Bonjour U of T.
I hope you had a good reading week. Mine was short. Too short, but life goes on.
As I have said in the past, when I first stepped onto this campus I didn’t really know what I was doing. I didn’t know what I wanted to get involved in, where my interests lay, or how to shape my university experience into something meaningful. All I knew was that this is the place where you get your fancy degree and then head out into the real world. But I didn’t want my university experience to be defined by a mundane cycle of class and commute.
I wanted to get out there and experience all I could, but U of T is big and admittedly, intimidating at times. Where does one start? I knew though that I liked to write. Though I chose to major in biology, writing had always been a passion of mine. I wrote previously for my high school newspaper and always sought opportunities to get my work published. So, a quick Google search led me to the website of The Varsity: U of T’s official undergraduate newspaper. After finding the website, I quickly noted the e-mail of the comment editor and then for some reason let it sit on my desktop for a semester. Perhaps it’s because the first semester is one in which everybody is just trying to adapt and find a library other than Robarts to study in. Regardless, I e-mailed the editor, Alex, who remains one of my good friends today and pretty soon found myself getting published. Nearly a year and fifteen pieces later, The Varsity remains an integral part of my life at U of T and I am forever grateful for the opportunities it has opened up for me.
Writing for The Varsity really connected me to the issues facing our campus and students. Researching topics for articles also brought out in me a passion for issues pertaining to post secondary education and a desire to see things get better on our campus. So, at the beginning of this year, I took the plunge and ran to sit on a student union and here I am today, on ASSU. No longer did U of T seem a complicated maze filled with obscure buildings, policies, events, and people. U of T became a vibrant colourful community, that I found myself being a part of. The Varsity was also a great way of meeting people and through it I connected with people outside my college and outside my field of study. It truly made me feel like a U of T student and not just a University College student.
Contained within the walls of The Varsity office in 21 Sussex is a rich history; a history that contains speaking out against censorship of editors, winning undergraduates access to Robarts Library and the names of thousands of aspiring student writers. Some of these writers would go on to higher acclaim in life, among them Naomi Klein (Editor in Chief, 1992-1993) and Prime Minister William Lyon McKenzie King. The Varsity, if anything, is a resilient paper; it has continued to publish despite facing financial trouble over the years. In fact, during one snow storm when no other newspaper in Toronto was able to deliver – The Varsity came through.
Of course, there are other campus newspapers you can join as well. The Newspaper is an independent weekly published by U of T students and also most colleges also publish newspapers (the biggest being UC’s Gargoyle, SMC’s The Mike and Victoria College’s The Strand). So pick up your pens and join the legacy of writers that have made their mark on our campus.