Excited about the upcoming school year? Ready for more after your week of making friends and finding your place within Trent student culture? Are you ready to engage with issues that matter to you–as students, as community members, and as individuals? Then get ready for DisOrientation Week 2016 (DisO Week)!

Dis­O Week is another great part of the Trent student culture. It is organized almost entirely by students, with some community support, but entirely independent of the university administration. It includes workshops, discussions, tours and events that engage students in positioning themselves as anti­-oppressive and environmentally­ sustainable members of the Trent and Nogojiwanong (Peterborough) communities. It takes place on Michi Saagig Anishinaabeg Aki, which is the Indigenous territory which Trent University occupies and on which we all live and study.

Dis­O Week has precedent and historical context in the Trent student culture. Trent, a school founded on the idea of a community-integrated college system, once prided itself on being “Canada’s great small university”. However, in 1999, the university’s administration revealed plans to close and sell the downtown colleges, centralize the campus, and change the face of Trent as we knew it. It was then that students spoke up and fought for the school they loved. From this, Dis­O Week was formed.

So that is all ancient history. Why be disoriented in 2016?

Well, DisO Week is meant to re­centre the narratives on fringe voices and empower marginalized communities–those student and community perspectives that may not fit within Orientation Week, the interests of the university administration, or the corporate interests in and around Nogojiwanong (Peterboroough). The week will unpack, educate and empower students and community members, while doing so in a way that is informative and fun!

What are some very current and hot topics I can look forward to?

There are certainly many, but ancient history becomes current news with the return of Traill College as a college to house undergraduate students. Traill is a valuable part of Trent and this is the first time it is having undergraduate students living at the downtown college residences since the closure of both Traill and Peter Robinson. Organized by the Housing Co-op and Traill College.

Another event you won’t want to miss is Gzaagigoo Anishinaabe Mnoomin, which means “We love you rice/grain of the Anishinaabe.” The Mnoomin is rice indigenous to Michi Saagig Anishinaabe Aki and has experienced destruction of habitat almost every summer.

As a living being of its own, it has inherent rights. But its continued destruction is illegal within Anishinaabe and Canadian systems of law, and is an affront to Treaty 20, which forms the political context between the Anishinaabe, and visitors and settlers of this land. This event will also include Mnoomin teachings, and show participants how Mnoomin can be harvested and cooked. Organized by the Trent University Native Association.

A politically relevant and timely event is Feelings of Safety and Security in Nogojiwanong (Peterborough), a panel featuring several members of the community speaking to their experiences of feeling safe or unsafe as racialized, queer, trans and/or poor community members. Our community has many organizations and spaces to support and encourage diversity in identity and cultural.

However, some these organizations and spaces have been created in response to examples of racism and other forms of systemic prejudice within Nogojiwanong. The hope of the event is to open up conversations that recognize our identities’ impact to feelings of safety. Organized by the Community Race Relations Committee.

Whether it’s speaking with alumni on issues such as the centralization of the university or talking with student leaders about where your tuition goes; whether it’s extracting strawberry DNA and receiving Anishinaabe strawberry teachings or identifying plants on campus; whether it’s learning about fatphobia and finding ways to love yourself, or enjoying OPIRG’s Vegan BBQ and making new friends, there’s something for everyone in the week’s lineup of events.

This year, DisO is organized by the Ontario Public Interest Research Group of Peterborough (OPIRG), the Community Race Relations Committee (CRRC), the Centre for Gender and Social Justice (CGSJ), Sustainable Trent (ST), Trent University Native Association (TUNA), Peter Robinson College Students Association (PRCSA – Sadleir House), and the Peterborough Student Housing Co-operative.

For more information, log onto Facebook and find:
Trent DisOrientation (www.facebook.com/trentdiso)
DisOrientation Week at Trent (www.facebook.com/trentdisorientation)

For pictures of events as they unfold, follow trentdiso on Instagram. For a chance to win prizes, make sure to use #trentdiso16 in your Instas when participating in DisO events!

Keep a lookout for the schedule in the next issue of the Arthur, available on September 12th!