Photo | Rosa Kumar
How does UofT compare to the criteria we use to define a nation state?
The traditional definition of a state as a national entity with defined borders needs to be reimagined. The University of Toronto fulfills all the commonly accepted criteria of a state, albeit with slight adjustments.
Per the state’s official newspaper, The Varsity, the university will take in revenues of $3.13 billion in the 2016/17 fiscal year. This is largely derived from student fees, contributing $1.4 billion. The $3.13 billion value excludes money received at any of the shops and restaurants within UofT’s borders, which would increase it substantially. If we classify these revenues as GDP, the University of Toronto takes in more than Greenland, Djibouti, or the Central African Republic.
However, our debt-to-GDP ratio is unusually high. Valued at approximately $1 billion, the state’s debt has been a source of headaches in recent years, arguably the reason for rising international student tuition. If we include faculty, students, librarians, TAs, and staff members, there are 111,610 citizens of UofT. This makes for a GDP per capita of $26,879. This would place us 39th internationally, sandwiched between Malaysia and Greece.
With an unelected leader as university president, Meric Gertler, a peculiar form of benign dictatorship is present. Fortunately, the usual symptoms of a cutthroat dictatorship are absent. There are no political purges, media repression, corruption, or famines. Moreover, there are actually numerous governing bodies spread out across campus. From the relatively insignificant role of voluntary house president to paid positions like co-president of VUSAC, students have a myriad of opportunities to contribute to the democratic process.
Immigration to the state is above average, with roughly 16,000 out of 86,000 students coming from abroad. This makes for a multicultural paradise, fitting for a state that is located within the most diverse city in the world.
National identification cards are distributed upon arrival. Colloquially known as T-Cards, these cheap pieces of plastic are the most valuable asset of any Varsity Blue. The card’s make-up is an odd yet endearing amalgamation of a city library card, a driver’s license, and a credit card. Featuring an inexplicable cameo by the infamous Comic Sans font on the back of the card, these sought-after university passports allow access to services and resources, on and off campus. This includes the state gyms, Robarts after-dark, and even the frat houses on St. George Street.
With over 1,000 clubs and groups to choose from, citizens have a multitude of opportunities to engage in. As any UofT student can observe by taking a quick check through their invoice, some of these groups have more political sway than others. The state-funded newspaper, The Varsity, for instance, extracts roughly $2 from each student at the university. VUSAC takes about $28 per Victoria College student. Representatives from each of the subsidized groups secure these subsidies through lobbying and consultation with the appropriate governing body.
The University of Toronto is a prosperous university-state located in the heart of downtown Toronto. Diverse, innovative, and flourishing, this quasi-dictatorship is unexpectedly progressive and egalitarian. Offering a wide assortment of opportunities for its roughly 110,000 citizens, this untraditional state is a global leader in arts, culture, science, and more.