Cultural Studies; Trent University’s best-kept secret. The gateway to the arts, it is arguably one of the finest programs here. Video Games, Mass Media and Experimental Fiction are just some courses that you can find in this diverse program. It has cross-listings with English, Gender Studies and Politics, and is a springboard to fascinating Master’s programs and dynamic career paths.
Though it was my major, I’m not just being biased. In our first issue we highlighted Jill Staveley, Production Manager at Trent Radio and graduate of Cultural Studies. James Kerr, longtime Programme Director, shares the same degree.
Liam Mitchell, Cultural Studies professor, incorporates community involvement as part of his class. You can get involved in Trent Radio, Arthur Newspaper, Absynthe Magazine or Media Matters Inc. (a publication company) as a practical options in place of writing assignments. How cool is that?
Watching James Kerr present on behalf of both Media Matters Inc. and Trent Radio, he said, “I can’t escape it. It’s in my blood now.”
Kerr no longer works at Trent Radio, which is quite a recent development in the organization, and we have featured an interview with him (pg.11) that sends a positive message to students who are creative minds and looking for a future in the arts. A future I had to ponder while I was getting my Trent degree.
Right now, you’re all really busy running around trying to adapt yourselves to Trent. You’ll spend many a late night handing in an essay, or not hanging one in, beating yourselves up about this huge thing that you’re supposed to become. A lot of you are creative people, which is probably why you’re at this university, no matter what your major. And a lot of you have probably been told to focus on something practical, forget about becoming an artist and get a job to dig yourself out of the debt that is sure to possess your life.
Well, here I am telling you all of that is total bullshit. Coming to Trent University and watching alumni such as Stephen Stohn (founder of this newspaper), become very successful artists made me realize that what you learn in the classroom is only half of where you will gather the skills to get that future you can’t quite put together in your mind.
I remember being so small, so unsure of what I wanted to do, but knew one day I would be a writer. Maybe I’d even work for the CBC, publish my novel, but here I was trying to get my degree and be practical. Somewhere along the way, getting the degree became the sole focus of my life. Having a job at the same time, along with all the other problems one has, those lofty dreams got thrown on the back burner, and struggling to hand in an essay on time was top priority. I’m writing to tell you that, not only can you work for the CBC, you can do something way cooler than that—you can have your own show at Trent Radio.
Two years ago, when my friends and I thought to have a radio show, we were also balancing school life, jobs, and writing for this newspaper. I remember running to make it to Trent Radio on time to hand in our proposal, sweating, panting, late as usual.
Out of breath, I stumbled into a room full of the coolest people I knew. I was five minutes late, and the operator meeting had already started. “Well, come in, we don’t bite,” someone joked. I dropped off our proposal, squeaked a thanks and ran away.
Flash forward to 2016, and here I am, running late for the same meeting—but this time, I’m an operator. I feel the same fear that I am woefully inexperienced. I don’t know anything about radio, I don’t belong here.
Entering the same room, it seemed fuller, the people even cooler. My eyes wide, the whole room stared back and me and I felt red from embarrassment. “Don’t be afraid,” a girl joked beside me. I ran to the back and hid for the rest of the meeting, unable to escape that shy awkward girl I had always been.
Despite that, Jill Staveley sparked excitement in the shyest operators and programmers by telling us, “if you fuck up it’s okay”. Young Trent students: the fact is, you gotta start somewhere, and you have to push yourself away from Symons Campus and see what there is around you that’s going to get you to the CBC, to the completion of your novel, to make your screenplays come to life.
As I write this hours before the paper goes to print, we are currently running a newspaper without a staff. This our second year at Arthur Newspaper, and after a whole year of late nights and extreme stress, we decided that not only did we want to do this again, but do it while throwing ourselves into the community and school.
We’re perfectionists. We’re way too hard on ourselves, and perhaps we take what is supposed to be a student newspaper too seriously. The reason for that is we had great editors when we were reporters. I had bosses who, though they were my age and my closest friends, recognized a talent in my insecure self and pushed me to grow and flourish at this newspaper. They paved the path for us to run our very own business, and soon it will come time for a writer from this year to do the same.
We hope you have been reading the paper the last few weeks, and seen our shift in focus to community members who have, just like my editors, fostered new generations of leaders. Today, I write this editorial to you, the student body: the future leaders of this community. We are the last of a generation of staff here at Arthur Newspaper. I have watched community organizations around us transform, grow, fall apart, and gain new leadership. My first step into grassroot movements was working for Community and Race Relations Committee, which opened me up to a world of action, initiatives, and activism that exists in this community. For many, The Theatre on King will bring about their first beautiful realization of hey, I wrote something, it’s a play now; my story has come to life! For others it will be Trent Radio, or Absynthe Magazine, or making your very own zine like the late and great NewFangled. My point is that the reason for going to university isn’t simply to get that degree. It’s realizing what you’re capable of. If you push yourself to do things, even if it’s just one little thing, there’s no looking back to everything you can accomplish here.
I found my voice at Arthur Newspaper when a race relations issue at campus really bothered me. I wrote about my first piece on it, and my then-editors made it the front page. I was shocked, and realized I’d almost forgotten that I wanted to be a writer, though that’s all I’ve ever really wanted to do. There was space for my writing somewhere.
That feeling of pride, seeing your work in the paper, it never goes away, I promise you that. Having people read your work, and being a part of something that actually leads you somewhere.
I’m writing to tell you, yes you, in the back of the class, dazed and confused, on the front lines of a movement, in your room unable to bring yourself to that lecture, you could have all of this. One day, you could run a newspaper, a radio station, an organization that means something, right here in Peterborough.
Don’t believe me? Read James Kerr’s interview. He was just like me, and just like you—a quiet, shy and creative individual. He told us at the time of our re-election that Arthur Newspaper had a staff bigger than the Peterborough Examiner. We live in a world where print media is slowly dying, but Arthur will exist as long as Trent University does. He asked, what are we going to do to get this print publication to the level of seriousness it should be?
It will be so weird not seeing Kerr at Arthur elections, or to be embraced by his kindness upon entering Trent Radio. It is sad to know that many newcomers may not get to know who I am talking about.
Another generation of community programming, changed, gone, with only this newspaper caring enough to capture it; a fragment of time in a photograph of writing.
To you, students, I have this to say. We want the best, the most creative, and the most passionate of you. By the time I found my place in Arthur, I was involved in student body government; I had started my own club; I was in my last year at Trent. “I can’t commit to being on staff,” I told my disappointed editors—then ended up writing for them anyways, because whatever I did, I found I could really affect true change at this paper.
Whether it’s your last year or your first month, do this. Even though you’re busy, you’re stressed and you can’t find time to feed your cat—become involved. Because all of this could be yours. Your very own newspaper, your very own play, your own radio drama. And it will lead you to the greatest of places.