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The Community Movements Conference (CMC) was first hosted by the students of Trent University’s International Development Studies (IDST) Department in 2008. CMC is an annual two-day event during the winter semester, and “aims to provide a forum for students and academic scholars to discuss issues pertaining to international development,” as outlined on their Facebook page. This year’s conference (2020) will mark 13 consecutive years running.
Arthur spoke to current CMC Co-Chair, Jamie Gallupe, about the conference. She pointed out that while the conference is “run through IDS primarily, [it] is open to all students and community members.” She continued, CMC is a place “where the Trent community can engage with the Peterborough community… it is a unique space for artists, activists, academics and students” to come together.
While other years have featured more student-centred topics, Gallupe explained that one of her goals for this year is to achieve more community involvement at the conference, creating “a space to bring many different types of people together.” Likewise, she said, “we really push to have it downtown - not on campus - so that the community can come: engage, learn and discuss.” Gallupe envisions CMC as a “unique opportunity for the academic community to merge with the greater Peterborough community.”
The conference is entirely student-organized and run. This offers students an opportunity to gain invaluable hands-on skills in logistics, networking, marketing and more. Planning for the conference essentially begins as soon as the co-chairs are decided for the following year, Gallupe told Arthur, so CMC committee members are hard at work planning this event from September until the conference is held, usually during the end of January or beginning of February.
The volunteer Co-Chair positions are chosen through an annual application process which follows the close of the conference. These positions are advertised through the IDST Department and Champlain College.
The Co-Chairs then meet with anyone who is interested in September and a volunteer board is assembled. The team is separated into four committees: speakers, logistics, marketing and budgeting; each consisting of a committee head and approximately four to six student committee members. Students then meet twice a week (once with the entire team, and once with their committee) until the conference begins.
Gallupe mentioned that CMC has really strong connections in the Peterborough community which are vital to bringing the conference together, such as Sadleir House and Food Not Bombs.
“One of the beauties of the conference is that it is such a group effort.”
The Community Movements Conference at Trent is used as a platform to discuss topics of importance to students, outside of the classroom. By taking this dialogue off-campus and integrating with the Peterborough-Nogojiwanong community, students are able to diversify their understanding of important contemporary issues and broaden their scope of knowledge.
“People can meet about things they’re passionate about and learn more about topics they might not [have known] a lot about before the conference,” Gallupe said.
Students choose a topic to focus on each Fall. Topics range from “Food Sovereignty and the Changing Face of Agriculture” in 2009, to “Just Work: Vulnerabilities in the Global Workforce” in 2010, to “Migration: Exploring Roots & Routes” in 2016. A full list of past topics is available on the CMC website. The annual topic is chosen by members who propose ideas from current affairs in politics, economics, environmental and social movements, to name a few. CMC staff then vote democratically and collaborate on the final decision.
CMC had their refundable levy fee of $0.75 ratified in 2016. The fee has since increased with inflation by four cents, bringing their current refundable levy fee to $0.79, per full-time undergraduate student, per academic year. Gallupe stated that “ticket sales go toward paying for the conference too [and we also] rely on grants from other initiatives.”
“We need money for catering, renting the space, travel and lodging for speakers,” she said, naming a few of the costs associated with hosting the two-day event.
Gallupe also said that any revenue generated is used to make ticket sales more affordable, in hopes of making the event more widely accessible for both students and community members. With financial uncertainty ahead as a result of changes to provincial legislation, Gallupe mentioned that the CMC team sought alternative funding options such as grants, for this year’s conference. This inevitably adds more work to their already full plates.
When asked about how CMC would be affected by Ontario’s Premier Doug Ford’s Student Choice Initiative (SCI), Gallupe said the bottom line is “the levy fees are important to all levy groups because allow us to operate to the best of our ability. That being said, we are very pleased with the court decision in finding the SCI unlawful.”
“In terms of funding we have been lucky this year to have been awarded all of the grants we have applied to thanks to the tremendous efforts of this year’s conference organizers.”
“We are all very excited to see this year’s conference come together next week!”
This year’s Community Movements Conference is titled “Homes, Housing, and Human Rights,” and runs from Friday January 31 to Saturday February 1. To find out more about Trent’s Community Movements Conference, visit their Facebook page at facebook.com/TrentCMC.