Urban or Suburban?

This week one of my professors decided to move our lecture outside. We were examining medieval lyrics with spring themes, so it was quite fitting that we be outside enjoying what was a beautiful and sunny spring evening. Our group soon found a short rock wall to rest our bottoms while our professor took a position in front of us on a lovely patch of green, with crocuses that were just beginning to bloom. It was very “Dead Poet’s Society" and somewhat surreal. It was one of those “university moments”, like when you inadvertently find yourself on a green quad, reading under a tree, and realize that you could be the cover art for the course calendar. I appreciate a lecturer who really gets into the material and I was enjoying this “moment” when a group of locals arrived on the quad with nine small breed dogs to play fetch. Needless to say that after the third or fourth stick was whipped towards us followed by a pack of Yorkies, and shi-poos rushing our general vicinity the lecture had to be moved back inside. I have to admit I was really annoyed. We were all really enjoying this opportunity and it was foiled by the small breeds and their owners. I realize that the university grounds are open to the public, but I really don’t understand why people bring their dogs to small green spaces that are enclosed by buildings where there are obviously classes in progress. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been in class and we’ve had to close the windows because of barking dogs. There should be at least be signs in these green spaces that say “classes in progress, please quiet your dogs”. There are signs around a lot of public institutions that request “quiet”. Elementary and high schools are publicly owned, but you could not bring a pack of small breeds into an elementary school yard and play fetch with them during school hours. University of Toronto is unique in that it is integrated into the city. It’s not a separated institution with fences around the perimeter. It’s part of the city, with city streets and local pedestrians passing through. This has its advantages: Restaurants, night-life, a real urban experience. You don’t feel isolated on campus; you are actually part of this big, beautiful city. But do the disadvantages outweigh the advantages? In our location students at U of T have to deal with some unique situations. To name a few that have affected my access to campus and my experience: Political Protests that have closed down the core of the city, the Santa Claus Parade (which I love) but which also makes getting to campus hellish, dogs outside my classroom barking, traffic jams on St. George and outrageous auto fumes in the summer, vagrants...I could go on. Don't get me wrong. I love our great city, I lived here by choice long before I became a student at U of T, but I’m interested in what everyone else thinks…is the fact that our campus is smack dab in the heart of it all an advantage or a disadvantage to your student experience and learning here at U of T? -Lori

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