Author: Vivian Li

NMC-CESI Food Festival: A family gathering

On March 25th, 2017, the Near and Middle Eastern Civilizations—Cultural Exchange and Support Initiative, otherwise known as NMC-CESI, hosted the Syrian Food Festival in the Cat’s Eye. In the first half of the workshop, Rasha Elendari, NMC-CESI’s Co-Founder, paired UofT volunteers with Syrian newcomers, where the former and the latter practised English and Arabic. Later on in the event, people ate, sang, and danced together as a Syrian band played for the participants. “There’s a lot of support in the room, and the program helps promote cultural exchange,” Felipe Fajardo, Victoria College Representative for NMC-CESI, stated. “It’s important for people to get to know others who are commonly thought of as ‘in the opposite spectrum,’ we’re more similar to newcomers than we think.” Fajardo is a fourth year undergraduate student at Vic. He has felt impacted by the Syrian crisis due to his Colombian roots. In attempts to raise awareness for the crisis, Fajardo wanted to start a program that addressed these issues, applied for scholarships, and found the NMC-CESI initiative. The NMC-CESI was created by a group of graduate students at the Department of Near and Middle Eastern Civilizations at U of T as an educational and humanitarian initiative. In support of the organization’s weekend workshops with newcomers to Canada, the Student Projects Fund granted $5000 to NMC-CESI, and $1000 specifically to the Syrian Food Festival.  Student Projects funds Victoria College students’ events directed towards UofT and Vic students. NMC-CESI has hosted fundraising events such as Singing for Syria in the Cat’s Eye during the Victoria College Syria Awareness Week, which took place between March 13th and March 18th. When asked about the effects of...

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Silence Fights Back: Organization at U of T Refuses to Back Down

On March 17th, 2017, the “Silence is Violence” organization at U of T launched “The Survivors Speak Back” campaign. Posters consisting of sexual violence reports and experiences accessing resources through the university were posted across campus to acclaim the mistreatment of victims. University of Toronto contractors removed the posters the next day. The Silence is Violence Facebook page stated “[the university is] hiring contractors to remove the signs from indoor and outdoor locations on the St. George campus.” The administration cited the “Procedure on Distribution of Publications, Posters, and Banners at the University of Toronto St. George Campus” as the reason for this decision. The procedure states that there are approved postering kiosks around campus that are cleaned off, as necessary, during the year. Property Management must also be consulted before posters are out up on specific university grounds. The “Silence is Violence” organization responds to the institutional failures in policies for redressing harassment and sexual assault on university campuses. Acting as a platform where “survivors speak back,” the campaign is meant to emphasize communities of students impacted by sexual violence on university campus. “Sexual violence and abuse are unique forms of assault in that those impacted are often made to feel responsible for their experience after reporting. We wanted others to see how this process happens and which actors at the University are responsible,” says Ellie Ade Kur,...

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