Liam Sherlock ([William Dobias])

Happy New Year (dear friends at)? Trinity, and welcome to the new term. Or as many of us say, “Wait, I need to go to school again? I thought Christmas just began yesterday!”

As the snows overwhelm the streets of Toronto, many of us are returning to Toronto — or not, as the case may be, and buckling down for another season of grinding, coffee, and late nights with only Quercus and the memory of the dainty Robarts turkey for company. 

To try to intrude on this miserable monotony the tired, top-tier Trinity Times Team (with altogether ardent alliteration) wanted to highlight Trinity College’s active club scene. In these times, where it is easy to forget there is a world outside the four walls of your house, and more to life than slouching from your sofa to your bed and back again, despite what the Trinity College Indoor Society may want us to believe, we have braved the zoom-filled streets and snowy online classes to bring you two (mostly) fresh strawberries — I mean interviews —  with executives from two of our clubs dedicated to the outdoors, the TCOS, the Trinity College Outdoor Society, and the TCES, the Trinity College Environmental Society.

Without further ado, here are the results. – –

Editorial Note: Interviews have been edited by the author for clarity and length, but are explicitly confirmed by the interviewee as representing their sentiments and ideas accurately.

Editorial Note: Interviews have been compiled and edited by the author for clarity and length, but are explicitly confirmed by the interviewee as representing their sentiments and ideas accurately.

Could you introduce yourself briefly, who you are, what you’re studying, and most importantly what brought you to the TCES? What made you join the society and take an executive role in it?

Hi, I’m Sophie Berkowitz, the president of the TCES. I’m a third-year student, at Trinity College, double majoring in Statistics and Environmental Science with a minor in Environmental Energy Studies.

I wasn’t actually originally in environmental studies, in my first year I discovered the society at the frosh week club fair, and joined it more because of the community — I felt like it was people I could vibe with. Then by second year I really became super passionate about it, became the secretary and this year I’m the President.

I took a role on the executive because I feel like it’s really hard to be part of most Trin clubs if you’re not actually part of the executive. (The TCES executive consists of nine members)

What kind of activities does the TCES conduct?

So we focus on college-wide initiatives to try to get the college community more involved with environmental activism, in a fun way. 

We do things like host beach cleanups, as a way to go to the beach and have fun, while doing something positive for the environment.

Then we host clothing swaps, which are a great way to educate people about sustainable fashion and clothing, and is a great chance to empty out closets and get some fresh things.

How has this changed in light of the current, unfortunate circumstances, under COVID?

Absolutely, because a lot of our club’s mission is to give people fun activities to go to in person, it has really been hard making fun events with either social distancing or online.

We’ve been focusing more on hosting things like guest speakers, instead of your normal initiatives like climate marches. We recently hosted an event with the new head of the Green Party, which was really popular, we had about 40 people come out.

We also have an initiative for educating people about sustainable menstrual products, where we refund purchases of sustainable menstrual products, to help out people with their necessities.

But yes, in general, we have been quite badly impacted by the pandemic because of the way our club works.

Given the reputation, whether deserved or not, for Trinity clubs being very exclusive or unwelcoming, what are some ways your club encourages inclusivity and openness?

This is definitely something I’m very conscious of. Since I took over, we have practiced an open-door policy, no applications, no formal commitments. We strive to be welcoming no matter why or how much you want to get involved. While of course, club executives are expected to be more active, for everyone else, we’re very open, both to students and non-students.

As a follow-up, what is the (weekly) time commitment for club executives like?

We have monthly meetings, just monthly, and most of our work is project by project; it’s more up to so the executives in charge of a particular project to decide how they want to work on it. We have an executive group chat on messenger and keep in touch that way though.

Would you say that this kind of fun-focused approach to a serious issue has the potential to undermine the gravity of it?

Yes, I definitely agree that it’s a very serious issue; we’re in the middle of a climate crisis. However, this is the best way to raise awareness and to get more people involved in environmental activism and marches.

Why should our readers join your club?

Well, there’s a lot of reasons. It’s a great way to learn about the climate crisis and environmentalism in a non-academic way, and to get more hands-on with things like protests. It’s also super fun and a great community.

Given the loss of normal “intergenerational” dialogue and your role as a community leader, what is one piece of advice you’d like to offer the Trinity community, especially first-year students? Either related to the club and your own experiences or more generally about College life.

If you’re an executive or in a leadership role, make your focus on building inclusion and openness. 

If you’re not in a role like that, just remember that you will find a community which you vibe with, you just have to persistent.

Editorial Note: Interviews have been compiled and edited by the author for clarity and length, but are explicitly confirmed by the interviewee as representing their sentiments and ideas accurately.

Can you introduce yourself to our readers, who you are, what you’re studying, and most importantly, how you got involved with the TCOS? And why you wanted to take a more active role in the club?

My name is Mirielle Korting; I’m a third-year, in Rotman Commerce, in a Business Management specialist, with a focus in Leadership and Organizations, and a Certificate in Economic and Business Psychology.

I got involved with the club because the founder, Ryan Martin was a friend of mine, had this idea for a club on the outdoors, and I thought it was a great idea.

Coming from rural Cleveland, Ohio, I was really jarred by coming to Toronto and missed being outdoors in nature.

I took a more active leadership role because I really was excited about the club, and wanted to make an impact, and especially to make sure it became a levied club (The TCOS is a levied club as of last year) so we could fund events for participants properly.

What kinds of events do you host? How much of a time commitment is the TCOS?

We host a lot of events! Our committee members each propose and plan one trip event each term, so there’s one each weekend, with the president and VP planning a larger one, such as a  ski trip or the annual bonfire and smores. We go on a lot of hikes to places like Hyde Park, or Rattlesnake Point, hiking is a big part of the club’s activities, and in winter we do a lot of things like sledding, bowling, and skating. Everyone is welcome to join us for our events, which are typically about (2-4) hours long, even UofT students from other colleges, there is no formal membership or commitment like that. For our Committee members, it’s about four hours, including the event itself if they’re planning the event.

How has this changed under COVID restrictions, how badly was your club affected?

Our club was definitely affected greatly, given our focus on (in-person), outdoor events, and going places. We were originally allowed to host limited outdoor events, and in lieu of the bonfire, we organized a trip to the Toronto Islands. However, since we are not supposed to encourage large gatherings — even outdoors — we have not been able to do our normal programming that is such an integral part of our club. Instead, to continue our mission of encouraging people to enjoy the outdoors and relax, we’ve begun an online event through our Instagram to get people to post pictures of themselves outdoors, and if they can in specific spots, we challenge them to find for the week. We enter the submissions into a raffle for a twenty-five dollar gift card to a place of their choice. We also have plans in progress for the coming term to reimburse some student expenses related to having fun outdoors, and perhaps, pending university and government instructions even some small events for Trin Res students. 

Given the unfortunate reputation of some Trinity college clubs, how does your club promote openness and inclusion?  

This is an integral part of our club, and we welcome anyone who wants to enjoy the outdoors. We tend to have a core group of about four or five people who come to all our events, but we typically have ten to fifteen people show up, and even as many as thirty, so this is a great chance to meet new people even if you feel you don’t know anyone in the club.

While some of our events are more physically strenuous, we host a great variety and are very mindful of accessibility concerns. In terms of financial considerations, we believe very strongly in having all the events funded by the club so all people need to do is show up and have fun. We even offer reimbursements to commuters who live far away to travel to our meetup point on the Trinity campus.

Why should our readers engage with the TCOS and join your club for events?

There’s a lot of reasons. One is just to take a break, and have a formal time to relax and just be mindful of your capacities and not just constantly work. Just enjoy the great outdoors, and have some fresh air, and stretch your limbs. Another is it’s just a great social opportunity to meet cool people from all years; we’re all always super welcoming to new faces. And best of all, it’s all completely free!

What’s one tidbit of advice you’d like to give to the Trinity community, especially to first-years?

Get involved with anything you find interesting. Never limit yourself from going to places because you’re scared you won’t know anyone there. You never know who you might meet!

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