Photo by Kyle West

By: Eden Wondmeneh

Consent education seems to always be an afterthought at McMaster University. The word “consent” is consistently thrown into events, seemingly out of place, with no elaboration, discussion or focus.

During Welcome Week, the word was plastered on posters that appeared at all the major events and was projected in vibrant colours on the big screen prior to the concert.

The way consent education was treated during Welcome Week foreshadowed how the subject would be addressed during the rest of the year: just enough to get a hypothetical participation award in disrupting trends of sexual violence but too little to make a legitimate impact on campus rape culture.

This culture is something that does not go unnoticed by those who are most likely to be targets of sexual violence. A late night food run is never complete without words of caution and offers of someone to walk with. It’s unfortunately not uncommon to walk with your keys in between your fingers.

Once when I was walking home, after parting ways with my group of friends, a male acquaintance yelled back, “Be careful! Campus rape culture is still a thing”.

To him I say, believe me, I know. There is rarely a moment, at a party or anywhere on campus during non-peak hours where my friends or I don’t feel discomfort, or even fear.

Following the news of sexual violence within the McMaster Students Union Maroons, this tension is especially high. Prospective Maroons are hesitant to submit returning applications and attending events run by or affiliated with the MSU is often met with a little more resistance.

The MSU’s response to the allegations and overall toxic campus culture has been dismal.

In the beginning of March, posters commissioned by the Ontario government were hung up in several residence buildings. It reads “If you are watching it happen, you are letting it happen. Consent is everything”.

This was the first attempt I noticed to address the importance of consent in my residence. Although this message is true and important, it being the only form of consent education on residence is frankly pathetic.

McMaster is not treating consent education as a major priority. Any educational materials, workshops or sessions produced or run by the MSU or its services are only accessible to those who actively seek out those learning opportunities. Even campaigns run by the Student Health Education Centre, while important, have limited reach.

Despite their value, consent education needs to reach beyond those populations to those who need it the most.

The issue of consent cannot be addressed on small poster in the basement of a residence building. Misconceptions or being ignorant to consent needing to be mutual, voluntary, informed and continuous directly results in continued sexual violence on campus.

In order to shift toxic campus rape culture, there needs to be open lines of discussion about consent that are inherent to the structure of Welcome Week, life on residence and campus life in general. These discussions need to be backed by action; posters and platitudes are not enough.

The nonchalant backburner approach to consent education fails to create an inclusive and safe community for all students.

 

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Photo from Silhouette Photo Archives

By: Eden Wondmeneh

Faculty representatives and Maroons can shape incoming students’ initial impression of the McMaster University community. They guide us through Welcome Week and are meant to play the role of mentor and role model.

A few days into Welcome Week, new students grow accustomed to the vibrant suits and are well-aware of the colour distinctions of each faculty. Suddenly the suit, which at first glance may appear as a horrendous fashion statement, is at the top of many first-year students’ wish lists.

For some students who hope to mentor and inspire incoming students, becoming a faculty representative during Welcome Week is not feasible.

Even if they do make it through the competitive application process, they are unable to participate due to representative fees that candidates are not made aware of at any point during the application process.

On Jan. 22, a call was released on the DeGroote Commerce Society Facebook page for 2019 business faculty representatives. Applications were due by Feb. 1, with prospective green suits contacted for interviews.

The role requires faculty representatives to attend two training sessions prior to summer break and another session the week prior to Welcome Week. Green suits are also highly encouraged to participate in May at Mac and Shine-o-rama, both orientation events running during the summer break.

Despite the large time commitment and the cost of the $60 green suit itself, students who made it through the application process and ultimately became a green suit, were immensely excited about the experience to come.

This excitement, however, was soured with the introduction of a representative fee of over a hundred dollars that was not advertised at any point during the application process.

The representative fee is a confusing, hidden fee that prospective and new faculty representatives are appalled by. The fee is estimated to be around $120.00, but with the McMaster Students Union funding cuts, new representatives expect this to be a low-ball estimate and have yet to be informed of the final cost.

This cost is said to cover training, food and participation in Welcome Week. This contribution to Welcome Week especially annoys students who never signed up to subsidize part of Welcome Week that as first-year students we already paid a mandatory $120.98 First-Year Orientation levy for.

For business students fees to join clubs specific to their faculty  is not uncommon. Most clubs require students to pay a small fee for registration.

However, in the case of the representative fee that impacts all faculty reps, the fee is substantial, and no one made them aware of the fee prior to joining. With a lack of discussion of financial support, some students  are genuinely happy they didn’t make the cut.

It is simply unfair for students who underwent the incredibly extensive process to become a faculty representative to be cut from the position because of an inability to pay for the high fees.  

The faculty representative fee ensures that those who are willing and chosen to volunteer their time to enrich and support incoming students secure their spot by coughing up money.

If this is the inequitable model the green suits and other faculty society representatives decide to rely on, then they should at least be transparent to their applicants.

 

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By: Graham West

On Feb. 23, Ben Zahra placed silver in the U Sports 76-kilogram wrestling championships, but for Zahra, silver isn’t quite where he wanted to be. Although his performance earned him his fourth Pita Pit Athlete of the Week, the third-year commerce student had aspirations of topping the podium in Calgary.

The second-place finish is the second time Zahra medaled at U Sports, winning bronze last year in a convincing bronze medal match. Even though the tournament just ended, the third-year wrestler is already looking forward to training hard to achieve his goal of finishing first.

“Next year I really want to win U Sport, it’s my big goal,” Zahra said. “I was hoping to do it this year, but I had a really tough competitor from Brock [University] so it didn’t really go as well as I wanted it to, but I’m still ok with a silver. It’s good progression because last year I came third.”

Injuries were something bothering Zahra on his way to capturing silver, making his journey to the podium at the national championships and improve his finish from last year that much more impressive. Battling through the mental and physical limitations of injury made his road to nationals even more difficult.

“This year it was a little different because I was struggling with injuries a little bit, I had a rib injury and a lower back injury that I was dealing with,” Zahra said. “Last year my body felt great, it was really healthy, but this year I had to adjust my practices accordingly because I couldn’t do a lot of stuff everyone else was doing.”

🤼 | RECAP

Ben Zahra bettered his 2018 showing by winning silver, while Connor Quinton claimed bronze at the @usportsca Wrestling Championships in Calgary. #GoMacGo https://t.co/mfaD1TuIHb

— McMaster Marauders (@McMasterSports) February 25, 2019

One of Zahra’s main motivations on the mat is performing well for his team. Even though wrestling is an individual sport, they place as a team based on their combined performances. This plays an important role for when they’re competing, as it increases their support for each other, always being there to cheer each other on and make each other better.

“There’s this team aspect to it where if you win, you contribute to your team's overall total points and then at the end of the tournament, there's a team title for men, women and overall,” Zahra explained. “So when you’re wrestling, it’s in the back of your head and you have a lot of your teammates cheering you on, so you almost do it for them more than yourself.”

“Ultimately, it is an individual sport and you’re wrestling for yourself,” Zahra added. “But it makes the wins that much sweeter when you do it for your team and you help contribute to your team’s score.”

Zahra has been a perennial Pita Pit Athlete of the Week for the Marauder’s after he claimed his fourth title on Feb. 25. Recognizing athletes who have had notable performances every week, Zahra has regularly been named to the spotlight despite being in a sport that does not always get a lot of attention.

“It’s nice to get a free pita out of it, but I don’t really wrestle for that,” Zahra said. “It’s nice to get recognition but it’s not why I do it. I love the sport, it’s something I’ve done my whole life and those little things are nice, but overall I try not to pay too much attention to them.”

Wrestler Ben Zahra and @macwbball guard Sarah Gates are the @PitaPitCanada @mcmasteru Athletes of the Week, after their efforts this past weekend. #GoMacGo

READ ⬇️https://t.co/kThE2cWtX3

— McMaster Marauders (@McMasterSports) February 25, 2019

Zahra knows he does not want his wrestling career to end with university athletics as the star wrestler has his sights set on the Olympics.

“[Club] Nationals this year are in Saskatoon. I’m competing up a weight class which should be good, I’m excited,” Zahra said. “It’s actually the qualifying year for the Olympics… so this year is what gets you on the seating platform for next year’s Olympic trials. It should be a really competitive nationals for us.”

Zahra has been one of McMaster’s best wrestlers during his time here and is well on the path to getting gold at next year’s championships. With possibly a trip to the Olympics in the near future, Zahra will be a name to watch in the Marauders community as he continues to dominate the mat.

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Photo C/O Grant Holt

U Sports Swimming Championships

The McMaster swimming team will be heading to the University of British Columbia for the U Sports Swimming Championships on Thursday, Feb. 21 through Saturday, Feb. 23. After competing at the Ontario University Athletic Championships this past weekend, the women’s team finished with 545 points as a group, beating out Western University for second place for the first time since 2007. A large part of the team’s success is thanks to Isabelle Lei’s silver medal in the 200m individual medley and bronze in the 400m freestyle. Lei also helped win three medals in team relays. On the men’s side, Mitch Muizelaar took home the team’s only gold medal, repeating as OUA champion in the 1500m freestyle. The qualified Marauders will be competing during nationals this weekend.

https://www.instagram.com/p/BtwcNp8Bcrf/?utm_source=ig_share_sheet&igshid=fhlmv9tqo6em

 

U Sports Wrestling Championships

The McMaster wrestling team will be heading to Calgary for the U Sports Wrestling Championships, hosted by the University of Calgary on Feb. 22-23, 2019. The Marauders, who medaled during the OUA championships, will be attending the national competition. On the men’s side, Ameen Aghamirian, who was previously named U Sports Athlete of the Week, was named the OUA's Most Outstanding Male Wrestler, and first-year Trystan Kato took home the men's Rookie of the Year award. While for the women, Ligaya Stinellis and Joelle Vanderslagt each took home a silver medal.

 

OUA Track and Field Championships

The cross-country team will take their talents indoors this reading week for the OUA Track and Field Championships, which will take place at the Toronto Track & Field Centre on Feb. 22-23. The team completed their outdoor season with great success, and have been competing in indoor meets ever since in preparation for these championships. The medalists of the meet will move on to compete at the national level for the U Sports Championships at the University of Manitoba on March 7-9.

 

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If you browsed through social media on Jan. 30, chances are you saw #BellLetsTalk circulating around. Political leaders, celebrities, corporations and even McMaster University shared the hashtag in support of “ending the stigma” around mental illness.

Success and meaning can be found along many paths, but the paths can be rough and winding. | @McMasterSWC #BrighterWorld #BellLetsTalk https://t.co/fzBIjSte6G

— McMaster University (@McMasterU) January 30, 2019

But like #BellLetsTalk, McMaster’s mental health initiatives seem more performative than anything else. While offering “self-care” tips and hour-long therapy dog sessions can help students de-stress and perhaps initiate conversations about mental health, it alone is not sufficient.

This sentiment is shared amongst many other students and has been brought up time after time. It is truly disheartening then that the university seems to do little to meaningfully address students’ concerns.

https://twitter.com/calvinprocyon/status/1090777829510397952

Instead of investing in more counsellors at the Student Wellness Centre or restructuring their support systems on campus, starting Feb.4, McMaster is running Thrive Week. Thrive Week is a week-long initiative aimed to “explore [students’] path to mental health”. The week boasts events including yoga, Zumba and meditation circles.

There is no doubt that engaging in wellness and mindfulness activities, including activities like yoga and Zumba, can help alleviate some of the stresses of university and can positively benefit your mental health.

However, it is in itself not enough to actually help students overcome mental health issues. McMaster acknowledges that most students seem to experience, at least during some point in their undergraduate career, mental health issues. This is telling of a systemic issue. Mental health issues are largely attributable to socioeconomic factors. Financial strain, food insecurity and lack of a responsive administration can all factor into developing mental health issues as a student.

The best way to help students is to address the root of the problem, which often lies within the very structures of the university. Until McMaster addresses these systemic issues, yoga classes and wellness panels will do little to remedy students’ concerns.

Beyond addressing systemic issues, students struggling with mental health issues can’t colour their issues away; they require professional help. It is true that the university offers trained peer-support volunteers at services like the Student Health Education Centre and the Women Gender and Equity Network, but again, this is not enough. The responsibility of students’ mental health should not fall on the shoulders of other students.   

If the university truly cared about their students’ mental health, they would invest in more counsellors and actively work towards ensuring that waiting times at SWC aren’t months on end. They would make systems for receiving academic accommodations more accessible, as they currently require students to provide documentation of diagnosed mental health issues.

Talk is cheap. So are free Zumba classes. While raising awareness and reducing the stigma around mental is important, what students need is real change to ensure there are actual support systems on campus. The university has a responsibility to make that change happen.

 

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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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When I was in first year, I hated Welcome Week.

I’m a naturally small and quiet person who gets easily lost in crowds, so the tradition of thousands of students swarming small fields and screaming at each other is a surefire way to erase me from any and all social activities going on at the same time.

I didn’t get along with the reps in my faculty, was generally neglected by the off-campus reps that were supposed to show me around, and after the week was finished, I could safely say that I made no new friends. My Welcome Week story is not an uncommon one, and I’ve finally pinpointed why: Welcome Week Rep Fatigue Syndrome.

WWRFS is a problem that has hounded our student body for years now, and it’s time we did something to stop it.

Contrary to my horrible Welcome Week experience, come the spring of first year, I still decided to apply, and consequently become, a faculty representative for the next two years of my undergrad. And it was during that fall of 2013 that I experienced WWRFS for the first time.

Representing the faculty of Humanities, I was a “Hummer” (a name my dear former faculty should look into changing for solely innuendo reasons) and I was ready to have a great Welcome Week this time around. But shortly into it, I grew tired. At the time, Welcome Week occurred during regular class schedules, my part-time job at The Sil had just started, and our faculty planners and reps were in the middle of a melodramatic and unnecessary power trip. I was sick and tired, but I put on a smile for first years and tried my best to have a great time.

A few of my housemates were also repping that year for residences and the Society of Off-Campus Students. They had it worse. Even though they enjoyed helping first years, waking up and going to sleep at ungodly hours all while trying to keep up with schoolwork and work-work, their bodies were only allowing them to do so much to get the people going.

Over the course of the week, there were reps around me coughing up a tasty mélange of bodily fluids from the amount of screaming and yelling, and those who weren’t hit with this plague were starting to snap at each other and first years from a lack of sleep and exhaustion.

By closing ceremonies, everyone seemed to have come down with a combination of strep throat and possibly SARS, and we were all excited to hibernate over the weekend before our next round of classes started.

I know way too many people who had comparably bad first-year Welcome Week experiences, and it’s because you can’t expect a group of exhausted over-worked students to put on a week-long spectacle without a few people suffering from the side effects — and more often than not, those people are first years.

With applications for Welcome Week representatives currently circulating across social media, the emphasis seems to be on “first years first,” but we can’t forget to also throw the needs of reps somewhere in there. Welcome Week representatives are not paid to work 12+ hour days, so the least they should get is a relatively healthy experience. Whether this means bringing on board more students to lighten the loads of each rep, or reassessing the number of events that take place during the week, our university and students union should strive to make this an event that all parties can enjoy. First years should be first. But if reps are neglecting their health, no one is going to feel like they’re coming in first.

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By: Crystal Lobo

During the week of March 7, the MSU’s Women and Gender Equity Network hosted International Women’s Week on campus. The week consisted of panels, workshops and showcases among other activities. Topics discussed included feminism, intersectionality, trans and gender politics, and the harsh truths about sexual violence and physical assault.

WGEN wanted to account for different sentiments and accurately represent feminism in planning the week. “We worked with our passions to get people to plan things we felt would be useful, and then plan them in a way that was useful, allowing for the flexibility of different styles in facilitation,” said Hayley Regis, WGEN Coordinator.

WGEN used the week to reach out to largely unheard voices on campus. “One of my goals was to reach out to populations that are hardly accessed by the MSU. We had people come out that I never met or my executive team never met. I think we’ve been having that in our space, as well as having the space being something people are comfortable accessing whether they are heavily involved in services or looking for a place to be and to exist,” said Regis.

International Women’s Week ran as a pilot project last year. This year marked a special milestone for the event since it was the first time that the newly formed WGEN hosted it. Though a new addition to the MSU, WGEN still received support from community partners, professors, speakers and other allies in order to deliver the week’s events to the McMaster audience. The WGEN team faced hurdles in achieving their objectives but their efforts resulted in success.

“I think that the community has been really receptive to having this, which I think has been really awesome,” said Regis.

Noteworthy events of the week included an event for transfolk and non-binary folk to connect over discussion of art, Women in Academia Panel, Club Night, and Yoga conducted by the Brown Girl’s Yoga Collective. Moreover, workshops such as Faith in Feminism, Feminism 1A03 and Feminism 4QQ3 proved to be important platforms in the discussion of the complexities and nuances behind feminism.

“I wouldn’t say there was one event I would rank over the other ones,” said Regis.

“I think that the community has been really receptive to having this, which I think has been really awesome.”

Regis and WGEN are open to feedback from the McMaster student body regarding the event, as well as the service at large. Regis said, “If there’s criticism, I welcome it because I think it will make the service better and stronger in future years. Talk to me about anything. Support the service, because I think even if it’s not a service that caters to you, people need to recognize it as one that’s necessary.”

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By: Dev Shields

I have a hard time digesting the typicalities of “mental health awareness” events. There are hashtags and buttons and stickers. There is yoga, tea, and treats. There is some form of  discussion. The week ends. We are still mentally ill. I will still attend a class for the first time in three weeks and someone will say “why can’t you just come to class?”

MacTalks is a relatively new happening, first set in motion by former VP Education Rodrigo Narro Perez. The first MacTalks week was held last year alongside McMaster’s newly unveiled “Student Mental Health and Wellbeing Strategy.” Unfortunately, the attempt misses some crucial points.

Firstly, mental health awareness weeks tend to cater to “high functioning” depressive or anxiety ridden people, meaning someone who is at least partially able to carry on about your day and fulfill commitments (but doesn’t necessarily mean they are “not as sick”).

There are a couple of immediate issues with this. What about those who are not high functioning? People who can’t even manage to make it out of the house in the morning aren’t going to benefit from an event being held in the atrium.

Accessibility seems to have become something of a buzzword, but it is ironic that the events that are supposed to support accessibility for people with mental health issues and mental illnesses are well... inaccessible! The absence of online forums or streaming services for these events makes them off limits to those who find themselves too sick to leave the confines of their bedroom.

Secondly, what about those who are not dealing with depression or anxiety? Both are serious, debilitating and powerful illnesses. I struggle with them on a daily basis. However, it seems to me that most of the dialogue at events such as MacTalks does not address any other types of mental illness. You are hard pressed to find an abundance of discourse around PTSD, schizophrenia, psychopathy/sociopathy, bipolar disorder, depersonalization disorder or dissociative disorder, to name a few. Leaving out important information on these illnesses is defeating the purpose of having an awareness event in the first place.

This kind of dialogue leads to sanitized discussion. For example, while there is acknowledgement that self-harm exists and is widespread, there is not nearly enough focus on it. We are quick to romanticize people who have “overcome” their self-harm — their story is triumphant, acceptable, palatable — but there is no adequate support while the harming is ongoing. While SHEC will be holding an event about self-injury, the description available on the MSU website seems to imply that there will be no explicit talk of dealing with the actual physical wounds themselves. We know it is going on, so why can’t we be frank about it during a week devoted to mental health? Where are the forums about self-injury? Where are the pamphlets about how to clean wounds and avoid infection? How about support groups? Instead of involving ourselves and becoming aware, like these events promise, we dismiss the things that seem too touchy.

People who can’t even manage to make it out of the house in the morning aren’t going to benefit from an event being held in the atrium.

I think intention is important, and it is valid, but impact is by far more important. Awareness events like MacTalks have left a bad taste in my mouth. Dismissal of large groups of people who identify with being mentally ill or having poor mental health sabotages the idea of an all-encompassing and inclusive event.

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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.

news_telling_our2

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.

news_telling_our3

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.”

news_telling_our4

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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