How to see your name in lights (or at least in print) on campus

One of the cheapest thrills on campus is seeing your name in print in one of our many student media publications. I can still remember seeing my first major byline in The Varsity - I wrote a story about going to a psychic. That Monday morning, I rushed to campus to get a copy and I was not at all disappointed - I was totally hooked, and I would keep working for The Varsity for the rest of my undergraduate career.
A photo of me holding up tarot cards from my story of going to the psychic.
The portrait of me that accompanied my psychic story. Photo by Bernarda Gospic, courtesy of The Varsity.
I kept writing until I became a staff writer, and met regularly with the Arts & Culture editor to work on my writing and pitch story ideas. Editors like it when you bring your own pitches, so try to bring a list of ideas with you if you’re going to office hours. The Varsity also tries to cover campus stories rather than Toronto stories (but there are lots of exceptions to this), so try to keep your ideas U of T focused. And it’s generally better to pitch specific stories rather than general ones - so instead of a list of dance groups on campus, for example, maybe you would profile one specifically that has a show coming up or is doing interesting things. Eventually, my editor hired me as an associate editor, so when it came to elections, I ran for features editor. Features is the long-form section of the paper, and it also covers the two Varsity Magazine issues and the frosh handbook. I loved working as an editor, so at the end of the year, I ran for editor-in-chief. Running the paper was a major highlight of my experience at U of T.
A bulletin board with all the issues from the 2015/2016 volume of The Varsity pinned to it.
All the issues from my year as editor! Photo courtesy of Jennifer Su.
When I worked at the paper, a lot of students told me that worries over the quality of their writing was deterring them from starting to contribute. But the thing about The Varsity and all the publications on campus is that they are student publications - everyone is trying something new, and everyone is learning on the job - even the editors! So don’t be scared - if you want to contribute, go for it! There will be lots of people there to help you grow as a writer, photographer, illustrator, designer, web developer, and more. Here are some of the different ways you can participate in campus media at U of T. Join a campus-wide paper or blog. I got involved with The Varsity, which is tri-campus. There’s also the newspaper at St. George, The Medium at UTM, and The Underground at UTSC. Contribute to your college or faculty’s publication. All the colleges and many faculties have their own publication as well. They’re all distinct and have interesting histories and traditions, and publish different types of writing and coverage. Try out a campus magazine. U of T also has various student-run magazines that cover more specific topics of interest to students, like Juxtaposition Global Health Magazine Start your own publication! If you want to start a blog or magazine about something that U of T’s campus media doesn’t cover, follow the steps on Ulife to bring your idea to life. Got questions about how to get involved with campus media? Contact me in the comments below or on twitter at @lifeatuoft.

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