google Maps, this app gives you the closest and the cheapest parking spots in the city when you enter your destination – it even notifies you about the free parking spots around you.

It also comes with a built-in timer and lets you know how much time is left on a parking meter to help you avoid getting those pesky parking tickets.

Some other parking apps worth mentioning are the BestParking app and the new GreenP app – if you want to give it a shot.

Ritual

Have only twenty minutes to grab lunch? Ritual helps you order ahead of time and skip lines at your favourite restaurants and coffee shops. It makes picking up takeout super easy, and the best part is that there is no extra added fee. It tells you when to leave and, once you arrive, the food and beverages are ready for you.

As if this wasn’t wild enough, you also earn points with every order, which can be redeemed later for free beverages or food.

There’s also an added benefit for businesses: Ritual helps businesses subsidize lunches or dinners for their employees.

Bunz

Bunz was a very popular Facebook group, but now they have their own app! Not a lot of people know about how great Bunz is, but if you’re a student this app is perfect for you.

Bunz is a community that basically lets people trade unwanted items with each other, instead of paying money for it. You can trade clothes, furniture, accessories, services, and a lot more – I got an entire dining table with four chairs for my small apartment for only two wine bottles!

This app is wild, and definitely worth checking out!

BlogTO

Yes, I know this is super basic, but this is my favourite app to scroll through – it gives you access to all the events taking place around you in Toronto, the ‘top 10’ restaurants for practically every food item, and even the latest news. You can find the best Toronto bars, coffee shops, hangout places, and everything else here. Pro tip: you can also save the articles and upcoming events to your list so you don’t miss them.

Want to find out the best taco place? Can’t decide which bar to hit on St. Patrick’s Day? BlogTO got your back!

Mindfulness on campus

Here are some campus spots to de-stress during the week.

St. George Campus

Ecstatic Dance Meditation 

When: Tuesday, March 12, 7:50-9:45pm

Where: Koffler House

Price: $5 for students and faculty

Hart House Drop-In Mindful Moments/Meditation 

When: Tuesdays 8:10-9:00am/Wednesdays 3:10-4:00pm

Where: Hart House Exercise Room/Hart House Activities Room

Price: Free

Get Crafty: wire tree sculptures

When: Thursdays 11:00am-1:00pm

Where: Hart House Reading Room

Price: Free

Brazilian Jiu-jitsu

When: Friday, March 14, 8:00-10:00pm

Where: Hart House Activities Room

Price: Free

Scarborough Campus

Community Kitchen 

When: Monday, March 11, 5:00-8:00pm

Where: Room SW313

Price: Free with registration

Edible History (HISB14H3) Pop-Up Restaurant!

When: Wednesday, March 13, 10:00am-4:30pm

Where: Room SW313

Price: Free with registration

Mississauga Campus

UTM World Cup 

When: Wednesday, March 13, 5:00-10:00pm

Where: Gym A/B

Price: $10 per player, $50 per team

Trashion Show

When: Friday, March 15, 5:00-8:00

Where: Blind Duck Pub

Price: Free

Let’s talk about art: six must-sees in March

Present day can seem overwhelmingly bleak, with scary headlines blaring from TV screens and newspapers, and disagreement in every corner. Take a break from the hectic disarray and explore urgent concerns through art – these nuanced perspectives guide viewers in appreciating the negotiation of contemporary issues. From exhibitions to performances and discussions, find beauty in today’s pressing questions.

Add these events to your calendar, you won’t want to miss them.

SHOW: “The Shell” 

How does colonialism, technology, and being a mortal constrain an artist? Questions about the nature of art and the artist play out on stage in this production by the Theatre and Performance Studies program at U of T’s Scarborough campus.

When: Thursday March 14: 8pm-10pm

Cost: $8 Students/Seniors, $10 adults

SHOW: Trashion Show 19’

Fashion and art come together in this show at U of T Mississauga to promote environmental sustainability. See what can be made with re-used and recyclable materials for artwork that is both classy and trashy.

When: Friday March 15: 5pm-8pm

Cost: Free

PANEL: Artistic Ethics in an Age of Social Consciousness 

Arts and culture contribute to social movements – and vice versa. With #MeToo, decolonization efforts, and rampant cancel culture, the intersection of an artists’ talent and morals is often brought into question. Join the Hart House Debates and Dialogues Committee’s discussion, with speakers Quill Christie Peters, Michèle Pearson Clarke, Georgiana Uhlyarik, Indu Vashist, and moderator Gabrielle Moser.

When: Monday March 18: 7pm-8:30pm

Cost: Free

EXHIBITION: Vision Exchange: Perspectives from India to Canada 

Paintings, sculptures, photographs, and more. These works at the Art Museum at U of T make up an exhibition about land and sovereignty, reframing historical narratives, and migration, sharing perspectives that foster dialogue.

When: Wednesday March 20: 6:30pm Exhibition tour with Dr. Deepali Dewan/Exhibition on until March 23.

Cost: Free

EXHIBITION: Trinity Art Show 2019: Statements 

Explore the urgency of art and how it negotiates our personal identities, sociopolitical issues, ideologies, technology, and culture today. See some art and make your mark, with statements about art in interactive curatorial installations.

When: Friday March 29: 6pm-9pm Opening Reception/Saturday March 30 and Sunday March 31: 11am-3pm Exhibition

Cost: Free

EXHIBITION: Ai Weiwei: Unbroken 

Take a trip to the Gardiner Museum to view Ai Weiwei’s unconventional and thought-provoking ceramic works, exploring timely social justice issues including immigration and dissent. While you’re there, see Unswept Floor (Tesserae) by Nurielle Stern, an exhibition in response to themes in Ai Weiwei’s Unbroken.

When: On until June 9

Cost: Free (post-secondary students on Tuesdays) + discounted admission on Fridays

Seven free film screenings on campus this March

Catch a free screening of a cult classic or a timely documentary this month with a number of film screenings on the St. George campus. These films are worth braving the cold, and none of them are on Netflix. I’ve checked.

Othello 

Liz White’s Othello (1980) featured an all-Black production, cast and crew and all, the first time Othello was not portrayed by a white actor in blackface. This is a rare chance to see this film, as it will be screened on 16mm archival print – it is not available on DVD or Blu-ray.

When: Sunday March 10

Where: Innis Town Hall

The Human Scale 

Congested roads. Unfriendly spaces. Loneliness. These are some of the symptoms of the mega city. In this documentary featuring architects and urban planners from around the world, Danish architect and professor Jan Gehl shows that it is possible to make cities better for us all. Part of the Ethics in the City film series.

When: Wednesday March 13

Where: Centre for Ethics, Larkin Building

City of God 

This fun crime drama is set in a suburb of Rio de Janeiro. Drug empires, guns, money, and the evolution of organized crime. Part of the ARC354 History of Housing film series.

When: Thursday March 14

Where: Room 200, 1 Spadina

Josie and the Pussycats 

End your week with this cult film: full of bubbly fun, throwback fashion, and commentary on crass consumerism. Part of the CINSSU Free Friday Film series at Innis Town Hall.

When: Friday March 15

Where: Innis Town Hall

The Lives of Others 

East Berlin, before the fall of the wall. A playwright is under surveillance, and he doesn’t even know. He does some transgressional stuff. Will he be caught? This is also part of the ARC354 History of Housing film series.

When: Wednesday March 20

Where: Main Hall, 1 Spadina

Metropolis 

See this classic sci-fi film by Fritz Lang as part of the Ethics in the City film series. Enjoy the story that plays out in the visually powerful scenes of this sharply divided dystopian city, complete with art deco influence. To make it more fun, a case of mistaken identity throws a wrench in the characters’ pursuit of love.

When: Wednesday March 27

Where: Centre for Ethics, Larkin Building

In the Mood for Love 

A doomed love affair, driven by fantasy but never fulfilled. This classic film is hauntingly beautiful and is set in 1960s Hong Kong, with the city cast in lush colours and deep shadows. Also part of the ARC354 History of Housing film series.

When: Thursday March 28

Where: Room 200, 1 Spadina