university of toronto

University of Toronto’s Janice Stein worries that [right-wing] “militants feed on attacks like the Charlie Hebdo massacre,” calling for things like sealed borders and “purification.”

“People are horrified,” Stein says, “and that feeds in to those on the other end of the spectrum …” She adds that the situation is “deeply worrying … because this is inconsistent with a rights-based democracy.”

The Toronto Star reports:

“What you are seeing is a wider, almost a cross-Europe movement, but this is not the 1930s. That is not where we are.

In Germany, the PEGIDA movement, or the Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamization of the West, has been gaining steam, holding public rallies in Dresden and Dusseldorf. The group says it supports “integrated Muslims” living in Europe but anti-PEGIDA movements have sprung up to counter their rallies.

It is no surprise that this anger is rising at a time when the European Union is facing deep economic problems, Stein said.

“We’ve seen that historically in Europe — youth unemployment, frustration, loss of hope by young people and loss of confidence in government. So what do you do? You focus on the foreigner … Who suffers? Overwhelming, I am talking 99.9 per cent of European Muslims. They are the true victims.”

So, contemporary European acrimony has little to do with Islamic extremism … and much to do with sophistic scapegoating?

Read the full article.

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We can identify a person’s sexual orientation faster than we can blink, according to University of Toronto researchers who say that yes, “gaydar” is real.

And they say conservatives are better at it than liberals, The Toronto Star reports:

Facial “gaydar” is 65-per-cent accurate on average, according to [psychologist Nicholas] Rule and his co-researchers at U of T’s Social Perception & Cognition Laboratory. These judgments can be reliably made based on the eyes alone, though facial shape and texture are also big factors.

“Conservatives are more accurate than liberals in making these judgments when they study a face, because conservatives are more likely to use stereotypes,” Rule said. “Of course, stereotypes are often wrong, but they do have what we call kernels of truth. Liberals tend to not want to use stereotypes in making judgments, and it impairs their accuracy.”

hipster.ChristopherMichel.flickrWorried you won’t get hired or will be otherwise discriminated against through gaydar? Just become a hipster!

Rule uses photos of people, both men and women, who self-identify as either gay or straight (while recognizing these are only two of many sexual identities), and uses only faces without “adornments” — facial hair, glasses, piercings and other factors that could skew the results. In a typical experiment, the images are shown in various forms to participants along with a series of questions tailored to the research goal.

This research got a boost after Australian swimming champion Ian Thorpe revealed he’s gay, which apparently shocked his parents but no one else.

Read the full story here.

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IMAGES: Scott Schiller/Flickr, Christopher Michel/Flickr

Noted author David Gilmour, who also teaches at the University of Toronto, has shocked the literary world (as well as the academic world) by saying in an interview that he is not interested in teaching books written by women.

I’m not interested in teaching books by women. Virginia Woolf is the only writer that interests me as a woman writer, so I do teach one of her short stories. But once again, when I was given this job I said I would only teach the people that I truly, truly love. Unfortunately, none of those happen to be Chinese, or women. … [U]sually at the beginning of the semester a hand shoots up and someone asks why there aren’t any women writers in the course. I say I don’t love women writers enough to teach them, if you want women writers go down the hall. What I teach is guys. Serious heterosexual guys. F. Scott Fitzgerald, Chekhov, Tolstoy. Real guy-guys. Henry Miller. Philip Roth…

Full story here.

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The University of Toronto’s sexual education center recently kicked off its annual Sexual Awareness Week at a downtown nightclub, which is described as a “water-themed adult playground, where swingers are welcome and sex is allowed everywhere but the hot tub.”

Promotion of the event included students calling it an “orgy” on social media, prompting a firestorm of news coverage about the event, including on this site.

After news of the event spread, rumors of the student orgy were downplayed as exaggeration by some, but as it turns out, that description wasn’t far from the truth after all.

At least that’s the take away from a write-up of the event by Kristine Wilson of Ryerson University, who published her observations on the Canadian University Press website:

Everyone is naked. As the DJ spins music on the first floor of Oasis Aqua Lounge in downtown Toronto, a few men in their 20s sprint from the pool to the hot tub without bathing suits. One floor above them, two women — also naked — are perched on a sex swing. Across from them, a man — again, naked — is tethered to the wall in chains and leather binds.

These were just a few scenes from Jan. 21’s “epic student sex adventure”, an event organized by the University of Toronto Sexual Education Center (SEC). The party invited university students from across the Greater Toronto Area to visit Oasis, a water-themed sex club a few steps north of Ryerson’s campus.

The sex party was one of the first of its kind at a Canadian university. Rather than talk about sex, the event encouraged students to push personal boundaries and explore their sexuality in a safe environment. …

(The University of Toronto’s sexual education center)  said they made sure to keep the event as safe and sex-positive as possible; condoms and packets of lube were piled in bowls across the club. The event had a laid-back vibe; students could grab a drink at one of the many well-stocked bars and a DJ in the corner blasted beats from a turntable.

On the third floor of the club, Ryerson student Kay Poli lounges as couples have sex around him. Pornography is playing on TVs on the walls. For him, the event is nothing new. “I’ve been here before,” Poli said. “What I like about this sex club is that it’s open to all genders, all orientations.”

Poli is one member of a new generation of students who frequent Toronto sex clubs. In fact, Oasis has hosted dozens of student-friendly events before. According to Jana Matthews, the club’s co-owner, university students are a regular presence at Oasis.

…Despite the media hype, it’s clear sex clubs and bathhouses are nothing new to university students. Toronto’s sex club scene isn’t huge, but it’s far less underground than one might imagine.

Click here to read Wilson’s full report.

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Well, here’s a hands-on approach to teaching students about sex.

According to an article by reporter Katie Daubs of The Toronto Star, the University of Toronto’s sexual education center will kick off its annual Sexual Awareness Week next week at “a downtown club that bills itself as a water-themed adult playground, where swingers are welcome and sex is allowed everywhere but the hot tub.”

“U of T is holding an orgy, and you’re invited! You just need your student ID” one Reddit user posted in a University of Waterloo forum.

“Our executive director made it very clear that this is not an orgy, we’re not funding an orgy,” says external education and outreach co-ordinator Dylan Tower, 22, as he sits inside the sixth-floor office of SEC. “People are allowed to have sex on premise … there is not any type of ‘You should be having sex when you’re here.’ It’s very much, come and enjoy the space, there’s no prodding or pushing in that direction.”

The event begins in the daytime, and organizers are asking students to keep their clothes on until 7 p.m., when the “party becomes clothing-optional so you can get naked with all your new friends.”

But wait, it gets better. The article goes on to note the club where the kick off event will take place boasts “easy-to-clean surfaces, with sanitizing wipes (and) baskets of condoms.”

Meanwhile, campus officials are not bending over backward to distance themselves from the event, the newspaper reports:

“When asked whether it was a U of T-sanctioned event, and whether the university had any concerns, a spokesperson responded with an emailed statement: “The University will not attempt to censor, control or interfere with any group on the basis of its philosophy, beliefs, interests or opinions expressed, unless and until these lead to activities which are illegal or which infringe the rights and freedoms.”

By the way, in case you’re wondering, the University of Toronto’s sexual education center is “an affiliated levy group of the University of Toronto Students Union. …The group’s mission is to foster a sex-positive attitude in the greater U of T area, by offering information, programming, safer-sex supplies, and peer counseling. … Their sexual awareness week includes a discussion on sex positivity, an interactive sex toy demonstration and an afternoon of pornography,” the Toronto Star reports.

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