Londoners versus Students… The non-existent battle continues.
It’s time to talk about why we love our post-secondary students. This is part 2 of my article, which explores why Londoners should embrace the higher learning crowd.
Part 1 of this article was all about getting students out exploring London. This week, I’m rattling off reasons why students are important to London, and why you gotta love them.
I do realize that I may be singing to the choir somewhat- and that’s great!
Next time you hear someone grouse, “What do these students contribute to the city anyway?” I encourage you to raise an eyebrow, put your hands on your hips, and say, “Well, let me tell you,” followed by one of the following points.
They are a huge part of our art scene
Students produce some great art, theatre, music, and more in London.
Several of Western’s theatre groups have used our downtown black box theatres to stage their shows. Fanshawe’s own theatre is right in the heart of our downtown core.
The college’s fashion design program also produces Unbound, an annual staple in the London fashion scene.
There are also countless bands and music groups that form from music programs, visual artists who hold exhibitions across the city, and several student filmmakers who showcase their work in campus film festivals, as well as in our own local film festival.
Students are slamming poems, telling jokes, and writing for this very website!
Now I’m a nut for arts and culture (I write for Fuse after all), but they are far from the only things students contribute to London.
Their work makes a social difference
Our students are constantly whipping up meaningful projects.
Flip through some post-secondary publications. You’ll find some incredible work generated by our student population.
These range from more affordable hydroponic systems for the rookie green thumb, to bringing together local markets to tackle food waste, to partnering with cultural centres to preserve the Oneida language.
These are initiatives that will help set the path our communities need to take to build a sustainable, peaceful, inclusive planet. Looking ahead to the future, it’s pretty cool to think some of these necessary interventions will have blossomed from our local students.
They get involved
“But Sammy,” you say. “You wrote an article last week saying students need to get out into London more!”
It’s true – I do think that there are a lot of students still trapped in the bubble. At the same time, many students do get involved in the community through campus clubs and student government initiatives.
For example, Western’s London Bridges connects students with community volunteer opportunities. These include the Ark Aid Mission, the Boys and Girls Club, the Rotholme Women’s and Family Shelter, and more.
At Fanshawe, the Student Union has named CMHA as their charity partner of the year in the interest of supporting mental health in the community.
It takes a wide variety of lived experiences to create balanced approaches to issues in our city. Students also contribute important voices in local forums such as the London Youth Advisory Council, bringing their perspective to local government on issues facing the community.
For students new to London, having lived in other cities gives them a fresh perspective on local issues.
They live here too, darn it!
Any time the city focuses on students and/or youth, the same old comments pop up.
“They only live here eight months of the year,” is a popular one.
“They don’t pay property taxes,” is stuck on repeat.
Maybe you have seen these comments before, and share in my frustration. These are poor excuses to exclude students’ opinions.
Let’s keep this simple: You have a voice, and it matters.
It doesn’t matter if you pay more or less in rent/taxes. It doesn’t matter if you are out of the city for a few months a year, or if you live here for four years, or 20, or your entire life.
If you see an issue in the city and you have a story to share, your voice is valuable!
Now get all warm and fuzzy as we come to my final point…
Students are our future
Behold the winner for cheesiest subheading on the entire LondonFuse website.
Seriously though, students are potential full-time Londoners. It would be great to have more of them stick around after graduation.
There are several reasons why students don’t stay, some of which (job market, transit), are out of our individual control. But we can encourage students to stick around post-diploma just by being more supportive and aware of what they do.
Let’s do what we can to involve ourselves. Go to an exhibition from a student artist. Like a Facebook page or two so you can keep up with awesome student projects.
If you have a cause that you are passionate about, find a way to partner with a campus club.
At the end of the day (and this article), let’s keep on supporting each other to make London a great home for everyone, no matter how long you are here for.