What do the Colleges, Black History Month, and Self Love have in common?

It’s that time of year again: February. The weather is unkind, the sun isn’t being too generous with that vitamin D, even the economy is dreary. In a world where we are constantly being told that our degrees may not be worth what they once were, it’s becoming increasingly more difficult to love ourselves.

Last week, I met with the principal of Lady Eaton College, Michael Eamon. His office hours are held at Black Honey café on Hunter Street. Until our meeting, I had always associated this gorgeous little café with the charm of downtown Peterborough.

As we sat in the back of the café, I saw that a space had been created by LEC to offer students a place to meet with their college, advertised in their mission statement on MyTrent.

“Colleges are the soul of the university,” Eamon tells Arthur. Colleges were meant to be integral to student life when they were formed at Trent in the ‘60s and ‘70s. LEC is the second oldest college on the Symons Campus, established in 1968.

old lec

Though the size of the college is small in comparison to others, their efforts and initiatives have stood out as huge accomplishments this year. Black History Timelines and displays are proudly set up at the college, events are ongoing throughout the month and students are encouraged to come by and check them out.

In his first year as principal, Eamon has been successful in fostering an inclusive community at LEC. As a historian, he has led the way in educating students on the month in a refreshing change from the lack of attention BHM received on-campus last year.

“Colleges are a service 100 percent paid for by the students. There is a $250 levy for them and they’re supposed to meet your needs and interests,” Eamon shared. “I wanted us to act as a support for any student initiatives for Black History Month, whether it was financial or offering them a space.”

The college has also stepped up to the plate to address other campus issues unlike other student organizations.

Due to confusion surrounding the Strategic Management Agreement issued by Trent in a time of academic change, an information session was held at LEC on January 22.

At the session, Student Senators Duc Hien Nguyen and Jay MacKinnon prepared a presentation to explain the document and the way in which students were being represented in the process. To me, this was a daunting task as the document is difficult to unpack, but two LEC students and Dr. Nona Robinson took the time to answer questions at the forum.

If Trent had a student centre, there would be a place for us to gather and celebrate these initiatives together. Instead, we are fragmented across the campus, and the colleges are crucial in making us aware of what goes on at our school.

Our campus is alive with diverse initiatives; some may not even be aware of how many are going on. With activist groups such as Sustainable Trent petitioning for us to divest from fossil fuels to different political groups meeting downtown for Pints ‘n’ Politics, there is no lack of activity going around on our campus.

Even your school newspaper is a resource for how our student body is governed, and can be found in a recent and informative article written by Rachel Arsenault. We also have student-run publications such as Absynthe magazine and an extraordinary zine called Newfangled. Whatever your cause, Trent is a hub of exciting culture and creativity unique to our campus.

Certain programmers at our own radio station will be taking part in Black History Month celebrations as well! They will be paying homage every Friday in February at 10am.

The radio station, Trent Radio, in case you aren’t familiar, can be heard on 92.7 FM. You can stream it from their website as well. The Soul Mamas will celebrate the month by exploring the rich traditions of black music from the past all the way through to today’s exciting scene awaiting new artists.

As students who often have to leave the comforts of our hometowns, like myself, we are affiliated through our colleges, which help us establish a sense of community. From the scarves with individual colours and emblems, to the chants on late night pub buses from our campus celebrations, we love our colleges.

I hope you will all be kind to yourselves in these stressful times, and with self love comes pride for what you’re doing right now, what you’re studying and what your campus is all about.