Photo by Kyle West

By: Neda Pirouzmand

On March 18, Bridges Café unveiled its new “Cards for Humanity” student program.

“Cards” refer to one dollar donations that students can make at checkout in the café. Each donation will go towards a future student’s purchase.

There is a one hundred dollar cap on donations so that funds do not accumulate.

Chris Roberts, director of McMaster Hospitality Services, described the program as user-friendly.

“It’s quite simple. Donate a dollar when you can, or use a dollar when you need it,” he said. “Anyone can donate to the project when purchasing a meal and students can use up to three dollars at a time towards their food purchase.”

Roberts attributes the idea for the program to a McMaster student.

“A student had seen something similar at the 541 Eatery and believed it would be a good way to help students with food accessibility challenges,” Roberts said. “Hospitality Services was supportive of the idea and we have worked hard to get the program elements in place.”

541 Eatery & Exchange is a Hamilton café that uses a pay it forward initiative to give all community members a place at the table.

Café customers can donate a dollar to buy a button, and future customers can use buttons towards their meal.

It should be noted that the program will be funded exclusively via McMaster students, not the university. This may make it less sustainable in the long-term as the successes of the program will be contingent on students’ ability and willingness to donate.

In addition, pay it forward initiatives have the drawback of being vulnerable to abuse.

Students can use cards for humanity donations regardless of whether or not they face food insecurity because there exist no restrictions on program eligibility.

However, Roberts is not focused on those who may try to abuse the system. He maintains that the pilot program’s success will depend on whether it addresses food insecurity and raises awareness for postsecondary food insecurity in Canada.

“There are students who could come and use the program but they don’t because they tell me that they would rather give than receive,” said a Bridges employee named Maggie.

Roberts does not see this initiative expanding in the future as he hopes that the support provided from Bridges will meet the needs of students on campus.

The smooth operation of this program will depend on goodwill. If students do not abuse the program, donations will be allocated towards those who need them the most.

 

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Photos by Kyle West

By: Brian Zheng

Since I started at McMaster University in 2014, I’ve been involved with the McMaster Students Union, from involvement with a presidential campaign to eventually being elected on the Student Representative Assembly. I quit the SRA six months in.

When I started, I was handed several documents to help me understand the MSU and my role within it. Even after two training sessions and reading multiple documents, I still didn’t have a clear understanding of the possibilities within my role.

This is due to the sheer volume of functions the MSU oversees. The MSU consists of over 30 different business units and services, along with individual committees that address issues affecting the 20,000+ undergraduate students represented by the union.

Along with this, there are 35 student representatives from each faculty that make up the SRA. These students are elected each year, based hopefully on their platform points.

With the diversity of functions that exist within the MSU, keeping track of the hundreds of members involved is more than a full-time job; hence, the existence of four full-time student jobs, the board of directors, dedicated to managing all these portfolios.

So, if a potential SRA candidate wants to grasp this wealth of information, it would require them to sift through an incredibly disorganized website, spend hours reading jargon-riddled meeting minutes and likely set-up meetings with a few SRA members.

It’s no secret that the SRA struggles with transparency. The point is, it is not easy to disseminate information about the MSU, let alone in a format that’s easily digestible by students.

But is this the reason why candidates continuously repeat previous or unfeasible platform points? I don’t think so.

The reason why the average student doesn’t understand the MSU has little to do with the disorganization of the information. Instead, students’ lack of awareness is due to the existence of the elitist culture rampant within the SRA.

During my time involved with the MSU, I’ve noticed several condescending statements released both publicly and privately ridiculing the SRA candidate pool.

For example, a current SRA member, on their public twitter stated, If I hear extended library hours as a platform point one more time I’m gonna lose it.

In a separate instance, during last year’s SRA elections, another heavily-involved MSU member wrote as their Facebook status, “Lol, @SRA candidate saying that the MSU should make job descriptions, we are doomed”.

These are only a few public statements made by elected members that dramatically contribute to the MSU bubble that many of the same individuals supposedly ran to help dissolve.

After releasing these statements, SRA members had the audacity to wonder why such a limited number of candidates reached out to consult their platform points.

It is important to note that while these factors alone don’t contribute to the unapproachability of the SRA, the public ridicule of students aspiring to volunteer their time is equivalent to schoolyard bullying and needs to stop.

While it is more than possible to develop comprehensive platform points without the help of current and previous assembly members, it is so much more difficult given the overwhelming disorganization of the available information.

Unfortunately, not everyone has the time to sort through the disorganized mess. The inaccessibility of this information can be easily tested by simply trying to figure out where to find the most recent SRA meeting minutes.

Candidates aren’t reaching out, not because they don’t want to, but because the assembly does not appear to be an approachable group. The MSU does not reflect the welcoming environment that it boasts, and as a result, candidates are more likely to run on limited information. Hence, the epidemic of repeated and unfeasible platform points.

Over the years, I have constantly heard the notion that the lack of student engagement within the MSU is a result of apathy on the student end. Maybe it’s about time the assembly made it worth students’ time.

Halfway through my term, I left my seat on the SRA. This was not because I couldn’t learn about the organization, but because I didn’t feel like being ridiculed for not knowing.

 

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Graphics by Sukaina Imam

By: Jackie McNeill

When I had friends over as a kid, I would pull my mom aside after a few hours and ask, “When are they going to leave?” It’s not that I wasn’t having fun — I loved seeing my friends, but this time with others never failed to become draining and leave me with a need for some alone time.

While I once thought this desire to be alone was abnormal and unhealthy, as I got older I learned to take advantage of it to promote self-improvement. Left alone with just my thoughts, I’ve had the opportunity to think critically about who I am as a person, what I like about myself and what I want to do better.

Learning about who I was, both outside and inside of my relationships with others, and working to better myself has helped to increase my self-esteem exponentially over years of self-reflection.

I’ve experienced how this increase in self-esteem has aided my relationship with myself, but studies show that it can also benefit the way we interact with others.

Megan McCarthy, a professor in the department of psychology at the University of Waterloo, suggests that people with low self-esteem are more likely to stay in unhappy relationships with others, resulting from their resistance to recognize and address problems.

“People with a more negative self-concept often have doubts and anxieties about the extent to which other people care about them,” explained McCarthy.

The self-concept is our idea of self, constructed through a combination of our own beliefs about ourselves and how others respond to us. A negative self-concept, then, can cause someone to assume negative reactions towards them and therefore avoid confrontation or conflict as a defense against these assumptions being actualized.

So, an increase in self-esteem can certainly improve romantic relationships, but those are not the only relationships we experience. Every interaction we have, be it with friends, family, or even our co-workers, can benefit from the practice of self-love and self-care.

Time alone also increases communication with the self through self-awareness. When I spend time alone, my own thoughts, feelings and desires become my priority. This has helped me realize that communicating with myself should remain a priority throughout my life, including when I interact with others, paving the way for honest and open relationships.

In addition, being self-aware has allowed me to be more receptive of others’ thoughts, feelings and desires, which may reflect similar concerns or insecurities that I possess. By reflecting upon the self, we can become more sensitive and considerate towards the people we build relationships with.  

It is important to note that my idea of alone is not one size fits all. Spending time alone can simply mean loneliness for some people, and as a Psychology Today article explains this can lead to anxieties, depression, or reminders of loss and abandonment.

McMaster University’s Prof. Tara Marshall illustrates this idea through the example of a breakup.

After a breakup, people who are more secure in relationships and have higher self-esteem are more likely to desire some time alone,” explained Marshall.

“They may engage in some personal growth-enhancing experiences. People high in anxious attachment, on the other hand, desire to go on the rebound after a breakup,” she added.

Marshall went on to explain that humans are social by nature and we have a need to belong to social groups as our survival has depended on it throughout history. So it is important to balance time spent alone with socialization, just as it’s important to get to know yourself and what will work well for your own self-esteem.

The point of this time spent alone is to improve your feelings about yourself, but also to use this to positively affect your relationships with others. What works for me won’t work for everyone, but maybe by sharing my experience others will venture to learn more about themselves and how they interact with others.

Of course, when trying to self-reflect as a student several issues present themselves. Our days are packed with studying, interactions with peers everywhere on campus, trying to balance friends, a job, finishing that essay and visiting family; our minds never get a break.

So how do you get some quiet time in a busy day? Try the silent study in Mills— it’s a great way to ease yourself into being alone because you’re surrounded by other students, but everyone is focused on their own work. There’s no opportunity for socialization to distract you from yourself.

Sitting still can be difficult, so go for a walk alone in a quiet neighbourhood. No phone calls or music, just reflect on that day or what’s to come and make an effort to think positively.

If these options take too much time, go to bed 20 minutes earlier than usual and let your mind wander while trying some deep breathing. This can help ease stress and relax your mind, leaving it open for reflection.

This time alone allows you to drop what Psychology Today calls your “social guard.” Pay attention to how you behave alone and compare it to how you behave around others, and maybe work to let some of your “alone” self bleed into your public persona.

Whether you crave alone time like me or not, we can all benefit from a bit of self-reflection to better our relationship with ourselves and others. Self-awareness and the resulting higher self-esteem make an impact on the way we interact with others, and can keep our relationships open, honest and healthy.

 

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Photo by Kyle West

Following recent snowstorms that deposited as much as 40 cm onto Hamilton streets, some Hamilton residents are using social media to bring attention to the issue of snow-covered residential sidewalks.

Currently, residents are expected to clear snow from their sidewalks within 24 hours of a “snow event.” If residents fail to comply, the city will issue a 24-hour “Notice to Comply,” followed by possible inspection and a contracting fee for the homeowner.

However, residents say both residential and city sidewalks are still not being cleared, either by residents or by the city.

The Disability Justice Network of Ontario has encouraged residents to participate in the “Snow and Tell” campaign by tweeting out pictures of snow or ice-covered roads and sidewalks using the hashtag #AODAfail, referring to the Accessibility for Ontarians for Disabilities Act.

https://twitter.com/VicBick/status/1087879002092646401

McMaster student and local community organizer Sophie Geffros supports the campaigns and says it a serious issue of accessibility and justice.

Geffros uses a wheelchair and knows how especially difficult it can be for those who use mobility devices to navigate through snow-covered streets.

“It's people who use mobility devices. It's people with strollers. And it's older folks. People end up on the street. If you go on any street after a major storm, you'll see people in wheelchairs and with buggies on the street with cars because the sidewalks just aren't clear,” Geffros said.

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Snow-covered sidewalks also affect the ability for people, especially those who use mobility devices, to access public transit.

“Even when snow has been cleared, often times when it gets cleared, it gets piled on curb cuts and piled near bus stops and all these places that are that are vital to people with disabilities,” Geffros said.

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Geffros sees the need for clearing sidewalks as non-negotiable.

“By treating our sidewalk network as not a network but hundreds of individual tiny chunks of sidewalk, it means that if there's a breakdown at any point in that network, I can't get around,” Geffros said. “If every single sidewalk on my street is shoveled but one isn't, I can't use that entire sidewalk. We need to think of it as a vital service in the same way that we think of road snow clearance as a vital service.”

Public awareness about the issue may push city council.

Some councillors have expressed support for a city-run snow clearing service, including Ward 1 councillor Maureen Wilson and Ward 3 councillor Nrinder Nann.

I just don’t find it all that complicated. Cities are for people. It is in our best interest, financial and otherwise, to plow sidewalks. It’s also a matter of justice. I await the city manager’s report and ensuing debate

— Maureen Wilson (She / Her) (@ward1wilson) January 29, 2019

A city council report issued in 2014 stated that a 34 dollar annual increase in tax for each homeowner would be enough to fund sidewalk snow-clearing.

Recently, Wilson requested the city council to issue a new report on the potential costs of funding snow-clearing service.

Geffros sees potential for the current discourse to open up to further discussions on other issues of accessibility and social justice.

Hamilton’s operating budget will likely be finalized around April. Until then, Geffros and other Hamilton residents will continue to speak out on the issue.

 

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Photo C/O Celine Pinget

What is the value of an apology? That is one of the questions that JUNO-nominated singer and songwriter Khari Wendell McClelland is exploring in his new concert, We Now Recognize. The show, which consists of all new songs, will tour six Canadian cities for Black History Month. It comes to the Lincoln Alexander Centre in Hamilton on Feb. 19 at 8 p.m.

We Now Recognize is a partnership between McClelland and Project Humanity, a non-profit organization that uses the arts to raise social awareness. The two collaborated in 2017 and 2018 to create the documentary theatre musical of the Vancouver-based artist’s debut solo album, Freedom Singer. Freedom Singer interpreted songs that might have accompanied McClelland’s great-great-great-grandmother Kizzy as she escaped from slavery via the Underground Railroad.

This show is another personal work, although McClelland originally took inspiration from the current sociopolitical landscape. The number of political apologies that have occurred struck him in the past decade or so and especially in Justin Trudeau’s term. He began to question what constitutes a substantive and meaningful apology.

In writing the show, McClelland found himself reflecting on being wrong and the extent of his compassion for those who do wrong. He considered how recognizing wrongdoing feels and how to move forward from it. With this, he also thought about the relationships he has with the generations of men in his family.

“[I was] looking at my grandfather and my father and my brother and even considering what it would be to be… a father and what the implications might mean for a larger society… [I]t's men who are exerting power and have a lot of control in society… What are some of the ideas… I grew up with that I have at different times perpetuated in my own life and trying to figure out like what that might look like through a generational lens,” said McClelland.

The show explores other ideas that McClelland cares about, such as community and the way we wield power over the natural world. In bringing different ideas in proximity with one another, McClelland sees the work as an assemblage like a quilt or collage.

McClelland sees being able to explore a multitude of ideas as a way of celebrating Black life. Unlike his past work with Freedom Singer, which tackled the history of slavery head on, We Now Recognize, is a subtler approach to Black history that it more rooted in the present and in the future.

I feel like there are ways in which black life can be can be understood as a monolith, that black people in Black communities aren't allowed to have a diversity of experiences and perspectives. I'm very curious… about creating some kind of radical subjectivity around Black life, like being able to be all these different ways that we are just as human beings,” McClelland said.

Not only will the concert allow McClelland a chance to bring forth the multiplicity of Black life, it will allow him to stretch himself and grow as an artist. The personal show will force him to be vulnerable in a way that he hasn’t been before with the communities across Canada that has supported him.

McClelland sees the connection to music as something that erodes for many people over their lifetime. For him, however, it is something that he hasn’t stopped doing ever since it became a part of his life as a kid growing up in Detroit. It moves him in a way that isn’t necessarily positive or negative, but just is. He also sees the medium as essential to building community.

I feel like healthy communities move together. That they practice together, that they have rituals together… [O]ur connection to artful practices actually has the potential to heal us as communities and individuals coming together… has this real potential for a deep kind of healing… I think it is just a deep medicine in the way that we come together and make music and make art,” explained McClelland.

McClelland is looking forward to this tour to see how audiences connect with the new songs. He is eager to see the way in which people are moved by this meditation on wrongdoing and apology, whether positively or in a way that is a little uncomfortable.

 

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By: Natalie Clark

The definition of “Thrive” is most simply put as “to progress toward or realize a goal despite or because of circumstances.” This definition embodies the true meaning of McMaster’s first ever Thrive Week, beginning Feb. 4.

Thrive Week is a week-long series of events focusing on improving and maintaining good mental health of students, staff and faculty on campus.

Events include yoga, Zumba, meditation circles, stress management workshops and various panels for students to get information on a variety of topics such as career planning and suicide awareness.  

Although Thrive Week is new to McMaster, the wellness event has been a part of many schools around Canada for the past 10 years.

 

“Thrive began at [University of British Columbia] in 2009 and since then, a number of Canadian colleges and universities have adopted the spirit of Thrive,” mentioned McMaster wellness educator, WilPrakash Fujarczuk.

“The wellness education team decided to join these schools for a number of reasons…  one reason is to connect students to pre-existing services on campus… we know that there are a number of departments that promote mental wellness in ways that may not be so obvious,” said Fujarczuk.

Fujarczuk mentions “Sketching Thursdays” at the McMaster Museum of Art, which is a weekly event that allows students to distance themselves from their devices and work on mindfulness and creative expression.

Thrive Week is intended to promote events similar to “Sketching Thursdays” on campus and add additional resources and events throughout Thrive Week for students to participate in to further their mental health journey.

“Thrive is also an opportunity to bring in community partners to showcase the valuable expertise that Hamilton community resources have to offer,” mentioned Fujarczuk.

Some of the community partners that are taking part in Thrive Week at McMaster include Healing Together Yoga, The AIDS Network and Asian Community AIDS Services.

 

Body Brave, another Hamilton-based organization, will also be taking part in the event to introduce students and staff to their off campus support system. Body Brave’s main purpose is to address the major gaps in resources for eating disorders, raise awareness and reduce the stigma around eating disorders, particularly with those who are over the age of 18.

Kelsea McCready, a McMaster student who holds the position of secretary on the board of directors at Body Brave, mentions the barriers that individuals may face when struggling with an eating disorder and are looking for help.

“Programs within Ontario as a whole have a limited capacity which means that many individuals who are struggling are left on long waitlists without any kind of specialized support,” mentioned McCready.

McCready notes that although Body Brave is not a direct replacement for professional specialized support for eating disorders, the organization offers a variety of affordable treatment programs such as workshops, individual treatment and support groups.

“It is a priority for Body Brave to engage more with the McMaster community as an off-campus support in addition to on-campus services,” said McCready.

Body Brave’s involvement in Thrive Week is important for those who may be suffering from an eating disorder and are wary to seek out support. Thrive Week introduces programs and organizations to the McMaster campus that are similar to Body Brave in order to make these services more accessible to students.

“Given that it’s our first year running Thrive, we are hoping to use it as an opportunity to evaluate programs and build on for future years,” said Fujarczuk.

While Thrive events will only be taking place for a week, the path towards bettering the mental health of the McMaster community needs to be addressed and explored on a consistent basis. Thrive Week is the first step towards shedding light on the services available on-campus and in the community.

 

Thrive Week will be running on campus from Feb. 4 to Feb. 9. More information about the event can be found on the Student Wellness Centre’s website, which includes the Thrive Week schedule and other mental health resources found year-round on campus.

 

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By: Adriana Skaljin

For the past five years, the McMaster men’s rugby team has been running their own Movember campaign, raising money for men’s health initiatives. Last year, the team collectively raised around $6,100, motivating them to increase their goal for 2018 to $7,000.

The Movember Foundation is the leading charity that focuses on men’s health. They focus on issues such as prostate cancer, testicular cancer and mental health and suicide prevention. This initiative was started in 2003 and has funded more than 1,200 men’s health projects worldwide.

C/O @mcmaster_mens_rugby

[spacer height="20px"]Callum MacLeay, a fifth-year kinesiology student, is leading this year’s Movember campaign. As the club captain on the rugby leadership team, it was his responsibility to take over the Movember initiative, since the club captain is involved with coordinating any off-field fundraising and team bonding. MacLeay has raised over $1,400 since 2015 and has set a personal goal of $1,000 for this year.

“Seeing as last year’s goal was $6,000 and this year’s is $7,000, it would be awesome to reach the realm of raising $10,000,” said MacLeay.    

MacLeay has been participating in Movember for four years now and was inspired by the fact that his grandfather had prostate cancer.

“[This] made [Movember] something easy to engage with because it was something that I personally connected to,” said MacLeay.

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Seeing as Movember raises money for men’s health, it is something that connects and affects everyone on the men’s rugby team. This creates a sense of motivation towards making a difference in this area of charitable work.

“[Movember] has ranged to a new focus on mental health, which is a big push that made us want go support [this initiative],” MacLeay explained.

When they first started the campaign, they had around 20 players participating; they now have around 50. This increase in participants shows an increase in support, thus bringing awareness to this initiative’s importance.

“On the field, we come together to achieve a common goal, but to have the camaraderie that comes with a community sense is great, and it is nice to see the newer players join [in helping with Movember],” said MacLeay. “The more you bring awareness, the more people want to get involved. This is due to a sense of empowerment.”

What comes with this sense of empowerment is the understanding that no one is alone and that we are all going through things. With focuses on issues such as mental health, we can remove stigmas and transition into a world that disallows people from suffering in silence.

https://www.facebook.com/mcmastermenrugby/photos/a.1663625013921121/2262852657331684/?type=3&theater

Not only has the men’s rugby team worked towards removing stigmas and promoting men’s health, but they have banded together with other Marauders as well.

“Men’s volleyball, basketball, baseball, and football have joined us in our Movember initiative here at McMaster,” said MacLeay.

“Movember has been a meaningful experience for me since we get to engage with coaches, alumni, and student field therapists in the fundraising, so it [goes beyond] the players. Having everyone come together on something that is bigger than rugby is important, and I think that it helps build camaraderie both on and off of the field.”

On Nov. 29 and 30, the men’s rugby team will be setting up an information table in the David Braley Athletic Centre on campus. They will be selling t-shirts, wrist bands and will be holding a raffle as well. All proceeds will go towards their Movember campaign.

It is without a doubt that the amazing efforts of the McMaster men’s rugby team are instrumental in changing the ways in which we view men’s health, while sparking a conversation around mental health. Change is possible, with some Marauder spirit, camaraderie and a sense of empowerment.

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By: Pooja Sreerangan

The McMaster Students Union boasts having over 350 clubs with an entire section dedicated towards clubs that are meant to raise awareness and funds for a diverse selection of social issues. While this sounds noble on paper, how many of these clubs actually impart meaningful change?

There are many reasons students join or create these types of clubs and unfortunately, altruism is not the top motivator. In our current competitive climate, students are pushed to become “well-rounded” on the basis that well-rounded students are more desirable. Thus, many students strive to not only excel academically but also engage in a broad spectrum of activities that would be looked upon favourably by a potential employer.

While it is important for students to be well-rounded, many lose sight as to why this is important; the skills and experiences one can gain as a result of being involved in a multitude of activities. Instead, it is often the case that students will join as many clubs as they possibly can in order to pad their résumés and CVs. The result is that students appear to be extremely well-rounded when the reality is anything but.

What is worse is that many of these students only contribute the bare minimum to these clubs — that is, if contribute anything at all. As someone involved with the recruitment for various clubs, it is disappointing to witness the overabundance of interest at the beginning of the school year rapidly taper off as time passes. By the end of the term, it is typical to find only a handful of members attending required shifts and meetings compared to the dozens that initially signed up.

I understand that academics take priority but students should be responsible enough to only agree to commitments which they can actually fulfill. Otherwise, it is unethical to state to employers and recruiters that they contributed to clubs in which they did nothing for. In fact, these individuals most likely hindered the club’s progress.

This problem seems to be worsening with time. At McMaster, there has been an apparent rise in “social-front” clubs; that is, clubs that have been created for the sole purpose of CV and résumé padding rather than their stated goals of influencing meaningful change. Every September at the annual Clubsfest, there seems to be more of these social-front clubs that center around the discussion of niche issues. Raising awareness is important but I have serious reservations that these clubs even do that.

MSU Clubs should adopt a “quality over quantity” ideal. There must be some accountability in place for social issue clubs to prove that they are in fact continuously making a positive change or they should be disbanded. Considering that the MSU provides a budget to those clubs that request it, it is important to ensure that student funds are not being given to clubs that do not complete what they’ve promised.

So the next time you decide to join a club or maybe even create a new one, ask yourself, are you actually trying to make a change or are you beefing up your CV?

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I will admit that I am a hypochondriac. The slightest suspicion has me out the door and in line at the walk-in clinic. Unfortunately, this often leaves me feeling frustrated because seeing your family doctor or visiting a walk-in clinic doesn’t always give you the answers you’re looking for. If something doesn’t feel right, it is worth getting it checked out by a medical professional, but depending on what your problem is, doctors might not always have solutions. If you are suffering from a disorder with no physical manifestations — such as mental health concerns — a clinic or family doctor may send you away without resolving the problem.

While many sufferers of mental illness benefit greatly from medication prescribed by their doctors, it is not always necessary or as helpful as one might imagine. Two cases that come to mind in which non-medicinal alternatives can help are situational anxiety and seasonal affective disorder, both very common ailments. Both can vary in symptoms from person to person. Since doctors diagnose based on evidence presented to them, it’s going to be difficult in cases like these for them to be entirely sure of their analyses. Only you have a complete picture of how you are feeling, and while medication may be necessary in some cases, you might find that you simply need a bit of mediation, exercise, and a healthy diet. These are a few options that could help lift your spirits, if not addressing the root cause of your problem. Non-medical treatments also don’t have the side effects that medication can. One option is counselling or cognitive behavioural therapy.

I am by no means saying that doctors should be avoided. They should be consulted, however, it’s important to not rely completely on the medical system when you don’t have to.

CBT works by examining negative thinking in order to change your outlook and responses. The purpose of this type of psychotherapy is to minimize overall distress levels and self-defeating behaviour. Considering the amount of stress we students face daily, therapy is one solution to a wide range of mental health problems that is more sustainable than taking unnecessary prescription drugs.

I am by no means saying that doctors should be avoided. They should definitely be consulted. However, it’s important to not rely completely on the medical system when you don’t have to. We all know how difficult it can be to get an early appointment let alone a same-day one. Wait times can be long, especially when you need to follow up with a specialist. Therefore, one of the best things you can do for yourself if you are struggling is closely examine your own situation. Write everything down. Document your moods during the day, what you’re eating, when you’re going to bed, and anything about your health that seems out of the ordinary. Start looking for trends so that when you do see your doctor you can deliver as full a picture as possible. Sometimes you might feel like things are hopeless and that you have no control over the way you feel, but in many cases, you do have at least some agency. Sure, these tips and tricks may not completely solve the problem, but they can’t hurt. Ultimately, doctors are here to help, but they aren’t all-knowing deities. They want patients to feel better, but they are only human. If there is a problem that we may be able to help fix, we should explore all other avenues available to us.

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By: Crystal Lobo

Jan. 18 marked the start of MSU Diversity Services’ annual “Diversity Week.” This year, the theme of the week was “Constructing Our Stories,” a theme meant to emphasize the importance of sharing stories and narratives as a method of personal and societal growth. The service collaborated with many organizations such as Perspectives on Peace, Soul Foods, and external speakers, to present workshops relating to Diversity Services’ four pillars of diversity: multiculturalism, interfaith, abilities, and Indigenous affairs.

“We tried our best to reflect our pillars … Each of the workshops were sort of reflective of one of those topics in a nuanced way,” said Ryan Deshpande, Assistant Director of MSU Diversity Services.

“One thing we really tried to get away from is the idea of having a day for a pillar … That's not how people work and that was something that was definitely one of our major objectives, because being truly intersectional isn't going ‘these two things exist,’ but going ‘oh these all exist and they're all part of the same narrative,’” said Sophie Geffros, Abilities Coordinator.

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On Jan. 20, one of the week’s primary events took place at TwelvEighty when keynote speaker and notable activist Kim Katrin Milan hosted a workshop.

“She built her talk around the theme [of the week] but talked specifically about issues of marginalization, identity, intersectionality and how we can own our narrative,” said Deshpande.

“She really captivated the audience. We had a full house in TwelvEighty. I got multiple messages afterwards of people being like, ‘That was so amazing. I'm so happy I came to see that.’”

Both Deshpande and Geffros stated that they viewed Diversity Week as a success. “I think everything went according to plan. The week was very successful and I don't think anything happened that I wasn't anticipating,” said Deshpande. Geffros was enthusiastic as well, “Events like this week are a really great opportunity to recharge your batteries because you get people who are both educated and not educated in these issues but who want to learn and talk and genuinely believe in these things, and it’s amazing,” she said.

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While the event was successful, Deshpande and Geffros both cited ways that Diversity Week could improve for next year. Deshpande cited promotional strategies as an area that could grow. He believes that promotions have improved from last year, but is hoping to continue to promote the event to a wider audience. Geffros explained her hopes for a more ambitious Diversity Week in the future. “I think we should go bigger,” she said.

“Going forward I would like to have more complex conversations.”

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Overall, MSU Diversity Week created multiple workshops and events for the McMaster community pertaining to its theme. “We want people to own their narratives and take charge of their identities in a way that empowers them,” said Deshpande.

“There is a great Junot Díaz quote, which is, ‘The only people who don't see reflections of themselves are monsters,’” Geffros said. “That is what taking diverse people out of the narrative does. It makes us monstrous because if you don't see yourself then you're almost dehumanized. So allowing us to come together and build those stories for ourselves I think is important.”

Photo Credit: Mike Beattie

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