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.