Rage against the campus

 

Dear editor,

You can always tell who the first years are.

Bags packed with all their textbooks. Mouths shining with braces and smiles that will surely fade in a month or two. But if you can’t tell the first-year backpack from the fourth-year backpack, and you aren’t particularly interested in staring at a person until they smile, you could always take a walk from the crowded bus terminal to the Student Centre.

Those BMO people, with their suits and their cards and their clipboards. Only first-years—those poor, naïve, little children whose university experience won’t equate to that fictional image in their minds—have the cluelessness to speak to them.

Me, I walk around with my earmuff headphones on, almost as a threat: “I’m in fourth year. Back off, BMO man—or woman!” It’s not that I needlessly hate their guts or anything. Four years of tuition and overpaying for textbooks I barely use have taught me something: nothing’s free. Not from school, not from BMO, not from anyone. It also taught me to wait a month before buying textbooks from the bookstore, unless you want to make an entire day of it.

That’s not to say I find our campus terrible. I do love the trees, the deer, the library, and the Dyson hand dryers in the washrooms.

But some stuff sucks. I mean, I’d like more study space in November and December. And yeah, waiting in the Timmy’s lineup for 20 minutes just for a bagel is never fun. Personally, I think there should be at least three Timmys readily available for hungry students. It’s not like they wouldn’t make money off us.

And the garden centre, the garden centre! Don’t get me started on the garden centre! You know, that really narrow hallway leading from CCT to the library? Something tells me that isn’t the best place to host a garden-selling escapade. Students walking in single-file, sweating, breathing all over me, tugging on my backpack, pushing me, violating my personal space. Whose bright idea was it to host a garden centre there?

Needless to say, some things irritate me.

Like the construction on a different building every single year. Of course, my last year in the English program takes place the exact same year the North Building will be revamped.

The hopeful first-years make me laugh. The BMO employees and the garden centre make me angry. But what makes me sad? And what’s going to kill those first-years’ optimism?

You know how music blares during that first week or two? Outside the pub. It’s cool, it’s hip, and it’s a nice place to be (for two weeks). But that’s nothing more than a diversion from the truth. They make UTM seem like this rollercoaster ride of parties and breakdancing outside of the Student Centre.

What’s there to do on campus, you may ask? Well, you can join the debate club, or the students’ union. Or write for that beautiful school newspaper of ours.

But what is there, really?

There’s nothing sadder for me than hearing students from the downtown campus talk about the latest party they’ve been to. I’m not saying there aren’t any parties on campus. I just haven’t been invited. And sure, there are pub nights at the Blind Duck, but those tickets sell out fast considering the maximum capacity is about a hundred people.

Speaking of the pub, what kind of restaurant and bar—yes, a bar that serves actual alcohol, and lots of it—closes at eight Mondays through Thursdays? Well, it’s not that bad. I mean, it’s probably open to midnight or something on Fridays, right? Wrong. The Blind Duck, that beautiful student sanctuary where I can forget about midterms and essays and have a nice, cold beer, closes at four in the afternoon on Fridays.

Campus doesn’t have to be this way. It can be fun. We students just need a place to go besides the library and Starbucks. Maybe I’m antisocial. No, I’m definitely antisocial. I just can’t help but wonder whether it’s my fault, or whether campus doesn’t present enough viable options to have some good, old-fashioned fun.

Sami Karaman

Fourth-year, English

  • Phillip Niedzielski

    First of all, while those break dancers often get asked by people to dance bring in a crowd, the reason they get asked is because they are indeed pretty dope.
    Secondly, I think UTM Breakers and yourself and many others would agree that what we need, in the least, is a half bar/half cafe to be open at the student centre 24/7 with a sign that says No Gamers Allowed. I was thinking it can be called Occupy UTM, and it should be run by anyone but UTMSU.

    • Liem Tran

      What up Phil. Thanks for the UTM Breakers shout out. :D
      Just wanted to say, the Gamer club, they’re pretty cool too. Don’t hate, appreciate. As Sami says, we all need something to do. I actually respect the EGO [erindale gaming organization… or something] quite a bit since they’re not just video games. They have to deal with their own stigma. I think it’d be interesting if they were given responsibility to run this half cafe/bar you have in mind.

      As to Sami, UTM breakers is always doing our own thing. We’re just more noticeable during clubs week. You’re always welcomed to join us. Just check the schedule outside the dance studio in the RAWC to see when we’re in. :D

      • Phil

        Ahaha yeah I’m likely to running CoD myself but plz no 8hrWoW marathons without at least 4 breaks to discourse on Deus Ex and the subersive and enlightened culture of this generation that has grown up with Simpsons and the internet.

        • phil

          how do i edit!! stupid grammar, always against me

      • Edward

        Also have huge respect for EGO. They aren’t just a video game driven organization as what most people may think, they have a huge supply of board games you never knew existed.

        Check out Snakes & Lattes and you will be surprised how well games and coffee go together. How great would it be if we could have the same concept at UTM? Little things like these should be what the campus should be working towards, not standing outside Parliament yelling drop fees. Food for thought.

        • Phil

          games and coffee and booze, Plz :D. I think a fridge full of beer sold at a 25 cents above retail sounds good.

  • I got some time, thought I’d respond to your awesome article. It actually sums up the feelings I’ve had throughout my university career here at UTM. You touched on a few important things but what I began to see over the years, wasn’t so much what wasn’t happening on campus (this can in part be attributed to the close proximity of the affluent and “highly respectable” upper class living -whatever this is supposed to mean I’m still trying to figure it out 5 years later- in the area) but what was happening at the administrative level.

    The problem with UTM is it is not an educational institution in the real sense of the word, what it is though is a business. Much of the rhetoric around coming to UTM in the first place is centred around some bullshit ideology that since the degree won’t say UTM and UofT instead that it is worth something (?) thus placing absolutely no value on a UTM degree after all if this wasn’t the case but apart from that, there is virtually no support for students at any level despite the majority of students having one or a few instances with a good professor. There is something wrong about employing a guidance councillor who smells of liquor and gives you basic, simple advice straight from a book you could have grabbed right outside of the office or when there is a line up of students waiting for 2 people at the front when there are 3 more desks unfilled by all those people who feel the need for a lunch break every hour. The office of the registrar is a complete mash up and there is no fixing this unless more pressure is put on…oh wait! I forgot this is UTM, there is NEVER anyone who is accountable for anything. On another note, I totally agree with your BMO statement. For years, I have looked on as this occurs during the first week of school with disgust, how those who ARE accountable can allow such a thing to occur, to occupy one of the most lucrative zones at UTM and allow a credit card company to bribe students with a credit card that they probably wont be able to afford after tuition and books let alone basic living with free products such as bags, pens and even USB’s ( i remember this one year). I’ve approached these sales people on numerous occasions and not one of them has ever had a half decent human approach to any of my questions, it’s all part of the sale- as they say.

    I find it incredibly distressing that none of the real issues are ever dealt with properly by anyone really at UTM from the administrative process down to the structure of the student council. It seems year by year, with the little leeway that the student council reps are given, they allow their pride and ego to steer them away from real things such as parking issues, fees, people cleaning their feet and bodies in the washrooms (even though there is a multimillion dollar fitness facility equipped with private and semi private, clean showers about 5 minute walk from any point on the university campus) and a host of other formalities that seem to never actually be touched on; rather, we have a bunch of people hollering at the beginning of classes on the subjects they are tackling and why they are the best and why they want our vote or handing out their specific cards to students who end up throwing them on the floor or outside of UTM rather then simply explaining why voting for student council initiatives (not groups of people) is vital in changing the culture of UTM and the tackling of specific student issues. So instead of competing at every turn at UTM why not start by working with your fellow student, why run against him when both or the multitude of groups running have really no clear use on the campus if it becomes about ego rather then coming together to help UTM in all aspects of student life- This is something that I will never fully understand about the culture at UTM. This is how to tackle all the things you mentioned in your article.

    UTM is a beautiful campus but as you stated there is only enough deer, tree’s and shady BMO people that can mask all the bullshit until all the holes start to appear. What we actually do need apart from all the other things you listed is accountability, without it, what are any of these things except a bunch of hot air or in other words bullshit; just like those who expel much of the same bullshit- the office of the registrar, the lazy professors who literally have no clue how to teach or to just be real, not the fake, ego driven shit we usually get but real, sincere human beings who actually believe in the study they are teaching and to dispel this reality that UTM is just another feeder school and that it is an institution of high regard and esteem for the intelligent students it produces in solving real world issues not just learning about them for four years, taking our money and so on. Lastly, most people refuse to talk about any of the things you listed or I listed simply because they themselves are a product of “UTM”, cold, locked off, usually found in cliques (which is why many people remark that UTM is structured like a highschool) and so on- in other words, massively brainwashed and incapable of speaking out on things they themselves are responsible for.

    • Phillip Niedzielski

      This is very encouraging. We should hold a little town-hall for like-minded students to discuss our common woes that go beyond DROP FEES and determine what we want done about them.

  • Werdner

    I can agree with this article. I’m not an anti-social person, but the campus offers so little compared to other schools. The homestead and rez parties are average at best and generally consist of the res kids doing stuff together, it’s quite tight-knit.

    At other schools such as McMaster, Laurier, and Western I’ve been able to meet people out and about on party nights and have been welcomed to their parties and made friends, the utm crowds are nothing like that. I’m in my last year though, in a good program, and have made a good number of friends but I’ll be happy to leave this campus.

  • No comment

    I’m sorry, I didn’t realize I was paying tuition to go to school to party??? Yes, I do agree we need more study space and food options, but complaining about “partying space”?
    If you don’t like UTM then go to St. George… easy!!!!