Champlain College and Cabinet: “Continuer mes Découvertes”

Champlain College. Photo by Kortney Dunsby.

A sort of student council for each of Trent’s colleges, the College Cabinets are known for managing student events and pressing matters that affect the students of their colleges. According to the TCSA website, “[College Cabinets] serve as your student voice on a variety of institutional committees, critical to student affairs and the university’s operations.” Consisting of student volunteers from different years in their studies, Cabinets strive for diversity and inclusiveness. They also uphold college traditions, allowing for fulfilling experiences for freshman and affiliated graduates alike.

That brings us to Champlain College: the original men’s college on Symons campus. Students can often spy stickers proclaiming “Champlain ‘till I die” throughout the Great Hall, stairwells, and elsewhere amongst the West Bank college grounds.

The college has been criticized in recent years for being named after colonizer Samuel de Champlain, while Trent University boasts a leading Indigenous Studies program. However, 2019-2020 Champlain Cabinet President Caleb Button sees the name differently.

“At the time the naming was meant as a proverbial olive branch between French- and English-speaking Canadians. Champlain College was made during the peak of French and English Canadian conflicts in the 1960s, and finished completion just two years prior to the bombing of the Montreal Stock Exchange by the FLQ. The name Champlain was chosen to help show support to French Canadians, as it was a federally funded institution being constructed in Ontario,” he explained, noting that the cornerstone of Champlain College was laid by both the Premiers of Ontario and Quebec.

What each College Cabinet does is similar, yet so different compared to the next. However, their associated levy fee is the same across the board: $14.85 ($7.43 each term) per full-time undergraduate student, that goes to each student’s affiliated College.

“The purpose of the levy for us as an organization is [to] provide our operating budget, where we spend the majority of our fees collected on programming and use the remainder as an insurance float to provide stability between cabinets.”

Recently and traditionally funding has been used to run events like Bon Temps, Harvest, Ball Hockey, Stress Busters, graduate dinners and dances. The majority of the funds are put towards these projects to ensure students have free meals, and programming that encourages participation and engagement within our collegiate community, Button said.

“These programs consume the bulk of our resources because they are hefty programs for campus life, alumni engagement and our college culture[;] however, they are only the tip of our organization’s proverbial Iceberg.”

Button also shared Champlain’s College Cabinet Constitution, which further lists the Cabinet’s priorities.

“We, the student representatives, duly elected by the students of Champlain College, hold the following truths as the operating principles of the Champlain College Cabinet:

  • To initiate, organize, and administer the academic, cultural, political and social affairs of the Student Body under the terms of the Constitution.
  • To be the representative body on behalf of the students in such affairs.
  • To pursue vigorous and constructive courses of action to strengthen the wellbeing of the Student Body, Champlain College, and Trent University.
  • To seek, establish, and strengthen the closest degree of communication with the students, staff, faculty, administration, and all who deal with the College.
  • To initiate, organize, and administer the academic, cultural, political and social affairs of Trent University and all colleges therein under the terms of this Constitution.”

While Champlain is certainly the centric historical masterpiece of Trent University, it doesn’t mean the College Cabinet won’t be affected directly. Button brought up how the Cabinet is anticipating the cuts.

“Since the passing of the Student Choice Initiative, we used previous models to expect a 30 percent decrease in funding. However, we’re playing it by ear and will make decisions in the near future when we have a better picture of how things are looking.”

Inquiring about affiliation numbers, Arthur wanted to know if Champlain was to have a step up on the rest of the Colleges, given the amount of students that are or will be affiliated.

“I honestly have no idea. We don’t see the percentages; we only see our slice of the cake. Further, from where I’m sitting, Traill as a community is really picking up steam thanks to their amazing cabinet and college team. I also expect OC to be bigger player than we are because you can’t throw a stick on campus without hitting somebody from Otonabee.”

It’s hard to imagine Champlain without its drive, fueled by the events celebrated every year in their own tradition. What would Champlain be without its soul?