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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Photo C/O Grant Holt

By: Elizabeth DiEmanuele

“We often don’t realize how resilient we can be,” says Kerri Latham, career counsellor at the Student Success Centre. “The truth is, the more times you fail, the easier it is to try.”

For the Student Success Centre, providing students with the resources and supports needed to develop their resiliency in university is important. One piece of this work is normalizing failure, uncertainty and other factors that contribute to wanting to give up on a goal, project, idea, or dream.

As Jenna Storey, academic skills program coordinator at the Student Success Centre, says, “Students often encounter challenges in achieving their academic goals. Resiliency in academics is about bouncing back after these challenges, and also recognizing and working through them by incorporating better academic and personal management skills.”

Most recently, the Centre led a digital campaign called #StickWithIt, a resiliency campaign that responded to student experiences the Centre addresses in its regular roster of programs, services and workshops. Staff have also participated in the CFMU’s MorningFile show, covering topics from Thriving in Academic Uncertainty to Developing Career Resilience.

In Kerri’s role, resiliency is an ongoing conversation and practice. Whether it’s through her one-on-one appointments, a career and employment session, or a Career Planning Group, one thing is clear: there is a shared uncertainty for many students around what they are going to do and where they are going to go next.

Kerri shares, “Though there are expectations, reflecting on your own priorities can help you stay grounded to pursue a direction that is best for you. Try not to get swayed too much by what others are doing. Know yourself and honour your own path.”

Knowing yourself does not necessarily mean “know your passion.” As Kerri suggests, “This puts a lot of false expectations on students, but the main thing is to pay attention to those seeds of interests and allow them to grow. Though it might feel like everyone has it figured out, there is always change, uncertainty and new directions.  It’s okay to not know right now – uncertainty is to be expected.”

For students focused on what’s next, Kerri recommends breaking big decisions into smaller chunks; and when job searching, focusing more on the opportunities and skills students want to develop. She also encourages students to use their strengths and supports, like family, friends or mentors.

The good news is: students don’t have to go through it alone. The Student Success Centre is a place for students to explore, from the moment they accept their offer of admission and up to ten years after graduation. Upcoming sessions include:

Register for workshops or a career counselling appointment on OSCARplus.

Visit studentsuccess.mcmaster.ca to learn more.

 

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Photos by Kyle West, Graphics by Sukaina Imam

For many students, living in residence is an important part of the first year experience. In recent years, universities across the country have had to act quickly to meet the increased demand for residence space on campus.

McMaster has 12 residence buildings that house approximately 3,700 students. The demand for student housing, however, is far higher. Currently, there is only enough residence space for about 40 per cent of incoming first year students.

McMaster is one of the only universities in Ontario that does not provide guaranteed campus housing for first year students. In order to be guaranteed admission to residence, students must meet a minimum grade average. All other students are placed on a waitlist.

Finding Space on Campus

In 2016, McMaster had to fit 200 additional students into residence due to higher than anticipated enrollment numbers. As an immediate solution, double rooms were converted into three person units.

The Living Learning Centre currently being built on the north end of campus will help to meet the need for residence space. In addition to classrooms and student services, it will also offer 500 suite and traditional-style residence rooms.

But there is only so much space on campus. In order to meet the rapidly increasing demand for residence space, universities across Canada are rushing to create new housing options.

One novel yet controversial approach to the problem of minimal housing space comes from the University of British Columbia’s “nano suites” pilot project.

Enrolment numbers at UBC have been steadily increasing and have led to space and resource shortages. The university is now considering scaling back admission of international students, according to UBC’s student-run newspaper The Ubyssey.

Nano suites are 140 square foot housing units containing a bed, desk, bathroom and kitchen. A desk sits under the bed, which can retract into the wall to save space.

The nano suites will account for 71 rooms in a new 362 unit student residence building on UBC’s campus.

One of the main draws of the nano suites is the cost. Each unit costs around $700 a month which, compared to Vancouver’s notoriously high rent costs, is a strong draw for students.

However, living in such a small space is not a feasible option for everybody. The Ubyssey notes that the units are less than double the size of a minimum-sized single occupancy Canadian prison cell.

While scaling down the size of residence rooms is one approach to the problem, the more common approach is to build residences off campus.

Turning to Private Companies

Private developers have noticed this trend. In some cities such as Waterloo and Toronto, the demand for student residences is so high that private companies have built student residences independently of the universities.

Since privately operated residences are not affiliated with universities, students do not get access to the same benefits and support systems that are typically available in traditional residences. Additionally, privately owned residences are often far more expensive than traditional options.

Due to a lack of government funding for residence construction, many universities are unable to build their own new residence buildings. In recent years Canadian universities have begun exploring public-private partnerships to fund university-affiliated student residences.

York University, U of T and McGill are among the growing cohort of Canadian universities who have partnered with private companies to fund student residence buildings.

In 2017, McMaster announced its plan to follow suit. The university bought a group of nine Westdale houses around campus for $9.5 million with the plan to develop a multi-storey residence building in partnership with Knightstone capital management, a Toronto-based company that specializes in student residences.

While the construction will be handled privately, McMaster will run the residence as part of the university-wide student housing system.

The proposed first phase of the residence will have 950 beds, and there will an additional 455 if there is sufficient demand.

In addition to the Westdale residence, McMaster is also partnering with Knightstone to build a residence in downtown Hamilton for graduate students and their families.

Knightstone aims to build residences that challenge the perception of unclean, unsafe student living. Their website claims that they cater to the new generation of students with higher expectations about their student living conditions.

“These expectations, taken together with security, cost and cleanliness as their parents’ hot buttons, have created consumers that seek a student residence experience at a level that corresponds to their home life,.” read a part of their site.

Some of the new privately developed student residences across Canada more closely resemble luxury condominiums than traditional student dormitories.

CampusOne is a student residence in downtown Toronto that houses students from the University of Toronto, Ryerson and Ontario College of Art and Design. The building houses movie theatres and a fitness studio, and the website advertises Feng Shui compliant rooms.

While privately and jointly funded residences offer luxury, they also tend to be more expensive than university owned buildings. A standard room at CampusOne, for example, costs about $1700 a month, not including the meal plan.

McMaster has yet to announce the costs of the new residence buildings in Westdale and downtown Hamilton.

 

Community Impact

By building student residences the surrounding city, universities are better able to meet the increasing demand for housing. However, building residences off campus means that universities must account for the needs of the surrounding community members.

The proposed Westdale residence concerned residents, who worried that the height and density of the proposed building would alter the community. A letter from Ainslie Wood/Westdale Community Association Of Resident Homeowners Inc. to the city of Hamilton expressed concern about foot and vehicle traffic and, as well as the plan for yearly move in and move out.

“We understand the need of the University, and we endorse a development on the proposed site; however, we feel that this development in its present form will have long-lasting negative effects on the immediate community,” states the letter.

Community resistance to off-campus student residences is not unique to Hamilton.

In 2013, a proposed private residence for U of T students faced similar backlash from members of the surrounding community. The Harbord village residents’ association found issues with the proposed building’s height and density, among other concerns.

A new proposal was announced this past summer that accounted for the concerns raised by the HVRA. However, it took five years of negotiation to come to the agreement.

While building residences off campus may be necessary to accommodate for increasing enrollment, it requires careful consultation with community members.

 

As university admissions continue to rise across the country, so too will the demand for student housing. While many incoming students want the first year residence experience, the future of campus living is anything but traditional.

 

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WARNING: This article contains graphic descriptions of rape and mention of suicide.

I was a Welcome Week representative in 2012, and I met John Doe*, a fellow rep, through some friends. We didn’t work directly together, but he hung out with us often. I thought he was funny, we had the same taste in music, but I never thought of him as anything more. My friends were close to him, and I liked my friends, so it all seemed great. It was after our fourth encounter with each other that he raped me.

It was the day of the Yates Cup. I had gone to a friend’s before the match for some drinks. I was happily drunk but felt the cold November wind hitting my cheeks as the game crept closer to half time. My friends texted me that they were at TwelvEighty and there was an extra seat for me.

As I entered TwelvEighty, I saw John and my friends. I had run out of money and waved my debit card around, asking for a drink. The bartender said that if I had no cash, I had to buy a pitcher in order to use my card. I did so and ended up drinking most of it.

John got up and stretched, and announced that he was going to go for a walk. I was beginning to feel nauseous and figured that joining him would be a good way to sober up. We walked until we found a stairwell. He sat on the stairwell while I fell on them. I remember his face getting closer to mine slowly. He kissed me and I could hear footsteps approaching. People passed by, the match was still going on. I felt exposed and uncomfortable.

I suggested to him that we should go into a private room. I wanted to talk and I wanted for us to be alone. I wasn’t thinking about kissing him more. To be honest, I genuinely wasn’t thinking about anything in particular, I was just drunk. I know I didn’t encourage him, but I clearly didn’t express myself as properly as I wished.

We went into a room in the arts quad basement. He turned off the light and I sat on the ground as standing had become too tricky.

He pulled his pants down and tried to shove himself into my mouth. I was frozen. Somewhere in the back of my mind the phrase “freeze, fight or flight” popped up, and I cursed myself for having the worst reaction.

“Get on that bench.” he said. At that point in time I was so dumbfounded that any short instruction seemed sensible. He pulled off my jeans. I realized what his intentions were, and mustered up the strength to cover myself with both of my hands and said loudly, “No. Stop. I don’t want to. No. Stop.”

I remember him pulling my hands away. He pressed his lips against mine, hard. I remember hearing him grunt, and the occasional loud cheer from TwelvEighty came through the walls. My insides were screaming for my body to get up, to punch, to do anything, but I was incapable of moving. I was scared of his strength. Not physical, as he was short and smaller than me, but his mental strength – the fact that he ignored my pleas frightened me.

Something began to buzz in the room: my friends whom I left outside at the game were attempting to find me. They kept calling. Eventually, he stopped. I had sobered up enough by then to hop off the piano bench, pull up my pants, pick up my phone. We left the room and he headed back to TwelvEighty while I made a beeline for MUSC. As I left he called out, “See you around, eh?”

Somewhere in the back of my mind the phrase “freeze, fight or flight” popped up, and I cursed myself for having the worst reaction. 

I went to the Student Centre and ran into my friends. The shock settled in minutes after and I told my friends what had happened. They took me to Shoppers to buy a Plan B.

The next few days blurred together. I showered for 45 minutes washing every inch of my skin, hoping that the harder I scrubbed, the less dirty I’d feel. I couldn’t sleep. School didn’t matter. I lived off-campus and I would leave the house earlier because I didn’t want to face my parents.

I told my friends later on that day. It was confusing to them because they knew him for years. They said they believed me, but within that week they also told me that he made a mistake and they would remain friends with him.

John Doe called me the very next day and told me he knew I told our mutual friends, and that I was wrong. He declared he did have consent because I took him to the private room. A few days after this, I was with a friend, who was also a good friend of John Doe, but was supporting me during this time. John Doe called me, and I put it on speaker so she could hear what he was saying. He warned me again not to tell anyone, and claimed I was being ridiculous. “Am I always supposed to ask a girl if she wants to have sex with me?” he said in a sarcastic tone. I was stunned. His friend looked at me with an unfathomable expression. I hung up.

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My close friends were trying to convince me to report him, but even I was confused as to whether this was rape or not.

I even went to my old high school and confronted two of my closest teachers about what had happened. It hurt me to tell my friends and teachers. I’d see their faces register shock, worry, sadness, frustration, but I didn’t know what else to do. It felt as though I had such a big weight on my shoulders, and it had become too much for me to carry it by myself. I had to tell people who knew who I really was, who knew me before this happened, so I could cling onto my sense of self.

However, I also told people I regret telling. I shared what had happened with friends I wasn’t really close with. At the time, I thought that telling people would help bring some sense into this situation. However, the thoughts some shared with me confused me even more:

“Well, you did tell him to go into that room with you…”

“You were really drunk…”

“You are a super friendly person, so he just mistook that as flirting…”

“I’m not sure if this is considered rape because you probably enjoyed yourself once you started having sex, right?”

Another friend approached me at university one day and handed me a brochure explaining rape and that was when it finally clicked for me. I was raped. Some of my other close friends encouraged me to attend counselling, but it wasn’t until I saw the brochure that I did.

When telling the police, I had to replay every single thing in my mind. It felt like picking at the scabs of a wound that was trying to heal. We had to figure out how long John Doe and I were in the private room, and calculated that I was raped for 45 minutes. 

Two weeks after the incident, I went to see a counsellor in the Student Wellness Centre. My counsellor was nice enough but I felt rushed having to explain what had happened within my 30-minute time slot. It took me 10 minutes to stop crying. She referred me to the hospital and I headed there after my appointment.

Because I didn’t go there straightaway and had showered after being raped, they could not get his semen off my body. Instead, I underwent a physical exam and a mini counselling session. They took my urine sample and I had to take a pregnancy test. Afterwards, they gave me a handful of crushed up pills and water, telling me that these would wipe out any sort of STDs I could have contracted from him.

Within a month after it happened, I attempted suicide. To summarize it all into one sentence: I felt like a failure, like a used up rag that needed to be disposed. I am grateful that it was a botched attempt, and that I had friends around me who let me talk to them openly about it and made me realize it was not the way out.

One month after being raped, I contacted the city’s Sexual Assault unit and talked to a police officer on the phone. We arranged for them to meet me at a friend’s house, where they would interview me and fill out a report. At the time, that was the hardest thing I had to go through. When I told my friends or teachers what had happened, I was able to skip some parts. I was able to provide a summary. When telling the police, I had to replay every single thing in my mind. It felt like picking at the scabs of a wound that was trying to heal. We had to figure out how long John Doe and I were in the private room, and calculated that I was raped for 45 minutes.

I ended up going to the police station about a week afterwards and had an interview with the police. He said he met with John Doe and spoke with him. He asked if I wanted to take this to court, and added that it would take one year. I turned it down. I didn’t want this to drag on. Because I said no, it only says on John Doe’s profile that he was questioned for rape, but that’s it. The police officer patted me on the shoulder as I was leaving and said, “Take care of yourself. Next time, try not to get yourself into this sort of situation, like the drinking...”

The following summer, I found out that John Doe was going to be a Welcome Week rep again. I contacted friends involved with Welcome Week and was referred to the Office of Student Conduct. I went to their office and told them everything. They informed me that had I approached them right after it had happened, they could have done more. John Doe could have faced more serious consequences. I had no idea that I could have approached the Student Conduct Office. I wish I had known, and hope that more information is given to first years about it now.

The office asked me if I could provide a witness. I immediately thought of his close friend that overheard our phone call after it happened. I messaged her and explained the situation. She sent back a lengthy response, acknowledging that she heard what John Doe said, but that she wouldn’t be able to be a witness for me. She added that I seemed to be holding a grudge and keeping in some pent-up anger. She then closed the message saying that her and other friends were also upset about what happened, but they found ways to move on. Her closing sentence was wishing me all the best. I was disgusted, and still am as I type this.

I showed the office the message, and since she acknowledged what John Doe had said, that was all he needed. He told me that he would meet with John Doe and that he would be monitored at all times during Welcome Week. He also said that John Doe wasn’t allowed to approach me on campus, and that I could call security if he did. While that was comforting, that wasn’t the point of my actions. I didn’t want him to harm anyone ever again, especially first year students.

The conduct officer advised me to go to the Human Rights and Equity office, which I did. I met with someone who was extremely nice and warm. It was comforting to open up to such a wonderful person. She informed me of an upcoming event SACHA, the Sexual Assault Center for the Hamilton Area, was hosting at Mac, which was aimed towards friends of sexual assault victims. I attended the session with one of my great friends.

After being raped by someone who I thought was my friend, the most difficult part was letting go of my friends who still supported him. It genuinely crushed me to have my friends tell me they still considered John Doe a friend. One friend messaged me an apology this spring, saying that she finally sees how horrible John Doe is, and that she will always regret not supporting me. Her message was what I had wanted for so long, but when she finally sent it to me, it had lost its value. I had to go through the rest of my undergrad avoiding my Welcome Week friends and certain parts of MUSC where they hung out.

I would think about it at least once every single day for the first year. I would find myself taking the car and driving to a random parking lot to break down and cry without any interruptions. I’d cringe every time I heard a rape joke, pretend I wasn’t affected while inwardly accepting the fact that the joke would stay in my mind for the rest of the day. I began to join numerous clubs and kept busy. I picked up more shifts at work to avoid being home.

Some days, I would have such a good time with friends that it wouldn’t be until I went to bed that I finally realized I hadn’t thought about it all day. I learned to congratulate myself with every little step towards improvement. I dread November a little less now. I didn’t have sex again until a year and a half later. When I did, and I realized it is still pleasurable, I was elated. John Doe may have become the focus of my life and taken things away from me, but this was not one of them.

Sometimes there are setbacks, though. I recently went home with someone and was triggered by the sexual position he wanted us to be in. I ended up crying in his arms. I was lucky because he was kind and understanding. I am now seeking counselling.

Less than two weeks ago, a good friend of mine approached me and told me she had been raped. She brought a guy home who asked her if she wanted to have sex. When she said no, he proceeded regardless. As she was telling me what had happened, I was trying to control my emotions, to be her rock. But how could this have happened? How could someone assault such a kind-hearted human being? What had she done to deserve this? I felt heartbroken all over again.

While I will never be able to fully understand what she’s going through, it’s safe to say that I have a general idea. The pain from being in the position of a victim’s friend was different, but still prominent.

These situations made me realize how often people question what rape really is. I now know that, put simply, it is any form of sexual activity with another person without their consent is sexual assault.

The statistics are disgusting: one in four women in North America will be raped. While the media normally reports rapists as being strangers in parking lots (which does happen often, unfortunately), that is not true for the majority of rapists. 80 percent of the time, your rapist is someone you know. It’s a close friend, or acquaintance, or family member.

I hope people can learn from the experience I’ve had dealing with this crime on campus. There are resources on campus to approach and consult if you have had a similar experience, but it still isn’t enough. If you have been in a similar situation, please contact the Human Rights and Equity Services department at the university.

*Name has been changed.

The author of this article has asked to remain anonymous. If you have any questions, email thesil@thesil.ca.


 

RESOURCES ON AND OFF CAMPUS
If you or someone you know is in need of a support service, below is a listing of local centres that are able to provide a variety of services and couselling.

On campus
Human Rights and Equity Services
Provides confidential complaint resolution according to the University’s Sexual Harassment Policies.
(905) 525-9140 x. 27581
hres@mcmaster.ca

Meaghan Ross, Sexual Violence Response Coordinator
(905) 525-9140 x. 20909
rossm4@mcmaster.ca

Student Wellness Centre
Provides a wide range of counselling options and medical services and testing.
(905) 525-9140 x. 27700
wellness@mcmaster.ca

WGEN
Provides confidential support for all victims of sexual assault.
(905) 525-9140 x. 20265
wgen@msu.mcmaster.ca

SHEC
Provides confidential peer support, referrals on and off campus, anonymous and confidential pregnancy testing.
(905) 525-9140 x. 22041
shec@msu.mcmaster.ca

Off campus
SACHA
Provides a 24-hour support line, counselling services and public education.
(905) 525-4573
(905) 525-4162 (24-hour Support Line)

Hamilton General Hospital, Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence Care Centre
Provides a 24-hour support line, counselling services and public education.
(905) 521-2100 x. 73557
sadvcarecentre@hhsc.ca

Hamilton Police Services
Takes crime reports from city constituents.
(905) 546-4925

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By: Gwenyth Sage

I walked out of her room glowing. For the first time in a long time, I smiled a smile borne out of genuine joy. It was my last time seeing Kristy. I had written spontaneous poetry for friends before and wanted to do the same for her. I asked her for a word as inspiration for the poem. She gave me healing.

Kristy was my counselor, the guardian angel who selflessly held my hand and led me inch by inch out of the eye of the storm, through the turbulence, and onto safe ground. Kristy was tireless in picking up the pieces of the emotional mess that I was, helping me organize and reconfigure the thoughts that plagued and overwhelmed me.

Before Kristy, I was a different person. Mental illness is someone else’s problem, I thought. I was a nursing student after all — I’d know if something was wrong. It is an unfortunate reality that many people, like me, do not seek help until they find themselves in the middle of a mental health crisis. Changes in mood, eating habits, lack of motivation — these are easy to read as a list in a textbook but are difficult to identify in your everyday life especially when they’re commonly attributed to academic stress.

Shifts in mental wellness sneak up on you, inching ever so slowly that you are unwitting to the change. As Elizabeth in Prozac Nation muses, it comes “gradually, then suddenly” and “you wake up one morning, afraid that you’re gonna live.”

I went to the Student Wellness Centre on a whim for a drop-in counseling session to get a second opinion. It was an optional measure in my mind. I recalled from my mental health nursing placement that people were always the last to see when they needed help, so I went in to see what they had to say. My reaction to trauma was to ignore it, suppress it, and try to move on with life. While I wanted to be done with the trauma, it clearly wasn’t done with me. And so, when I told the mental health nurse in my initial appointment, the floodgates opened, and I was made acutely aware of the mental health crisis that I was in the middle of.

The fragility of the equilibrium I had tried to maintain by avoiding the psychological aftermath of trauma was revealed. Everything triggered me, everything hurt, everything was heavy. A response to constant pain is to numb. And for a while, I was numb, robotic; I was a zombie. As opposed to having low mood, which I did experience, more often than not, I had no mood at all. Emotion is an experience integral to the human experience and to lack such a basic part of myself was deeply distressing.

The results were in and I was to begin the most intensive, reflective, and painful chapter of my life with my counselor Kristy. The course of cognitive processing therapy would last ten weeks, and painstakingly, Kristy would break me apart, reset my bones, reassess, and repeat.

Counseling was not easy–the road to happiness never is. She challenged me with questions, understood and validated my concerns, and recalibrated me to be able to live amicably with my painful past. Pain is a part of the process in understanding and coming to terms with sensitive experiences. It is now just a memory, no longer lingering uncomfortably in the forefront of my conscious thought.

Avoidance is not therapy. You can shove it under a rug but you’ll never forget and it won’t go away. If you feel numb, anxious, or that your baseline mood has shifted to a level that is less than comfortable, please do not wait to seek help. In that state, you may be of the belief that you are irredeemable, unsalvageable, out of reach. It’s a lie. Help is available, and you are not alone.

Kristy gave me healing. This is what I gave her:

life was through a reel

   the ins and outs of 
   an assembly line
   revolving door of 
   broken minds

she sprinkled
she sewed 
she shared
  the wisdom bestowed 
  upon her
  by history
  it takes one to know one

empathy is pain
empathy is wisdom
pain is temporary

wisdom is not

To get help, please reach out to MSU services like Peer Support Line, Women & Gender Equality Network, and the Student Wellness Centre. If you are in a crisis, do not hesitate to call COAST, Hamilton’s 24 hour crisis outreach hotline at 905-972-8338. There is help, there is hope.

The ExCEL initiative has headed into its next stage of development. On Jan. 20, Agnes Kaznierczak, an architect at Diamond Schmitt Architects, presented the firm’s initial designs for the Hatch Centre to a group of McMaster Engineering students and faculty and revealed the first renderings of the building.

“We just finished schematic design so we’re moving into design development, which basically entails choosing the actual materials and the specifics of more engineering-related things,” said Ryan Rogers, the McMaster Engineering Society VP of External Affairs.

The Hatch Centre itself will attach to the back of the existing John Hodgins Engineering building and will share a variety of its facilities, including the Fireball Café and loading docks, while maintaining the ability to operate independently from JHE.

Kaznierczak’s presentation showed the variety of spaces the new building would contain, including a double-height build space that will house large-scale student projects with offices overlooking the space below. She also showed the numerous student meeting areas, club offices, and the suite that will be occupied by student services. Kaznierczak described the Hatch Center as “robust, elegant, and honest about what it needs to be.”

On the surface the project seems to be progressing well, but there are underlying issues. According to Rogers, the initiative is still within its budget, but that comes with the sacrifice of a number of the proposed eco-friendly features.

“A lot of the big issue with including eco-friendly features was we had to find a balance between the actual functionality of the building versus making it the most innovative and eco-friendly building in Canada,” said Mitchell Kurnell, Director of Public Relations with the McMaster Engineering Society.

He added that eco-friendly features such as solar panels could be installed later, but that the plan to install triple-glazed windows to maximize energy efficiency has not changed.

Despite the compromises on the eco-friendly side of the construction, Rogers was adamant that there have been no changes to the experiential learning features promised in the proposal.

“We’re still going to have visible structures, visible heating and cooling elements, as well as panels basically describing the functionality and the actual process that went towards creating the final product,” he said.

While all parties involved with the ExCEL initiative hope to please as many students and faculty members as possible, concerns have been raised over the course of the project.

“Students have big concerns over whether they will have a say in how the building operates later,” Rogers said. But he explained that the MES is finalizing a plan to have a board composed of Engineering faculty members and students to manage the building together.

“The only [faculty concern] that has come up is who’s going to be moving to the third floor of the ExCEL building, but that was decided through various council meetings and the faculty basically agreed with who we, as a council, decided we wanted to see go into the building,” Kurnell said.

The only faculty members being housed in the Hatch Center will be those who benefit the all of the 4,000 students within the Faculty of Engineering.

The ExCEL initiative has always focused on enhancing the student experience, but if students have questions about the Hatch Center, Rogers promised, “students can always come to us. That’s our job.”

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