Wednesday, November 7, 2007


The Toronto District School Board has brought up the idea of a black-focused school again. I can see both sides of the coin on this one. Which is why I thought of something completely different.

A social justice high school.

In the way some arts schools work, students could choose a 'major' or a track focusing on an issue or topic of interest to them. Race, ethnicity or culture could definitely be some of them. So could heritage, LGBTQ issues, feminism, poverty, disAbility, the environment, international development, and so on. These could vary depending on neighbourhood and community needs and interests. The idea would be a school to foster social responsibility, teach alternate histories, offer close mentoring relationships with students, and provide a hub for the community.

I have in no way developed this and nor do I claim any kind of expertise in this field, but if you want to throw ideas this way, goooo for it.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

How to really avoid/stop rape

I noticed a lot of people joining the Facebook group "tips for all women... please join... and pass on." I have some tips of my own for avoiding rape and assault.

Top two places sexual assault occurs, YOU could be AT RISK, AVOID THESE TWO PLACES:

1) Indoors
2) Outdoors

Other tips for avoiding rape:

- be male (most rape victims are female)
- if you can't avoid being female, at least don't form a romantic relationship with a man (many female rape victims are raped by their intimate partners)
- don't ever smile at or say hello to a man (he might think you want him to rape you, and who would question him, since you did after all smile and say hi)
- as well as not smiling and saying hello to men, also don't ignore them (they might get mad and attack you)
- Do not form relationships with other human beings. 75 percent of rapists know their victims. Don't have any fathers, step-fathers, uncles, brothers, clergy members, and neighbours.
- wear camouflage appropriate to whatever setting you're in (so rapists don't notice you)
- or at least cover yourself entirely (because if a rapist sees any part of your sexxay body he will be justified in appropriating it as his own)
- in addition to covering yourself entirely, also make sure that you don't cover yourself entirely because that too draws attention to yourself
- avoid parking lots, streets, especially the street you live on, and being in your own home
- live in a reinforced bunker on the side of a mountain with barred windows and several deadbolts on the door (sometimes rapists break into random houses to rape)
- shoot on sight anyone who approaches your property (rapists look just like everyone else)

In all honesty, the tips in the group (and in the e-mail forward it originated from) are, for the most part, BUNK. Please read the following articles from Snopes for details:

Furthermore, these tips are awful because they place all responsibility for safety and security on women. How do you think a woman who has been sexually assaulted might feel if she reads all these things she didn't do and feels responsible? This is something called BLAMING THE VICTIM. It is inappropriate and wrong. Rape is NEVER the victim's fault. The blame should be placed where it belongs - on the shoulders of the men who rape, and on the systemic oppression of women known as the patriarchy. Tips like this only serve to further these kinds of misogynist, victim-blaming attitudes and don't do anything to address the real problem, which is that there are men out there who believe that women's bodies are their public property to do with as they please. Until they wake up and realise that this is not the case, women will always be in some kind of danger.

Here are some real tips to stop rape, for men and women, that you should all pass along:
1) Fight the oppression of women, wherever, whenever, and however you see it.
2) Tell men to stop raping women. If a woman is drunk, don't rape her. If a woman is walking alone at night, don't rape her. If a women is drugged and unconscious, don't rape her. If a woman is wearing a short skirt, don't rape her. If a woman is jogging in a park at 5AM, don't rape her. If a woman looks like your ex-girlfriend you're still hung up on, don't rape her. If a woman is asleep in her bed, don't rape her. If a woman is asleep in your bed, don't rape her. If a woman is doing her laundry, don't rape her. If a woman is in a coma, don't rape her. If a woman changes her mind in the middle of or about a particular activity, don't rape her. If a woman has repeatedly refused a certain activity, don't rape her. If a woman is not yet a woman, but a child, don't rape her. If your girlfriend or wife is not in the mood, don't rape her. If your step-daughter is watching TV, don't rape her.

If you break into a house and find a woman there, don't rape her. If your friend thinks it's okay to rape someone, tell him it's not, and that he's not your friend. If your "friend" tells you he raped someone, report him to the police. If your frat-brother or another guy at the party tells you there's an unconscious woman upstairs and it's your turn, don't rape her, call the police and report him as a rapist.

Tell your sons, god-sons, nephews, grandsons, and sons of friends that it's not okay to rape someone.

Don't just tell your women friends how to be safe and avoid rape. Don't imply that she could have avoided it if she'd only done/not done x, y, or z. Don't imply that it's in any way her fault. Don't let silence imply agreement when someone tells you he "got some" with the drunk girl. Don't perpetuate a culture that tells you that you have no control over or responsibility for your actions. You can too help yourself. Rape is not about sex, it's about control and power, and what kind of power comes from taking advantage of others? No power anyone should ever desire.

Now playing: Something Corporate - Globes & Maps
via FoxyTunes

Saturday, October 20, 2007


Things learned from SCSU board meetings, #2358:

Don't actually do your job. If you do so, you may get censured. Failure to do your job will result in absolutely nothing of consequence (in a number of different ways).

Saturday, September 15, 2007

good stuff

I haven't written in a while because I've been crazy busy and when I haven't been crazy busy, I've been exhausted. And now I'm back to school, which means things will be even crazier.

Since I've been grumpy lately, here is something that made me very happy this morning:

Students in Nova Scotia put on a mass wave of pink in order to stand up for a kid who was bullied for wearing a pink shirt. Favourite line:
David said one of the bullies angrily asked him whether he knew pink on a male was a symbol of homosexuality.

He told the bully that didn’t matter to him and shouldn’t to anyone.

"Something like the colour of your shirt or pants, that’s ridiculous," he said.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

speak not its name!

*Note - sexual assault triggers

Well this is just plain ridiculous. A Nebraska judge bans the word "rape" from his courtroom, along with "sexual assault," "victim," "assailant" and "sexual assault kit."

The result is that the defense and the prosecution are both left to use the same word—sex—to describe either forcible sexual assault, or benign consensual intercourse. As for the jurors, they'll just have to read the witnesses' eyebrows to sort out the difference.

Um, right. How unbelievably awful is this? This judge is forcing the victim to lie, because rape and sex are not the same thing. Rape is not about sex - rape is about power and control. I call bullshit on the "jurors being too emotional" argument put forth here. It's horrible that Bowen had to go through this, on top of everything else.

Furthermore, how's about some more lying and coddling?
And there's another problem underlying Cheuvront's order: Jurors will not be told of it. Not only is the "dangerous" language to be hidden from them, but the fact that it's been hidden will be concealed from them as well. They are not merely too emotional to hear the phrase rape kit. They are also evidently too emotional to know it's been hidden from them in the first place.

In the words of the victim herself:
"This makes women sick, especially the women who have gone through this," Bowen said. "They know the difference between sex and rape. If it was sex, I wouldn't be speaking to you."

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

culture jamming yay!

I can't remember where I was directed to this from first, but who cares, it's awesome. A LiveJournal user very awesomely modified those ridiculous Special K ads. Check out the results!

Some of you who know me know that I'm not too fond of bowing to bullshit beauty standards, hence I found this shaving historical timeline interesting. Do pay attention to the entry for World War One, and the fact that
It all began with the May, 1915 edition of Harper's Bazaar magazine that featured a model sporting the latest fashion. She wore a sleeveless evening gown that exposed, for the first time in fashion, her bare shoulders, and her armpits.

A young marketing executive with the Wilkinson Sword Company, who also made razor blades for men, designed a campaign to convince the women of North America that:

(a) Underarm hair was unhygienic (b) It was unfeminine.

In two years, the sales of razor blades doubled as our grandmothers and great grandmothers made themselves conform to this socially constructed gender stereotype. This norm for North American women has been reinforced by several generations of daughters who role-modeled their mothers.

It's all about marketing and social conditioning, as usual.

Also, Colbert mocks people who make such a big deal over name changes:

Monday, June 11, 2007

I'm still alive, I swear

Summer is upon us. I've left the SCSU (my term ended almost a month ago) and have drifted into the wonderful world of waiting tables, and when I'm not doing that, sitting on my ass.

Those of you who remember the disaster that was my boyfriend attempting to get new identification, all is well and he has been in Canada since the start of May. Got here while I was away on a retreat and I had a pleasant surprise when I called my mom's house and he answered the phone. Good times.

Some linkage of good reads and things to keep an eye on:

- I'm keeping my eye on this story. The girl's father really freaked me out when I saw him on the news - if you've seen it, you know he was dancing and grinning and waving as he was arrested. I'm waiting to hear more about it before I come up with commentary.

- Jill at Feministe has a good post on reaction to Paris Hilton's jail time. Sexualised insults and attacking women for being sexual, for enjoying sex, presuming that they do and that that's a bad thing, etc., are things that bother me very very much, so when Jill says,
I’ve found a lot of the conversation around the Paris Hilton jailing to be very troubling — people don’t want to see her incarcerated because she broke the law, but because she’s a “stupid bimbo,” a “skanky little whore,” a “stupid bitch,” a “ho,” a “piece of white trash,” a “ignorant cum hole on a stick,” a “fucking whorebag,” a “whinning pussystretched crab infested skank,” a “spoiled cunt,” etc etc.

I'm well inclined to agree.

- Speaking of Feministe, Zuzu has left the blog. I got to meet Zuzu recently and she is pretty darn awesome; believe me, she will be missed.

- Oh my god, ew. Ew ew ew ew ew ewwwwwwwwwwwwwwww!

- Andy and I went to see the new Michael Lee-Chin Crystal at the Royal Ontario Museum on Friday. I have to say I was pretty darn underwhelmed. From the first time I saw the plans for the thing, I was horrified by it. And people were going on and on and on about it once it opened with glorious reviews and beautiful photos and the like, and I knew I was going to give it a chance anyway but... yeah. We went on Friday because that's the cheap night and despite the fact that it took like, five years to build the damn thing, it already looks cheap and beat up inside. Just in the entrance hall there was a bit of masking tape left on a wall, elsewhere I already saw dents in the walls (not to mention footprints on some of the slopes, since people can't seem to READ THE FUCKING SIGNS THAT SAY DON'T CLIMB ON THE WALLS), and in general it just seemed to be... meh. It wasn't brilliant, it wasn't inspiring, it wasn't beautiful, it was pretty darn meh. I am curious to see what it will be like when there's actually stuff in there (on the fifth floor there are already two small exhibits) but it seems like way too much money spent on something that has turned out to be really not that special. Anyway, I did take some pictures of my own, and in the end I stand by my initial proclamation of five years ago, that it's a blight on a beautiful old building. As Andy put it, in a somewhat appalled tone, when looking at it from the angle of that last picture, "It looks like a growth."

- From the Saturday Star, a series of profiles on women presidents, principals and deans at Canada's universities. It's really fascinating, and Mayo Moran, dean of law at U of T, hits the nail on the head when it comes to motherhood and career:
"You look at women in senior levels in the university and most have children that are grown or no children. That's not something that is true of men." Moran, 46, who has a 10-year-old son, adds: "I'm the only one (female dean) who had a son that was little. However, the last dean had four young kids when he became dean and no one mentioned that. It is one of the hurdles that we have to cross."
. Make sure you check out all the links on the sidebar to read these women's stories.

- From TheGoodReverend, a photo quiz: Exercise Equipment or Sex Toy?. I don't remember where I found this but it made me giggle.

- A very good read about the crime half of all humans commit, and the punishment doled out for, Living While Female, at a cat and twenty.

- And finally, one of my favourite bloggers, Jessica Valenti of, was on the Colbert Report last week, and kicked some ass.

I might add more to this later, but right now I am hungry.

Saturday, April 28, 2007


Aw fuck, I've got 15 minutes left to get my Take Back The Blog post in.

I'd been thinking about what to write all day, and realised that I didn't really have much more to say, other than to re-tell what I wrote for Blog Against Sexism Day:

This summer, I was harassed because of decisions I made while serving on the student union. These decisions offended a small group of people (one person, really, two or three max) who are generally the disgusting type. And instead of being criticised with rational reasons as to why they disagreed, I was (to be expected given their history) instead berated as a woman. I was called a bitch and a whore. I was made fun of for my weight (which is actually pretty average). Pornographic pictures were posted with labels indicating that I and the SCSU were double-penetrating the students. This person drove by my house in the middle of the night screaming at me. I had to get the Administration and the Community Safety Office involved. That was six months ago. I don't even want to know what they're saying about me now. My office-mate and fellow female executive, Lisa, faced similar insults when it came to some of her decisions.

My male colleagues? When they made a decision or said something people didn't like, their characters were gone after as well. But the names they were called didn't have anything to do with their sexuality. They didn't have anything to do with their body. No, they were called "power hungry" and "corrupt." Their actions were criticised more, they were "not accountable," they were playing political games and being manipulative.

Most of this happened on the Internet, because the decisions were in relation to an online forum that the SCSU was running at the time. The Executives were moderating it. At one point I was the forum admin, and the person who drove by my house was someone who I had banned.

There's a whole lot of stories behind this forum - when I was helping to run it, it was its third incarnation. It was taken down the previous two times (and ultimately, a third) because people couldn't play nice in the sandbox. And as I said, Lisa and I got a lot of shit on that forum whenever we said something, in ways that our male colleagues did not, and that was part of why we took the thing down. I was losing sleep over the harassment I was getting and it fucking sucked.

I really can't explain it, other than to rehash what is a given already: it's a lot of hatred for women, and fear of women in positions of power, and an inability to accept that we could possibly be right and they could possibly be wrong. According to people who know the guy behind all this, he was never a physical threat to me, just talk. They told me this months later. But how was I to know this while I'm lying awake in bed at 3 AM unable to sleep because I've just been screamed at for no good reason by a cowardly asshole who can't accept that he broke the rules? Way to discredit my feelings.

The other awful part was how hardly anyone stood up for me publicly. I got supportive e-mails and phone calls and talks over tea, but no one ever came out and said, STOP to his guy. And I don't know what to say about that, either. Maybe they were afraid of being targeted themselves. Maybe they didn't know what to do. I don't know.

But, I do know that I haven't let it stop me. Thankfully it was also never as bad for me as it was for people like Kathy Sierra, and hopefully it never will be. We deserve to be here just as much as anyone else.

Friday, April 27, 2007

it lives!

Yes, I'm alive. Things have just been crazy, but, today has been good.

As I mentioned before, Andy has been in a right state over the past eight months without any ID, the past year without a steady job, and the past six months without a home of his own. Last weekend I went to visit him, we stayed in a hotel. This past week he's really been on the street, more or less (well, in a friend's basement, really, and that was kinda sketch). We decided to take a big step, and my mom and I got together enough money to send him to Worcester, MA, where he grew up, to see about getting him some ID. He left at 3 AM and arrived just before noon. By 1:20 PM he had a record of his birth from the town clerk, and a temporary MassID from the RMV. By 4 PM he'd also taken care of his social security card and sent off an application for a passport. Wooo! He'll be spending the weekend with a friend of mine in Connecticut before heading back to Buffalo. The passport will take 1-4 weeks, and when he gets back to New York he'll be applying for ID from that state.

I am pretty fucking ecstatic about that. I could very well have him here in Canada by the end of May, which would be absolutely amazing.

I also had my last exam today. I think I kicked its ass. Awesome.

For the next week or so I'll be pretty much AWOL. I'm packing this weekend, moving on Monday, then I have peer educator training and a retreat next week as well. I won't be back until Sunday, then I have a week left with the SCSU. So I'll be busy, to say the least.

Hope you're all doing well out in internet-land. :-)

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

What. The. Fuck.

The opening of this article is disgusting. Short of coming out and saying, "It was Emily's fault," this is blatant, awful victim blaming.

Emily Hilscher was not responsible for the tragedy at Virginia Tech. Even if she was his ex-girlfriend, she was not responsible - the man who shot her was. He's the one who picked up the gun, he's the one who pulled the trigger. He was the one with such a sense of entitlement to this woman that he went out and killed her. But it doesn't seem like this paper realises that she's the one who was murdered.

So now every media source is going on about gun control, gun control, gun control; security, security, security. To be honest though, let's face it - if the guy was this disturbed, all the gun control and security in the world probably wouldn't have stopped him from harming others. As more details come out, I'll be interested to hear more about his story and his possible motives. Maybe it was the ex-girlfriend. Maybe it was his mental health. Maybe it was bullying (yes, it happens in universities). Maybe it was a campus culture he didn't fit into, didn't understand. We don't know. But I really don't think gun control should be made into the main issue. The backstory, what was going on in this young man's life, should be at the forefront of the discussions, so that if it was mental illness, in the future people in the same frame of mind can get the proper help sooner; so if it was a relationship gone sour, that we can get information out on handling those kinds of situations - and so that dead women don't get blamed for what they weren't responsible for.

Update: Making the article I wrote about even more ridiculous, it turns out that Emily Hilscher didn't even know the guy. Though he did seem to have a history of stalking, to the point where his roommates told their female friends not to come by their room. Apparently he "saw promiscuity" in one girl. *shudders*

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Of Note

June Callwood died yesterday. A real hero and an amazing woman. I really admired her.
Toronto Star: one, two, three.

How not to be an asshole: a guide for men by Chris Clarke over at Pandagon. Cue wild applause, alongside a sigh that probably the only reason some of the men this is directed at will take a hint is because it was written by a dude.

What's with the sexualized threats against women? by E.J. Graff at TPM Cafe. As someone who has been the target of sexualised threats, this means a lot to me.

Take Back the Tech. Much love for this campaign.

And finally, just for fun: Awesome.


To anyone who was at the Board meeting on Friday, I'm sorry for my outburst. I'm not sorry for the message I was trying to convey, but I know it was unprofessional of me to act the way I did. It was the result of a lot of frustration I've been feeling because of the way certain Directors have been acting, and I meant it when I said I couldn't believe I'd lasted this long with them. I'm not quitting, though. Despite all this I still like my job.

More blogging once exams are over.

Friday, April 13, 2007


This is another long story, but I'll make it as short as possible, and that is mostly because I'm sick of typing it out over and over again.

Some of you who know me personally may have already heard about my boyfriend, Andy Parker. Andy lives in Niagara Falls, New York, and in August 2006, his identification was stolen: his driver's license, his birth certificate, and his social security card. As well, at the end of September of that year, he was evicted from his apartment. He also recently got fired from his job.

Right now, Andy is flat broke, has no ID, and after tomorrow, nowhere to live. The government offices, community groups and agencies that are supposed to be there to help have been no help at all. He has been relying on the kindness of friends but is no longer able to do so. For the past eight months he has been run around in circles, promised things that never appeared, and barely scraping by because of this.

We are at our wit's ends. There is very little I can do for him from Canada, and this situation has been stressing us both out and straining our relationship. He needs help, and I figure the best I can do is get the word out.

First, I've created a Facebook group, which you can see here. It has more details on the situation and what Andy has already tried. If you don't have Facebook, contact me and I'll e-mail you the details.

Andy is looking for a place to stay, a job, and perhaps some legal wrangling. The housing and the job are the most important things right now because as of tomorrow, he'll be out on the street. What Andy is NOT looking for is a handout or money. What I'm trying to do is network, and find people, preferably in the U.S., who might be able to help. If you or someone you know lives in the Buffalo/Niagara Falls area and knows of any job leads, or places he can stay (that don't want him to present ID), please contact me at and I will get you in touch with Andy. If you are involved in law or other related fields and think you can help with his ID situation, also get in touch.

Any and all help is greatly appreciated. Andy is a good guy who has had some really bad luck recently, and he really needs the help.

Thanks so much.

Saturday, April 7, 2007

misogyny in action at UWO

I'm disgusted to hear about the recent article in the University of Western Ontario's student newspaper, the Gazette, that was part of their "spoof" issue for April Fool's day. Someone thought an article, entitled "Labia majora carnage," that took direct shots at members of a campus women's group, WIN, and alluded to rape (in the form of taking a WIN member into a dark alley to "teach her a lesson"), characterising it as humourous, would be a hilarious addition to the issue.

Yeah. Hil-fucking-arious, "Xavier," whoever the hell you might be.

Apparently, and sadly, I hear that this is not altogether surprising for this newspaper. I'm told that the Gazette has a history of being sexist, racist, and generally bigoted, and that WIN has been trying to make them more accountable. Well, the names used in the article are either very close to the names of actual WIN members, or reference specific WIN members. These women are recognizable as themselves in the article. Read it, and you can see that the article suggests that one of these women should be raped.

Talk about backlash.

This is fucking disgusting. You can help take some action. Join the Facebook group Rapist Culture at The University of Western Ontario. Write to the Gazette Editor-in-Chief, Ian Van Den Hurk at Email the equity services at Western at to complain and to draw their attention to this article. Repost this on your blog or website. Spread the word about the things being written in this paper.

ETA: There's no online version of the article in question yet, but someone did scan it, so you can read it here. A warning - it may be triggering for some people.

Monday, April 2, 2007

Execs Behaving Badly

I just read this post by Erin Millar over at the Macleans Education section about RSU President-elect Nora Loreto's little freak-out on Bob Rae in the middle of an interview being conducted by Eyeopener editor Robyn Doolittle.

“She starts on about reducing tuition since it's expensive to live in Toronto,” Doolittle described in an email, “then goes off about the Millenium scholarship. Rae tries to answer briefly. She interupts him, talking louder and louder in typical [Canadian Federation of Students] scripted rants. [Rae and Loreto] speak overtop of each other for a bit and I finally bring it back. She interrupts again.”

Sounds strikingly familiar to two incidents with Chris Bentley earlier this year. Hmmm.

To be quite honest, I'm sick of people acting this way, screaming and yelling to try and get their way (and in the case of the SCSU, trying to destroy the entire sandbox since they broke the rules and can't play in it anymore). When did temper tantrums become effective means of communication for anyone over the age of two? Hell, at least in my family, they were never effective at that age, either. Interrupting interviews, press conferences, and meetings like this, in my opinion, only gets you limited results, such as the following:

1) A reputation as immature and unwilling to engage in meaningful dialogue. You know, like a civil discussion where you can present proposals and work with people to get something positive accomplished.
2) Your name on public figures' lists of People Not To Let Near Me, Ever. If anyone ever did that to me while I was trying to work, I'd consider it harassment, and at the very least blacklist that person, if I didn't press charges. Not being able to go near someone is something that tends to get in the way of that Meaningful Dialogue thing.
3) Reports like this telling everyone that you're a tantrum-throwing fool, thus exacerbating 1 and 2.

Seriously now. This is really just common courtesy, good manners, things like that, things we should've all learned in kindergarten, being thrown out the window by people who should damn well know better. Students are paying their representatives to advocate on behalf of their needs, and should expect these representatives to present themselves and behave in a professional manner. I hope they're angry when they read about this.

ETA: Here's the editorial from Doolittle discussing the incident, and another one with a U of T candidate.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

random UTSC & SCSU news

My friend Gillian has a letter in the Varsity today, about Friday's Board meeting. She tabled a motion of censure against the President, which the Board didn't even allow to be put on the agenda. Absolutely ridiculous. Read her letter. It's good.

Another article in the Varsity about Scarborough getting shafted.

Another friend, former SCSU VP Academics Jeff Rybak, has his book launch today at Bluff's Restaurant at UTSC. Here's an article on the book, What's Wrong With University (And How To Make It Work For You Anyway, and here is the Facebook group.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

And you thought the SCSU elections were crazy...

My friend Peggy is a journalism student at Sheridan College in Oakville. Recently, the Sheridan Student Union Inc. had their elections. Peggy told me something very curious about what happened when she went to vote:

She was told to write her name on her ballot.

Yes. Names. On ballots. What, followed by, the fuck, were they thinking?

This led to an investigation into the elections that brings to light some serious problems with planning and policy at SSUI. You can read all of it at Peggy's blog, Soup Is Good Food. There was a lot of confusion and in the end, it's possible that up to 500 ballots were thrown out. The article will run in the Sheridan Sun.

Hooray for democracy.

Saturday, March 24, 2007


At last night's Board meeting, the SCSU very unceremoniously got executives for next year. Here's how:

At the beginning of the meeting, there was an item entitled "New Business - Issues Regarding Elections: Logistics and Rulings." During this item we were first directed to a section in the VP Human Resource's report where he discussed hiring for a new elections committee. On Monday the 19th the current Elections Committee informed Mike that they did not want to extend their contracts and run the re-election. So, Mike put out the advertisement and set a deadline of Wednesday 21 March, intending to announce the results at an emergency Board meeting set for that night, which was subsequently cancelled. Due to the cancellation, Mike e-mailed the Board stating that he had reviewed the applicants and there were not enough qualified candidates to form an elections team. Without an elections committee, we can't run an election.

Next, the Vice-Chair, Jemy Joseph, made a ruling on the re-election in terms of the nomination packages' availability. Elections Policy section 2.01.08 - Duties of the Chief Returning Officer states: Establish a minimum of seven (7) working days for the filling of nominations; nominations will close at least ten (10) working days before the first voting day of the election; Working days does not include Reading Week. (emphasis mine).

Now, considering that we did not have a CRO for the re-election at this time, the responsibility should have been delegated by the Board to someone else. Unfortunately, it wasn't. Nominations, according to the advertisement in the Varsity (the legal one) were to open on Thursday 15 March, and close yesterday (23 March). However, the nomination packages were not publicly available until Tuesday 20 March. While the nomination period was technically open for 7 days, the Vice-Chair ruled that without the packages being available until Tuesday, potential candidates could only file nominations for four days (20, 21, 22, 23 March). Extending the nomination period another three working days to 28 March would not be feasable, as the closing date of nominations must be at least 10 days before voting. It would push the voting day into study break, when even fewer people are on campus than on a UTSC Friday as was originally planned. Because of this, the Vice-Chair ruled the re-election illegal.

Thirdly! The Chair did some investigating into Robert's Rules of Order. At the 9 March Board Meeting, the ratification failed during the Division of the Assembly. The initial vote actually passed. After looking into Robert's Rules, Susie found that the Division of the Assembly was, in fact, illegal. While she was explaining this people were getting confused and I wanted to have a whiteboard so I could draw a flow chart. Here's basically how things went and why they were illegal:

- Vote called on motion to ratify.
- Vote passes.
- Marc Kilchling moves to recess.
- Some kerfluffle, but a recess held.
- Return from recess.
- Request for a Division of the Assembly.
- Chair denies, says it's against Robert's Rules, which state:
A Division of the Assembly may be called for, without obtaining the floor, at any time after the question has been put, even after the vote has been announced and another has the floor, provided the vote was taken viva voce, or by show of hands, and it is called for before another motion has been made.
(Emphasis mine)
Because Marc made a motion to recess, a Division of the Assembly is impossible under Robert's Rules. Some people objected because there were objections to the motion to recess, however, the motion doesn't have to pass - someone just has to say it. Which they did.
- Appeal to the Chair's decision.
- Susie tries to explain that she didn't actually make a decision, she's just following Robert's Rules, therefore there is nothing for them to appeal.
- Certain Group of People force a vote on Appealing the Chair's decision, which passes.

- Division of the Assembly takes place, motion fails.

According to Robert's Rules, this appeal, and subsequently the Division of the Assembly, is illegal. This Certain Group of People who were dead set on having a Division of the Assembly would have had to move to suspend the rules, which requires 2/3 majority (see Robert's Rules, Article IV. Incidental Motions, Sections 21 and 22, for Appeals From The Chair and Suspension of the Rules). Susie did not make a ruling, she stated the rules. In finding this she ruled the Division of the Assembly from 9 March illegal, therefore the initial vote to ratify stands.

So after all that, really it means that a) a re-election is illegal and impractical, and b) the original report was ratified. People went on and on about these things but of course it was going nowhere, and the topic was not a Discussion Item, so Rob called for Orders of the Day and we moved on. Since that means we have Executives, Director Arjune Selvarajan, who had put the Motion to Rescind and the Renewal of a Motion on the table, withdrew them. And we merrily went on our way to the 07-08 budgets.

Of course, because people are stupid, they can't leave things be. Later, we were hearing reports from SCOSE and SCOE (Standing Committees on Students & Equity and External, respectively). A couple of people had left the room and we were in the middle of discussing a motion coming from SCOE on the $10 minimum wage campaign, when these people return. Out of nowhere, Senthooran, the VP External, starts going on about something related to Robert's Rules. I believe he was trying to get Rob's earlier insistence on calling Orders of the Day (which is non-debatable) ruled dilatory. Whatever it was, he interrupted his own committee chair with bullshit that's already been ruled on. God that pissed me off. We were in the middle of something and he just barges into the conversation with something COMPLETELY off-topic. ARGH.

In any case, for what it's worth, congratulations to Rob, Jemy, Chris, and Ahmad. Hopefully it lasts this time.

In other, happier news, I served on the SCSU Awards Committee, which reported to the Board last night, so I'd like to congratulate the winners of those awards:
President's Award - Chris Van Abbema
Vice-President's Award - Lynn Zhu
Clubs' Awards - Maple Chong (Life Science Students' Union) and Charissa Jattan (Model United Nations)
Faculty/Staff Award - Lesley Mak
Teaching Award - Dr. Stephen Reid

Aaaand I'm out. Back to work.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

I don't even know where to start with this one.

The first thing I wanted to see this morning was definitely NOT the dead model gallery (view at your own risk, may be triggering) from the latest episode of America's Next Top Model. Alas, they came up.

I've never been a 'fashion' person. I've only ever watched this show when my housemates are watching it and I happen to be around. I don't see the appeal of watching stick-thin woman-shaped coathangers parading around a catwalk, I don't see how anonymous individuals with vacant stares are supposed to make me want to buy things, and I've never understood the need to be in 'style' or 'trendy.' I have a couple of friends who actively follow this stuff, but I've never seen the appeal. It's just not something I'm interested in, and I hate the way the industry treats women. That has nothing on this.

When I saw the pictures, immediately I felt sick. The women are splayed in painfully awkward positions, made up with blood and bruises, and in some of them the poses and arrangement of their clothing suggests sexual assault. Each seems to portray a different kind of death in a different location. The expressions on their faces are hauntingly familiar - probably because even when they're supposed to be alive in pictures, to me, models always seem to stare vacantly. I'm amazed I even finished looking at all of them. I don't even want to imagine how someone who has been a victim or a family member of a victim of murder, assault, or even accidental death, might feel after seeing these images. Couple the violence with the inherent nature of the industry to sexualise everything, you can see how this becomes even more problematic. Violence and death are being made sexy. I shouldn't have to explain why this is bad, bad, bad.

Don't get me wrong. By no means am I surprised at the show and the fashion industry in general dehumanising women, I'm just appalled and disgusted that they would stoop this low.

See also: WIMN's Voices and

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

i'm alive, don't worry

Hey everyone. I know I've been quiet for the past week or so. That's because there's this little thing called school in my life I've been attending to. Yeah. That thing. So today, a couple of links, before I dive into writing my research paper:

Report from the CFS Task Force on the Needs of Muslim Students (PDF) - As much as I dislike the CFS, I was involved in this initiative in the summer and the fall, and organised the hearing on Scarborough Campus. I felt it was meaningful and worthwhile initiative and I remember being happy with how our hearing went. Hopefully some good comes out of this report.

SCSU in limbo and Editorial: Vote to make the racket stop - Both from the Varsity. Coverage of the decision to hold a new election on April 9 - which is Easter Monday, UTSC "Friday" (a day to make up for the school being closed on Good Friday), and the day before study break. Let's count the number of problems with this.

Agenda for the March 23 SCSU Board of Directors meeting (PDF) - Looks like some interesting motions on the table! I'll have more on this after the meeting actually happens.

What's Wrong With University (And How To Make It Work For You Anyway), by Jeff Rybak: Facebook group, Facebook event invite and publisher's page with a link to the summary. Jeff was SCSU VP Academics for two years and has been really really involved in governance and academics at UTSC. His book launch is March 29 at Bluff's Restaurant in the UTSC Student Centre, so come on by and check it out.

Also, I updated the entry about the letter from the former SCSU executives with some corrections from Jeff.

I'm stepping back from really being involved with the elections drama. As I mentioned, I have a lot of academic commitments at the moment, and there's also some personal life stuff to deal with. So, I'll have more updates about the elections after Friday's board meeting, other than that, just wait it out until April!

Thursday, March 15, 2007

letter from former executives

I had to scan this in two parts since it was on legal size paper. Here is the letter (with some of the signatures) and here are the names of the former execs endorsing the letter. Because some of the writing is illegible, and one name is cut off, I'll rewrite them here:

Lendyl D'Souza, VP Human Resources 04-05, President 05-06
Jeff Rybak, VP Academics 04-06
Paul Hunter, VP Campus Life 04-05, VP Human Resources 05-06
Mathieu Dagonas, VP External 04-05
Preet Virdi, VP Academics/Acting President 03-04
Jon Agg, Clubs Officer 03-04, VP Students & Equity 04-05
Wansey Poon, VP Human Resources 05-06
Chris Van Abbema, VP Operations 05-06
Brad Meisner, Communications Officer 01-02
Vinitha Gengatharan, President ?

ETA, 21 March: Jeff has informed me that Omer Sheikh, former VP Campus Life, and Dan Bandurka, President 02-03 and 03-04, also signed on to this late.

at least we made a decision.

The SCSU Board Meeting lasted until about 1:30 AM but somehow a decision was made.

BIRT that the SCSU hold a re-election with the following timeline: Deadline for nominations - March 23; Campaigning until April 8; voting on April 9.

This was after a presentation by the Chair on options and pros and cons, and the presentation of a letter from former SCSU Executives. The vote to hold another election was done by secret ballot (a motion that passed 6-5-5), and itself passed 9 in favour, 8 against.

VP Human Resources Lou Michael Tacorda tabled a motion to rescind, arguing that the motion to call the question that led to the passing of this motion. Some debate and then the motion to rescind. Daniel Greanya (ex-officio College Council and VP Academics candidate) tried to call the question again and Chair Susie Vavrusa ruled it dilatory, which was appealed, the appeal failed, and the speakers could go ahead. The votes on the motion to rescind were 8-7-2, but it failed because it required 2/3 majority.

Ex-officio Marc Kilchling tabled the following motion:

BIRT if quorum for the third spring election is less than 5% of the eligible electors that the results be deemed invalid.

Which passed with the following friendly amendment from VP Academics and candidate for President Rob Wulkan:

BIFRT unless 9% or greater voter turnout is met, the term of office shall be a half term, ending on the day following the initial date that the motion to ratify is considered, or at the point of ratification, whichever comes first.

Because April 9 is a) the last day of classes, b) "UTSC Friday," a day to make up for classes missed during the university's closure on Good Friday, c) Easter Monday; there was a lot of worry about turnout and an accurate representation. This was seen as a reasonable compromise.

If only the meeting itself was that simple. It started at 8 PM and like I said, ran until around 1:30. The usual people talking in circles and asking questions over and over again.

The meeting even started late because Susie had to spend a lot of time clarifying the situation with Vlad Glebov and Shaila Kibria. On Friday there was confusion and they signed ex-officio forms when Jen Hassum (UTSU Chairperson) and Murphy Brown (APUS President) had already signed them at the beginning of the year. And at the beginning of the meeting tonight, speaking rights were only extended to members of the corporation. Anyone else (including the former execs) had to have speaking rights extended individually.

Overall, I think these motions are kinda crazy. And if they don't get the turnout and/or they don't get ratified, then... yeah. I don't even want to know. Probably a motion to renew, which would give us a chance to look at the original report again. But we'll see. At the moment I'm just glad that something happened.

There were a ton of students there, at least at the beginning. We had to bar people from entering the room because it reached its capacity of 60 people. And I think in general people behaved better, though there was still a lot of crosstalk and interruptions. Approving the agenda took forever because EVERYONE wanted their motions on, from ratifying to re-election to making people declare conflict of interest. The letter from the former execs (which I'll scan and post after I've slept) took forever because people kept interrupting with points of personal privilege because they felt they were being attacked, when the way the word 'failure' was used didn't necessarily mean that.

I know there will be students angry about this, and others who will be happy. I already know of at least one or two who feel like their votes in the previous election are being made worthless. There will be an article in the Varsity tomorrow, for sure.

But now I am starting to feel incoherent so I shall be off to bed.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

On tonight's menu...

Emergency Board of Directors meeting tonight. Main topic on the agenda: What To Do Now That We've Thrown Out The Elections. We'll go over the situation as it stands, consequences, what we can and cannot do (according to by-laws and policies), possible paths of action, etc., and then (hopefully!) the debate will be over which option is best. I hear there's going to be an all-star lineup in attendance. There are a couple of petitions going around that may be presented. I do not doubt that people will try to appeal the elections report (though they are not permitted to do so - the Board cannot hear appeals).

So. We'll see how this goes.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

By-laws? What by-laws? Part Two

Further updates from the SCSU:

Around 5:30 Sunday afternoon, Raj Gunaratnam, the SCSU President, calls me on my cell. He wants to know what I think about sending an advertisement for a re-election to the Varsity for Monday's issue. I tell him that such an election would be illegal, as By-law #2, specifically Sections 2.01 and 2.02, outline that a) the Board must set and ratify the timing of all elections, and b) Executive elections have to take place by 15 February. He insisted there was a part of policy that allowed it, and I disagreed. He told me that we had to make sure we didn't fail the students. I told him that the Board had already failed the students when they failed to ratify on Friday night, and that I didn't want to have anything to do with this. Yeah. Well. Never happens that way.

Eventually I get back home and Jemy Joseph, our Vice-Chair, is at my house, talking with Dawn Cattapan and Marc Kilchling (both ex-officio, College Council) about this. Jemy and I head over to campus and talk to Raj in the office. As Vice-Chair, Jemy is the official interpreter of SCSU by-laws and policies. As there is no provision in the policies for what to do when a spring election is thrown out, Jemy interpreted it as up to the discretion of the Board of Directors. As By-law #2, section 2.05 states there must be three weeks' notice of the date of the election in a continuing student publication, and the only date possible would be April 4 & 5 (the last days of classes), the only way that could happen with sufficient time for nominations and campaigning would be if the ad went in Monday's Varsity. But, without consent of the Board, this couldn't happen.

I had told them about Raj's phone call and Marc sent the following e-mail:


It has come to my attention you intend to violate SCSU By-Law #2 and proceed with another election. As an ex-officio member of the board of directors, I find your willingness to breach bylaws and policy quite disconcerting.

As the previous meeting indicated by a majority vote, the elections committee failed to follow policy. In fact, your vote stated as much. The idea that you would continue with the same elections committee shows that the issue last Friday was not about policy but rather a political one.

Be aware, that should you proceed with your action, I will ensure the necessary
signatures (pursuant to by-law #1, section 5.06.01) for your removal from office are
collected by Tuesday at noon. Should you have any questions, feel free to contact me via email or by phone at *******. phone number removed for privacy

Please note, I have cc'd all the executives as I feel this issue is important and at the very least worthy of an executive committee meeting, of which as an ex-officio director I would request notice of to be present at.

Marc Kilchling
SCSU ex-officio Director

Raj attempted to contact the entire Executive Committee in the hopes of holding an Emergency Executive Meeting, at which we could take Special Powers (see By-law #1, section 8.07) and decide to call the election. However, not everyone could be contacted, and many who Raj did speak to were not in favour of calling a new election, as it could be considered to contradict By-law #2 Section 2.02. Lou Michael Tacorda, SCSU VP Human Resources, was in his car on the way and told Raj that if it was to take Special Powers, he was turning around. And he did. We held no meeting. Jemy and I asked Raj if he would run the advertisement. He said no. I went home. It was almost 11 PM and I had work to do.

So I get into school today and the Varsity is out, with UTSC split by election tumult splayed across the top of the paper. I was pleased to see that, since as you can tell by my extensive post about the Board meeting, word of this needs to get around. However, I was disturbed and angry about what was on the top right corner of page 13:

That's right. An elections ad. Jemy called me from the lab to tell me about it. Eventually we got together a meeting consisting of myself, Raj, Alexandru, Lou Michael, Rob, Lisa Endersby (VP Campus Life), Jule Benedict (the CRO), Madiha, and Guy Brisebois (SCSU Business Manager). We asked Raj why the advertisement was run when the Board had had no say, not even in the form of the Executive taking Special Powers, and after so many Executives stated they were against it. Raj said he was doing it as a safeguard in case the Board agrees to call an election, that way the advertising timeline could be fulfilled. However, the rest of us minus Alex and Madiha argued that it was inappropriate to not break one by-law in favour of another, especially when the broken one was about consent and ratificaton of a decision by the Board. Even if the re-election did run, it would still be illegal due to both 2.01 and 2.02. Alexandru didn't believe Rob when he said that if Student Affairs has to step in due to the SCSU breaking our own rules, they could take over management of the Student Centre and withhold our levy funding. In such a situation it is handy to have one's business manager around to explain things like that which are in the Student Centre Management Agreement (something Alexandru, as VP Operations, should be expected to be familiar with, one would think). We tried to explain that Jemy had ruled that whether or not a re-election takes place should be up to the Board, and that as Vice-Chair, her interpretation of policies is essentially set in stone. Jemy explicitly told Raj not to run the advertisement and he did it anyway. We said that it was wrong and he should ask Tom Nowers to send out an all-students' e-mail saying it was a mistake, and ask the Varsity to print a retraction to the advertisement. He refused.

The meeting quickly devolved into shouting, and Raj refused to admit that he had done anything wrong. Lou Michael and Lisa took off and soon after, Raj, Madiha and Alex left, Raj very very angry at the rest of us. Guy, Jule, Rob and I stuck around in the room and talked a little. We contacted Susie Vavrusa, the Chair, and Jemy, to tell them about the meeting and ask Susie, as both Chair and the liaison to the Elections Committee, to request the all-students' e-mail and retraction. Jemy, as Vice-Chair, is also responsible for enforcing sanctions should members of the Board be found to violate policy.

Raj sent out the following e-mail Monday afternoon:

Dear members of the board,

At our last Board meeting, the board made the democratic decision to not ratify the elections results due to irregularities. As president of the union, bind by the Election Policy and by-laws, I have acted upon the decision of the board to provide three viable solutions that I feel fall within our jurisdiction as a union, hence outlined on our constitution.

The Three viable solutions are as follows:
- Re-run the same election - This option would not need a Notice for Nomination, and hence will provide more than an adequate time for an election during the school year. However this solution will only limit the candidates to the ones running in the previous executive election. A re-election can be called as soon as possible with an adequate Notice for the Campaign Period.
- Have a re-election - This option, in my opinion is more democratic. A re- election is only viable if Notice of Nomination and Election are released to our membership as soon as Possible. I have attached a time line for this solution. If the board chooses to endorse this action, the election committee will need to be notified of the changes.
March 12th - March 20th - Nomination Period
March 21st - April 3rd - Campaign Period
April 4th & April 5th - Voting days
To meet this requirement and keep this option open to the board, as per by-law # 2, 2.05, I have issued an ad in Varsity Newspaper with the required time line.
- Appoint executives - This option is viable, but in my opinion is the least democratic. In my personal opinion, I believe it will be unhealthy for the democratic process that is of fundamental importance of our union, that all executives be appointed. It will be the first time in recent history that there will be no sitting elected executive within our union. I would strongly recommend the board reject this option.

In Conclusion, I would like to thank all members of the board for representing the best interests of our constituents, hopefully we will move forward in meeting the needs of our constituents. I would urge all members of the board to consult the student body and best reflect the will of the SCSU. Further, I would like to request for an emergency board of directors meeting to discuss about the options.

Yours sincerely,
Raj G.

Later, Susie sent out several e-mails, the first outlining what I just told you about the breach of policy on Sunday night, the second the retraction for the all-students' e-mail, and the third calling for an Emergency Board Meeting on Wednesday, 14 March from 8-10 PM in SL-232.

In the meantime, Jemy has inquired to our Financial Controller, Prasad Chandrakanthan, where Raj got the money to pay for the advertisement, and will be investigating sanctions for violating the By-law. Marc and some volunteers followed through on what he told in his e-mail and so far have collected 200 signatures towards an impeachment proceeding.

Personally? I'm mad as hell. I understand the need for elected Executives next year, but for goodness' sake we should NOT violate our own By-laws in ensuring we have them. As I mentioned before, someone is already heading to Student Affairs with the Board's action at Friday's meeting. No matter what we do, it's going to end up looking bad. The choices we have are the lesser of evils. We don't need more fuel for that fire by having more of our own rules broken.

I'm also going to try to keep a more low-key role. Today was very stressful and unfortunately I have quite a few other things pulling at me right now, so expect my voice to be heard and commentary to be written, but no taking on new tasks, and hopefully future posts won't be this long!

If you survived this post, you get a cookie. More cookies if you can ride out the whole storm.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

By-laws? What by-laws?

After averting disaster in the form of our by-laws being broken AGAIN, I'm tired and need to do my homework. More on this and further developments in the elections debacle later.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

The SCSU Goes To Hell In A Handbasket.

I am finally getting around to writing this, after much thought and discussion. Friday night was the SCSU Board of Directors meeting with the Report from the Elections Committee on it. Unfortunately the PDF of the report is not up yet, so you'll have to take me at my word on what it contains until I can link to it.

First, here's the short version: After a four hour meeting, for the second time the SCSU Board of Directors has NOT ratified the recommendations of the Elections Committee.

Now, here's the long version.

SCSU By-laws and Policies state that the Board of Directors is to ratify (or fail to ratify) the results of an election based on whether or not the Elections Committee (EC) and by extension, the Elections Appeals Committee (EAC), have followed SCSU's policies and by-laws - specifically, By-law #2 and Policy 3-060. If the EC is deemed to have violated these in any way, the Board should vote against their recommendations. If the EC has followed the procedures, the Board should vote for their recommendations. The Board is NOT allowed to hear appeals to decisions of the EC or EAC. Simple as that.

Jule Benedict, the CRO, gave the EC report to the Board on Friday night. The report showed that, among other things, Presidential candidate Alexandru Rascanu was disqualified. Alexandru is the current SCSU VP Operations, and also ran jointly with Saswati Deb for U of T Governing Council this year (word on the street is that they won). As a result of the disqualification, the EC recommended that Rob Wulkan, current VP Academics and last year's VP External, be made President. The other recommendations were Jemy Joseph (current Vice-Chair) for VP Academics, Chris Smith (current Social Sciences Director) for VP External, and Ahmad Jaballah for VP Students & Equity.

Throughout the campaign there had been allegations of illegal, negative, and false campaigning against Alexandru. In the end he was awarded 9 strikes officially (though I've heard of evidence for more), with one being rescinded after appeal to the EC, and three being rescinded after appeal to the EAC. That's still five strikes and you need three to be disqualified. I won't even get into any of the other issues surrounding Alexandru's performance as VP Operations. Even so, it was clear that there was a definite pro-Alex side in the room, who, in an extremely disappointing display, grasped at straws and argued about ridiculous points in the policy in order to make sure that Rob didn't become President. For the life of me I can't understand why. After the recommendations have been presented, there is NO WAY OF CHANGING THEM, and no opportunity for further appeals. Not ratifying the results is NOT going to make Alexandru President, indeed, it screws over the entire organisation because it means there will be no Executives for 07-08 (along with several other implications, notwithstanding certain circumstances, both of which I'll explain later). But first, some people's behaviour at the Board meeting disgusted me to no end, and here's why.

1) Vlad Glebov and Shaila Kibria were both present at the meeting. Vlad and Shaila are NOT U of T Scarborough students. Vlad is, I believe, VP UTM for SAC (now UTSC), and Shaila has been active with EPUS (although when I last checked she was working at Ryerson). Both are, as far as I know, pro-CFS, as is Alexandru, and they were both on Team Alex. Vlad in particular was quite vocal and I'm disappointed that Susie, the Chair, didn't shut him up. I'm disgusted that these people not from Scarborough campus think they have a right to interfere with our elections. Close to the end of the meeting I interjected with a Point of Personal Privilege that I was offended that outsiders were having so much say in our elections, and Rob followed up with a Point of Order that Vlad should be asked to leave the room. Unfortunately this was not pursued.

2) Most of the objections from Team Alex centred around a decision by the EC to count ballots marked with a checkmark, rather than an X, as spoiled. The EC felt that they should be rejected because the voters did not follow instructions, which said to mark with an X. This does sound kind of silly, I admit, however, Policy 3-060 Section 16.02 states that "The CRO has final interpretation of this Elections Policy. The CRO or Elections Committee may make rulings on issues not covered within the SCSU Operations Manual." There are provisions as to what MUST be considered spoiled, such as identifying markers, but the EC is well within their rights to add to that list. During counting, when the first ballot marked with a checkmark came up, the EC consulted with the scrutineers present as to whether or not they agreed to count checkmarks as spoiled. The report states that there were "some concerns" but in the end those present agreed with the decision. People arguing on this point noted that 142 ballots, approximately 15% of them, were spoiled, most of them in this manner, and that the EC had disenfranchised 15% of voters. However, I argued (as did Chris Smith) that being so vehemently opposed to this decision after the fact when provided with an opportunity to object at the time of counting is ridiculous, and that really, by not stopping this decision from going through, the candidates objecting to it (Alexandru and Daniel Greanya, VP Academics candidate, in particular) were complicit in allowing the ballots to be rejected. As well, it was noted that speculation on who was being voted for on those ballots would be inappropriate as it could bias decisions. However silly the decision, the EC still did not break any rules by making it.

3) So many people did not seem to understand that THE BOARD OF DIRECTORS CANNOT HEAR APPEALS TO THE DECISIONS OF THE ELECTIONS COMMITTEE OR THE ELECTIONS APPEALS COMMITTEE. VP Academics candidate Sajjad Jafri filed an appeal to the checkmark decision to the EC, who denied it, and went to file one with the EAC, but did not do so properly. Allan Tota, Physical & Environmental Sciences Director and Chair of the EAC (which consisted of him, Nick Cheng, the Academic Dean of U of T Scarborough, and Claudette D'Souza, ex-officio via Students for Literacy), stated that Sajjad had e-mailed him about filing this appeal, Allan had sent him an e-mail with the procedures, and then never heard from him again. Sajjad argued that he did not have the $30 deposit required to make an appeal. Really? Well too bad, so sad. Policy states that the deposit must be presented prior to review of the appeal in order for it to be valid. If that doesn't happen, it doesn't go through. The people on Team Alex didn't seem to understand that if the EAC had entertained Sajjad's appeal they would have been in violation of policy. Hell, they should have wished for them to entertain the appeal because then they would have a real argument for throwing out the elections, instead of grasping at straws (or checkmarks, in this case). Addendum: Sajjad would like to clarify some things regarding his appeal. You can see what he has to say in the comments. Apologies for the speculation, that part of the meeting was a bit confusing, but it stands to say that people were still trying to appeal at the Board level, something that cannot be done.

4) Two votes were held on the recommendations. During the first one, two things to note: Management Director Sean Kanjilal and First Year Representative Shazwan Khan both abstained, and Life Sciences Director Maathavan Thillai was not present (he was in an exam). I was sitting directly across the table from Sean and Shazwan, and I and the people sitting directly behind them and behind me (including a reporter from the Underground) saw them vote this way. However, Susie, the Chair, did not see Sean's hand and didn't count him. Personally, I voted Yes. The Yes and No votes tied, and the Chair broke the tie in favour of the recommendations. Maathavan, not being present, obviously did not vote. After the recommendations passed, there was a motion to recess. It was seconded, Susie asked for objections, and none came. Alexandru stood up and shouted Point of Order, and two other people apparently did as well (according to Management Director Madiha Vaid, who would rather loudly make this point later), but everyone had already started leaving. Regardless of any objections, the recess happened anyway. During the recess, Susie was swarmed and Team Alex swooped down on Ruby Lau, First Year Representative, who had voted yes. Why? Because they didn't get the result they wanted, and they were hoping to sway her to call for a Motion to Reconsider, which is an opportunity to vote again on something when a Board member feels the Board made a mistake in voting the way they did. Under Robert's Rules of Order, a Motion to Reconsider can only come from someone on the prevailing side - in this case, Yes. I spoke to Ruby and she said that even before the meeting, they were talking her and trying to sway her vote, and she didn't like it because even though she's quiet at meetings, it doesn't mean she doesn't think. I asked her if she felt she did the right thing in voting Yes, and she said she did, and she stood her ground. I was disgusted that Team Alex (including Vlad and Shaila) would try to manipulate a First Year Rep, but proud of Ruby for sticking to her guns.

During the recess Susie was being asked about holding the vote again, via a Division of the Assembly, which involves all members standing as they cast their vote (I can see clear problems for accessibility in this rule, but that's another rant). When we returned from recess, Susie explained that a Division of the Assembly can only be requested immediately following a vote on a motion. If another motion is even introduced to the table, it cannot be held. Since a motion to recess had been called for, a Divison of the Assembly as not possible. Team Alex argued that there had been objections to the recess and Appealed the Decision of the Chair. I voted in favour of the Chair, however, the majority voted against. Then there was argument over what should come first, the Division of the Assembly or a motion tabled by Marc Kilchling (ex-officio director) to adjourn the meeting, because the request for a Division of the Assembly had actually come during the (objected to) recess and not during the actual meeting. Again, more confusion and arguing.

In the end the Division of the Assembly came first. Prior to this, Maathavan arrived. A Division of the Assembly is technically a re-vote, not a recount, therefore, Maathavan would be entitled to vote in the Division of the Assembly. Not having been present for the vote, the prudent thing would have been to abstain. However, Maathavan had been on the phone with members of Team Alex on his way back from the exam and heard their side of what had been reported. The Division of the Assembly was held. The motion failed. Team Alex applauded as the SCSU died.

I don't remember exactly who voted for what, as I wasn't looking at anyone, but there are people I do remember who I'm either upset, disgusted or disappointed in, and not necessarily because of how they voted.

Shazwan and Sean - they voted No when initially they both Abstained. Sean is actually a friend of Alexandru, and it was argued that he didn't know what he was voting on, but honestly, it's your own damn fault if you're not paying attention and get confused and don't ask questions. Maybe Team Alex got to Shazwan, I don't know. But changing your vote? Honestly now.

Maathavan - Remember how he wasn't in the room at all during the report from the EC? And how he should have abstained? Yeah. Well. He voted No.

Amarjeet Chhabra, Life Sciences Director - Amarjeet supported Rob throughout the entire campaign. I don't know what happened that would make her vote against the recommendations (and by extension, Rob).

Alexandru - For standing to vote when he's an Operational (hired) VP and should know damn well that he does not have a vote. I snapped at him for that. And also, for running such a goddamned dirty campaign. I hope the rest of U of T realises who they just elected to Governing Council. Regardless of what was rescinded, nine strikes is ridiculous. I live with Dawn Cattapan, who was a candidate for VP Students & Equity, and Marc Kilchling, who is ex-officio and actively follows the SCSU and vocally objects to any kind of indiscretions, and almost every day during campaigning I heard about some ridiculous thing Alexandru was doing. He made exclusive claims to accomplishments that he only played a part in (such as obtaining a contract with the TTC for discounted Metropasses for the SCSU, something that had most of the work done the year before he was hired, by then-VP Operations Chris Van Abbema, Rob while he was VP External, and Office Manager Elvie Estrella), raised the ire of Fusion Radio by evading their Presidential letter of committment to Student Centre Broadcasting, campaigned on voting day (not allowed in SCSU elections), and heaven knows what else. This is on top of the things I've been frustrated by just working with him in the past year, which is something for another entry entirely.

After the Division of the Assembly, we heard some notices from the Policy and By-law review committee, I went outside to talk to some people, and while I was out there they tabled all the reports to the next meeting and adjourned. By then it was almost 10 PM and the meeting started a little after 5.

So the big questions now are What Does This Mean? and What Happens Next? Here are some of the answers and options.

In the most basic sense, it means there is no SCSU Executive for 2007-08. Without the elected Executives for next year, the hiring committee for the Operational VPs can't be formed. Another election cannot be held because By-law #2, Section 2.02 states that the election for the President and Advocacy VPs cannot be held later than 15 February, which has long since past.

There are big implications to not ratifying the results, especially when really, the EC did not break policy in any way. This means that the SCSU Board of Directors thinks the EC and EAC can't follow policy and procedure, and therefore should be fired. Due to timelines, this screws up the Director elections royally. Campaigning for Director positions has already started and the voting will be done on 22 March, the last possible day for the election to be held. So essentially, there very well may be NO SCSU NEXT YEAR, only the full-time staff, who are employees of the SCSU and help the SCSU run the Student Centre - who's going to give them direction? Who's going to advocate for students? Who's going to run an election in the Fall to get a Board back in?

And on top of this, because the EC and EAC really didn't break policy, it means that the Board can't follow policy, and when the Board can't follow policy, Student Affairs can step in and essentially take over. I'm not exactly sure what they can, cannot, or will do, but I think they could overturn the decision of the Board if it's decided that they didn't follow their own operational policies.

During the meeting, Vlad Glebov mentioned something about Governing Council reviewing student unions running elections due to corruption and the like, and how what we do at Scarborough affects what happens on the other campuses too. I've heard from other sources that this is bullshit, but he is right that what we do on one campus can have an effect on the other. What kind of impression does that make to not just the students of U of T Scarborough, but to students at Mississauga and St. George, as well as Governing Council, that the SCSU can't follow their own by-laws and policies?

Those are the implications. Now here are our options.

Gillian Reiss, ex-officio director from the Council on Student Services, already plans to notify Tom Nowers, Dean of Student Affairs at U of T Scarborough. I've let her know that I will support her in this action.

As I mentioned earlier, there is always a Motion to Reconsider. This is how the Fall 2006 elections got ratified - someone from the No side brought the motion back. The thing is getting someone to bring the motion back. Rob has told me he intends to work with Lou Michael Tacorda, VP Human Resources, to outline the implications of not ratifying, and informing the Board of them, and hope that it sways someone to bring the motion back.

Aside from these, reporters from the Underground and the Varsity were there, and you can expect coverage of this debacle in both newspapers.

It was a very, very emotional meeting and I'm glad we tabled everything until later. Afterwards, a group of the defeated Yes side headed to the Fossil & Haggis pub up the road to vent and relax, which felt pretty darn good. But Monday? Monday's going to suck.

Thursday, March 8, 2007

Blog Against Sexism

With 15 minutes left in International Women's Day, here is my blog against sexism.

I don't remember the first time I ever really encountered sexism. Some people have stories about how they were treated as kids but I wanted both Barbies and Tonka trucks so I got both Barbies and Tonka trucks. Sometimes the Barbies drove the Tonka trucks in the sandbox. And as far as I can remember, there wasn't much more than "girls don't" and "girls can't" and "you throw like a girl" for most of my childhood. In any case, I can't remember anything specific so I won't talk about the first time I truly encountered sexism, because it's a boring story.

But today I was at a lecture by Dr. Kristyn Scott, a Management professor at U of T Scarborough. She was talking about her research about women and leadership, specifically how stereotypes about women prevent us from recognising behaviours as being indicative of particular leadership traits. I felt like most of what she said was fairly obvious - that in order to see more women as leaders we need to stop allowing stereotypes to block us from recognising agentic leadership traits as "non-feminine" - but while I was sitting there listening to her I reflected back on an incident in the summer.

This summer, I was harassed because of decisions I made while serving on the student union. These decisions offended a small group of people (one person, really, two or three max) who are generally the disgusting type. And instead of being criticised with rational reasons as to why they disagreed, I was (to be expected given their history) instead berated as a woman. I was called a bitch and a whore. I was made fun of for my weight (which is actually pretty average). Pornographic pictures were posted with labels indicating that I and the SCSU were double-penetrating the students. This person drove by my house in the middle of the night screaming at me. I had to get the Administration and the Community Safety Office involved. That was six months ago. I don't even want to know what they're saying about me now. My office-mate and fellow female executive, Lisa, faced similar insults when it came to some of her decisions.

My male colleagues? When they made a decision or said something people didn't like, their characters were gone after as well. But the names they were called didn't have anything to do with their sexuality. They didn't have anything to do with their body. No, they were called "power hungry" and "corrupt." Their actions were criticised more, they were "not accountable," they were playing political games and being manipulative.

I experienced first hand the minefield that women traverse in politics. Belinda Stronach was likened to a prostitute when she crossed the floor. Many men have done the same and while they were criticised, none were ever compared to a sex worker. Stronach's hair colour and her relationships with Peter Mackay and Tie Domi are more important than her work in the House of Commons. Michaelle Jean's fashion choices are more newsworthy than her accomplishments as a journalist and as the Governor General. Hillary Rodham Clinton has thrown her hat into the ring to run for President of the United States and all anyone can say is how mannish she is and use her womanhood as a reason for any of her faults.

Because women in power are a threat. Women using their power is frightening. Women wielding power is contrary to the status quo, and the Institution, the State, the Corporation, the Patriarchy - the megatheocorporatocracy, as Twisty calls it - does not like change. It will fight it at all costs. It will use whatever it has, or thinks it has, as a weapon. And given that the megatheocorporatocracy thinks it owns women's bodies, their sexuality, it will use that against them. I should NOT have been called fat, a bitch, a whore. I can look critically at myself and my actions. I think I did the right thing, but if I were to be criticised, I should have been berated for selfishly hoarding power. I should have been told, "I think you handled this the wrong way." Most of that is useless anyway, because the people doing this were unreasonable and disgusting in other ways long before I entered politics, but still. I was ridiculed in a way that none of my male colleagues ever have or ever will be.

That's something that will forever stick out in my mind when I look back on my term in office. I learned that in this business, only men are worthy of constructive criticism. Lisa and I are only worthy of high school hallway insults.

And then people wonder why there are so few women in politics. Who wants to deal with this bullshit? Obviously there are many factors working against us - an flawed electoral system, systemic barriers of class and race and gender all intersecting, and more - but to see all the mud thrown at women politicians, it's a wonder there are any of us left at all.

More Media

The media attention keeps coming.

The National Post ran the article today. This morning, Heidi and I were pulled away by one of the university's PR people to talk to Global news, so I'll be on TV tonight. Finally, this afternoon I got a phone call from the Globe and Mail, who will probably be coming in tomorrow.

Throughout all of this I'm trying to stress that this isn't a big deal. Of course the media is going to jump all over any hint of controversy, but there really isn't any, except for that ONE student. But alas.

Expect my Blogging Against Sexism post later tonight.

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

media coverage

Wow. This women-only workouts thing has garnered more attention than I thought it would. Hell, than it really should. There were articles in the Underground and the Frequency, the two U of T Scarborough papers, and my friend Karen wrote one for the Varsity. This is the one that has been drawing some attention. On Monday, Heidi told me she received a call from CBC Radio's morning show, and today, I had a reporter from the National Post in to talk to me. Both of them had read the Varsity article. The Post were actually quite impressed with what Karen wrote so I made sure the reporter got Karen's e-mail address.

In any case, I spent the better part of this morning responding to the student on the Facebook group. Battling racism and misogyny, in my pyjamas, all before noon. Wonderful. In any case, I've contacted Student Affairs, the ISC, Aysan Sev'er (UTSC Special Advisor to the Principal on Equity) and Nouman Ashraf (U of T Anti-Racism and Cultural Diversity Officer). All of them back me up (quote from an e-mail from Tom Nowers: "we do not manage any service area by plebiscite." - zing!) and we'll probably be working on some awareness and education programming for the future. I've also ended discussion with this student - it has not been productive in anyway and is just stressing me out more than anything - and told her to speak with Student Affairs.

How timely all of this is, what with International Women's Week and all.

Tomorrow, being International Women's Day, is also Blog Against Sexism day. You can find out more here.

Blog Against Sexism Day

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Setting the Tone

So here I am, working away at the SCSU, teaming up with the Athletics Department to offer women-only workout times at the Rec Centre. Over 65% of UTSC students are women, and among our diverse campus is a large Muslim population. There was student demand and so we did it, we're on our merry way. We got three hour and a half time slots per week in the Cardio Theatre. Blinds were installed for privacy and the timeslots were chosen by a group of students, who helped me get more input by sharing this with their friends and clubs. It has been advertised for a while now and launched this morning.

Of course, someone just has to try to fuck it up with racist, Islamophobic, misogynistic bullshit. I'm not naming names here, but if you check out this Facebook note, written in reaction to some of the things this person said, and check out this Facebook discussion in the group for feedback on the women-only hours, you'll see who it is and what they're saying. You'll also see valiant attempts by the VP Students & Equity and many other students to explain a) why this initiative is necessary and A Good Thing, and b) why her reasons against it and her attitude are inappropriate. And as you can see, this has been going on for a while.

I talked about this person this morning at the launch with a couple of friends and Aysan Sev'er, the Special Advisor to the Principal on Equity, and later forwarded the above rant to her. She was thoroughly disturbed. But I made it clear this morning that I was frustrated with having to deal with this person, that I've tried explaining and discussing so many ways, and now I feel like I'm just bashing them over the head with the same stick. I made up my mind then that I was done playing nice. If they can't get it through their head that their behaviour is unacceptable, well...

So this evening she writes her latest pièce de résistance on the discussion board, and, well, I wasn't nice. For your pleasure, I paste here The Part Where Jenna Stops Being Nice:

You know, *I* don't know what else to say, but I am thoroughly disappointed and disgusted. I have tried to explain, time and time again, that I disagree strongly with what you think the policy says about women. It's about offering women CHOICE, which is a HUGE part of equality, and you want to take that choice away.

Furthermore, your generalisations about Muslims, immigrants, people with self-esteem issues, and now feminists, are just that: generalisations. It's a small population of these groups that do the things you claim that they do. Where in here is an argument that we're better off without men? That would be an argument for complete segregation, here, we're offering women CHOICE.

It's wonderful that you have never felt oppressed or discriminated against, but guess what - the world doesn't revolve around you. Not everyone thinks like you, not everyone acts like you (as the responses to this thread and everything else you've said should indicate). Thanks to the battles fought by our FEMINIST predecessors here in Canada, YOU have the CHOICE to wear those short skirts, just like I have the CHOICE not to, and just like our Muslim peers have the CHOICE to wear a hijab. And because of this freedom of CHOICE, our freedom of expression, NONE OF US deserve to be discriminated against for our gender, how we choose to dress, what religion we practice, where we come from, ANYTHING. And a big part of choice is also RESPECTING those choices, and allowing people the opportunity to practice those choices - hence, women-only workout hours.

If they men you know are nice guys, awesome. We need more good people in this world, men and women, so all the more power to the kind, friendly, respectful, tolerant, nice, trusting, understanding, and so on, men and women that we all know. Those aren't the men we're concerned with. We're concerned with the ones that other people (gasp, not you!) know, that aren't so nice. You know that there are some out there who are not, I'm sure you read the news every day, and when we talk about criminals and rapists, we should all take heart that there are good men out there who do not fall into that category.

In fact, I'd argue that you, and me, and all the nice men in the world and everyone else, SHOULD be outraged that there are people out there giving men in general a bad name - but directing that anger at women is terribly misguided. It is blaming women for something they did not do, they did not ask for. If anyone is upset about men being tarred with the same brush, they should go after the ones who make it that way. We should definitely be outraged at the rapists. We should definitely be outraged at the criminals. You should definitely be outraged at the guy who grabbed my friend's ass in the UTSC gym a few months ago. We should definitely be outraged at the emotionally abusive ex-boyfriend who told one of our fellow peers she was fat and ugly every day.

Women-only hours are here because guess what: people aren't outraged enough at these assholes who get away with these terrible acts, because guess what - while we may have made enormous strides in the past, while men and women may be equal in theory, while men and women SHOULD be equal, we most definitely are NOT. Stephen Harper may say that women are equal, therefore we can abolish the Status of Women Office, but guess what - in Canada, we still earn 21 cents less per dollar than men do. Rapes are still committed every single day in this country. There are still men who think that a women dressed in a short skirt is a piece of meat to leer at. There are still men who think that they are entitled to ownership and control of women's bodies. The media continues to tell women that they can't be leaders if they want to be sexy, that they can't be sexy if they want to be leaders, and all sorts of other double-standards. Telling a boy he's being a "pussy," or that he "throws like a girl" is still one of the worst insults on the playground. Girls who play with trucks and boys who play with Barbies are still thought to be weird.

This is the world we live in, in Canada, in the 21st century. And if THAT is what you consider equality, then I don't know what to say other than I'm appalled and deeply saddened. And I'm disgusted that there are so many people here blaming women for these things when they could be out being proactive and STOPPING THEM FROM HAPPENING IN THE FIRST PLACE. Instead, all I see is blaming women, attacking feminism (which, might I remind you, is the entire reason women enjoy the freedoms and choices we DO have), selfishness and utter insensitivity. If you took half the energy you put into fighting an initiative meant to make women feel safe in this world, hell, if EVERYONE so opposed to this initiative did, and put it into fighting the very things that MAKE them feel that way in the first place, think of what kind of change could be made.

Start thinking of people other than yourself and please PLEASE stop judging women like this.

You're right. We ARE all entitled to the same things equally. But unfortunately for all of us, our society doesn't seem to believe the same thing.

Honestly, I'm dreading whatever this person writes in response to this, and I really really wish you could ban people from groups on Facebook, because they'd would be outta there in no time. Wonderfully enough, I feel like I'm back on the SCSU forum, which isn't too bad a comparison considering this person was a problem there, too, for similar reasons.

With this post I hope to set the tone. Most of what I will be writing here will NOT be nice - there are a lot of things about or from my job, politics, the world, and more, including people, that drive me nuts, and I plan to make it known.