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Volume 10 Issue 2 September 2010

The Orientation Issue


CONTENTS

VOLUME 10 ISSUE 2 SEPTEMBER 2010

ESSAYS 4

EDITORIALS

Against Checklists SARAH MACDONALD

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Top Twenty Pieces of Laurier Advice MAEVE STRATHY

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Law School Confidential

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Post-Grad Gratification

EMILY RICHTER

ALANNA WALLACE

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To Walk On The Hawk

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The Lasagna Manifesto

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Pep Rally Blues

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Accessibility, Equity and Support ERIN EPP

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Why Protest?

LAURA MCDONALD

DEVON BUTLER

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University as Education TERENCE SCULLY

CARLY LEWIS

PROSE

ANNE T. DONAHUE

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LITERATURE

MARCIE FOSTER

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Letter From Post Secondary

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From A to B

JUDITH ELLEN BRUNTON

HAYLEY SCHMALZ

ART 24

SIBOHAN WATTERS

Front Cover

Boxes and Other Uneasy Things

Back Cover

HAYLEY SCHMALZ

Inside Front

NICK LACHANCE

Beholder VIII

NUNO TEIXEIRA EMMANUEL XERX JAVIER

Inside Back

EMILY KENNEDY


EDITORIAL Editor-in-Chief Morgan Alan morgan.alan@blueprintmagazine.ca

THE ORIENTATION ISSUE

Production Manager Lakyn Barton lakyn.barton@blueprintmagazine.ca

Photography & Art Manager Emily Kennedy emily.kennedy@blueprintmagazine.ca

Editor at Large Devon Butler devon.butler@blueprintmagazine.ca

Promotional Director Sarah Georges sarah.georges@blueprintmagazine.ca

Community Outreach Director Erin Oldynski erin.oldynski@blueprintmagazine.ca

Advertising Director Jonathan Antfleck jonathan.antfleck@blueprintmagazine.ca

Brantford Outreach Director Vacant Application at wlusp.com/volunteer

Interns Vacant

Applications at wlusp.com/volunteer

CONTRIBUTORS Judith Ellen Brunton, Anne T. Donahue, Erin Epp, Marcie Foster, Emmanuel Xerx Javier, Yusuf Kidwai, Nick Lachance, Carly Lewis, Sarah Macdonald, Laura McDonald, Emily Richter, Terence Scully, Maeve Strathy, Nuno Teixeira, Alanna Wallace, Siobhan Watters

ADMINISTRATION President Bryn Ossington General Manager Angela Foster Production/Advertising Angela Taylor Chair of the Board Jordan Hyde Vice Chair Erin Epp Treasurer Tarun Gambhir Director David Goldberg Corporate Secretary Vacant Distribution Manager Kari Singer

CONTACT

It was bound to happen eventually. It has been six years since Blueprint presented an issue on the theme of “School”, the first issue that was to be focused entirely on issues at and affecting Wilfrid Laurier University. Though Blueprint has remained a campus-focused publication by the very nature of its existence, it has not again addressed the academy head-on until this issue. It seems natural – and entirely overdue - for Blueprint to have an issue focused entirely on Orientation Week and the events that surround it. As Laurier welcomes you into its arms by way of grown people in face paint and colour-coordinated costumes, it is my hope that the articles found in this issue can shed light on alternative views of culture, activities and life at our school. As token as it may be for me to spout anti-Orientation Week vitriol and mock those who love the event for what it is, I genuinely have no desire to. I participated in and enjoyed the events of my O-Week, and though they had little affect on the person and student I identify as today, I generally remember the week fondly. However, as an event that so strongly and uncompromisingly presents a certain interpretation of what university life should be and how culture on this campus should function, I don’t believe that O-Week is an unfair target for criticism. Regardless, Orientation Week is your last shot to enjoy life before the spiral of undergrad begins. Whether you participate in spirit games with your colour team, go to conversation cafes or discussion groups, or spend the entire five days in a drunken haze, enjoy it. Morgan Alan Editor-in-Chief

Blueprint Magazine 75 University Ave W Waterloo ON N2L 3C5 p 519.884.0710 x3564 f 519.883.0873 blueprintmagazine.ca Advertise angela@wlusp.com blueprintmagazine.ca/advertise

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COLOPHON Blueprint is the official student magazine of the Wilfrid Laurier University community.

COVER Art by HAYLEY SCHMALZ

Founded in 2002, Blueprint is an editorially independent magazine published by Wilfrid Laurier University Student Publications, Waterloo, a corporation without share capital. WLUSP is governed by its board of directors. Content appearing in Blueprint bears the copyright expressly of their creator(s) and may not be used without written consent. Blueprint reserves the right to re-publish submissions in print or online. Opinions in Blueprint are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Blueprint’s management, Blueprint, WLUSP, WLU or CanWeb Printing Inc. The circulation for a normal issue of Blueprint is 3000. Subscription rates are $20.00 per year for addresses in Canada. Distribution of Blueprint is provided in part by Dino Deliveries.

NEXT ISSUE On the theme of “Secret” On stands October 2nd Submissions due September 24th

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The theme of orientation causes me to think of people coming together, comparing their familiarities and asking each other questions. Academia can be a place of learning, whether in written form or through interacting with others. Piecing these two ideas together, I created an image of an open and unfamiliar environment, where people are converging through new experiences and intellect.


Top Twenty Pieces of Laurier Advice (ACCORDING TO MAEVE STRATHY)

I came. I saw. I conquered. That is not what veritas omnia vincit means, but it is how I feel after over five years at Wilfrid Laurier University. I experienced it all – late nights in the “libe”, running out of money on my OneCard, three years at a student job on campus, getting involved with student groups and services, sitting on boards, writing for a student publication – and somehow I’m managing to come out of it all with a degree. The only thing I didn’t do at Laurier was get involved in WLUSU, which is a fact I am incredibly proud of. Anyway, you could call me a WLU student expert. Or, you couldn’t, and I’ll just call myself that. Whatever you call me, I shall now impart advice that you never asked for:

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The DH (Dining Hall) serves pierogies on Thursdays. I find them to be delicious, but kind of stupidly expensive. Get them, because it’s on your OneCard. You can even ask for a double order, because since when was six enough?

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If you’re not going to work hard in your classes, at least go to the classes. I didn’t go to nearly enough and I wish I had. Those 10% participation marks are stupid to miss out on. Plus, you’re paying for class, so go. Make up the classes I missed for me.

11. If you like sticky floors, cheap drinks, and really good times, go to Phil’s.

If you love to protest and be radical and talk about issues and all that stuff, there is a lot for you to get involved in at Laurier.

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If radical, protesting people easily annoy you, write about it in Blueprint.

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Kitchener-Waterloo is a great place to live, and getting better. It has some amazing restaurants, shops, and some decent malls, too. You’ll likely spend most of your time in Waterloo, but explore Kitchener! It’s a great city; just steer clear of parts of downtown Kitchener at night. It can be scary.

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If you are gay and you were out and proud in high school but are afraid to be out and proud at university, don’t be. People will be totally cool with it - at least the people you’ll want to hang with.

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If you are gay and didn’t come out in high school, go to the Rainbow Centre.

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Utilize the resources that are there for you as a student. I used very few of the available resources, which was stupid because they’re free and helpful. The Writing Centre, the Learning Centre, all that stuff. Why not at least try it out?

Go to professors’ office hours when you can. Introducing yourself, letting them know where you’re at, and asking questions really goes a long way.

10. If you want to have an epic experience, good or bad, go to Club Renaissance.

12. If you like high heels, martinis, and dress codes, go to Caesar’s. 13. If you like students, go to the Turret or Wilf ’s. 14. You may love O-Week. You may hate O-Week. Either way, eventually O-Week is over and you can choose to do whatever you want from then on in. 15. I find that on the whole, people at Laurier are really nice. 16. Get involved with something at some point: sports, an academic club, something in the Diversity Office, something Student Publications-related, even something in WLUSU. It’s good to be involved. 17. Don’t stress too much about getting housing for second year. There’s a lot of student housing in Waterloo. If you can get something in January, go ahead, but things will pop up eventually. 18. Don’t make second year living plans too quickly. You may not like your prospective roommates by December. 19. If you feel like you royally fucked up a course, don’t panic. I did that a bunch of times, but managed to find my way out. Everybody messes up in university at least once; just learn from it and move on. 20. Most of all: be safe. In sex, in drinking, in partying, in doing whatever you do. Just be safe!

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“Come O-Week, I was hit with the harsh reality that I didn’t do or want the typical experiences everyone else had.

Against Checklists SARAH MACDONALD

I hated Laurier the moment I set foot on campus. It was too small, modern and ugly and I couldn’t be bothered to socialize amongst sorority and fraternity kids because I thought that was all this place was made up of. It was populated with over tanned girls carrying oversized Aritzia brand TNA bags, pashminas, UGGs, and they outnumbered the guys approximately seven to one. That was about four years ago. As a jaded seventeen yearold who had recently trimmed out the familiarity of high school, be it academics or friends, I was expecting something more than what I was presented with. I was expecting the trivial, juvenile antics that would come with supposed independence but to that end something else was missing; it suddenly seemed like I made a mistake. I had the opportunity of a scholarship at Carleton and the prospect of being a journalist right out of the gate; I picked Laurier so my finances would be less cumbersome. To be fair, my first impressions of Laurier came from my sister and the first day of O-Week. My sister, who was in her last year as I entered my first, was in a sorority and mingled about in clubs. She was always moving to her own beat, which

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I had assumed was aligned and meshed with the beat of Laurier. I have never been a club person. This school is incredibly volunteer-focused and I am, at times, mostly selfish. But her experience, give or take, was what I assumed I should have when I went to school there. Add in the barriers associated with living off-campus, and from there I could mould my typical university experience. Except, come O-Week, I was hit with the harsh reality that I didn’t do or want the typical experiences everyone else had. I didn’t cheer or live on residence or want to sneak booze with a bunch of people I didn’t know. But, as outlined in our issue of The Cord for surviving university life, these were some of the things that one should check off their list. It took me two painful years to finally find my niche in this school. Academically, I was floundering when I had expected to be a superstar. My social circle was limited to the people I met in class or the few who didn’t live on residence as well; even then, the people you meet in class aren’t always expected to be lifelong companions. I, however, lucked out. A few classes into Sociology 101 with Dr. Luccisano in BA102, I found the first person to change my opinion of Laurier, the


I didn’t cheer or live in residence or want to sneak booze with a bunch of people I didn’t know.”

I sat down, saw a girl wearing a Strokes t-shirt and said how awesome it was. She commented on my owl necklace and I so boldly made my first great friend at school. To this day, we’re still pretty awesome friends. I’ll skip to the end: fourth year. The last two years of university suddenly became hyper important to me. I participated in class, obtained higher and more awesome grades, and developed a circle of friends that I have come to adore. I threw myself into a Laurier world that I hadn’t even thought existed. My studies during the day became my focus; my nights out with newly developed and different crews were what I looked forward to most. In the end, I don’t suppose I truly hated Laurier because if it were that unbearable, I would have left. The institution wasn’t the problem. I began to dislike the way in which your university experiences were lined up for you, ready to be chosen, and checked off some list. I threw out the lists the Cord put out in the features section, knowing that the ninety-nine things one should do in university (including sleeping with a TA) were not the things I wanted to do. My advice to my seventeen year-old self, and any other

self that isn’t me, is that this place holds so many wonders, more than one could ever imagine. I graduated in June, and am probably a little nostalgic for the past four years that ultimately became a blip on my radar from how fast they went by. Regretting the idle time I spent the first two years is futile, but reflecting on how one sees a fulfilled experience in university versus one that isn’t is more productive. To follow the checklist isn’t a crime and the choice to tick off the things which appear on that list to make what you want your university life to be like is cool too. To not follow the features section is perfectly valid as well. I want to tell you that I still harbour a disdain toward people who roll out of bed only to gussy themselves up for class to just look like they rolled out that way, but I don’t. In the end, the things I saw, laughed at, performed for or did is what made the impact. But here is to you, first year someone picking up this marvellous publication: follow the checklist or not, this school is amazing and, not to sound too much like a mushy alumnae, will hold some of the greatest memories of your life.

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Edinburgh is Over CARLY LEWIS

Law School Confidential EMILY RICHTER

One of the greatest things about moving on to university is the ability to specialize in a program which corresponds to our interests and skills, and thus never again having to worry about the stuff from high school that we just plain sucked at. We all had our Achilles’ heels, whether it was finding symbolism in Shakespeare, solving calculus problems, dissecting fetal pigs, or conjugating French verbs. I must confess that, like millions of other teens, I was never a fan of gym. I was far too uninterested in sports and lacking in competitive drive to stand much of a chance against my school’s prize athletes, who treated every game of floor hockey like an Olympic match and would flip their shit whenever those of us who were just there to coast to an easy A zoned out far enough to miss a pass. The second I finished grade nine gym, my first thought was, “Now to never play another team sport again, unless it’s drunken bowling.” I finished my undergraduate studies this year and will be attending law school in the fall. My law school-to-be has a reputation for hosting incredible orientations, so I checked my mailbox with glee every day over the summer, anticipating the arrival of my orientation week package. My enthusiasm only heightened when my best friend, who is bound for med school, informed me that her orientation was basically a full week of drinking and clubbing. But the moment the schedule was in my hands, my face could not have fallen faster. All of the events sounded like they were straight out of high school gym – touch football, capture the flag, foot races,

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and even the dreaded dodge ball. Where was the alcoholfuelled revelry? I didn’t suffer through the hell that was the law school application process for an orientation week that sounds like it was planned by a church summer camp. To make things even worse, it all culminates in a prom. They should’ve just renamed it “Relive Your Awkward Adolescent Experiences Week”, except that they somehow found a way to make it even more awkward - not only will you won’t even know anyone yet , but many of the events are being attended by faculty and representatives of law firms. Every time you fumble the ball, you aren’t just humiliating yourself in front of the cool kids – you’re humiliating yourself in front of your future boss. Minutes after I had finished skimming the package, I received a text message from the one girl I know from undergrad who is also attending this law school. It simply read “Oh for the love of God! I am not buying a prom dress again.” There was a brief pause before she sent a follow-up: “At least it sounds like we’ll have one night of drunken bowling.” Maybe I wasn’t the only one who took that vow at the end of grade nine gym. If I can impart one moral from my experience, it’s that you should enjoy the diverse opportunities afforded by your undergraduate orientation week. There are activities for everyone, whether you’re into sports, film, social justice, partying, or all of the above. Enjoy it now, because you never know when you’ll be forced to buy that second prom dress.


Accessibility, Equity, and Support ERIN EPP

I had always prided myself on being adaptable. Moving around a lot as a kid was certainly hard at times, but I always found myself succeeding fairly quickly after a brief period of transition; I made friends, got good grades, and found my place in a new environment. The truth is, I’m not adaptable. I’m just privileged. I speak English without an accent - well, with a Southern Ontario accent - and although I’ve lived places where that’s not the native tongue, you can get by most places in the world with it. I’m white, and therefore I usually get treated with respect. I’m educated and relatively articulate, which gives me the ability to navigate systems almost intuitively, and easily make friends who are similarly cultured. I have friends and family to go to when I have problems or need favours. I have a computer, watch television, and read the newspaper. I understand pop culture and pop culture references. I have a good sense of what’s going on around me, and am able to talk to people about it. Since the dominant culture here is my culture, I didn’t have a problem orienting myself when I moved to KitchenerWaterloo. All of these factors - language, culture, skin colour, income level - made it easy for me to navigate most social systems and adapt to new situations. Because these situations are socially constructed, it’s easy for people like me to fit right in. But I wonder - how easy is it for newcomers in our city to

adapt when they don’t speak English, they come from a different culture, or they live on low income? It’s certainly not easy to navigate a new place for someone who isn’t familiar with social systems and doesn’t have access to an extensive social network. If you’re a new student at Laurier looking for alternative support systems, there are options for you. There’s the Diversity & Equity Office, which has the Women’s Centre, Rainbow Centre, Chaplain’s Office and Association of Black Students. There’s the Laurier Students’ Public Interest Research Group, which has a variety of working groups devoted to social and environmental justice. There’s the Accessible Learning Centre which helps students with disabilities get the support they need to participate in academic life. There’s also Counseling and Health Services at Laurier that you can go to. And if support isn’t available for what you’re going through, we’ll find a way to make it. We need to construct welcoming campuses and cities that are first and foremost, inclusive and accessible. We need to build a social infrastructure that supports people who are less privileged and have less access to networks and resources, so that they can navigate systems with ease. We can start building this social infrastructure by putting supports in place for students on campus. Together, we can make Laurier a model of accessibility and equitable support. Going Old School YUSUF KIDWAI

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Post-Grad Gratification ALANNA WALLACE

There’s nothing wrong with using others as your motivation to succeed. As I continue trudging through the second decade of my life, I realize that these individuals often come in the form of lackadaisical peers who doddle through their early twenties in a nostalgic effort to relive their former glory. At a recent gathering of my high school peers, Mike’s Hard Lemonade in hand à la 2004, I observed what I saw as a former life of mine, and it was a life I barely recognized. Numerous friends had moved back home, completed their degrees, or had their applications rejected for post-graduate studies. “Are you done?” someone asked me. I assumed he meant my degree, but considering the circumstances, I felt like most people in the room were “done” trying to grow up – exemplified by the two girls in the corner playing keep-up with a balloon. Every sign pointed to resentment towards the fact that I had moved on, traveled, grown up, found a fulfilling full-time job and refused to drive back to my hometown every weekend to go bowling. I came to the stark realization that those surrounding me were all the motivation I needed to succeed in my twenties. Building yourself and identifying yourself is a trial and error process, and sometimes to discover who you are you need to discover what you are not. Examining your peers is simply another way of differentiating who you do and do not want to be, and orienting yourself away from what you observe as negative qualities in others. Sometimes, all one needs is a force that propels them forward towards their goals. Now that my parents were no longer hovering over my high school grades - I silently wondered if those around me printed out their transcripts for theirs - I had found all the accelerant I needed for my own success. I didn’t want to be stuck in their ruts, and their distain for

my workaholic nature and my often nomadic lifestyle only made me more intent on succeeding at work and in my personal life. I wasn’t sorry that I had moved on, and I was even less sorry that they didn’t act like they approved. Finding confidence and drive in your early adulthood is no easy task. Our twenties are a platform for adulthood and in many ways the few years we spend figuring out our path in life occur during the most tumultuous years of our existence. In an August article in the New York Times it was reported that nearly half of those in their twenties move back in with their parents, one-third move residence every year, and throughout the decade of their twenties the average individual holds seven jobs. With all the confusion and never-ending transitioning of life in our early twenties, it’s no wonder some people get left behind. Those who get stuck in their ruts are all the motivation you need to keep your spirits high and your adrenaline running, if you can find a positive way to examine your relationship with these individuals and move beyond their monotony. Employ any method you can to push yourself towards your goals. It’s unfortunate that sometimes, in order to achieve a mandate you’ve set for yourself, you have to distance yourself from people that once were your friends. But the dead weight of nostalgic hangers-on won’t help you succeed in life; it’ll only drag you down. I do sometimes lament the loss of the friendships my high school years left behind. However, the drama-filled exposés left only a couple of true friends standing strong among a crowd of forgettable, unreliable and negligent friends. However, keep a handful of them – the ones that inspire you. The rest can fall by the wayside as a constant reminder to orient yourself towards your goals and a brighter future.

“Every sign pointed to resentment towards the fact that I had moved on, traveled, grown up, found a fulfilling full-time job and refused to drive back to my hometown every weekend to go bowling.”

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Florence CARLY LEWIS

Why Protest? LAURA MCDONALD

I’m having yet another bout of panicky frustration at the fact that no one is really doing anything about the whole we’re-destroying-the-planet-and-we’re-all-going-to-die-butless-privileged-people-first thing. Mostly I get frustrated that almost no one seems to care at all – and that the people who do care get vilified and punished for it. For trying to save the planet and everyone’s lives. So I wrote this. People ask me why I bother protesting, since it doesn’t really seem to be accomplishing much lately. My answer is generally something along the lines of “because I can’t not do something”, but I can’t ever really answer the question, because the question is flawed. The question “why do you bother?” implies that protesting is not effective. Protesting is very effective, when enough people do it. It is the reason we have every single right and freedom and luxury that we have today; people fought for these, and won. The problem is not what tactics we use at any given time; it is that so many people aren’t using any.

The reason that corporations continue to get away with destroying the planet (and people) and that governments aren’t doing a damn thing about it, is that not enough people have stood up and told them to stop. On the rare occasion that this does happen, it works. Really well. If everyone who wanted the planet to continue being livable (and/or for injustices to end) actually tried to do something about it – whether by marching or demonstrating, writing a letter, taking public transportation, eating local and organic food, refusing to buy from destructive companies, refusing to work for destructive companies, or refusing to vote for someone who won’t do anything (or who’ll make things worse) – whatever you are able to do – we might actually be able to save ourselves from the absolutely suicidal path we are on. So instead of asking me why I bother, try asking yourself why you don’t - because you not doing something is the reason we’re not more successful.

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To Walk on the Hawk DEVON BUTLER

One of the most pivotal moments in life is the realization that you can actually have a say in the way it plays out. Up until that blessed eighteenth birthday we are children; constantly being told what to wear, when to be home and what we should do with our lives. While we may resent our parent’s over-protectiveness and endlessly struggle to bask in the glory our own independence, it is that little direction which often keeps us sane. There are very few rules to living on your own for the first time. There is nobody to tell you to put a sweater on when it’s cold or to nag you about completing schoolwork; and for the first few weeks it seems like ideal living. However, it’s not just the reality of the ‘real world’ that can trigger stress. For me,

viewed university as a clean slate in which to re-invent myself. It was easy for me to carry resentment towards the ways I was labelled in high school and even to some degree, let that dictate who I would be in university. But to have thousands not knowing who you are can be quite a freeing sensation. It’s a chance to develop your own opinions, ideas, personal style and grow into the person you want to be. While standing out was usually something to be feared in high school, beyond those walls, it’s something to celebrate. While wearing the right labels may have made you less of a target in high school, or more like the girl you’re envious of, it essentially just makes you another myrmidon in a lecture hall.

“Some people want to flirt with pseudo-intellectual lifestyles while other just want to party. For me, university was a promised land of like-minded people and an opportunity to securely accept my own identity.“ entering university was a shock to my moral centre. Being in a relationship during my first year, I was able to remove myself from the feeding frenzy in dorm rooms all over campus. I was unable, however, to continue on with my naivety about people only having sex when they are in love; as it turns out, you don’t even have to like the person. I realize that for both women and men there is pressure to ensure you do not leave high school a virgin. So for the rare few who enter university with their virginity intact, there is even more pressure to give it to somebody, and as quickly as possible. While I’m not recommending you slap on a purity ring, waiting for the right person - and not having a double digit number by midterms - is severely underrated. Naturally, entering university presents this inevitability of change. While some can be negative or just mere experiences, the concept of changing yourself intrigued me. After being constricted in an itchy wool kilt for four years, I exited my catholic high school with a limited style sense, confusion about religion, and horrendous blonde highlights. Through those troublesome years I had been bullied, teased and overlooked. I knew that I longed to shed the label of the misunderstood girl with big dreams, and as cliché as it may be, I

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My first year can be boiled down to this incessant existential crisis. I was ignorant to how sheltered I had been, and in some respects, still am. I never did university the typical way with keg parties, football games or mindlessly following a set of expectations previously laid out for me, yet I still can’t understand who decided this was how university was meant to be experienced. If there is any ounce of worthwhile wisdom I have acquired, it’s that university is a different experience for everybody. Some people want to flirt with pseudo-intellectual lifestyles while others just want to party. For me, it was a promise land of likeminded people and an opportunity to securely accept my own identity. For the first time, I am not just living independently or experiencing things for myself, but I have finally realized I am in control of my own life. Whether I choose to drop out and travel, get involved with extra curricular activities, or sit home on a Saturday night to read Samuel Beckett I can be not only accepted, but appreciated for my ideas, hard work and uniqueness. University is essentially, this; a freedom not just from your parents or their strict rules, but a freedom to choose and a freedom to finally be you.


Stairs YUSUF KIDWAI

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University as Education TERENCE SCULLY, PROFESSOR EMERITUS

Education is something you pick up, day day by day, for just as long as you are alive. Or, perhaps better: Education is whatever understanding and attitudes you are wise enough to absorb, making them a part of your existence, during the relatively short time between your birth and your death. Children, as well as animals, are trained. The training is imposed, whether through instruction, imitation and repetition, or because children anticipate various sorts of punishment for not doing as they’re told. At the age when the ability to reason is developing, a young person begins to learn what the elders place before them as important to know. Then, leaving youth gradually behind, the young adult comes to understand that what is important to learn, what education is about, is nothing less than a fuller insight into the essence of that person himself or herself. Everyone begins life knowing nothing, entirely dependent. The infant, child, teenager is little more than an incredibly complex set of potentialities. Over time everyone comes, rationally, to realize that the most important fact of life is that everyone is an individual. And, despite all the similarities between individual human beings — which various “sciences” treat as all that matters—there are in fact only a few ways to mitigate the solitude of individual human existence. How then, does education help an adult? A good education, as distinct from training, sets out certain means for a person to learn what it is to be human. A baby possesses human potential. Whatever is given it, from a parent or society, amounts to either suffocation or a freeing of what it could become. Throughout the history of humanity, it has slowly discovered that potential is enormous. An adult must continue to learn, now using reason along with every other means, how he or she still shares, like a baby, in human potential. To that end there are a number of ways that a university can help its students. But the various “disciplines” and courses can never do much more than scratch the surface in demonstrating the infinite number of facets of what a person can be and can do. A student is in a course not just to memorize historic dates, rock formations, physiology, inorganic compounds, counterpoint, bacterial etiology and verb forms, but to relate that information to his or her own existence as the only individual in the entire world able to discover and develop more of his or her own personal potential in the years from the present onward. Ideally, an education will present many examples of what human beings are, what they have become and what they have been able to do, over time, up to today. The student should begin to understand more clearly the nature of the world in which he or she lives, and how his life will certainly be influ-

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enced by it. The examples should set out the “good” as well as the “bad” in the world or in humanity, present acts or achievements that are exceptional or entirely mediocre, common among people, or commonly abhorred. Those examples or illustrations, when set out in a formal “education”, present only a remarkable norm, whether high or low. They show only what humans have done and have on occasion become. As such they mark a particular realization of human potential. But every person must alone discover that human potential, because it exists only within the individual alone. The examples will serve as an education only to the extent that the student learns to look closely enough at the substance of the examples to understand what each demonstrates about what he or she can do or be. The lecturer can do that only to a very limited extent. It is up to the student to listen to the case the lecturer presents, to go away, seriously read about the case, and think about how it sheds significant light on the relation

“A student doesn’t ‘receive’ an education: a student is exposed to a chance to discover a little about the enormous potential that is in humanity.” between each human life and the world. The real value of any case presented by a lecturer is drawn out by a student who sees how it applies in any degree, to him or herself as a human being. Reflecting on an example of how human behaviour should foster a student’s understanding of what he or she can be or can do. Furthermore, a student’s classroom presentation, case study or essay is an indication of how well the student has “taken in” the material, has made it his or her “own”. The clarity and soundness of a viewpoint or argument in a student’s coursework is a distinct measure of his or her perception of the value of the case to human life.


Heart Work CARLY LEWIS What university is about is not just teaching and study, but primarily about learning. A student at university has a chance to begin to learn — to perceive — a little of what a human being is and what the student, as a single, solitary human being in the world can be. The student will begin to learn to work alone or cooperatively, looking for reasons and links between ideas. (A wellcultivated memory is an invaluable asset in relating apparently dissimilar things; in that work, Information Technology can be a meretricious detriment.) The student will discover a critical attitude and will learn to make it habitual; by nourishing the skills of reason and logical analysis, he or she will question the reality, or solidity, of things that seem, or are made to appear, to be true. At the same time the student will form a habit of distrusting faith: human history has too often been shaped by simple answers and efforts to capture a person’s belief and to still his or her inquisitiveness. Motives, however innocent, are rarely transparent or pure in any person. But the student will also learn that the process of meticulously careful reasoning has a vital counterpart: imagining and dreaming, carefully tended, may well lead to discoveries. The student should be encouraged always to be open to new ideas, new possibilities, unsuspected relationships between things. Analogy is the vital conduit when human beings learn: the faculty is instinctive in an infant; it should remain vigorous, as an initial impulse, in an adult. Because a person represents only a minuscule sample of humanity, communication is a yearning that is both natural and necessary. Any attempt to bridge the gap between one’s self and other selves comes with more dangers than just about any other human activity. A student begins to learn just how important clarity is in the organization of thoughts and in the use of language. He or she may begin also to see that sympathy, a misty, necessarily imprecise understanding of the other individual, helps bridge the gulf, as does a growing understanding of the risky sense of trust and love. Hopefully, as all this has suggested, a student will nourish the habit of never merely accepting what he or she is told is the truth about any person or thing. Above all, the univer-

sity graduate should have begun to learn to think about the meanings of “good” and “bad”. A philosopher, a steel worker, an advertising executive, a priest or a teacher may each claim to have the ultimate answer about “good” and “bad”. But only the individual, living his or her own individual human life, can look for, and over time gradually refine, an understanding of what those supremely human perceptions of “good” and “bad” really are. A student at university should never think that three or four years spent there result in an education—that upon graduating, he or she has “received” an education—as if it were a possession, to be taken away or to be self-satisfied about, an acquisition as neatly packaged as a prettily beribboned diploma. A student doesn’t “receive” an education: a student is exposed to a chance to discover a little about the enormous potential that is in humanity. The potential is waiting already in all neonatal human life. But much more importantly, it is still waiting in the student. It is a potential within his or her brain, heart, spirit and body, waiting only to be recognized and used, nurtured and developed. Life will offer times of enormous variety of occasions, for an individual to discover and expand that unlimited inner potential. Those times will present both problems and opportunities. Of the problems, the scope is wide: suffering, fatigue, hatred, isolation, mysteries and uncertainties of all sorts. Those will call for courage, curiosity, stamina, self-reliance, empathy and sacrifice. On the other hand, the opportunities that life offers may relate to beauty – in nature, in music and the arts, in a relationship with another person, in simple play – that arouse imagination, sensitivity and profound joy. And that is what the graduating student has the rest of his or her existence to do: to exploit to the fullest the potential of being born a human being. Every moment in life can present an invitation to discover something of the infinite potential that is in an individual’s life. A successful university education will have awakened the graduate to a few of the means to undertake that lifelong adventure.

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Gruel CARLY LEWIS

The Lasagna Manifesto CARLY LEWIS

Two weeks ago, I became a woman. With an apron tied around my waist, clumps of flour wedged beneath my fingernails, and determination as my motive, I stood beside my mother in her most-of-the-time off limits kitchen, mimicking her every move as she constructed a lasagna masterpiece from the dough we started making at the crack of dawn. I come from a very long genealogical line of devout Italian cooks; their recipe books the sacred text that connects our family through the generations. Some families have crests, some have traditions; mine has the gift of being skilled in the kitchen. This gene of domestic talent - the one that set the Ruggi women apart from all of the other women in their southern Italian village, and later their Montreal neighbourhoods, and now, my house - has skipped over me, leaving me utterly useless as a chef while the forefemales of my ancestry live on as folklore for their gnocchi. And so, I assume the role of table setter, dish washer, wine pourer and floor sweeper at

family functions; a secret spot of shame in my life that I have not been able to feel this connection to my heritage. Until now. We rose before the sun to prepare a proper Italian feast with our own hands, my mother doing as she had done for years and myself for the very first time. I burnt my knuckles as I gripped the hot cauldron of boiling water, sweat dripped from my brow as I cranked the stiff, medieval pasta making mechanism that survived the Mussolini years and ended up in our kitchen cupboard, and I nearly sliced my hand off cutting up an entire harvest’s worth of tomatoes. Becoming a woman had little to do with losing my virginity or getting my first period. Neither of those things meant very much to me. It was the lasagna that mattered. It wasn’t until I lifted it out of the oven, slowly, dramatically, and wearing two layers of oven mitts that I could smile upon my culinary success and say, “so this is what womanhood feels like.” Con’t on page 16

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This is not meant to imply that one must learn to cook in order to take on their role as female - that would be as simplistic as believing one becomes an adult on their 18th birthday. These milestones, if you will, these moments in which something changes and does not return to the way it was before, have nothing to do with what we often think they do. I could not feel like a real, self-sufficient, powerful, capable woman until I stood beside my mother who is one and learned the art of cooking. At my high school graduation ceremony, I listened to our principal speak about the significance of walking across the stage and collecting our diplomas. This stage, which would repeatedly be treated as a holy threshold, was nothing more than an elevated platform in our school’s gymnasium that had

“Shaking hands and trading rings are just pleasantries we exchange so that we can later look back on photographs of the moments we think our lives changed. We cannot prepare for the orientations that truly change us, nor do we really change from the moments we expect to be transformed by.” been transformed into a place of importance for the day. Floral arrangements drooped from the basketball nets and the bleachers were put away to make room for the plastic seats our family members sat on as they watched a thousand students dash across the stage, shaking hands with their teachers and posing for pictures. In my case, it was just weeks prior to this that I had negotiated my way out of a suspension from the very principal whose pleasant grin I was now returning as we shook hands. And at the moment, I was stoned. So stoned that I hardly recall crossing the almighty high school threshold that claimed to bring with it respect, maturity, boldness and esteem. All it brought me was the question of whether or not Mr. Jenkins knew my friends and I had smoked pot in the bathroom twenty minutes before we alphabetized ourselves and stood in line to walk the fire of our youth. There was so much pressure placed on the act of walking across that stage, I almost expected some kind of transcendental transformation to cast a spell and make me feel something different. But, like most thresholds, how I felt at the beginning was how I felt at the end - mildly high and pleased with myself for not tripping down the stairs in front of everyone I knew. I didn’t need my high school graduation to bring me into young adulthood.

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I had dabbled in adulthood long before then, even if I did remain juvenile enough to shotgun cans of beer in the bathroom of my high school to commemorate my last time in it. Like all things, youth cannot last forever, and so all who grow out of their young selves must transform through a process of orientation. For some, this is a matter of upgrading from the kids’ table at family holidays, and for others, it is a vicious and demanding era where ideals are compromised and reality is accepted. And it is different for everyone, and that is important. The notion that we all travel through the same rites of passage and enter and exit the same linearly arranged periods of life is exhaustingly rudimentary. I was born in 1986, but doubt very much that the date of my birth holds any relation to the first time I ever felt alive. My birth probably had more to do with my parents than it did with me; I moved from a womb to a bassinet and hardly noticed the difference, while my parents had just stepped into a lifetime of responsibility to their first child. I suppose the first memory that I have of being alive is the same as the first memory I have of ever feeling pain: the time my toes got caught in the vacuum cleaner. At three years old I screamed like it would be my last day on earth as my Grandmother scrambled to unplug the machine I thought was trying to kill me. Fear and pain filled my little life to the brim because at that point, this was the worst thing I had ever experienced. Meaningful orientations cannot be arranged. Shaking hands and trading rings are just pleasantries we exchange so that we can later look back on photographs of the moments we think changed our lives. We cannot prepare for the orientations that truly change us, nor do we really change from the moments we expect to be transformed by. The early days of my university career are a fitting example of this. I, like many other small town kids on the brink of leaving their teenage years, had been on a road trip manifesto kick and read all the Jack Kerouac and Hunter S. Thompson I could get my hands on. I was ready to learn Latin from professors who spoke six languages and wore elbow patches on their tweed jackets, and I yearned for the intellectually stimulating conversations my poet friends and I would have as we walked to class alongside the cobblestone sidewalks and manicured hedges that I imagined a university campus to have. Instead, I moved to Waterloo and went to a school that had spirit days, Tim Horton’s and a dance recital. My neighbours in residence were football players and “Communications” majors and my most thrilling course had Wuthering Heights on the curriculum. I realized very quickly that this was not the scholarly world I had made up in my mind. Surrounded by upper year students who paraded around in tutus and face paint, encouraging the newcomers to befriend each other through water balloon fights and Top 40 music at the student bar, I found myself confused about how chanting into megaphones and dressing up in ridiculous costumes had anything to do with academia. Really, there are more similarities than differences between high school and university. Nothing felt intelligent about sitting in the middle of three hundred


nineteen year olds learning the definitions of key Philosophy terms like “Socrates” and “universe”. Four years later - okay, five years later - as I sat at my university convocation trying to feel present enough to recognize the symbolism of walking across another stage, this time older, not stoned, and equally nervous about tripping down the steps, I made a point to listen appreciatively to the words spoken by the powers of academia who would hand me my degree. I made a valiant effort to try and take in some wisdom from the occasion, recalling my high school graduation when I had rolled my eyes at the speech my principal was giving about success and significance. I quieted the cynic inside me and listened to different words that conveyed the same message. And I walked across the stage, and did not feel smarter. Or older. Or better. The holy threshold of higher learning was again just a glorified gymnasium, my high school principal was instead the Dean of Arts, and my degree - while written on very nice parchment in sophisticated calligraphy - was still just a piece of paper. The morning of the great lasagna miracle, I caught myself gazing out the kitchen window at the orchard in my family’s backyard. Now slated to become a subdivision, I couldn’t help but remember my childhood and the days I spent playing there, in an old, run down barn owned by farmers who seemed to have forgotten about it. My friends and I, all no older than twelve years old, named this rickety place “The Shack”, dragged some old furniture down the street from a garage sale, plugged in an AM/FM radio and made it our

hangout. It was musty, moldy, falling apart and entirely unsafe, but it was ours, and we would congregate there everyday, a bunch of kids sick of being children and wanting the freedom of youth before its time. The wooden floorboards were creaky and unstable, and there were rusty nails sticking out everywhere just waiting to send someone straight for a Tetanus shot. Despite the dangers, it became the place that defined my elementary school life. Now, having gained some insight into parenting through my friends who have kids of their own, I had to ask. With my arms submerged in a bottomless bowl of dough, I turned to my Mom. “How the hell did you let me go into the orchard everyday and play with my friends unsupervised in a shack that was falling apart?” Laughing, she replied. “I had to. You needed that shack.” I did not respond, but I stared into the orchard and knew that she was right. My independence and the youth I entered and pray to never leave, depended on the walks home alone at dusk where I would learn bravery through pretending not to fear the dark. “The Shack” - one strong gust of wind away from crumbling to the ground - embodied the feeling of wanting to be boundless and young and have secrets and break rules, while dichotomously wanting to be responsible and taken seriously. It’s hard to pinpoint exactly when I stopped being a child, but that orchard was where childhood ended and youth began. I don’t remember putting my toys away forever or the last time I had a recess, but the blisters on my knuckles and the dough beneath my fingernails mean more than every glorified threshold I’ll ever walk across.

14 June CARLY LEWIS

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Thai Umbrella CARLY LEWIS

Letter From Post Secondary JUDITH ELLEN BRUNTON

Dear intellectually cornered friend, It feels like it’s been a long time. I guess it hasn’t, really. I saw you last summer, and the Christmas before that; I saw you in Montreal when we were both visiting. How is your novella coming? I loved that Haiku you messaged me on Facebook. I’d ask if anything was new in your life, but I know there isn’t. Maybe you have a new girlfriend, or maybe the old bar closed down, so you and everyone else still there had to pick a new one. But I know you’re still working at the same coffee shop, arguing about Joyce and recommending Umberto Eco to girls you meet. I bet you’ve seen almost every Criterion Edition film ever produced. I hate to say it, but I think you’ve cornered yourself intellectually. You’ve attempted to theorize conclusions about society and life but you’ve found none; in the process you’ve condemned so many lifestyles, philosophies and rituals that you have no option but to remain perfectly still. I know that having an existential crisis is a bummer and everything, and often things seem to be without meaning, but after all these years, I think you’re just being lazy. You are one of the cleverest guys (gals) I’ve ever met, and perhaps you’ll serve a purpose as a hometown staple, keeping the old scene together. Though somehow, it seems like a waste. Will you ever publish that novella? I’m sure it would be really satisfying if you went back to school and finished your history (political science/philosophy/fine arts/communications) degree. In getting my religion degree, I have become passionate not only for the subject matter but also for what I can do with it. I’m excited for a future where I can learn more, grow and produce based on my newfound expertise. I don’t think I’m better than you. And I know that academia is flawed and sometimes contrived, but I have found a vehicle through which I can engage intellectually and move forward through discourse, if not through solutions. And I have found something I want to do with my life. Faced with questions of purpose and meaning I feel confident with my choice to make, do and live, as opposed to your choice to sit, smoke and watch Fellini. So put down that Pabst and go produce something. What you’re doing is no longer sexy, or mysterious. It’s just embarrassing.

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Boxes and Other Uneasy Things MARCIE FOSTER

Boxes are piled high, to the ceiling They’re full of things I might never use Boxes are from grocery stores I’m too cheap to buy them And coincidentally, the boxes are beside the door waiting to be carried out With me, and my suitcase, my life in a box so portable, and disposable, waiting to be carried on packed in a tiny car and down to the show Seven hours, and I’ll be there, forever it’ll seem until the boxes are filled again and my life returns to this room; but it won’t be the same cause I’ll just be a visitor, a guest or attendee of what used to be my home, abode These boxes are the looming reminder that in eight days I leave here, for somewhere else For knowledge, and parties, and argyle and books The boxes don’t lie: soon it will be my time.

Fountain YUSUF KIDWAI

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Prague 28 CARLY LEWIS

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Pep Rally Blues ANNE T. DONAHUE

Contrary to popular belief, or my countless “I hate retail” rants, I like people. Really. I’m a social person, I love friendships and I’m an extrovert to the point of having been kicked out of class all through high school for talking too much or making inappropriate comments. That, in all fairness, were relatively funny – just not appreciated during Canadian law class. But so help me God, I hate forced social situations. I hate them more than anything. Well, that’s a lie – I hate bad drivers, sudden loud noises, and repeating myself, but I needed to get your attention with that first sentence. I hate making small talk, I hate engaging former frenemies and above all, I hate feigning enthusiasm for “team spirit” and things of the sort. Once, I hosted a high school pep rally. I did it only for the opportunity to make everyone laugh (because, really, when it comes to high school pep rallies, there’s a lot to make fun of) and because I couldn’t miss an opportunity to wear my brand new Gap sweater in front of the entire school population. It was a different time, and I was 18, what can I say? But when thrown into things like school orientations and O-week celebrations, I’m more uncomfortable than someone…well, forced into school orientations and O-week celebrations. I’ve never liked cheering, I’ve never liked teams, probably because I was always cut from them during try-outs in elementary school, and I’ve never liked “collective” mindsets. Cue flashbacks of me feeling really out of place throughout the majority of grades nine through twelve. Weddings – great. Birthdays – aces. Networking events – I can dig them. But “go team so-and-so” and “these are your friends – now go party with them”? I can’t handle it. Likely because the kids basking in collective enthusiasm were always

the ones who left me out the most. Now before you roll your eyes and assume I’m about to wax poetic about the misdoings of teenagers, I promise I’m over it, except that I still rely on some of my resentment to fuel goal achieving and to tell funny stories. But it always felt that the events designed to make you feel more included were the ones that left you out the most. What if I don’t want to paint my face and scream about football? What if I have no desire whatsoever to segregate into colours and partake in dance-offs? Maybe I want to go to a movie, see a great band or sip coffee on a patio. Why am I automatically excluded? Because orientations – like nearly every “rah rah rah” event – are designed only for a specific demographic. It’s true – look around. I’m not being a snob. And that demographic isn’t bad or less cool than the rest of us who avoid these situations like the plague (seriously – I’ll walk on the hawk if I want, and if you yell at me because of it, I’ll break your spirit). They’re just “the norm”. And the people who feel much more “included” at indie shows, diners and things of the sort are not. And that’s okay. Because without differences, university would just be a melting pot of the sameness – which it isn’t. But don’t let orientations make you think you should act, think or be a certain way – because if you’ve witnessed anything cheer-oriented, you’ll instantly feel like it’s a how-to manual for university behaviour, and it isn’t. You’re allowed to not like it, you’re allowed to be cynical and you’re allowed to stand on the peripheries with a pal making fun of everyone Daria-style. Because at the very least, terrible social situations aside, you will find an equally embarrassed counterpart who detests forced camaraderie as much as you. So I guess technically “they” win – because you did meet a lifelong friend after all.

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Street EMILY KENNEDY

From A to B SIOBHAN WATTERS

I imagine my beginning on the precipice of a fine land. Lines stretching to the horizon and paralleling its expanse. A tartan of social synapse waiting to be walked, talked, navigated. Baby steps do little to discover the distance. Growing taller, reaching farther. Landmarks, marked. First home, second, and third. Connections slipping by. Fourth, fifth, sixth. Quickly. Barely eleven and tread twenty walks of life. Seventh, eighth, ninth. Arriving two feet from the starting point. Seeing little left of the new horizon. All small, familiar. Lines run together and cancel each other out. Over land and water, through dinge, dirt. Low terrain taken lower with each foot fall. Spiral, split. Sever the path. Trace a name in the sand. Turn around, trample it down.

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Beholder VIII

NUNO TEIXEIRA & EMMANUEL XERX JAVIER

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Profile for Blueprint Magazine

The Orientation Issue  

Volume 10 Issue 2 September 2010

The Orientation Issue  

Volume 10 Issue 2 September 2010

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