Traill College Cabinet: Trent University Peterborough’s Downtown Frontier

The Traill College portrait for the 2019-2020 academic year. It is an annual tradition to participate in the Traill portrait each September. Photo courtesy of Wendy Walker.

Traill College (TC), acting as the downtown extension of Trent University’s Peterborough campus, is the hub for undergraduate and graduate students. It is named after Catharine Parr Traill, a 19th century author and botanist who settled in the Peterborough area.

Traill Cabinet, like any other college cabinet, influences student and college life. College Cabinets have representatives that attend other Committees and Subcommittees of the University where their input has a direct effect on students’ lives. These Committees range from Convocation to Housing Advisory to the Senate, and the students who sit on these are crucial to ensuring that students’ voices are not dismissed or forgotten.

Traill Cabinet was originally disbanded in 2008 with the restructuring of the colleges, but was reformed in 2015 when it became an undergraduate college again. Within the last five years, Traill has been transitioning back into both a graduate and undergraduate college, after previously only being a graduate college. As such, Traill College Cabinet is also the only cabinet at Trent that does not have a voting seat at Trent Senate.

“Since converting back to an undergraduate college, it has been our goal to regain our seat on Senate and be able to represent Traill students to the full capacity that the other colleges are able to,” said Wendy Walker, Traill College Co-President.

Traill Cabinet’s structure is as unique as the college it represents. It is structured by three branches that reflect university life: Academic Affairs, Social Affairs, and Student Affairs. One Co-President supports each of these three branches, having three Co-Presidents rather than one President and one Vice President.

“We are also the only cabinet to have a Graduate Student representative, archivist, and Trent Radio host positions,” Walker noted. “Being the oldest and only downtown college, we have a long-standing relationship to Trent student media, including Trent Radio.”

“As the oldest college at Trent we have a rich history and many traditions. When we were made into a graduate college during the 2000s, many of these traditions were not practiced. Having the Archivist position on Cabinet both helps us bring back these traditions and learn our history, while also providing us with a connection to alumni of the college,” she said of the Archivist cabinet position.

Traill Cabinet events throughout the year that focus on health and wellness, academics, and environmentalism. These include de-stress events and self-care workshops during exam and midterm season, available for both Traill undergraduate and graduate students, as well as non-affiliated students.

“Every spring we host our Annual Trash Squirrel Pick-Up around Traill campus, where students help clean up our campus once the snow has melted,” explained Walker.

Traill Cabinet also collaborates with its College Office to host Traill Carnival, which invites the Traill community, Orientation staff, and all incoming first-year students to an afternoon of a beer garden, bouncy castles, and food. The TC Formal, one of every college’s largest events, happens every March.

“Cabinet has made it a tradition to host our formal at Sadleir House to support the last remaining part of Peter Robinson College,” Walker said.

Traill College has a unique relationship with the Symons Campus, as it is the last existing college located downtown. There is a severe shortage of student space on Symons Campus, but places like Traill College and Sadleir House are available to students beyond that in a more central location. Traill is also home to all Trent University Peterborough graduate students and their student union, the Trent Graduate Student Association.

“Cabinet is a voice not just for Traill College-affiliated students, but for all upper-year students who live downtown and take advantage of all that Traill has to offer,” noted Co-President Walker. “Living off-campus is a completely different experience than being a student in residence on Symons campus, and Traill knows this better than anyone.”

Traill-affiliated full-time undergraduate students pay a yearly ancillary fee of $14.85 ($7.43 in the fall, $7.42 in the winter). These students can expect their TC scarves and access to a multitude of annual events held by the Traill Cabinet. However, the provincial government’s “Student Choice Initiative” framework, implemented this academic year, challenges what Traill Cabinet will be able to accomplish.

“Any loss of funding has a direct impact on the types and amount of programming we can provide to the students of Traill, more so than larger colleges with more substantial budgets,” stated Walker, adding its undergraduate population is only around 400 students.

Walker also noted that because many campus clubs and groups receive limited funding, many require financial support from affiliated students’ college cabinet. Clubs and groups have opportunities to propose projects for cabinet to help fund throughout the year. Without that funding source, clubs and groups may be unable to run and reach out to as many students.

In spite of this, Walker seems dutiful and ready to lead as a Co-President.

“We have survived through many financial hardships and the reign of Bonnie Patterson at Trent, yet we are still here. We are one of the original colleges at Trent, and have overcome much worse,” she said.

“At the end of the day, it’s not about dollars and cents to us. We love Traill and the Trent community feels the same way. The feeling cannot be quantified in a budget.”