Author: Emily Pollock

UofT president shocked to discover students at own university

Last week, University of Toronto President Meric Gertler was informed that there are multiple students enrolled in the university. The long-time university president came under fire recently for his lack of action on fossil fuel divestment. In an exclusive interview with a correspondent for The Strand, he was asked to comment on student opposition to the move. Instead of answering, he squinted at the interviewer and mouthed the word, “Students?” As the correspondent attempted to keep the conversation on-track, Gertler rubbed his temples. “Wait, what, you mean we have students? I mean, here? At UofT?” When the correspondent affirmed that they themselves were, in fact, a student, President Gertler shook his head. “Nuh-uh. That’s…no way. I mean, I knew there were students at other universities. But…oh man, I’ve got to…” He pulled out his phone. “Pamela, I heard this terrible rumour today. Did you…oh my God. Really?” There was a long pause in President Gertler’s response. “I mean, is that even sanitary?” When Gertler was asked what exactly he thought the university was here for, he looked at the correspondent with a haunted look in his eyes and muttered something about graduate-level research. After several calls to the university, the correspondent was no closer to finding a university representative who would comment on the issue. When asked to comment on the president’s complete lack of knowledge about the people...

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Black Lives Matter Toronto Protest Still Going Strong

Activists and allies continue week-long protest in response to the decision not to charge the officer who killed Andrew Loku   Black Lives Matter protesters have been camped out in front of Toronto Police Headquarters since March 20, after being ejected from their earlier location at Nathan Phillips Square. The protest was sparked by the Toronto Police Special Investigation Unit’s decision not to bring charges against the unnamed officer who killed Andrew Loku. Loku, who resided in an apartment complex for people living with mental illness, was shot by police during a dispute with one of his neighbours last...

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Let’s Talk About Let’s Talk

Last Wednesday was Bell Let’s Talk Day, a marketing campaign where Bell encouraged people to talk about mental health and promised they would donate five cents for each use of #BellLetsTalk on social media. If your Facebook feed was anything like mine, it was filled with post after post about the importance of acknowledging mental health. And, like almost any event that gets that kind of market saturation, there was a parallel backlash. Some of the criticism can be set aside. People critiquing the fact that it was a marketing campaign for Bell are missing the point—it doesn’t really claim to be anything else. But some critiques are more damning. One of the articles circulating Facebook on Let’s Talk Day was a piece written by a former Bell employee Karen Ho. Ho’s job ruined her physical and mental health, and because she was a contract worker, she was cut out of Bell’s much-touted employee health support. Ironically, Ho knew people involved in creating the Let’s Talk promotional material who didn’t have proper mental healthcare coverage. The situation points at one of the most serious problems of our current mental health climate—the exclusive focus on “awareness” often masks unaddressed systematic issues. Don’t get me wrong: people knowing more about mental illness is important, especially when we’re looking at highly-stigmatised illnesses like schizophrenia. In a year when Suicide Squad’s trailer used...

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Shakespeare on Twitter: the evolution of internet-speak

It can be said that at the heart of the controversy about “proper” language lies a simple white notebook with the words “Shakespeare never tweeted a sonnet” printed in black Helvetica. To understand why this notebook is so important, we need to understand the culture in which it was made. Internet communication—like Twitter—is an ever-increasing part of our daily lives, but the way it shapes our speech and written language is still largely unstudied. My favourite piece of linguistic commentary is the “What are Your Teens Saying” type articles for worried parents who want to know the meaning of...

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Send in the Clowns: The Spectacle of Modern Politics

This summer, the Huffington Post declared that they would stop covering Donald Trump as serious news. While they would still cover his campaign, the coverage would go in their entertainment section rather than their news section. When explaining their decision, the editors wrote, “Our reason is simple: Trump’s campaign is a sideshow. We won’t take the bait.” It’s true. Trump is a sideshow who embarrasses even the notoriously gaffe-prone Republican Party. He’s spent the campaign spouting ridiculous soundbites—such as his plan to “build a wall around Mexico”—and getting into fights on Twitter. Basically, Trump is a clownish buffoon made serious...

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