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Volume 50 - Issue 13

January 18, 2017
theeyeopener.com
@theeyeopener
Since 1967

The
Healing
Motion
Ryerson is exploring
new ways to help
sexual assault
survivors
P10

PHOTO: DEVIN JONES

2

Wednesday, Jan. 18, 2017

The Student Campus Centre

COMMUNITY
BUILDER AWARD
Applications Open

Monday, Jan. 9, 2017 at 9am

Applications Close
This award is designed to
recognize students within the
Ryerson community who have
contributed to campus life and
building community at the Student
Campus Centre as demonstrated
through exceptional volunteerism.

Monday, Feb. 20, 2017 at 9pm

SUBMIT YOUR
APPLICATION ONLINE:
www.ryersonstudentcentre.ca

Annual awards:

Awards are available to all
undergraduate students, all
continuing education and
certificate students, and all
graduates students who are
enrolled and in good standing
during Winter 2017.

$500 x4

NOTE: Members of the Ryerson Students’ Union and
the Continuing Education Students’ Association of
Ryerson or the Ryerson Student Center Board and
seniors enrolled through the Chang School are not
eligible for this award.

$2,000 x3

for Continuing Education
students

$2,000 x3

for Undergraduate students

for Graduate students

NEWS

Wednesday, Jan. 18, 2017

3

Former RSU employee claims union owes him $40,000
Michael Verticchio resigned as the Student Campus Centre general manager and says he should be paid for overtime and a leave payout
By Alanna Rizza
After 10 years of working for the
Ryerson Students’ Union (RSU),
Michael Verticchio said they are
refusing to pay him for about
$40,000 worth of overtime and a
parental leave payout.
Verticchio was the interim Student Campus Centre (SCC) general
manager from September 2013 to
August 2015. Prior to that, he was
the executive director of operations
and services.
At the beginning of the 2015
school year he began his year-long
paid parental leave. However, his
leave was cut short when he agreed
to be the permanent general manager in May 2016.
Verticchio resigned last month.
He added that the money he is owed
also comes from 20 outstanding vacation days.
“This is the money that I was
counting on using for my older son’s
autism therapy and younger son’s
speech therapy,” Verticchio said in
an email.
According to a separate email obtained by The Eye, Rajean Hoilett,
the RSU president from 2014 to

Former SCC general manager Michael Verticchio.

2015, approved Verticchio’s parental leave.
The Employee Standards Act allows 35 weeks for parental leave,
which is what Verticchio was approved for. Hoilett approved an
additional 17 weeks (680 hours of
the approved 1,000 hours) using accrued lieu time.
However, the RSU is no longer
acknowledging this agreement.
In another email obtained by The
Eye, RSU general manager Natasha

COURTESY MICHAEL VERTICCHIO

Campagna, who was hired at the
end of 2015, told him that the “RSU
has no further obligations” to Verticchio, as he accepted employment
as the permanent SCC general manager while he was on leave.
Campagna also wrote in the
email, which was dated April 28,
2016, that Verticchio’s request for
overtime compensation could not
be approved due to sections of the
RSU’s Collective Agreement. The
Collective Agreement consists of

conditions for workers that are a
part of The Canadian Union of Public Employees Local 1281 (CUPE
1281) and work for the RSU.
Campagna cited the “bereavement leave” section of the Collective Agreement, whereby overtime hours must be “reasonable”
and submitted on a monthly basis.
Since Verticchio made his claim 12
months late, according to Campagna, the request was invalid.
Campagna had no further comment, but confirmed that the situation is being handled with the RSU
management team and CUPE 1281.
Lai King-Hum, a Toronto-based
employment lawyer, said she was
unable to find any basis for Campagna stating that there is a 12-month
limit to claiming overtime.
King-Hum added that the tracking of hours is “specifically for the
purpose of managing flow of work
between employees and has no basis on whether or not the overtime
claim is paid out.”
“I easily worked 250 hours of overtime a year, if not more,” Verticchio
wrote. “The Collective Agreement
doesn’t state that overtime has to be
approved in advance, and that the

time sheets were only for information purposes and not a basis for approving overtime or payouts.”
The Collective Agreement also
states that if overtime exceeds 250
hours, a labour management meeting would be held. If the employment ends permanently, according
to the agreement, any accumulated
overtime will be paid out by the employer.
King-Hum said overtime is paid
if an employee works more than
44 hours per week. There is no requirement for prior approval to
have overtime payout, she added.
Verticchio did not provide monthly
tracking sheets, which makes proving the extra hours more difficult,
according to King-Hum.
“Under the ESA (Employment
Standards Act), [Verticchio] is entitled to be paid out vacation time
earned but not taken,” she said. “If
he says that he has 20 outstanding
vacation days that were not taken,
then it should be paid out to him on
termination of employment.”
Verticchio said an arbiter—a mediator to resolve the dispute—has
been appointed to the case but the
process hasn’t started yet.

Rye Arts Society impeaches president
By Sarah Krichel
The Ryerson Arts Society (RAS) is
starting the semester with a new
president following Nikita Jariwala’s impeachment.
After Jariwala was called to resign as president from the RAS on
Dec. 1, the board voted on appointing their vice-president finance,
Axel Smith, as president.
The motion for Jariwala’s resignation came as a result of breaches
of the RAS constitution, a lack of
teamwork with board members
and her “unilateral decisions,” according to Daniel Lis, RAS vicepresident external affairs.
“It’s our job to hold our president
accountable,” Lis said. “It’s why we
run for office—to hold each other
accountable for the best standard
for our students.” The board voted
overwhelmingly in favour of the
resignation, with 11 for the motion,
two against it and three abstaining.
Lis said the constitutional
breaches included failure to appoint
certain representatives within the
society, as well as wrongly promising funding for course unions
neglecting proper procedure. Normally, this process would require
a formal application from course
unions with the vice-president finance’s approval.
The Eyeopener reached out to Jariwala, who declined an interview but

provided a statement.
“I want to thank those of you
that supported and believed in
me throughout my journey. I’m
grateful to have even had this
opportunity. My best wishes have
always been and still are with the
[RAS]. For those that are seeking
more information, I would
encourage them to attend the
SAGM,” the statement read.
The originally scheduled RAS
Semi-Annual General Meeting
(SAGM) was to take place at the start
of November, but it was postponed
because Jariwala did not follow the
proper procedure of giving twoweeks notice to the general public
about the meeting. The SAGM will
now take place on Jan. 26.
Lis said postponing the SAGM
was a difficult but necessary decision due to the “general state of disarray in the society,” as a result of
two vice-presidents resigning.
Tajdeep Brar, former vice-president events, resigned in December
following disagreements within the
society.
Elizabeth Plukhovska, a thirdyear criminology student, told The
Eye via messenger that some of the
RAS executives made derogatory
comments towards her and her
girlfriend at an RAS event. She said
that she heard Tajdeep Brar, former vice-president events, saying
to other RAS executives that there

Former RAS president Nikita Jariwala was called to resign on Dec. 1.

were “hot lesbians inside and how
he wanted to holler at [them].”
Brar declined to comment on this
matter.
According to Lis, Jariwala had
taken the alleged incident to “certain offices” that could bring about
reputational consequences for Brar,
but there was no transparency with
the board regarding the issue. Lis
added that Brar did not know about
the issue until three weeks after the
initial allegations were made.
Lis said the “general dissatisfaction” with the way the situation
was handled was part of Brar’s reason for resigning. “He could not

continue to have faith in the way
RAS was being run.”
Former vice-president operations James Dittburner took over
as interim president on Dec. 1 and
resigned on Jan. 1 due to “fatigue,”
according to Lis.
Ryerson students have expressed
negative opinions about the society
in general. On the RAS’ Facebook
post informing the general membership of the president’s impeachment, students wrote the society
is “an absolute mess” and that it
should be shut down.
Plukhovska said that there was
zero transparency with the general

PHOTO COURTESY FACEBOOK

membership as to why or how the
president was impeached.
“I feel it’s not a secret that the
RAS has kind of fucked up this
year, considering this situation was
made pretty public,” Plukhovska
said. “It just needs a new team to
know how to manage things.”
Lis said that with their new team,
he is hopeful things within the society will be improved this semester. “We’ve refocused our vision
and we have a collective team that
can work together. We can give the
students what they called for and
we can move toward a transparent
society.”

EDITORIAL

4

That one
time I
decided
to write a
metatorial

Raneem “15 Expert” Al-Ozzi
Sylvia “FN127” Lorico
Neha “Needs a camera“ Chollangi
Emerald “ready for fun” Bensadoun
Ben “on the ball” Snider-McGrath
Lyba “fake data” Mansoor
Sydney “The Acrobat” McInnis
Lindsay “Shopping Star” Christopher
Editor-in-Chief

Nicole “Blades of fury” Schmidt
News

Meta.

By
Nicole
Schmidt
Each week, filling this space is a
challenge for me—not because I
don’t have opinions, but because
having an opinion that actually matters is hard.
Whenever anything front-pageworthy happens, a slew of “hot
takes” flood the internet. Today
(and probably every day for the
next four years), it’s Trump’s latest
circus act. In June, it was Brexit.
Each writer promises the same
thing: a unique, thought-provoking opinion.
An important part of the news
is to analyze it—to think about it
critically, and to understand how it
affects different people in different
ways.

PHOTO: KEITH CAPSTICK

But with the sheer volume of
opinionated writers out there, redundancies are inevitable. Regurgitated ideas are chewed up and spit
out, sprinkled with adjectives and
served cold.
I don’t need someone to tell me
that climate change is bad, or that
food security is a major issue. I
already know that. I made up my
mind about Trump a long time ago,
and if I read one more story about
New Year’s resolutions I may try to
drown myself in my coffee cup.
Opinions are hard because
there’s a fine balance between
honesty and authenticity. Something may be entirely valid, factually accurate and eloquently written. But if it states the obvious, it
probably doesn’t matter because
it won’t change my mind, and it
won’t challenge me to think any
differently.

Continuing
Studies at
OCAD
UNIVERSITY

Of course, there are opinions
that will never matter—the ones
that try to be contentious, but end
up being blatantly offensive.
A few years back, John Derbyshire wrote an editorial for Taki’s Magazine about teaching kids
to be racist. He advised parents
to tell their kids to avoid events
“likely to draw a lot of blacks,” and
that areas run by black politicians
were uninhabitable. (Fuck you.)
Then there was Amity Shlaes, who
argued in a BloombergView article
that sexual harassment could improve the workplace. (Fuck you,
too.)
The conclusion here seems simple
enough: think for yourself, because
no one else can do it for you.
As for my opinion, if you care,
that’s nice of you—but you don’t
have to.
Until next time...

Photo

Devin “Where’s Debi?” Jones
Izabella “Fuck the TTC” Balcerzak
Keith “News withdrawal” Capstick
Online

Sierra “Too many jobs” Bein
Farnia “Also has too many jobs”
Fekri
Lee “BritKat” Richardson
Features

Karoun “Macaroon” Chahinian
Arts and Life

Annie “Utility belt” Arnone
Sports

Daniel “Giant scoreboard” Rocchi
Biz and Tech

Justin “Kairon” Chandler
Communities

Sidney “Mononucleosis” Drmay
Skyler “Wraps like a boss” Ash
Media

G ra p h i c D e s i g n

Thomas “Islamic noodles” Skrlj
Carl “CARRRRRL” Solis

We b D e s i g n
I n t e ra c t i ve M e d i a

General Manager

Animation

Liane “Falling showerheads”
McLarty

Film and Video

Advertising Manager

Sculpture

Chris “Gemstone” Roberts

Industrial Design

Design Director

3D Modelling

J.D. “Bumpin’ ” Mowat

We a ra b l e M e d i a
F i b r e a n d Fa s h i o n

Intern Army

D ra w i n g a n d P a i n t i n g
Printmaking
M a r ke t i n g

Jonathan “Simon” Parasiliti
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Contributors

Communications
Theory in Art and Design
C r e a t i ve Wo r k s h o p s
P r o g ra m s f o r Yo u t h

E x p l o r e Yo u r C r e a t i v e P o t e n t i a l
A r t . D e s i g n . N ew M e d i a
Eve n i n g s . We e ke n d s . O n l i n e

Alanna “;P” Rizza
Sarah “Year of the dehk” Krichel
Jacob “I see dead people” Dubé

Fun

O ve r 1 0 0
courses in

P h o t o g ra p h y

CONTINUING
STUDIES

C o u r s e i n f o a n d r e g i s t r a t i o n : o c a d u . c a /c o n t i n u i n g s t u d i e s

Ryerson_Sept2016_QuarterPage.indd 1

Wednesday, Jan. 18, 2017

Igor “We miss you” Magun
Bryan “Football is Lyfe?” Meler
Brenda “Messi” Molina-Navidad

check out
our new
internet
page at
theeyeopener.com

2016-08-18 1:00 PM

The Annoying Talking Coffee Mug
is going non-ranty this week, because
everyone knows that January/February suck up sources of creativity better
than a Bounty paper-towel. So, without
further ado, here are some good, cheap
adventures that are walking and/
or TTC distance from campus (in no
particular order).
1) Go to City Hall and skate with
friends in front of the Toronto sign
and take pics. You can rent a pair of
skates there if you need to. Then go to
Anoush Shawarma & Falafel or Salad
King for lunch or dinner.
2) In Chinatown, head over to Dim
Sum King and then go shopping at The
Lucky Moose. You won’t believe the
cool candy. Go for a wander westbound
on Dundas Street (south side) then go
north on Spadina up to College. Which
one of you can find the cheapest Maorobelia?
3) For some of the foodiest food, St.
Lawrence Market on Front Street just
east of Church is it. Best options for
lunch are Buster’s Sea Cove 3 piece fish
and chips (watch out for the line-up—it
starts at noon so go after the traditional
time) or the peameal bacon at Carousel that will leave you full and with
dollars left over to blow on cheese and
homemade sausages.
4) If you’re bookish, first go to Pancho’s
at 658 College St. (have the Chicken
Tostados, you won’t fucking believe
them). Then stay on the north side of
College—three of the best Second Hand
Bookstores in the City are there in
a row. “Sellers & Newell” (672), then
“Balfour Books” (470) ending with “She
Said Boom Records and Books” (362)
are all within a few blocks.
5) I love grabbing a crêpe at Hibiscus
Cafe on Augusta in Kensington—it’s a
great place to take vegan friends. It’s
also just north of Market institution
Shoney’s, where you can buy just about
any piece of second-hand clothing
(Orange Tab Levis jackets for $19.99).
Wander Kensington Market, save
money, find cool shit and get good
food. Shopping in Little India on Gerrard Street East is mostly clothes, fabric
and household stuff but it’s colourful
enough to brighten up a February
day. Afterwards you can fill up at the
classic Lahore Tikka or the cheap and
delish Moti Mahal without leaving
Gerrard Street. Survive the winter: eat,
wander, imbibe.
The Eyeopener is Ryerson’s largest and
only independent student newspaper. It
is owned and operated by Rye Eye Publishing Inc., a non-profit corporation
owned by the students of Ryerson. Our
offices are on the second floor of the
Student Campus Centre. You can reach
us at 416-979-5262, at theeyeopener.com
or on Twitter at @theeyeopener.

NEWS

Wednesday, Jan. 18, 2017

Film student remembered
for his artistic talents

5

What you missed
Here’s what happened while you were sleeping in way
too late during the break. Get yourself together.

> Victoria Street safe injection site funded
On Jan. 9, the Ontario government approved funding for three safe injection sites across Toronto, including one at the Toronto Public Health building at Dundas and Victoria streets. The government is committing $1.6 million annually, as well as $400,000 to begin work on the three centres.
> Ryerson Professor Emeritus dies
David Grimshaw, a former Ryerson professor who taught physics, mathematics and computer science, died on Jan. 3, 2017 at the age of 76. He was
an avid chess player and supporter of social justice.

Matthew Robertson will be remembered as a talented slam poet, musician and filmmaker.

By Jacob Dubé
Matthew Robertson will be remembered for his many creative
talents, as well as the confident,
meaningful way he spoke to others.
Robertson, a fourth-year film
studies student, avid musician,
slam poet and filmmaker, died on
Nov. 24, 2016. He was 21.
“He was a really creative guy,
outspoken. He’s very good one on
one, with a really deep mind,” said
Ben Groberman, one of his best
friends. Groberman and Robertson
went to the same high school in
Vancouver, where they played in a
band together.
Groberman remembers when
Robertson first tried out for their
band, Hearts for Spades. Robertson
was the lead singer and played guitar. The plan was for Robertson to
share some of his pieces with the
group, and for them to play some
for him—just to see if they were a
good fit.

“That’s why I loved
working with him so
much, because there
was that potential
and confidence”
“I remember we had him play his
song first, and we were all just silent, and started laughing because
we were so excited, because his
song was incredible. He said ‘OK,
let’s hear your songs’ and we were
so embarrassed we didn’t want to
play them for him. That was one of
the best times we had,” Groberman
said.
Groberman would also join Robertson at slam poetry competitions.
“We always used to say he was a
quiet person when he talked, but
he really came out of his shell on
stage, especially in slam poetry,”

Groberman said.
One of Robertson’s most notable
slam poems, “Camel,” is all about a
moment in preschool where everybody had to put down what they
wanted to be when they grew up, and
he wrote down the desert animal.
“I always said his poems get
more amazing to me as I grow up,”
Groberman said. “Because even
though we were the same age, I
don’t really think I was old enough
to appreciate his writing.”
Since Grade 12, Robertson wanted
to go into the film studies program
at Ryerson. His classmates remember his various skills and his willingness to help with their projects.
Calyx Passailaigue, a fourth-year
film studies student, worked with
Robertson on a film where he was
both director of photography and a
replacement actor when someone
couldn’t make it. He switched between both positions throughout
the 12-hour shoot.
“He was very courageous with
his ideas. He was very willing to try
things and push to get things made,
push to keep working and make
interesting work,” Passailaigue
said. “That’s why I loved working
with him so much, because there
was that potential and confidence
there.”
Aaron Rota, one of Robertson’s
friends and classmates, remembers the time that Robertson had
to pitch his third-year film idea in
front of his peers. Rota says he began by saying “Do you guys want to
make another student film, or do
you guys want to make an awesome
film?” Robertson then gave out old
Viewmasters and a scrapbook and
pitched Cardboard Rocket Ship, a
story about a child who builds a
rocket ship out of cardboard and
other things.
“It really got us all very excited.
He pretty much filled his crew because everyone loved his pitch so
much,” Rota said.

PHOTO COURTESY MARISSA BERGOUGNOU

Marissa Bergougnou, a classmate
who also worked on a small documentary on Robertson’s slam poetry, recalls the meaningful way he
would speak to her and others.
“He was a very open person, he
wasn’t afraid to talk about difficult
things, difficult topics. He liked to
have very personal, deep conversations. I think he really just cares for
people. He wanted to hear about
other people’s experiences and
share his own,” she said.

> Revised sexual violence policy approved by Ryerson
Ryerson approved a revision to its sexual violence policy on Dec. 12, 2016.
Among other changes, the revised policy expands on how the school investigates different cases, and requires that the policy be reviewed every
two years.
> Student apologizes for anti-Semitic Facebook posts
Ibrahim Khan, a members services assistant with the Ryerson Students’
Union (RSU), apologized for anti-Semitic jokes about the Holocaust that
he says were posted through his account without his knowledge when he
left it open at a friend’s house. The posts are now deleted, and the RSU is
investigating.
Seen some crazy stu f on campus? Email news@theeyeopener.com

FEATURES

6

Wednesday, Jan. 18, 2017

FINDING SOLACE THROUGH
WRITING

Writing can be a cathartic form of expression. Devin Jones explores how
Sister Writes, one of Toronto’s only free creative writing programs for
women, is helping heal those who have experienced trauma

H

er name is Marsha. She’s introduced as the next person to read a portion of her story, titled “Red Clay.”
Her quiet voice becomes succinct and calm.
The packed art gallery falls silent. “Don’t touch me,” she
cries, her red curls shaking with her voice as she recalls the
cancer, how she felt when she was told she had months to
live, and the doctor’s cold hands on her spine. She finishes
speaking. A small smile appears on her face as the crowd
applauds, despite being told to hold off until the end.
They’re here for the launch of the annual Sister Writes
literary magazine.
Lauren Kirshner, a published author and the founder of
Sister Writes, announces the next reader.
As one of Toronto’s only free creative writing programs
for women, Sister Writes offers opportunity for cis and trans
writers affected by homelessness, trauma, mental health issues and addictions, or women facing life transitions, to receive mentorship and find their voices.
Conceived in 2010, Kirshner pulled inspiration from The
Parkdale Street Writers, a creative writing program for atrisk youth, and an eight-week poetry salon she ran at The
Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH). When
she learned there were no free creative writing programs
for women in Toronto, she approached Sistering—a community agency that aims to create a safe, non-judgmental
space for women at risk—to form Sister Writes. While the
two groups share similar names, they are separate entities
that rely on mutual themes of women supporting women
as a way to communicate.
Since 2013, Kirshner has taught creative writing at Ryer-

son. Similar to the class she teaches on campus, Sister Writes is
broken up into 12 weeks, with each week focused on a different aspect of the writing process: from creating rounded characters, to editing, to scene writing, to perfecting basic sentence
structure. The registration for the workshops, running three
times a year, opens six weeks ahead of time. The only reason
someone could be turned away is if a session is full.
Writers are published in the Sister Writes end-of-year
magazine, which includes a collection of short stories and
poems. For the first time this year, the program launched
two issues due to the increase in content. The launch took

It was a project that opened my eyes to
the extraordinary circumstances some
women are living in, and how vital it is for
others to hear these stories
Lauren Kirshner

place on Jan. 17 at the Art Square Cafe and Gallery, across
the street from the Art Gallery of Ontario.
The cover art for the magazine is done by a Sister Writes
participant and the issue is published through Coach House
Press in Toronto. “It was amazing to have watched that creative spark develop into this beautiful celebration of their
stories,” Kirshner says.

O

n a Tuesday afternoon in early December, I attended
the Sister Writes program at the Gladstone Public
Library at Dufferin and Bloor streets. A carpeted
ramp off the main lobby leads to a room filled with tall
glass windows overlooking rows of library books. Nine
women who vary in age sit at four long tables connected
at the ends, creating a chunky zero. At the front of the room
is Kirshner. She’s wearing a grey threaded beanie and pink
cable knit sweater. Her presence is warm and inviting. She
smiles, her dark brown hair moving as she chats with some
of the women before the workshop starts.
This week’s session begins with a discussion about finding a distinct voice. A woman wearing a multicoloured scarf
around her shoulders is called up to talk about her writing
style. Her name is Cindy Maguire. Laughter lines punctuate
her smile as she glances down at her spiral bound notebook.
She loves poetry, and describes her words as lyrical. Maguire
currently runs the Sister Writes blog.
“I had thought about writing for so long, but I think I had
always been fearful about doing something specific about
it,” Maguire said. “I got packaged out of a job I’d been in
for 11 years and I had almost a year to figure out what I
wanted to do. I figured out it was time to pay attention to
my writing.”
Maguire initially took a separate, three session creative
writing workshop that Kirshner was running at the Gladstone
library. When a friend, who Maguire created a poetry circle
with, encouraged her to join Sister Writes, she was surprised
to see Kirshner at the workshop. “It was just one of those
things where the stars align, you know?” she says.

FEATURES

Wednesday, Jan. 18, 2017
In a recent entry on the Sister Writes blog, Maguire writes
on her experience coming to terms with what she describes
as a “writing funk.” She cites Jack Kerouac’s rule 18 from his
list of beliefs and techniques for writing and life as a source of
inspiration: “Work from pithy middle eye out, swimming in
language sea.” Maguire focuses on the American novelist’s use
of the word “pithy,” describing it as the need to pay attention
to your inner voice. “That unguarded raw part of you. When
you do, the necessary words will be there,” she wrote.
Sister Writes acts as an umbrella for five distinct programs, each with a different experience tailored towards
an aspect of the community it serves. Participants have
one-on-one mentorship access and are able to work with
experienced writers. Sister Writes also offers a facilitation program, where experienced participants can eventually run workshops within their own communities, as well
as a community program at shelters and drop-in centres
that highlights the merit of creative writing to cis and
trans women. Kirshner says the community program has
worked with a centre for young mothers and those dealing
with domestic violence.
“It was a project that opened my eyes to the extraordinary circumstances some women are living in, and how vital it is for others to hear these stories too, to foster greater
understanding about issues that shape women’s lives,” she
says.
Kirshner says she plans on expanding the program
across Ontario to comprise an anthology of stories from
different regions and communities. She also wants to
have a digital storytelling installation on their website
within the year.
or Lee Shields, a practising therapist of over 15 years,
creative writing and art is about creating “new pathways,” or looking internally to engage with a situation. Likening art to expressive therapy, she looks at writing and other creative forms as a tool for individuals to
use in their day-to-day lives. The fostering of empathetic
relationships is a key component to a participant’s creative
success, she says.
“If someone is actually willing to be with us in a way that’s
vulnerable, it can be very moving—almost like the body-mind
connection,” she says. “Use the writing as a springboard to
check in on how you’re doing. Because if this is something
[people] don’t normally do, it creates new pathways for
them to explore.”

F

Shields’ background in psychotherapy allows her to follow her clients through the creative process, engaging
them intellectually and “allowing them to be the centre of
their work.” Depending on a person’s personal history—
whether they’re from a broken home, or they’ve suffered
abuse—Shields will use a different artistic modality to help
direct the participant’s creative output.
he women at the table reach for their pens to begin a free-write session, where Kirshner prompts
writers with an object, single word or short
phrase. Today, she asks participants to think of a memory from their childhood—a time when they realized ev-

T

“It gave me ground when I didn’t have
a place to stand”
Debi Lee

erything was changing, or realized they were growing
up.
The idea is to force the participants to write continuously in 10 minute intervals, without stopping to overthink or edit. There are a final few questions about the
prompt. “What constitutes everything changing?,” a
voice calls out. “Can it be an experience from when I was
older?,” another asks quietly. There’s a distinct sense of
apprehension, a want to get the prompt correct. But as
I look amongst the women, I can see determination in
their furrowed brows.
The room falls silent once again. The rhythm of breathing amongst the women slows as their pens move quickly
across the pages. One late comer rushes in and sits to my
right as Kirshner quietly explains the prompt.
There’s Debi Lee, bundled in a puffy grey jacket and
wool scarf. She pauses momentarily, her pen pressed to
the page as she hesitates. With the nod of her head, she
reminds herself not to stop and think. Her pen begins
moving swiftly once again, and she makes up for those

7
few lost seconds.
The tone is always set by the participants themselves,
Kirshner says, adding that her main focus is on the editorial
process to help writers shape their material. Participants
are encouraged to share their words, but only if they feel
comfortable.
For writers like Lee, the workshop helped restore integrity and dignity to her life through the art of writing.
“Sister Writes, and especially Lauren, has been a lifeline to me. It gave me ground when I didn’t have a place
to stand. Transience, crises’, life ... can severely disrupt and
destabilize one’s perspective,” Lee says. “A woman said today, ‘We can’t really see where we are until we get a little
distance away from it.’”
Throughout the free write, Kirshner moves her gaze
from woman to woman. She focuses on each pen and notepad for a few seconds.
When I make eye contact with her, I sense a telepathic sort of encouragement. Short, styrofoam cups
filled with coffee tremble as the table moves with the
flow of words. When Kirshner announces that there are
two minutes left, the scratching of ink to paper becomes
more audible.
The women finish their last sentences. The disappointment is palpable because no one wants to stop.
Eronia Maria, a woman with long blonde hair and glasses
that frame her petite face, places her pen back on the table.
She works as a music teacher at a private school in Toronto
and started creative writing to expand her abilities beyond
the academic writing she’s used to.
Maria later tells me that Kirshner has helped her find the
unique humor in her own life by looking at ordinary experiences for inspiration.
As I sat in this room amongst all of these different women, each with different stories, I felt a sense of unity. There
was a genuine want to be involved—to support each other,
and to grow creatively. Not once did writing seem like
work to any of them, despite the emotional strain. With
cramped fingers, challenges were raised, discussed and
solved.
Here, tucked away in a Bloordale Village library, a group
of women create a home where all voices are heard and
opinions are valid. And through the scratching of pens, the
flipping of pages and the quiet coughs of contemplation,
they speak.

ALL ILLUSTRATIONS COURTESY OF SISTER WRITES

SPORTS

8

Wednesday, Jan. 18, 2017

“Give us a shot”
A group of Ryerson sport media students are spearheading
a new university athletics network with national aspiritions
By Daniel Rocchi

H
O
C
K

SAT. JAN. 21
VS WINDSOR

E

MEN’S 7:15 PM

MEN’S 2:15 PM

Y

THURS. JAN.19
VS WATERLOO

Adam Jenkins answered his
phone for the interview from the
gymnasium at Queen’s University,
where he sat waiting for the
evening’s action to begin.
Jenkins, a third-year sport media
student at Ryerson, followed the
Rams basketball teams to Kingston,
Ont. for their games against the
Gaels last week. As a women’s
basketball play-by-play announcer
and reporter for Ryerson athletics,
his attendance might not seem
unusual. But Jenkins wasn’t there
for the Rams. He wasn’t even there
for class.
Jenkins tailed Ryerson’s basketball
teams on his own time and his
own dime for his latest project, a
collaboration that he hopes will help
redefine the landscape of Canada’s
post-secondary athletics: CUSN,
the Canadian University Sports
Network.
Following its official launch on
January 1, CUSN is very much in
its infancy. But with a mandate
for comprehensive coverage of all
sports, Jenkins believes the network
can become an all-encompassing
presence in university sport media.
“We want to tell the stories of the
people that don’t get their stories
told,” Jenkins said over phone as
he waited for the women’s teams to
take the court for warm-ups.
But achieving inclusivity and
balance is an uphill battle in the
male-dominated world of sports. It’s
not just about what gets covered, it’s
also about who’s covering it.
“[What] I’ve really wanted and
been searching for are female
writers that want to come on board,”
said Jenkins. By his count, including
some pending new recruits, CUSN’s
team currently stands at 13 males
and two females.
“That ratio is not reflective of the
sports we cover,” he said.
For Jaime Hills, a second-year
sport media student who covers
women’s basketball for the Rams

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Jan. 13 - Rams: 101 Queen’s: 77
Jan. 14 - Rams: 69 York: 52

Jan. 14 - Rams: 3 York: 2
@ryersonrams

#WeRRams

ryersonrams.ca

and the only female member of the
staff presently listed on the CUSN
website, the disparity is unsurprising.
“It’s a representation of sports
in general, stereotypically it’s a
men’s profession,” said Hills. “But
when I think of what I’m trying to
do in terms of my career, what I’m
putting out, I’m not trying to do it
as a woman who’s doing this; I’m
just trying to be somebody who’s
creating this content.”
While CUSN works to improve
gender equality in Canadian
university athletics, both in
coverage and composition, Jenkins
also wants it to achieve parity
through collaboration with likeminded students across the country.
“When we first launched, we
really pushed that our roster is
growing and it’s not just [for]
Ryerson sport media students,
which is something I was nervous
[about],” said Jenkins. “I would love
to have writers from every [athletic]
conference and every school even, if
the opportunity presented itself.”
The team already boasts student
reporters based in Montreal, Ottawa
and the Kitchener-Waterloo area.
According to Jenkins, interest from
non-Ryerson students has continued
to grow since the network launched.
Along with the obstacles faced
by most fledgling projects, such as
resources and personnel, CUSN will
also have to deal with the relatively
short shelf-life of a student sports
reporter. Jenkins is in the secondlast year of his degree, and the future
of CUSN past his Ryerson tenure is
cloudy. He said he would like to pass
the project along to another student
when he graduates, but there are
more pressing issues to deal with
first.
For now, Jenkins said, the focus
is on the short-term: establishing
the CUSN brand and connecting
audiences with the network’s
content.
“I think the motto we’ve been
indirectly or subliminally trying to
push is, ‘give us a shot’.”

Jan. 12 - Rams: 6 Brock: 2
Jan. 13 - Rams: 7 Western: 4

Jan. 13 - Rams: 75 Queen’s: 79
(OT)
Jan. 14 - Rams: 64 York: 51
Jan. 14 - Rams: 3 York: 2
Jan. 11 - Rams: 2 Guelph: 4
Jan. 14 - Rams: 0 Waterloo: 1

For more game coverage, visit theeyeopener.com

Wednesday, Jan. 18, 2017

9

For more game coverage, visit theeyeopener.com

10

ARTS & LIFE

Wednesday, Jan. 18, 2017

Finding relaxation through yoga: a place to heal
Ryerson hosted its first Self-healing Through Yoga and Art session of the year for people affected by sexual violence

By Brenda Molina-Navidad
A group of several people stand in the quiet
Tecumseh Audotorium with their hands in a
prayer position. They place their connected
palms in front of their foreheads and slowly
move them to the front of their throats. This
symbolizes expression and voice. Their hands,
still in the form of a prayer, travel to different
areas across their bodies—from their hearts,
to just below their waists. This symbolizes
safety.
This is a safe and accessible space open to
Ryerson community members who have been
impacted by sexual violence, where they can
meet and practice yoga.
The first Self-healing Through Yoga and
Art session of the year was held on Jan. 16,
2017. The program began in the fall, in collaboration with the office of Sexual Violence
Support and Education and the Centre for
Women and Trans People.
Farrah Khan, the coordinator of the office,
was formerly involved in a yoga program for
queer Muslim youth, where youth expressed
themselves through yoga and poetry. Here,
she saw first-hand how yoga could be a form
of healing.
“I really believe that we have to find different ways to connect with survivors of sexual
violence,” said Khan.
Khan said that sometimes, survivors may
not feel comfortable enough for individual
counselling or may not want to share their stories, but do want to share a space with one another. “I think this is really powerful,” she said.
Each session is instructed by Nisha Ahuja, who shares yoga practices across North
America. Ahuja came to Ryerson for International Women’s Day last year to instruct a
yoga class, and participants expressed interest
in having her again, according to Khan.
According to the Sexual Violence Support and Education Ryerson page, Ahuja’s
yoga practices encompass a range of cultures.
Ahuja shares atomic energy healing—or Reiki
as—well as holistic practices.
Reiki is a way to connect universal energy

PHOTO: DEVIN JONES

with one’s own powers of healing. In the
book, “Reiki: A Way of Life,” by Nicola and
Rahim Petsch, Reiki is said to be an energy
exchange, not given by the healer, but created by the healed themselves. Those who
practice Reiki must be willing to allow this
energy in.
The room remains quiet as the hand motion
practices come to an end. The instructor invites
the participants to open their bodies and find
relaxation. They have the option of keeping
their eyes open or closed throughout the session while the instructor’s voice acts as a guide.

“Yoga is a process in which people can bring
breath into their bodies, give care and compassion and tenderness to parts of their bodies
that may have not felt connected to you,” said
Khan, who attended the session. “I think for a
lot of survivors this is actually a really powerful way of doing healing work.”
The attendees rest on the colourful mats
with their eyes closed as they form a fetallike position. The mats are set up in a circular
shape in the middle of the wooden floor.
Each participant is allowed to create their
own interpretations of each pose, making

slight adjustments as long as they are comfortable. “Be comfortable,” is a piece of advice
stressed by Ahuja during the session, even
when the classmates faces are towards the
ground, hips in the air, and their feet pressing
into the earth behind them.
Through this program, survivors can take
the time to rest and connect their body movements with breathing. At the same time they
gain awareness about how trauma affects the
body, while finding alternative therapy methods and practicing self-care.
“A part of that healing can be about getting
in touch with your body and feeling, bringing
back breath to spaces where you feel hurt or
harmed,” said Khan.
Meditation and an expression of noise are
also key parts of yoga, according to Ahuja. At
one point, she asks the group to make buzzing
sounds like bees—expressing their inner noise.
Carefully, the participants stand tall on
their mats, putting their arms above their
heads then swinging them down hard towards the ground. Release.
Every swing and grunt that accompanies
each movement is a release of some kind—
stress, anxiety, or the trauma each individual
has faced.
Near the end of the session, everyone lies on
their backs. Eyes closed. They continue to inhale and exhale. The silence is soothing enough
to put anyone to sleep. Every breath takes them
deeper into thought. When everyone opens
their eyes, Ahuja thanks them for attending.
The program is open to all genders and
welcomes anyone who has been impacted
by sexual violence, including the partners or
friends of survivors.
Khan believes more women and gender
non-binary folks attend the sessions because
sexual violence is viewed as something that
happens to specific communities.
“I think as we get away from the stigma and
shame of sexual violence, of being a survivor,
I think more people will feel comfortable.”
The next session is in February and Khan is
hoping to continue the program throughout
the next year.

New series explores comedy in immigrant upbringings
An all-woman cast of first- and second-generation Canadian students have created a comedy series about the humour in living with traditional immigrant parents and moving away from home
By Annie Arnone
Growing up, Talia Zahavi was told that sitting
on the corner of any table would mean that
she would not get married for seven years.
The thought of sitting on any corner of any
surface sent her mother—a Russian immigrant—into a panic.
Similarly, Amina Bejtić, born to BosnianMuslim immigrant parents, was cautioned by
her family to never keep her back exposed for
fear of death.
This past summer, after comparing old
wives tales, the two RTA media production
students realized their lives were eerily similar—ultimately leading to the creation of their
new comedy web series, Borderline.
The fourth-year thesis project is a comedy
web series that follows the story of two young
girls born to immigrant parents who move to

downtown Toronto and get paired up in the
same dorm room for university. The characters are modelled after the two writers.
“Katya and Aisa are our two main characters, coming from both Russian and Bosnian
families,” said Zahavi. “The pilot follows their
experiences hunting down a textbook they
need for class, their journey finding it in a new
city and being on their own for the first time.”
The theme of the show is cultural identity. Bejtić compares it to a coming of age
story, balanced with a tale of managing dual
identities.
Bejtić grew up in Collingwood, Ont.—a
town of just over 19,000 people. “Everyone
that lives there comes from the same place,
and everyone knows each other. It was weird
being the odd one out a lot of the time,” she
said. “I didn’t know what mac and cheese was
until I was much older … but it’s more come-

dic than a struggle. We’re all just trying to find
our identity.”
Bejtić explains that recently, television has
done a good job of including female protagonists in comedy. The cast for their own
project is made up entirely of women, all firstgeneration and second-generation Canadians.
Fourth-year RTA media production student and assistant director Priscilla Sidero
applied to be a part of Borderline’s crew and
has enjoyed working with such a diverse
cast.
“I’ve felt very comfortable working with
[the cast],” she said. “We wanted to make this
project really special.”
She added that old wives’ tales and outlandish stories told by her parents were a huge
part of growing up.
“I am the child of an immigrant experience.
My parents are from South America and are

PHOTO: SOFIE URETSKY

very free-spirited,” she said. “I lived there
from the age of three to seven and still speak
fluent Spanish today.”
The crew has also received money for their
project through crowdfunding on Indiegogo.
“We’ve raised over $500 from friends and
family,” said Bejtić. Even people we don’t
know have been helping us out—It’s really
cool to see other people supporting us.”
Borderline is still in post-production and
will be released online in February 2017.

THE FUNNIES

Wednesday, Jan. 18, 2017

Student drops out to pursue dreams

11
The

Magic

SRAOCL

“He went straight to the NBA from
high school and look at him now;
like 10 straight NBA Finals appearances and seven championships. I
don’t know the exact numbers, but
he’s done a lot, I know that much.
Imagine if I hadn’t spent three years
messing around at school. Maybe I’d
be in the NBA with Lebron.”
Mills played basketball throughout high school and continued when
he came to Ryerson.
“No big deal, but my intramural
team almost made it to the finals
two years ago,” Mills said. “I’m honUnscramble these words to uncover some of television’s best
estly so mad at myself for not at least characters! Submit your completed scramble to The Eyeopener (SCC207)
trying to make it to the NBA. I really with your name, contact info and favourite Magic School Bus episode
think I would’ve made it if I hadn’t
for your chance to win a $50 Indigo gift card!
come to Ryerson.”
A few options that Mills is considering for the next step in his
life include, but are not limited to,
training to make a professional basketball team (“Maybe I’ll start in a
European league and then make the
jump to the NBA,” he said); becoming a best-selling author (“I’d like to
write a Twilight-inspired series,” he
added); and trying his hand at professional darts. “I’ve never played,
but how hard can it be?”
Mills was last seen setting up an
office in his parents’ garage, where
he allegedly plans to start his own
computer company.

ZLIFRZE

School Bus
mble!
a
r
c
s
word

A boy, a basketball and a dream.

By Ben Snider-McGrath
Steve Jobs, Lebron James and Albert
Einstein. These are just a few of the
names that Connor Mills mentioned
when discussing his decision to drop
out of school.
“Think about it,” said the former
Ryerson fashion design student.
“None of those guys graduated from
a college or university, and look at
them now. They’re all world-renowned for what they’ve done in
their fields.”
Einstein did, in fact, graduate
from university, but this did not
seem to deter Mills.
“OK, sure, he graduated from university, but that was in, like, 1900,”
Mills said. “All you had to do to
graduate back then was not die of

PHOTO: KEITH CAPSTICK

cholera. Not a huge accomplishment
in my books.”
Mills said that he had a wonderful
winter break and that the time off of
school opened his eyes to all the other
things he could be doing with his life.
“I listened to a lot of podcasts over
the break,” he said. “Watched a lot of
basketball, a lot of Netflix. I read a lot
of magazines, too. Well, I looked at
the pictures, but I read some of the articles. Anyway, I realized that I wasn’t
living my life to the fullest at school,
so when I was supposed to be enrolling in classes for the upcoming term,
I dropped out instead.”
Mills does not have a plan for
what he will do next, but he knows
that it will be “a major life-altering
event.”
“Take Lebron James,” Mills said.

IHLARPE
LDNRAO

EYEvestigation: missing in action
By Skyler Ash
Ryerson campus security issued a
red alert on January 13 after a student reported one of their belongings missing.
“This kind of crime is the reason I got into the business,” said
Jensen Perry, a private investigator and Eyeopener reporter hired by
Ryerson after the school’s security
team deemed this matter “too highstakes” for their intelligence operatives to solve. “Something fishy is
definitely going on here,” said Perry.
To understand the gravity of the
situation, we take you back to a cold
Friday morning on the first day back
at school. Second-year social work
student Joshua Kelp walked through
the dreary passageways of Kerr Hall
toward his locker. “I was pretty excited to get to my locker, because I
left a really good bag of trail mix in
there,” said Kelp.
But when he opened his locker,
the trail mix was gone.
After a long, hard winter break
full of harsh criticisms from his
family, Kelp needed this trailmix. “I
almost passed out,” said Kelp. “All
my family does is pester me about
EVERYTHING! ‘Josh, do you have
a boyfriend yet? Josh, why don’t
you go into something more practical, like your brother, he’s a lawyer!
Josh, you’ve put on a few pounds.’
Like, sorry, all I do is work and eat

A Message from President
Mohamed Lachemi
Welcome to a new term and a new year
at Ryerson. I look forward to working with all
members of the community as we continue
to build momentum and move our university
forward in 2017.
Trail mix in question.

so no I don’t have time to go out and
find a man!”
After taking a few moments to
collect himself, he activated the
nearest emergency alarm and security showed up. That’s when they
called in Perry.
“This boy was clearly distraught,
so I needed to do my best. My first
thought was to smell it out,” said
Perry. After sniffing Kelp’s locker
for exactly 23 minutes, he concluded that the mix was composed
of almonds, dried cranberries,
pumpkin seeds and dark chocolate chips. Following the scent, he
made it about two feet from the
locker before he pronounced that

PHOTO: IZABELLA BALCERZAK

the trail had run cold.
It’s a big case, said Perry, but he’s
taking all precautions necessary. “I
have about eight suspects in custody
(cells located in the George Vari Engineering and Computing Centre
basement) and we’ve put up flyers
all across campus.”
The names of the suspects in custody have not been released, but we
do know that of the eight, five are
students, two are professors and
one was a non-Ryerson community
member who “just happened to be in
the wrong place at the wrong time.”
Students are being asked to report
any suspicious activity to campus security officials.

Have a great term and a great year!
Mohamed Lachemi
President
Enjoy a free breakfast at the Student Learning
Centre on Thursday, January 26.
Join me from 8 – 10 a.m. in the SLC Amphitheatre
for refreshments and some fun surprises.

12

Wednesday, Jan. 18, 2017