your trent symposium

As a component of Trent’s 50th anniversary celebrations, students, faculty, and community members gathered for discussions regarding notable aspects of Trent University – both good and bad – during the Your Trent Student Symposium that ran Friday, January 30 and Saturday, January 31.

Co-chaired by Duc Hien Nguyen and Lachlan Mackinnon, the symposium featured hosts and presenters such as current Trent University President and Vice Chancellor Dr. Leo Groarke, Founding President Professor Thomas H.B. Symons, and Trent University Board of Governors member Dr. Thomas Miller. The main focus of the symposium, however, were the six students from a variety of academic disciplines who presented papers on how they perceive the institution that is Trent University, alongside theories on possible next steps for the school.

Following each of the presentations, audience members were encouraged to ask questions and to share their own thoughts and ideas, and the event culminated with an open discussion. The result was two days of varied and insightful discussion about Trent University.

In a press release the university emailed out prior to the event, Nguyen, a fourth year Economics student from Vietnam was quoted as saying, “Trent students are passionate about the university and are keen to help shape its future. The response the organizing team has received has been overwhelming. This event is an opportunity to share our ideas with the community.”

In his opening address, Nguyen called for the community to share their ideas as well. “Share your Trent with us,” he told the audience gathered in Bagnani Hall at Catharine Parr Traill College on Friday evening, as he explained the origins of the event.

“Your Trent started out as an ordinary talk between two friends who liked to argue passionately and critically about the institution that we both belonged to,” he said, adding that the conversation brought about the realization that there was a very limited understanding of Trent and its “quintessential characteristics” and “historical trajectory.”

Therefore, to increase understanding of such things, the Your Trent Student Symposium was organized, and a call for papers was sent out, encouraging full-time students, part-time students, and alumni to submit papers on “their” Trent. A seven-person committee then selected six of the papers to be presented at the symposium.

Jenna Pilgrim, a third-year Business Administration student discussed the importance of Trent’s architecture and how to preserve it as she presented “My Trent, Small Pockets of Vision.” Third-year Environmental and Resource Science and Biology student Ryan Lamoreux presented “Releasing our Reliance on Fossil Fuels,” where he talked on how Trent can lead by example and cut down on the institution’s use of fossil fuels. “Trent University: All Style and No Substance, Level It (A Satire),” presented by fourth-year Cultural Studies student Daniel Collins, called attention to the current identity and operations issues Trent faces by campaigning for its destruction.

Anastasia Kaschenko is a third-year Environmental and Resource Science/Studies student who presented “An Ode to the Greatness of Trent, and a Call for Sustainability,” where she stated that the aspects that make Trent unique are important and require preservation. Third-year Archeology student Cassandra Mueller highlighted the institution’s unity found within the diverse community through the presentation “Exploring the Diversity at Trent through the Arts.” The student presentations concluded with a discussion of potential avenues for Trent’s food services as second-year Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems and International Development Studies student Anisah Madden presented “Towards Truly Sustainable Campus Food Systems.”

The symposium stimulated all sorts of discussion and was received very favourably. “I think this is a very ‘Trent’ Symposium,” said Groarke. Symons too, was happy to take part saying that “a symposium of this sort is always timely and always welcome […] and it’s particularly welcome and helpful when it emanates from the students.”

Nguyen was extremely pleased with the event as well, especially given the short amount of time between when the idea developed and its execution; the concept originated only in October of last year. He is also hopeful that the Your Trent Student Symposium is the beginning of a lasting dialogue for the University.

“Our conversation doesn’t have to stop here,” he said, “it doesn’t have to stop when we leave this hall. It will continue and reverberate in the many days and years to come.”