There are few things more intimidating than heading to university for the first time – especially a school as enormous as the University of Toronto. With thousands of other undergrads, hundreds of students in your classes, and a seemingly endless maze of buildings, U of T can be pretty scary. Luckily, going to such a big school means that there is no shortage of things to do. If you attended Orientation events, or if you are returning to campus, you have probably already noticed how many clubs and organizations we have available to students. During the UTSU Clubs Fair, I went to a number of booths and chatted with students and staff who told me with great enthusiasm all about their various clubs/organizations.
So, without further ado, here are some great ways to get involved on campus – whether you are a first year, an upper year, a grad student, or anything in between.
Model United Nations
Okay, so I admit I have a bit of bias here, as I am a member of the executive for University of Toronto Model United Nations. But I can honestly say that the Model UN organizations at U of T are some of the best in the world. At U of T we have four different organizations that hold conferences in Toronto or send delegates to other conferences.
- University of Toronto Model United Nations (UTMUN) holds a conference in February for high school students that is run entirely by U of T students. (utmun.org)
- North America Model United Nations (NAMUN) also holds a conference, but for other undergraduate students. Typically, the conference is held the weekend after UTMUN and is hosted at Hart House. (namun.org)
- Secondary School Interactive Crisis Simulation (SSICsim) is a conference held for high school students that features only crisis committees. These committees are smaller and more intimate, and feature role-playing, complex and specific issues, and an open-ended style in which the delegates choices always have consequences. (ssicsim.ca/)
- University of Toronto United Nations Society (UTUNSOC) creates a team of delegates to attend university-level conferences nationally and internationally. (utunsoc.org)
Quidditch at U of T
Connor Wynn: The Centaurs are the quidditch team at the University of Toronto. Quidditich, for all you muggles out there, is an awesome sport that was created by JK Rowling in the ‘Harry Potter’ series. In the books it is played on flying broomsticks, but we play by keeping a stick between our legs that we have to keep there the whole game. It’s a high intensity sport that requires a lot of energy. Since it is played in teams where each player has a different role, it also involves a lot of teamwork and communication. It can also be pretty rough sometimes – on occasion there can be tackling!
The U of T Drama Coalition
Ben Murchinson: The Drama Coalition is an advocacy group that was created to help all of the separate drama societies on campus come together. We organize events to essentially facilitate theatre on campus. One of the events we run is the U of T Drama Festival in February. We present and celebrate original theatre created by students, it is adjudicated by a theatre professional, and awards are given out. As well, we run a Drama Coalition Awards. Our executive attends all of the theatre presented by the various societies across U of T over the year, review them, and then puts on a Tony Awards-style ceremony to celebrate them.
Our goal is to ensure that all students at the university know about drama opportunities on campus, whether through Hart House through workshops or the societies themselves. So if you love drama, come to us and we’ll make sure you get involved!
Rhiannon Langford: I’m a representative for HappyU, which is a part of HealthyU and is run by U of T Health & Wellness. Our goal is to make sure that all students are happy, healthy, and safe. HappyU is the mental health component of our squad, so we work on popular projects like exam de-stressors. We also act as a liaison between students and counsellors and other mental health resources since the system at the university can be intimidating. We also give out free stuff, like stress balls!
If you want to join our group, you can apply to be a volunteer for the crew or a work study student. Of course, you don’t have to be part of the crew to enjoy our programming. We do a number of events throughout the year, such as peer health education, mental health chats, yoga, free healthy food, and more.
Hart House Debating Club & Hart House Debates Committee
Mattea Roach: The Hart House Debating Club is the competitive debating organization at U of T. We have meetings on Mondays and Tuesdays where we practice our debating and public speaking skills. Hart House also competes with universities in Canada, the US, and abroad. In the past we’ve sent teams to the World Championships as well as tournaments in Oxford and Cambridge. Anyone can join regardless of their level of experience – we host novice training at the beginning of the year!
Joudy Sarraj: The Debates Committee is a bit different from the club. We organize the Hart House High School Debates Tournament and panel discussion throughout the year with invited speakers such as professors, politicians and academics. These panels are open to students, are about important contemporary topics, and feature Q&A sessions.
Of course, this is only the tip of the iceberg in terms of what U of T has to offer. Head over to https://www.ulife.utoronto.ca/ to look at hundreds of other clubs and organizations – there really is something for everyone!