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What you may have missed last week

Sunday, September 8, 2013

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  • Richard Laviolette singing during event.

    Richard Laviolette singing during event.

Written by Peter Miller

Orientation week is whirlwind with stuff happening all day and every day. The week is filled with events that promote school spirit along with chants from upbeat o-week volunteers. For sure, lots of first years were overwhelmed by all the different events in the o-week guide and simply skimmed the guide over. Thankfully, there were some events that provided something different for first years.

On Wednesday, September 4 at 8 pm the Ontario Public Interest Research Group (OPIRG), and the Guelph Resource Centre for Gender Empowerment and Diversity (GRCGED) hosted the Social and Environmental Justice Cabaret in the Bullring. Alternative campus organizations got to present first year and upper year students with what they have to offer, and introduce a few of acts that happened during the cabaret.

Acts included music from Richard Laviolette, and spoken word poetry from Guelph’s Poetry Slam Team that did a full set. Poetry focused on social justice issues including anti-tar sands, anti-Israeli Apartheid, and anti-war messages. The team was introduced as a poetry group that strives to "create poetry to change the world." Their lyrics often were meant to inspire action against injustice, at one time telling audience members "together, our blood is thicker than oil" to inspire action against the tar sands. 

Representatives from OPIRG, GRCGED, the Guelph Student Mobilization Committee (GSMC), and Guelph Queer Equality (GQE) did a spiel in order to get students involved with these organizations.

Denise Martins gave an introduction about the Guelph Student Mobilization Committee to the audience. GSMC is a coalition on campus that includes CUPE 3913, the Central Student Association, and OPIRG. The group stands for post-secondary education to be fully public, free, and a right. The committee works to mobilize students against tuition fee increases. This year, the committee is also working on mobilizing students against $32 000 000 in cuts to programs that the university administration is saying will happen at this school with the Program Prioritization Process (PPP).  According to their website,  students at Guelph "may see important parts of our community including programs and services chopped entirely. The imminent cuts in the wake of yet another tuition fee increase leads us to ask the question – why are students PAYING MORE but GETTING LESS?"

Sarah Scanlon presented briefly about OPIRG Guelph. The OPIRG on campus has a radical library, accessible washrooms, and working groups on campus for students that are interested in activism. One of the working groups this year is the Guelph Anti-Pipeline Action Group. This action group is focusing on stopping the Line 9 Pipeline from transporting tar-sands bitumen through Ontario. Activists against the pipeline emphasize that tar-sands oil is dirty oil that increases climate change, and that the pipeline will be at major risk of spilling, causing great environmental damage.

Lori Guest spoke about GRCGED. GRCGED is a resource center run collectively for people of all or no genders that provides services and campaigns around social justice issues within a feminist framework. Its services and resources include a library where students can learn about systemic barriers in society today. GRCGED also provides peer support, referrals, and a private room for students and community members that are in crisis. There is a GRGCED collective that runs the space, and also a Women of Colour Collective that meets at GRGCED to provide a safe space for women of colour where they can speak about the problems they face in society today and also make new friends. GRCGED can also provide support for working groups and has a conference every year.

Speakers also introduced GQE. GQE provides a safe space for students, and it is a great space for queer students as well as queer allies to hang out. The office has a resource library with books, videos, and dvds. There are also pay what you can menstrual supplies. Outside the office there is a lot of information resources on campus and in the community including resource for people who identify themselves as queer. GQE holds socials and workshops. Outside the office there is a list of inclusive and gender neutral washrooms on campus and students can also make use of GQE’s button maker.  GQE organizes a drag show each year, and also collaborates with other student organizations for Queer Identities Week. Queer students as well as queer allies are encouraged to get involved.

This week, from September 9 to 14, DisOrientation Week is happening at Guelph and there will be more opportunities for students to go to alternative events on campus. Events include OPIRG’s Radical Campus tour, a workshop on alternative media from CFRU 93.3 fm, and Disorient your Drag, Friday night. 

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