The University of Toronto boasts a diverse and multicultural population of students, with various ethnicities represented throughout the student body. Even so, it can be difficult for students of color to feel heard and visible.
Unfortunately, as a Black student, I’ve found myself struggling to speak up in classes and groups where I felt underrepresented. I’ve been in classes where I was the only person of color, and the experience is alienating, to say the least.
Honestly, aside from academics, part of what makes the university experience so vital is the community that students form. It can be easy for students of color to feel invisible in predominantly white settings. However, clubs are a great way for students to meet like-minded people with similar interests and shared life experiences.
For this reason, I’ve become passionate about resources and initiative that support students of color. Here is a list of clubs that I’ve attended (or would like to attend) that offer community to Black and brown students of color.
The Black Students Association (BSA) is the largest representation of self-identified Black students at the University of Toronto. Not only does the club hold study hall events where Black students can study together and build community, but they also offer a mentorship program that allows BSA students to connect with and learn from alumni. In November, I attended a community discussion and chatted with other students about the recent Black movements that have gained momentum this year. The discussion centred around opportunities to create social, political and racial change and attending gave me the confidence to speak up boldly and confidently about my racial experiences.
Not only is it important for Black students to find community, but it’s also important for Black women to carve out spheres where we feel comfortable and heard. Connections Club is just that.
In the past, the club has hosted movie nights, crafting night and workshops for financial literacy. So far, my favourite event that I’ve attended has been the venting session. In October, self-identifying Black women gathered (virtually) to share our experiences as Black women attending university, dealing with friendships, managing money, handling the pandemic and other relevant topics. It was amazing speaking with friends and strangers alike and discovering how many of my isolating experiences were actually far more common that I’d realized.African Students Association
I have to admit that I haven’t had the opportunity to attend an event held by the African Students Assocation yet. That said, it’s one of the heavily anticipated items on my to-do list for the month of February. As an African immigrant, it’s incredible to see an association run for and by African-Canadians where students can meet to form connections and build strong bonds.
While events have gone virtual thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, there are still opportunities to participate in afro-dance workshops this year. The events not only create opportunities for community, but they also bring attention to African culture and highlight fun and upbeat African music.