Canada's most scandalous university
In 2013, the University of Toronto learned that scandals make headlines. Canada’s largest university regularly ranks among the top universities in the world, produces cutting-edge research, and is a global leader in innovation—none of which seemed to be as newsworthy as “student orgies,” disgraced administrators, or controversial teachers.
So, in the scandalous spirit of 2013, a year of twerking, crack-smoking mayors, and t-shirts with menstruating vaginas, here are the stories at U of T that made the national headlines this year.
On January 21, the University of Toronto Sexual Education Center (SEC) organized an “epic student sex adventure.” Despite Reddit and the host venue, Oasis Aqualounge, referring to it as an “orgy,” the SEC specified it as a social. The feature event of Sexual Awareness Week, the intention of the social was to provide a non-judgmental environment in which safe sex could be explored.
Over 600 students lined up for the club, but by 7pm, when clothing became optional, the club had already reached its full capacity at 189 people. Despite the acceptance of nudity, only a small minority of students reportedly had sex, though one could catch glimpses of young men and women (nakedly) exploring the club’s dungeons and using sexual equipment.
Regardless of what was occurring inside the club, the event stirred the environment outside the club all the same. Christian members of York University’s United Through Worship protested the “unholy” activities going on inside. Some also handed out free Bibles to those waiting in line.
SEC ensured that the event would promote a safe and sex-positive environment. Condoms and lubricant were provided throughout the club, and the SEC required attendees to show their student IDs in order to be admitted with a plus one.
The club’s different floors served different purpose; the first floor was a bar-like setting, a low-pressure environment where students could simply socialize, whereas as other floors lent themselves more directly to kinks and other sexy stuff.
Profits from the evening went to charities such as Maggie’s, AIDS Action Now, and TRIP.
Oasis Aqualounge, a self-described “water themed adult’s playground” comprises four floors of bars, hot tubs, pools, play rooms, and dungeons. Year-round, they have passes available to students, individuals, and couples. Couples’ passes only qualify to those which consist of a man and a woman and individual males are only allowed entry on Mondays and Wednesdays.
The SEC executive director Jordan Lavoie stated that this rule was enacted on the night of the social due to a “miscommunication” with Oasis Aqualounge. This misunderstanding is a noteworthy reason why a social will not be held at Oasis for the 2014 Sexual Awareness Week.
The theme for this coming year’s Sexual Awareness Week will be body positivity. In terms of a future social, the SEC is looking for a venue that will maintain its values and condone the most sex-positive and body-positive space. Other events to look forward to will be the return of porn and cookies—essentially, watching porn and eating cookies—as well as workshops on anal sex and how to buy sex toys on a student budget.
Benjamin Levin is a tenured University of Toronto professor, former Ontario deputy education minister, and was a member of Kathleen Wynne’s transition team. This July, the U of T community was shocked when Levin was arrested and charged with seven counts of child pornography.
His charges included one count of possessing child pornography, one count of accessing child pornography, two counts of distributing child pornography, one count of making child pornography, and agreeing to perform a sexual offense against a child under age 16.
According to Detective-Constable Janelle Blackadar, the Toronto police had begun investigating Levin last year. A phone call from New Zealand authorities in June indicated they had also been investigating him. After exchanging information with authorities in England and London, ON, Mr. Levin’s child pornography inquiry was confirmed.
Mr. Levin, an education expert, is married with three children. He travels extensively, to both publicly lecture and to perform research regarding understanding worldwide education systems. One of his main goals, according to his profile on the Ontario Institute in Studies of Education (OISE) website, is to learn “more about how we can ameliorate the impacts of poverty and inequality in education.”
In 2010, as Ontario’s deputy education minister, Mr. Levin proposed a radical sex education curriculum, which then education minister and current premier Kathleen Wynne was hoping to adopt. Parts of the program suggested teaching eight-year-olds about sexual orientation and identity and eleven-year-olds about anal and oral sex, as well as masturbation. Premier Dalton McGuinty rejected it at the time due to opposition from parents.
Wynne now denies that Mr. Levin played any role in forming the sexual education curriculum.
Although Levin was released on July 10 on $100,000 bail, he was ordered to return to court on August 8.
More recently in U of T news, Victoria College guest professor/lecturer David Gilmour was under attack by women, Chinese, gays, Canadians, and basically anyone who does not identify as a real “guy’s guy.” In a late September interview with Hazlitt magazine, Gilmour declared that he is “not interested in teaching books by women” and is only interested in teaching “serious heterosexual guys.”
Later, in an interview with the National Post, Gilmour clarified his comment by stating that he teaches only “big hard-on guys.”
Gilmour defended his controversial statements by saying that the interview was taken out of context. He also defended himself by stating that he can only teach what he knows and relates to and can share passionate wisdom about–which happens to only pertain to white, middle-age, “macho guys.”
Regardless of the social media uproar and a small protest at Vic, Gilmour continues to teach two very popular classes through Victoria College.
From coverage in the National Post to the Huffington Post; the Globe and Mail to the CBC; the Toronto Sun to the Toronto Star, U of T did not stray from the scandalous spotlight. Now with a new President at the university, it will be interesting to see what will be considered “newsworthy” in the upcoming year.