Photo C/O Anders Nord

By Adeola Egbeyemi and Caroline Bredin, Contributors

One like helps clean one beach. Repost on your story to plant 100 trees. Share to save the bees!

Slacktivism is a new and trendy form of online activism that, according to the United Nations, involves “people who support a cause by performing simple measures [but] are not truly engaged or devoted to making a change.” Slacktivism looks like reposts, retweets and shares on social media with no deeper commitment to the issue at hand. It’s being used increasingly often for social movements. 

Slacktivism has developed because of the usage of Web 2.0, a shift to a user-centric internet, ​allowing individuals to create interactive profiles and share their thoughts, likes and photos. This internet evolution has fostered the growth of opinion leaders, who receive information from media and pass on the content, with their interpretation, to a reachable audience. This is exactly what we see with slacktivism, where large, branded accounts are believed to be opinion leaders and trick a considerable number of individuals into thinking they can passively support a good cause. As Web 2.0 is carefully designed to maximize shared content, it’s not surprising how fast spreading these accounts can be.

To be clear, sharing posts about social movements or global issues does raise awareness of those issues. It may even reflect a deeper desire to create positive change, regardless of whether this desire is actualized outside of social media.

However, there are negative implications of slacktivism that seem to be overshadowing the good. Instagram accounts that claim to be helping an issue can often be deceptive. The Instagram account @plantatreeco, boasting nearly 580,000 followers, is one example that has been subject to scrutiny. In one popular Instagram post, the account promised to donate one dollar for every 100 people who shared the post and followed the account.

Last week, the Huffington Post reported that a number of Instagram accounts promising to donate money to Australian wildfire relief efforts could not prove that they had actually made the donations. Hours after Huffpost reached out to @plantatreeco about allegations that it was a scam, the account provided what appears to be a $3,173.00 receipt of donation to the New South Wales Rural Fire Service. However, HuffPost did not receive immediate confirmation of the donations’ authenticity from the NSW Fire Service. 

@Plantatreeco also constantly post stories, urging people to visit its website, where they sell jewelry, with no indication that this money is donated anywhere. Additionally, the account has erased all its Instagram content, starting over multiple times. Lastly, the account does not seem to have partnerships, or any other external source of money. These are good indications of fraud because the account is able to jump from planting trees, as their name suggests, to the next popular issue like the wildfires in Australia. This allows them to constantly maintain popularity and page traffic. With no identifiable source of money or partnerships, there is no tangible evidence that they are receiving resources to do what they claim. The account has not issued any statements responding to these concerns. Yet, we see individuals still sharing stories with posts from this account. 

 It’s a scheme that seems paper-thin, but the fact that we are seeing it occur time and time again says otherwise. Last June, for example, the Instagram pages that sought to increase awareness of the plight of Sudan were, at best, simplifying the complex political issues in the nation. At worst, they were using tragedy to garner social media traffic. Sudan Aid accounts, such as the now-deactivated @savesudanpeople and @sudanmealproject, claimed to donate to Sudan through, for example, one meal for a Sudanese person per like on the post. 

But, according to the BBC, “there [was] no evidence that any of the ‘Meal Project’ accounts were going anything at all.” The Meal Project accounts did not respond to these allegations, but are now shut down. Misinformation spread by “Meal Project” accounts was then disseminated by individuals who thought they were promoting positive social change through their shares and reposts. 

In the case of immediate disasters, like the current wildfires in Australia, taking time to educate yourself and donating money directly to established causes is your best bet to help. However, after Australia has contained its wildfires, we’ll see slacktivism move to the next issue — beach clean-ups or tree-planting — with a disregard for the reasons why we are seeing fires more often globally. Donating to solve an issue like the wildfires does not prevent it from happening again because does not address the pervasive source of the problem: climate change. Thus, in the case of systematic problems, we should begin to consider supplementing large social media movements with consistent environmental engagement at the personal and local level. Examples of this are volunteering with Zero Waste McMaster, Fridays For Future Hamilton, The Sustainable Future Program or leading an OPIRG project. There’s even a fourth-year Communication Studies course at McMaster that explores the role of media in social activism. 

Slacktivism is becoming more prevalent and although awareness is necessary, it is hardly sufficient for change. McMaster University is ranked second in the world for global impact. This ranking means that, as students and navigators of today’s Web 2.0, we should hold ourselves to a high standard when it comes to how we deal with social issues, taking care to read up on issues, being critical of social media pages and looking for local opportunities to effect meaningful change. The most significant threat to modern activism may not be the issues it fights against, but the passive and indifferent “share it and move on” attitude we see forming towards them.

 

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As a disclaimer, our Operating Policy states that we are limited to only having one page per issue dedicated to satire and parody. The Speculator on the back page of the physical issue took this up. We have not requested any exceptions to this, and everything you are about to read is factual.

Throughout the year, we run weekly meetings for each of our sections. If you want to contribute as a writer, photographer, videographer or have a passing interest in anything we do, our door is usually open and the emails on the “Contact Us” tab on our website are one of our main sources of communication.

This is all simple enough. One of the things new volunteers often state is that they did not realize that it was a possibility or that they were too intimidated by the prospect to write for a publication with a campus-wide reach. We have addressed the first one, but the second one is a bit more complicated.

While nerves and writing with the intent for a large number of people to read it takes time and experience, I am still working on that and some related perfectionist crises myself, one of the more immediate aids is to provide a bit of background of the type of people who you would likely be talking to. You do not need to know any of this, but it may make you more comfortable than receiving answers from a faceless media organization.

The office has a plastic horse with written characters like &, # and ? on it and wears glasses. It tends to wear a rubber dinosaur puppet as a mask, and sits next to a mini Zen garden. There is also a suspiciously high amount of winter holiday memorabilia, and a picture of a hairy-nosed wombat one our former editors adopted for a month over four years ago.

Our “Editors of McMaster’s student newspaper” plaque took around five years to be updated because the experience of being the Editor-in-Chief is considered to be far more important than the recognition. However, it had to be done recently because it would have been odd to update multiple rows at once.

The paper is known for having the most consistently degenerate staff at the yearly Canadian University Press’ conference. We do not have a journalism school, we bring as many staff members as possible and tend to overwhelm due to sheer numbers alone. It also used to be known as the best university publication in the country a few decades ago.

Given that the office has no windows or sunlight and has questionable air ventilation, staff members tend to become neurotic and loopy after a point. This tends to happen if production night, the night before the paper is placed on stands, goes past 8 p.m. Previous Editors-in-Chief attempted to get staff to go for breaks and walks to help out, but often received resistance because interrupting creative work is hard for people.

The Silhouette was also the last university paper in the country to move away from broadsheet size to tabloid, about half the size, and that only happened this decade. Part of that was a sense of pride to stick it to other papers that wimped out and switched earlier. The other part was that working until 3 a.m. in the morning to get the paper out by that afternoon was, apparently, enjoyable enough to keep doing it with staff, colleagues and friends.

There is a constant obsession with karaoke. In particular, anything our in-house DJ plays during the “80s Power Hour” slot, The Killers and most songs that could spur an existentialist crisis are popular choices.

In short, whomever you may want to talk to about contributing, advice or feedback is probably odd in their own way and far less intimidating than your typical TA or professor.

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By: Sunanna Bhasin

I remember scrolling through endless lists of summer jobs last year trying to find something worth my time. I had specific criteria to fill when looking at potential job, the biggest one being a job that actually offered to pay me. Students want experience, yes, but most of us would like to pay off our student loans or help our parents out. Some of us would even like to save for post-graduation. So when I see unpaid internships plaguing job listings when I have bills to pay, just like any other working adult, I can’t help but clench my fists at the blatant disregard for the hardworking, often loan-bearing post-secondary students.

Unpaid internships are a means of manipulating post-secondary students into doing free labour. Students are told that they need real-life work experience to get anywhere after graduation, and so they feel compelled to take whatever they can get. However, there are students who are struggling to pay their tuition and still require that important experience. Should they be expected to compromise and work for free? Companies who leech off unpaid internships are well aware that students will likely work without complaint because they are looking for reference letters and likely hope to receive a full-time job offer at the end. Companies may also exploit their interns by giving them gruelling tasks that may not provide them with the skillset they’re looking for, or set ridiculous hours for students who are often not in a position to reject them.

Economically speaking, it makes little sense that companies would want to have students work for free. Efficiency wage theory states that firms that pay efficiency wages, or wages that are higher than the market equilibrium or average, do so in order to avoid shirking on the job, reduce turnover, and attract productive employees. There is the possibility that students won’t neglect their job because they are looking for other rewards, such as the aforementioned reference letter (so that they can get a paid job in the future). However, the third point about attracting productive employees is out the window. Just as I scroll past unpaid internships, I’m sure there are many others who refuse to work for free. These are students who would potentially make very valuable employees.

The unpaid internship is a loophole in Canada’s labour laws. The minimum wage laws do not cover every single type of employment, and internships happen to be one of them. This needs to change. If a company is making profit, it has no right to ‘hire’ individuals to work for them without pay. Using the label “volunteer position” in place of “unpaid internship” does not suddenly make the practice okay. Volunteer positions should exist only at non-profit organizations because they don’t have a means to pay all employees. It is ridiculous to be able to take advantage of students who need experience in a certain field but also bear the burden of debt on their shoulders. Students should be able to obtain valuable work experience while at the same time making money to put towards continuing education or to pay off existing bills.

Ultimately, the unpaid internship is a means of exploiting students by perpetuating the notion that experience should be their primary concern and that everything else should be secondary, when in fact, students have real financial worries that need to be addressed while they are still in school, rather than later in life, when they are knee-deep in debt.

Krista Kruja couldn’t be happier doing what she’s doing.

Having just finished her second year at McMaster, Krista is now focused on continuing the work that began in earnest last summer, when student Jonathan Valencia and volunteer coordinator Randy Kay first started the Hamilton Street Tree Project.

One of the main summer initiatives of McMaster’s Ontario Public Interest Research Group (OPIRG), the project’s primary objective is to inform local neighbourhoods about the Street Tree Program that has been funded by the city since 2004.

“The way that the city is doing this is by offering free trees on the city line – most people’s front lawn, or at least a portion of it, belong to the city,” Krista explained. “Anywhere that’s city property, [residents] are allowed to request a tree, and so the city will plant it, and it’s the city’s job to maintain it.”

As the project coordinator, Krista’s role has been to oversee efforts in going door-to-door and canvassing specific neighbourhoods in order to inform the public. Launched in part due to a 2011 Clean Air Hamilton study, OPIRG has focused on lower-income neighbourhoods that were measured to have the poorest air quality in the city.

Hamilton’s Keith neighbourhood, the focus of last summer’s pilot project, received an average of three tree requests per year prior to OPIRG’s efforts. After last year’s canvassing and door-to-door efforts, 65 new trees were planted.

This year, the focus has been on the Crown Point neighbourhood, which is located between Gage and Kenilworth. According to Krista, they’ve received nearly 70 requests for new trees so far, and are hoping to reach 80 by the end.

By expanding the urban canopy, OPIRG hopes to have a real effect on the air quality of these areas. But that’s not all they’re interested in doing with the program, Krista explained.

“Another sub goal [for the project] is community building – last year, it was just one student who went door-to-door and got lots of tree requests. This year we’ve been trying to get volunteers from McMaster, as well as the Crown Point community and Hamilton in general.”

Krista says that this summer, they’ve had more than 10 volunteers, some of whom aren’t even affiliated with OPIRG.

“For example… one of the co-presidents of Engineers Without Borders came out to volunteer, and she got in touch with the community developer for the Crown Point neighbourhood. She wants to work [with the developer] for some events in the school year,” Krista said with an enthusiastic smile. “It’s a nice partnership.”

Although it will be years before the trees have any noticeable effect on the air quality in these neighbourhoods, Krista’s enthusiasm for the project couldn’t be dampened.

“Sure, you don’t necessarily see the fruits of your labour in that air quality probably hasn’t changed much in the Keith neighbourhood from last year to this year, but you see the little trees, and you know that they’re going to get bigger, and in a couple of decades, it’s something you’ll definitely be able to see,” she said.

“Walking through that neighbourhood, maybe 20 or 30 years from now, I’ll be like: Oh, look at that! That’s something I was involved with,” she laughed.

Krista continued, “I think one of the greatest things about it is that it’s just such a big effort on behalf of everyone: McMaster’s done a lot, OPIRG’s done a lot, and Environment Hamilton has been really involved… Without everybody trying to help improve the neighbourhood, it wouldn’t have been possible, so I think it’s really exciting.”

With the project winding down in the first week of July, Krista expressed that she’s very interested in continuing the project during the school year.

“We were thinking of ways we can expand the Street Tree Project so it’s not just for the summer,” she said. “While I’m only working on it for nine weeks, I’m really enjoying it and I think it’s a really valuable thing.”

“I’d love to volunteer and work on it during the school year as well… to whatever capacity I can.”

This article is focused on four soup kitchens in downtown Hamilton. Each is distinct but collectively they share quite a few commonalities. These four are: Living Rock, MAC SOC (Student Outreach Collaborative), Salvation Army Soup Truck, and a joint venture between Love for the Streets and Compassion Ministries.

The Living Rock is one of the few outreach services that focuses on supporting ‘at-risk’ street youth and young adults. MAC SOC is run largely by nursing students who care for the nutritional and physical health of vulnerable populations. Salvation Army Soup Truck is the only soup kitchen in Hamilton that is mobile. Lastly, Love for the Streets and Compassion Ministries aim to feed both body and soul.

All of these groups with the possible exception of the Salvation Army Soup Truck receive many university students. Love for the Streets is comprised entirely of McMaster and University of Guelph students. MAC SOC is largely nursing students from McMaster. And Living Rock is a hodgepodge of students from Redeemer, McMaster, and Mohawk.

If a student gets involved any time between the middle and end of a month when government assistance cheques begin to run out, they will quickly learn that these services can get quite busy. As these services get busier, food portions become smaller and tables fill up. Those involved in the Love for the Streets and the Salvation Army Soup Truck will notice it all the more acutely as people often line up toe-to-heel for a half a block.

Clearly there seems to be a tremendous need for soup kitchens in this downtown neighbourhood. In addition, all four soup kitchens operate on a single night. Therefore, not only is an individual soup kitchen filling up mid-way through the month, but all four are filling up on that same night between 7 p.m. and 10 p.m. If the need does not yet sound great, they are all located within a one block radius in downtown Hamilton.

Here is where it gets a little bit more complicated. These four soup kitchens all operate on Wednesday evenings. On Tuesday’s and Thursday’s Living Rock and the Salvation Army Soup Truck are operational, but for the majority of the week it is only the Salvation Army Soup Truck.

What is happening here? Why not evenly space them out over the course of a week? Are we poorly stewarding food, financial, and human resources by operating like this? Could it be that because all four soup kitchens are busy on Wednesday nights there should be four soup kitchens open every night of the week as well? Is there another theory or explanation behind what is happening in this small area?

Many people get involved with soup kitchens to help vulnerable populations but some of these questions ponder whether such help could be more harm than good.

While this may sound like it discourages participation, its goal is quite the opposite. Its goal is to help students participate in the wider discussions surrounding the context of their experience. Through understanding the broader context they may be better equipped to meet the intended goal behind their involvement.

This is reminiscent of the teacher who tries his/her best to develop a strategy for dealing with the child who has difficulty focusing. They utilize every teaching technique they can think of but it still does not solve the problem. Then one day the teacher realizes that the problem has little to do with the classroom but instead a poor breakfast before entering into it. To help the student learn, the teacher was impelled to address a concern outside of the classroom.

Could a similar tale be told of a soup kitchen? What is happening outside of a soup kitchen that can better illuminate what is happening within it? Are there pressing issues which are not being addressed because of a narrow focus on a particular soup kitchen?

These are questions that require conversations. In the words of John Dewey, “Learning is a social activity.” There are many methods by which students can learn but the importance of a conversation cannot be forgotten. Conversations are the means by which students can enter into awareness of the context around them.

Questions fuel conversations. What questions should be asked that will welcome students into a more complete understanding of the broader context around them?
Perhaps in opening up the conversation, we may be able to see more clearly our role within it.

Amit Sikder and Sophia Salem set aside time each week to help out fellow students, but the hours they put in are also an investment in themselves.

Sikder and Salem volunteer in various roles on and off campus. Both are Student Success Leaders (SSLs), assigned by the Success Centre to different units seeking to improve student life.

Salem is a fourth-year English and history major looking to go to teacher’s college. She started working as an SSL last year and intends to continue with the program when she returns for a fifth year.

For Salem, the program is a give and take. As with a job, she’s expected to fulfill certain duties, but she’s also able to turn to mentors for advice and attend workshops on public speaking—a skill she says has always come as a challenge.

“One of the things we do at the beginning of the year is goal-setting, and one of mine was to get in front of a group and present,” said Salem.

After a “super awkward and embarrassing” first experience as a presenter, Salem was disappointed but not deterred. She went from presenting in front of one person to speaking to a hundred people when she recently hosted an orientation day.

On the volunteer experience she said, “We’re also doing it for ourselves, and I don’t think that’s being selfish.”

It’s not surprising that students have been making the most of volunteer opportunities to develop their leadership skills.

A recent study sponsored by the Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario confirmed what seems intuitive: that students engaged in supportive programs on campus are likely to develop key skills for school and the workplace.

The study tracked the progress of students in the University of Guelph’s Peer Helpers Program over the course of three years. Researchers compared their progress to those in comparable programs and to students who were not involved, measuring skills like “managing self,” “communicating,” and “mobilizing innovation and change.”

The U of G researchers didn’t find the same skill development in students engaged off-campus and those who weren’t engaged at all.

Sikder, a third-year student who’s been involved on campus and in the community, said volunteering on campus has its unique perks.

His SSL placement is in the Student Wellness Centre, where he’s helped with November’s Stomp Out Stigma campaign and the MacSecret initiative.

“I really enjoy networking with people my own age,” he said. “And when you’re just starting out, you need guidance and mentorship. There are programs on campus designed for people in those situations.”

A biology and psychology student aspiring to work in medicine, Sikder said his volunteer experience is helping him communicate with more confidence.

“I want to be someone [patients] can trust to get help,” he said.

Fortunately, Sikder said, he’s not in a difficult financial position and doesn’t have to take on a part-time job.

Shaimaa Abousidou shares that perspective. A fellow SSL, she studies full-time and commutes from Brampton, which doesn’t leave much time for a job in Hamilton. Thankfully, she said, income isn’t a major issue.

In the career assistance unit, Abousidou reviews students’ resumes and leads professional development workshops.

“I treat it as a job. It’s a very formal process and students respect what you do for them,” she said.

Anna D’Angela, a graduating student who’s been volunteering all four of her years at Mac, echoed this sentiment.

“Maybe it’s just the type of person I am. I don’t see much of a difference between a job or a volunteer position,” she said.

D’Angela started out as a delegate for the Horizons Conference in her first year, and has been involved with the conference since. This past summer, she was a coordinator and was able to see her Horizons experience come full circle.

“A lot of first years need to figure out where they’re going,” said D’Angela. “Getting involved and volunteering showed me what I want to be as a person.”

 

Megan MacLeod, a fourth-year honours health studies and gerontology student, has just finished her third annual Warm Up for Winter clothing drive. The campaign, which she started herself in her second year at Mac, collects and distributes winter clothing for children and adults.

MacLeod was inspired to start this initiative after volunteering and working at the Norman Pinky Lewis Recreation Centre in North Hamilton.

“I saw a need in the community for warm winter clothing,” she said.

“Children were coming to the after school program with inadequate winter clothing … [and] I definitely felt that I could do something to fill that need.”

She certainly did her best. As of the distribution on Oct. 19, she had collected 6000 items, far more than the 3000 last year and 1000 in the program’s first year.

The clothing was stored at MacLeod’s family home in Caistorville, a small town of about 100 people, where a team of her friends and family sorted and packed the thousands of items to be transported to the Hamilton community centre.

And because of her promotional efforts, only 200 items were left over at the end of the day. The network of community organizations and school principals helped bring a record crowd to her distribution day.

The reaction from those people who picked up the clothing was also positive.

“Some people shy away from reactions like [hugging],” she said. “But a lot of people were very appreciative of it, even if they didn’t … say it, you could tell … a burden was just released from them just because they didn’t have to put out hundreds of dollars to clothes.”

MacLeod’s community involvement is not limited to Warm Up for Winter. In fact, this is the third clothing drive she’s organized. The first was a shoe drive for people living in Haiti at the time of the earthquake, for which she sent 4000 pairs of shoes to help with earthquake relief.

She also organized Glitz, Glamour, and Graduation, an initiative that provided grade 8 girls with dresses and beauty services for their graduation ceremonies.

All of her campaigns were clothing drives, but she didn’t plan that.

“I didn’t think about any of them,” she explained. “They were all spur of the moment, and because there was a need.”

She plans to continue this kind of community service in future, and not just with Warm Up for Winter.

After completing her health studies program, as well as a certificate in not-for-profit business offered through the new Social Sciences collaboration with Mohawk College, MacLeod hopes to pursue a Master’s at McMaster and eventually work for an NGO.

“A dream job would be to take what I’m doing right now and turn it into a career … something along those lines, giving back to the community. I would love to eventually do that.”

Even as students have been breaching the barrier of the campus “bubble” in the past few years, many community social issues, both good and bad, remain under the average student’s radar.

The Vital Signs Report, released on Oct. 12 by the Hamilton Community Foundation, sought to shed light on community strengths and challenges through measuring the quality of life in Hamilton across 12 issue areas.

The report created three levels of concern through which community members could evaluate community issues. The Vital Signs Advisory Committee and several members of Hamilton Roundtable compiled the report for Poverty Reduction. Internet and telephone surveys randomly sampled various households across the city.

Across the board, survey responses noted that there was satisfaction with the community’s approach to addressing issues in “arts and culture,” “getting around (transportation)” and “the environment”.

The community was urged to take immediate action towards addressing the “gap between the rich and the poor” and “work-related issues.”

The most staggering and prominent finding in the report indicates the continued increase in number of people working full-time yet still living below the poverty line in Hamilton. The most recent data available, from 2006, shows that 6.7 per cent of Hamilton’s population is in this category. This average is a marked increase from both the Ontario average (5.5 per cent) and the Canadian average (5.8 per cent).

The gap between the rich and the poor, a major focal point for the Occupy movement, has persisted in Hamilton, mirroring larger national trends. In 2009, the poorest 20 per cent of Hamiltonians had 5 per cent of the total income, while the richest 20 per cent accounted for 41 per cent of the total income.

The report takes into account all the neighbourhoods across Hamilton, including the Westdale-Ainsley Wood area.

McMaster students were not specifically identified in the report. However, community engagement has been at the forefront of campus affairs. Community was a major part of McMaster president Patrick Deane’s visioning letter “Forward With Integrity.”

Siobhan Stewart, MSU President, emphasized the variety of ways in which students choose to engage in community affairs, especially through various MSU services and clubs.

“People find their own channel and have their own unique story about what community engagement means to them.”

Stewart also noted that there is increased mindfulness towards including both community and student opinion on Hamilton’s social issues.

Several McMaster professors and employees are actively involved in the Poverty Roundtable and have advocated for university involvement and projects to address social justice issues in Hamilton.

Gary Warner, former Director of the Arts & Science Program, past Chair of the Hamilton Community Foundation and Poverty Roundtable member, reflected on student knowledge of Hamilton’s inequalities.

“I think students are likely not aware of the impact of income disparity related to postal codes in Hamilton, which is reflected, for example, in vastly different life expectancy – 21-year gap – and in test results and gradation rates in Hamilton's secondary schools.”

The McMaster Poverty Initiative (MPI) is the most notable example of the call for collaboration between students, staff and faculty to examine Hamilton’s social justice issues.

Jeff Wingard, MPI Coordinator and a member of the Vital Signs Report team, remarked upon the increase in student awareness and engagement with the community, especially in exploring the community’s booming arts scene.

“[But] I think on the flip side ... there are deep pockets of poverty and real hardship that exist in Hamilton, which I think get a bit lost if you don’t see it [on campus]”

Wingard also spoke about the need for continued research on community inequalities and the equal importance of communicating this research to diverse audiences, including students and the populations being studied.

McMaster has a reputation of being both a research-intensive institution and school with a strong spirit of volunteerism and community engagement, most recently exemplified by events such as Open Streets McMaster and MacServe.

Warner suggested that in keeping with the recommendations made by the Forward With Integrity Community Engagement Task Force, McMaster should strive to assign higher value to community-engaged research.

On September 25 and 26 between 10:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. McMaster’s Student Centre will be center stage for a plethora of organizations from across Hamilton. Nearly 75 vendors will take over the Student Centre atrium in hopes of exposing students to the need for volunteers in the Hamilton community.

This year marks the 8th annual Community Engagement and Volunteer Fair with a record-breaking number of young activists expected to turn out. Spread out over two days, the Volunteer Fair will expose students to a multitude of local agencies, from small grassroots to globally recognized organizations all hoping to team up with students to make a difference in the greater community.

The fair promises to be even larger this year, as the Student Success Centre has recently announced its collaboration with the Faculty of Social Sciences and Experiential Education.

This new partnership will give students access to a wider variety and higher volume of agencies across Hamilton. “The [Student Success Centre] has more relationships and partners in the community,” said Angela Fortino, Employer Relations Officer at the Student Success Centre. “This year the fair is full, plus we have organizations on the waiting list.”

More relationships within the community mean more opportunities for students to find the right volunteer position for them.

Students will not only have the opportunity to interact with big brand organizations such as United Way and Red Cross, but also a more diverse set of niche organizations this year.

“We get agencies that meet a particular need in the community that is pretty unique… You’re able to tap into different aspects of the community,” said Adam Kuhn, Student Success Centre Manager.

And with the Student Success Centre on board, a higher volume of students are expected to take notice and be aware of the event.

“The Student Success Centre has more retail access across campus to reach a higher volume of students,” explained Kuhn.

The Volunteer Fair is essentially a mass-networking project with a dual focus. It gives students a means of networking with volunteer organizations, and it allows local agencies a means of recruiting essential volunteers through a single, two-day event.

Volunteering is one means of expanding your professional Rolodex as a student, simply by means of networking. It’s is also a good way of establishing credibility and rapport, which can potentially act as leverage into a full time position. Students can use volunteer positions to build their resumes, linking their volunteer work to their field of academic study, and potential future occupation.

“[Volunteering] can affirm your career goals and passions or it can challenge your assumptions,” noted Kuhn on the benefits of volunteering.

The Volunteer Fair presents an opportunity for students to connect with a diverse range of local agencies in hopes of finding the right niche regardless of passion, career goal, or area of interest.

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