The Alternative Campus Tour
Sunday, September 9, 20120 Comments
Drew Garvie talks about the Guelph Student Mobilization Committee during the tour
The Alternative Campus Tour occurred on Thursday September 6 at 5pm. It was a valuable opportunity for students and community members to find out about activist friendly resources at the University of Guelph. The tour had 10 stops and its purpose each year, stated by Shabina Lafleur-Gangji, who works at GRCGED and helped organize the tour, is, “highlighting different organizations that work towards social justice and creating a healthier, safer campus experience for people.” Here are all the different organizations where the tour stopped.
Guelph Resource Centre for Gender Empowerment and Diversity (GRCGED)
The tour started off at the Guelph Resource Centre for Gender Empowerment and Diversity in UC 107. 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, access to computers, and access to alternative and traditional menstrual products available for people to buy. GRCGED also provides peer support, referrals, and a private room for students and community members that are in crisis and come to the resource centre in need of help. 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. Working groups starting new campaigns can start at GRCGED or get help from the organization, and the center also organizes a conference each year, with last year’s conference focusing on reproductive justice. Students interested in this group should go to UC 107 and check out a schedule of events being held by GRGCED this year. Email if you are interested if you are interested in getting involved.
The Central Student Association (CSA)
The next stop was at the undergraduate student union on campus: the Central Student Association. There, we heard from Dominica McPherson, about the CSA’s services, and campaigns. Students heard a brief overview of the services the CSA provides, including everything from the Bullring to the Foodbank, and also got to view a board that provided information about the 5 commissioners on the CSA and what their jobs entail. Dominica is the External Affairs Commissioner, and her portfolio focuses a lot on advocacy and campaigns, so she pointed us towards a table that held information about the Aqua Campaign. During the CSA winter election last year, a referendum passed calling for the selling of bottled-water to be banned from campus because water should be a human right and not a commodity. However, there is still bottled-water being sold on campus, and administration and Hospitality Services have not yet respected the results of the vote. Therefore, there is still work to be done on the Campaign and the CSA needs help from volunteers. Dominica also showed students on the tour a table with information about tuition fees. Students were informed about rising tuition fees in Ontario and encouraged to sign and send a letter demanding more accessible education to Education Minister Glenn Murray. Students interested in helping with the Aqua Campaign, or looking to help get students to send letters to Minister Glen Murray should email Dominica at .
The Guelph Student Mobilization Committee (GSMC)
The third stop was in the CSA boardroom where students spoke with two members of the Guelph Student Mobilization Committee. Roisin Lyder and Drew Garvie handed people on the tour flyers that the committee made. They also told the tour that the committee was created by students and community members in Guelph inspired by the Quebec Student Strike opposing a 75% increase in tuition fees over the next 5 years. It was emphasized that the student movement in Quebec resulted in three of the largest protests in Canadian history. We were also told the exciting news that resulted from last Tuesday’s Quebec election. The Charest Liberal Government that proposed the 75% tuition fee increase was defeated, and the Parti Quebecois that got elected, has proposed that it will freeze tuition fees. GSMC also spoke about the situation with Post-Secondary Education in Ontario where students are experiencing the highest tuition fees in the country that are increasing each year. A report was also leaked in the spring by the Ontario Ministry of Training, Colleges, and Universities that calls for an increase in online learning so that students can take 3 of their 5 classes online, standardized testing, and three year degrees with three semesters in a year, that are measures of austerity opposed by GSMC. Alternative funding for free post-secondary education was also addressed. Drew Garvie pointed out that Ontario corporate tax cuts in 2010 amounted to 2.4 billion dollars, and this amount of money could pay for free, fully public education in Ontario. Free, fully funded education would be paid for from a progressive tax system. Those who want more information or to join the Guelph Student Mobilization Committee in order to create awareness and mobilize around education issues in Ontario should email . Also check out them on twitter: https://twitter.com/GSMC2 and facebook: http://www.facebook.com/GuelphStudentMobilizationCommittee .
The Peak is an alternative magazine that has 8 issues each year. It has been around for a long time, and is on its fifty-second volume. The latest issue, that had a launch party on Friday, September 7 and can be picked up at multiple locations on campus, is about the Quebec Student Strike. Next issue from the Peak will be dedicated to Queer Sex, including articles about Queer sex work, and sexuality. Students and community members who are interested in getting involved should email .
The Student Health and Advocacy Centre (SHAC)
Another one of our stops was at SHAC where we got to hear from Synthia Hoy, the volunteer coordinator. Students can get help once a week from a lawyer from the legal aid from SHAC. SHAC is a CSA service that focuses on providing resources, advocacy, and referrals for the following issues: academic, financial, housing/tenancy, human rights, legal, university processes, etc. For general inquires about SHAC contact or email if you would like to become a volunteer.
Guelph Queer Equality (GQE)
The sixth stop was at the Guelph Queer Equality office. GQE provides a safe space for students. Office hours will be posted soon, 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 about resources in the community as well as on campus, including resources 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. Meetings are Tuesdays at 5:30pm. Email if you are interested in getting involved.
Critical Knowledge Collective (CKC)
The tour also stopped to talk with Mina Ramos, a member of the Critical Knowledge Collective. CKC has been around for over 10 years, and has focused on providing events to the Guelph community that are anti-consumerist, anti-capitalist, anti-colonialist, and about social justice issues. The group also helps fund different initiatives and events at Guelph. Last year CKC helped fund GRCGED’s International Women’s Day Brunch. Members in the past have painted the mural by the CSA offices on the second floor of the UC and just last year, CKC organized an event raising issues with Canadian mining in Latin America. CKC will be looking to recruit new members during club days. Email if you are interested.
CFRU 93.3 FM
CFRU is a non-profit campus and community radio station in Guelph located in the University Center. It provides access to the radio to groups that otherwise would not be provided access to main stream media and provides a diverse set of programming with an opportunity for students and community members to have some great experience on the radio. Students and community members can apply to have their shows on the air, and also do behind the scenes work. There are spoken word shows on CFRU about radical politics as well. Check out the schedule: http://www.cfru.ca/show if you are interested in listening, and email the volunteer coordinator, Christopher Curry at if you are interested in volunteering.
The Bike Centre
The Bike Center is a CSA service that provides an opportunity for students and community members to learn how to fix their bikes. It provides a safe space during women’s and Trans nights that occur every Thursday from 5 to 8pm. The tour got to look around the centre and observe the tool shelf, donation bikes, and the office. Students and community members can fix up a bike that has been donated. Those who fix donated bikes get to have them for free. Ashley and Danny at the bike center emphasized that they are always looking for more volunteers, and volunteers can be at any skill set when it comes to fixing bikes. Students should email .
Meghan Boddy, the food bank coordinator met the tour to discuss another CSA service. The foodbank is for undergraduate and graduate students. It is run by two staff members and student volunteers. It provides non-perishable and perishable foods, and 30 items per month per student, and an extra 30 for each dependent a user has. Food bank users are not given hampers and instead can choose from the variety of foods offered there. The food bank also offers beginner cooking classes and budgeting workshops. Meghan pointed out that a reason why food bank use has gone up is because of the lack of summer jobs for students. To access the food bank, all you need to do is have your student card and fill out a simple form. Email if you would like to volunteer or have questions about accessing its services.
The tour was very informative for first year and even upper year students as well as community members. It provided an important alternative to a lot of other events during orientation week that can be heavily focused on school spirit. The tour was done to inform students, and to make sure they know they are not alone on campus when need to access any services. It also provided students with a good range of choices when it comes to campaigns that they could be interested in to make a difference during their university career.