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30 Days 30 Ways (19): Make Friends. What? How? August 26, 2011

Posted by ekkellogg in 30 Days 30 Ways.
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Yes, the idea of making friends at a huge school is intimidating. But there are tons of ways to meet new people at U of T. From clubs, to intramurals, to Hart House Committees, to Course/Program Unions…  Once you join something, you start to forge the friendships that will get you through your university careers. Check the profiles of Student Life’s student ambassadors for more tips! Sarah‘s secret is to chat with other students before tutorials, whereas Shoaib found his home at U of T by getting involved with his college. It’s all about exploring opportunities and meeting people along the way!

30 Days 30 Ways (8): Join a club – find out more at Ulife August 15, 2011

Posted by ekkellogg in 30 Days 30 Ways, Uncategorized.
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There are around 450 recognized student groups on campus. That means the chances are you’ll find at least one that interests you! Visit ulife.utoronto.ca for a complete listing of these campus groups, as well as basic contact information. Most groups can add you to a general email listserv after you’ve contacted them, so that you’ll be in the know about upcoming meetings and events. And if you can’t find a group that suits your interest, you can always start your own!

Turn dissatisfaction into action July 21, 2011

Posted by Chris Garbutt in Student Life.
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I admit that it’s a lot easier to complain about something than it is to change it. In the last Toronto election, 53 percent of eligible voters turned out. But doesn’t it seem like a lot more than half of the population is complaining? This same pattern is reflected in our own university where last year’s UTSU elections only attracted a voter turnout of only 7 percent!

Political activism is about making an effort to change policies and create better ones. And it begins at home. Every year, you can vote for your representative on U of T’s Governing Council. It’s as easy as logging into ROSI! U of T also offers an elected student union for each program on campus. Whether you’re interested in adding your name to the ballot or just casting a vote, it’s easier than you think.

Voting isn’t the only opportunity for some good ol’ fashioned democratic action! “Political activism is so simple,” says Sane Moyo, a 2011 U of T grad who founded her own charity to protect oppressed communities in Kenya. “It’s not just about joining clubs. When you’re walking down St George, accept a flyer. Take a minute to stop. Engage in conversation! Even if you disagree, dialogue is where it starts.”

And dialogue encourages action. As students, we have spent a good portion of our lives stocking up on information. University is a forum where we share that information with others and form ideas through discourse. What better place to apply these new ideas than at a level where they make a difference?

There are several politically active groups on campus. These range from the party-affiliated like the Campus Conservatives, U of T NDP or the U of T Liberals, to other unaffiliated groups such as the Black Students Association. Sane worked with the BSA to organize events raising awareness about political injustice towards marginalized groups. Cultural and special interest groups are politically active without adhering to specific party politics.

Max Pachecho, a member of the U of T NDP, describes his interest in political involvement as “awareness of what is happening in our world”. Working with the NDP has given him an opportunity to “reach out to the student body and other like minded groups.” Meeting others who share your beliefs gives you the confidence to spread awareness and inspire action.

For those of us who prefer to complain (yes, sometimes me!), there is a way to turn political dissatisfaction into action. The Varsity prints opinion pieces from readers as do the larger city newspapers. If you like to aim a little higher, letters to your Member of Parliament or even the Prime Minister are free to send!

So get out there and be heard! As Sane points out “It’s our school. It’s our campus. It’s our country. If we don’t speak up about it, no one else will.”

- Bethany McKoy, Communications Assistant and Writer, Office of Student Life

Your mid-years can be the best time to get involved July 4, 2011

Posted by Chris Garbutt in Student Life.
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It can be hard to stay motivated in your second and third years of study. After all the excitement of frosh week has ended and the first-year programs no longer apply, you may wonder: where is the second year programming? What about the third years? It can be easy to lose motivation with the beginning over and the end so far away. I call this the Mid-Years Crisis.

In fact, your second or third year is the perfect time to get out and get involved! With U of T’s high expectations, those students coming from high school can find it tough to adjust. That’s why second and third year are the perfect times to look for clubs and associations that are going to be both fun outside the classroom, and helpful inside.

“People always think that there’s not enough time,” says Evelyn Romero, a student in Human Biology and Nutritional Sciences who just finished her third year and has spent her mid-years taking part in a variety of clubs and programs on campus. She admits to feeling overwhelmed by the workload in her first year and being reluctant to join any groups.

Evelyn joined clubs that would complement her studies in Health Sciences and get her excited about the practical application of her program. In her second year, she joined the Hart House Social Justice Committee. “It was interesting to take my background in Health Sciences and use it when planning events, organizing debates and helping with the Social Justice Fair”.

During her term as Head of Communications, she even used her Nutritional Sciences background to prepare healthy, organic meals for club meetings.

Once you get involved, you realize how easy it is to find more opportunities. U of T has great resources to help you find a club perfectly suited to your tastes. Evelyn eventually joined the NDP student group on campus, and is now their recording secretary. This led her to other volunteer positions with such groups as Free the Children and the Canadian Blood Services. The best part about participating in clubs is that it motivates you to use the same resources to find employment. Working with Hart House Social Justice Committee was great experience when Evelyn applied for her job at the Dalla Lana School of Public Health. “It’s all reinforcing itself,” she says about bringing her study experience to the workplace.

Use your second and third years to get out and get involved! It’s a great way to stay motivated in your program and establish a solid resume during your down-time. Take a look at Ulife to see what’s happening on campus this year. Use the Career Centre to find jobs that will complement what you’re learning. And always remember that most programs on campus have councils that deal directly with specific programs. So, no matter what your field of study, there’s something out there to end that mid-years crisis!
- Bethany McKoy, Communications Assistant and Writer, Office of Student Life