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The paper publishes weekly on all campuses during the fall and winter semesters and online throughout the year, along with two seasonal magazines.
Originally a broadsheet daily, it now issues in compact form. The paper's primary focus is on campus affairs and local news.
The Varsity usually assumes a centre-left stance on political affairs. The paper is published by Varsity Publications, a not-for-profit corporation, and is primarily financed by advertisement revenues with subsidies from a student levy.
At the height of debate on coeducation in 1880, The Varsity published an article in its inaugural issue voicing in favour of admitting women.
In 1895, the suspension of The Varsity's editor, James Tucker, led Latin Professor Dale to publicly attack the administration in The Globe, which in turn led to his own dismissal. University College students then approved a motion by Varsity staff member William Lyon Mackenzie King and boycotted lectures for a week. This is significant for William Lyon Mackenzie King's involvement as a member of the Varsity editorial staff and student leader. He would later become Canada's longest serving Prime Minister.
After Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau decriminalized homosexuality in 1969, a medical research assistant placed an advertisement in The Varsity seeking volunteers to establish the first university homophile association in Canada.
In 2017, The Varsity began publishing a Chinese-language edition of the newspaper on their website.