Last Tuesday, UTM participated in a global initiative of giving back by celebrating Giving Tuesday. Organized by the Centre of Student Engagement (CSE), the initiative, titled “#UTMGives,” consisted of several departments and student groups hosting activities, or “giving stations,” across campus to highlight charitable giving.
Giving Tuesday originally started in the U.S. by the United Nations Foundation and the 92nd Street Y, a non-profit cultural and community center, as a response to the rampant materialism of the holiday season. The day is scheduled to be on the Tuesday following Black Friday and Cyber Monday—days which both involve excessive shopping. Giving Tuesday received a positive reception and organizations including Google, Microsoft, and UNICEF both promoted and participated in the movement. Since its inaugural year in 2012, Giving Tuesday has spread to numerous regions across the world including University of Toronto Mississauga.
There were 14 campus partners involved in Giving Tuesday this year. Tabling in the Davis building, Campus Police raised awareness about the facilities offered by Campus Police Services such as their WalkSafe program. A police constable explained how the service is offered at all hours every day and involves WalkSafe escorts who anyone can request to accompany them when walking anywhere on campus. Anyone who stopped by their table also received a pack of mints, a pen, and a pocket pack of facial tissues.
Across from the Campus Police table, the Every Day is Homeless Day Campaign were raising awareness about homeless individuals and collecting clothing for their clothing drive. The Health & Counselling Centre offered a destressing activity that allowed students to make bracelets using a wide assortment of beads.
Another student group tabling in the Davis building was Enactus UTM. Enactus UTM highlighted Freerice—a website on which users can play multiple choice games for free and with every question answered correctly, ten grains of rice are donated through the World Food Programme. They also had a song-guessing game and a ball toss activity. On a different table, students enrolled in the course utmONE: Science of Learning were spotlighting academic integrity and asked passers-by to discern between a plagiarized and original piece of work.
Mariana Villada Rivera, a communications assistant for the Centre of Student Engagement, describes Giving Tuesday as “a time for communities and people to come together, support their favorite causes, and give back to the community and any causes or challenges that are local or global that they want to address.”
When asked how Giving Tuesday arrived on campus, Rivera explains that “in Mississauga, there is a community organization run by volunteers called Mississauga Gives and their mission is to bring Giving Tuesday to our local community.” A contact from Mississauga Gives reached out to her to see “if [UTM] wanted to participate and they also reached out to the Office of Advancement who is the department on campus that oversees fundraising and alumni.” Both the Office of Advancement and the Centre of Student Engagement then decided to work together to organize “a centralized initiative for the campus.” While last year was the first year UTM participated in Giving Tuesday, this year was the first in which campus departments and student groups participated.
Rivera adds that Giving Tuesday was actually a component of a three-part initiative to “give back.” The first component was a “kindness challenge” where students could complete ten random acts of kindness and enter in a draw for $50 gift card to UTM Dining.
The second initiative included various giving events and programs centred on giving back to the UTM community. Rivera says that “all the campus partners participated in one way or another [and] we had very interesting events.” These events included WEN-DO, a women’s self-defence class, the Peel Youth Day, which was “a day for high school youth to come tour the campus, learn about UTM, and how to access post-secondary education,” along with the Language Conversation Circles organized by the International Student Centre, and many other programs.
One event that Rivera highlights is how UTM Athletics asked students to “instead of buying a ticket [to the Varsity Basketball games on November 21st], bring a non-perishable item to donate to the UTM Food Centre.” The third component was the giving stations themselves.
Rivera emphasizes that it is “great to participate again [in the Giving Tuesday campaign] because it is a time to give back to the community” and that especially, “during this time of the year when it is very materialistic, and it is a busy time for students and staff because the holidays are coming up, it’s good to take some time to reflect on what you have and give back to causes or others who are less fortunate than you.”
Other campus partners who were a part of this year’s #UTMGives were the Centre for Student Engagement, the Office of Advancement, the Athletics department, Because I Am A Girl, the International Education Centre, Jack.org UTM, the Lifeline – Blood and Stem Cell Society, the Undergraduate Commerce Society, the UTM Food Centre, and UTMSU.