Photo by Kyle West

By: Eden Wondmeneh

As a first-year student living on residence, I had to cough up an outrageous amount of money for a mediocre living experience.

Following a $600 residence deposit, residence can cost anywhere from $5,800 to $8,825, not including the additional, mandatory cost of a meal plan that ranges from $2,975 to $4,735.

Separate from the fees, incoming students wishing to have a guaranteed residence space on-campus must achieve, at minimum, an 81.5 per cent in their senior year of high school.

It’s as if an acceptance to McMaster is not enough to attend the university, with residence being the only option for many out-of-province students.

Even if you find yourself as one of the almost 3700 students living on McMaster residence, you are expected to move out promptly after your final exam in April. In fact, you are expected to leave residence by 3:00 p.m. on the very next day.

With the average cost of living at Mac being just under $12,000, this deadline does not fit with what students have paid for. It likely exists in order to stagger students’ departure as a way to prevent chaos and large wait times, but for many students it’s an impossible deadline to meet.

As it is an odd request for students to pack up their entire dorm so quickly after their final exams, students with ‘legitimate’ reasons for not being able to meet the deadline can apply for an extension.

Those that can apply for this extension are international and out-of-province students with travel requirements, those with exceptional circumstances or those with academic requirements to fulfill like a new exam or deferred lab. But even if a student has one of these ‘legitimate’ reasons, there is still a chance that the extension won’t be granted.

Ultimately, the terms of the extension application are made so that students who have assignment accommodations, need time before their new lease or sublet agreements take affect, have extracurricular commitments or have storage needs till the end of term have no options and are scrambling to find alternative accommodations.

It’s as if these aren’t legitimate reasons to need to stay in a dorm room, that you have already paid for, until the official end of term.

I am currently struggling to figure out what to do come the end of term. My exams happen to fall on the earlier spectrum of exam season, and since my family is scattered across America during my assigned move-out date, I’m stuck between an alarmingly expensive taxi ride back home or a cheaper but nightmarish, impossible GO bus trip with my 40 pieces of luggage.

My situation is much easier to deal with than those who are from out of town or students with accessibility accommodations, who need to stay in Hamilton for a few days or weeks extra.

The entire purpose of residence is to make university life, both academic and social, accessible and convenient for students; a goal that the move-out policy directly opposes.

Students shouldn’t have to request an extension at all, but for the sake of staggering departure times, students should be able to request and receive an extension for a much broader list of reasons than that which currently exists.

In doing so, McMaster can make exam season a little less strenuous for the students who paid to live on-campus until the end of term.

 

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Photos C/O Peggy Baker Dance Projects

It has been said that life is a dance. No one knows that better than celebrated Canadian dance artist Peggy Baker whose dance installation Move captures the duality of caregiving. The free installation will be performed on Feb. 2 at the Art Gallery of Hamilton as part of McMaster University’s Socrates Project.

The dance installation takes place in a 28 by 28-foot square surrounded by a frame.  It is 70-minutes long and is organized into four cycles. The cyclic nature of the piece and the fact that it rotates throughout means audience members can take it in from multiple angles.

 

The performers are not necessarily dancers by trade but members of the community who love dance. There are 16 of them dancing in pairs that reverse roles with each cycle. They were selected in November 2018 during a two-hour workshop and audition.

The story of Move began 10 years ago when Baker first presented the dance as part of Toronto contemporary art event Nuit Blanche. At that time, the dance was 20 minutes long and done on the hour every hour for 12 hours with 12 pairs of professional dancers. When Baker put on Move for the second time at the Art Gallery of Ontario a couple years later, she decided to extend the length of the piece and do it with fewer dancers.  

It was while doing the dance at the Art Gallery of Ontario that Baker thought about using community members as the dancers. She has since put on several performances of Move with non-professional dancers, staging the entire performance in five three-hour rehearsals.

 

Baker’s own experience with caregiving formed a part of the inspiration for the installation. She was the primary caregiver to her late husband, who had primary progressive multiple sclerosis. She found that caregiving involves a beautiful rapport between the one receiving and the one giving care.

Baker was also inspired by art and dance itself. While teaching in Philadelphia, she was struck by the beauty of partnership when she had dancers pair up and help another during some difficult movement sequences. Also while in Philadelphia, she saw an exhibition of paintings by American painter George Tooker and was inspired by the images of people embracing one another.

The dancers changing roles throughout the piece represents the inevitability of being on both sides of caregiving. The choreography for the piece overall is formal and highly organized, mimicking the ritualized elements of human lives. The choice to have four cycles mimics the cyclic structure of the seasons and the fact that there are four cardinal directions.

“[I]t’s something universal. We all receive that kind of intimate physical care and physical nurturing as infants and children. We may all find ourselves in a position where we where we are called upon to give care to a parent or a partner or a child. And we may all eventually need to receive care,” explained Baker.

KITCHENER, Ont. (09/04/18) - Victoria Park

 

The electro-acoustic soundtrack, composed by musician and composer Debashis Sinha, is also organized into four cycles. It is subtle and atmospheric, not quite music but a sonic landscape for the audience and dancers to reside in.

Baker encourages audience members to walk around the square performance space, close their eyes or turn their back to view the art in the gallery. The space allows viewers to feel comfortable arriving after it begins or even leaving before it ends.

I like it to be in a public place. I like it to be in a place that already is claimed by the community as being a place in their town or city like this is… an art gallery, a foyer of a theater, a market… [I]t needs to locate itself in the heart of the community… [I]t's about community building basically,” Baker said.

At the end of the piece, the dancers pour water for one another and drink it. One of the dancers in the group, a ceramic artist, suggested that the group each makes the vessel that they drink out of. At the end of one of their rehearsals, she guided her fellow dancers through making their own bowl.

The creativity and passion brought on by these community dancers give this installation of Move a unique tint. However, the beauty of Move is the universality of the theme and the way in which it can move anyone.

 

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