By Abeer Khan
It was during my second year at Toronto Metropolitan University (TMU) when news broke of the then-Ryerson Students’ Union credit card scandal. My first thought was holy shit. As I read the article—the first story I ever read from The Eyeopener—I was impressed. A student newspaper was capable of breaking such an important and campus-shattering story.
From then on, I idolized The Eye. Every week, when I walked past the newsstand in Kerr Hall on my way to the Rogers Communications Centre from the library, I picked up a copy of the new edition. I read every page, knew the editors (parasocially) and one day hoped I would get to write for the punchy student newspaper known for producing some of the best Canadian journalists. Never would I have imagined back then that I would not only write for The Eye but work on masthead and eventually become the editor-in-chief of the paper.
From my first year to now at the end of my tenure as the editor-in-chief, a lot has happened. In 2020, the world shut down due to a global pandemic that moved school and The Eye online for two years. I spent the end of my second year, the entirety of my third and a majority of my fourth year on Zoom.
I’m hopeful for what’s to come in the next year
When I was elected as editor last spring, I felt lucky that I would get a chance to come back to campus and experience a full return after feeling like I had been deprived of my own university experience. But while a lot has changed, so much has also stayed the same.
Our students’ union is once again dealing with past financial mismanagement amongst other things, policing and security are still a real issue on campus and as I’m writing this now, there is still sadly construction on Gould Street—albeit only a part of the street.
The fall also saw the occurrence of another sexual assault in Kerr Hall, which prompted conversations on campus about the safety and security of the building. In January, TMU announced that it made several “security enhancements” to Kerr Hall and around campus prior to the fall 2022 semester. In addition to adding more security guards, the school also said it began a partnership with the Toronto Police Service (TPS) to have officers on campus. TMU has since reached out to The Eye and maintains that there is no formal partnership with TPS. Instead, they said the university has a “working relationship” with the police. The increased security presence sparked concern amongst some Black, Indigenous and racialized students and community members who said not everyone’s safety is being taken into consideration.
Over at the Toronto Metropolitan Students’ Union (TMSU), election season started with a whirlwind before it even officially began. In March, the TMSU said it was investigating “questionable financial transactions” from the 2021-22 fiscal year. At the start of the voting period, TMSU president Marina Gerges released a video statement on Instagram alleging she was “set up” to be caught drinking and driving by some individuals involved with the TMSU in various capacities. The election also ended with a bang, as it was deemed invalid due to election misconduct. The students’ union was going to initially hold a second election in the spring but has since cancelled it as a result of new evidence presented to the Elections and Referenda Committee “that raises significant concerns about the integrity” of the elections.
While reporting on these events at the moment led to long nights typing away at our computers, sleepless Tuesday production days and my own personal conspiracy theory that I am going bald, this is the kind of shit I longed to do as a first-year. Our team worked hard to report these stories, inform students and make sure everything we wrote was accurate and true.
While a lot has changed, so much has also stayed the same
Aside from the hectic news cycle, there were highlights to celebrate this year too. We began operating under a new name free from a colonial legacy, after years of advocacy and activism from Indigenous students and community members.
Campus life was also rejuvenated. Sports were back in full swing for the first time since the 2019-20 academic year, keeping The Eye’s sports editors booked and busy. Student groups like the Anime Club held events on campus to engage and socialize with students, always filling up the Student Campus Centre with good vibes and sick tunes. Another rare W, our new mascot is not a squirrel nor a tower.
Here at The Eye, we’ve also had a milestone year. Our team went back to producing weekly print issues for the first time since the 2019-20 school year. With little knowledge of how to publish so often but with all the will in the world, we found a way to get through this year.
As we wrap up our first year back in person though, it’s important to acknowledge the toll the pandemic and our return back has had on students mentally. Going from two years in total isolation to now being fully integrated back onto campus life was not easy and I’m proud of all TMU students for braving a rocky path back.
As I write for The Eye for what may be my final time, I want to thank you, the students of TMU, for trusting us with your stories. Oftentimes, student media is seen as an afterthought, as just another menial fee students have to pay. But in reality, we are your voice. We will continue to advocate for you for years to come, tell your stories and hold the school and students’ union accountable.
I also want to thank all my wonderful editors, both old and new. To my former editors, thank you for bestowing your never-ending knowledge of journalism on me. For current editors on the masthead, thank you for trusting me to lead Volume 56 and believing in this paper. And to our hard-working volunteers, who are the backbone of The Eye, I am immensely grateful for your passionate storytelling and dedication to us.
I joined The Eye in my third year, doe-eyed and very scared but determined to tell important stories. Slowly, this paper and community have nurtured me into the journalist and person I am today. Every story I told and every student I spoke to has transformed the way I see the world. I’ve loved every minute of my time here, from writing my first feature story to editing the entirety of Volume 56.
Now, in a short seven months, my time at TMU has come to an end. I have a degree under my belt and a year of incredibly valuable knowledge leading this student newspaper. The Eye has been everything I’ve known for three years now. It has taught me everything, given me the bestest of friends and has allowed me to grow as a person and journalist.
In my short time here, we’ve been through so much, from peepeepoopoo man to the pandemic. As I bid farewell to The Eye and TMU, I’m hopeful for what’s to come in the next year.
After all, we’re back!