Walied Khogali is frantically directing traffic. Not a usual part of the job description for the UTMSU president, but marching 1,200 rowdy frosh across Huron street calls for some improvisation.
Motorcycle cops on duty stood by their parked bikes cracking jokes as Khogali ran after an ambulance, its driver unknowingly stopped in a lane about to be invaded by frosh for UTSU’s annual orientation parade.
How was the event shaping up, in a word?
“Amazing!” said Khogali, but Danish Khanani had another word for it.
“This is madness!” shouted the UTM frosh leader at the top of his lungs, doing a passable imitation of that first guy to get killed in The 300.
“Madness?” boomed his legion of frosh in unison. “This is Erindale! ”
Though UTM brought the largest contingent, three campuses worth of frosh, representing the St. George colleges, and Scarborough and Erindale campuses, filled King’s College Circle and back campus field at Friday’s orientation festivities.
With them were the all the usual suspects: student union reps, the Trojan condoms mascot in full gladiatorial regalia, and corporate shills from RBC inauspiciously sporting prison fatigues while signing students up for bank accounts.
In the hours leading up to the parade, students bumped shoulders for UTSU Clubs Day, where representatives from some of U of T’s 400-plus campus clubs rubbed elbows with new students, and anyone else looking for free swag.
Club leaders eager to meet, greet, and sign up new members cheerfully passed out t-shirts, highlighters, Frisbees, and Bibles to all takers.
“You should have a look, there’s a bunch of free stuff,” advised one fourth-year student, jostling away from the premises with an armful of agendas, pens, and a Ziploc bag labeled “evidence” containing a fresh pair of gym socks (courtesy of the RBC jailbirds).
The summer heat and sweltering humidity didn’t seem to bother most, but don’t tell that to the guy in the astronaut suit.
“It’s really hot, but it gets a lot of attention” said Derek Lee, copresident of U of T’s Astronomy and Space Exploration club, smiling gamely from inside his spacesuit.
Was the mission a success? The club collected 500 emails in one day, compared to 400 for all of frosh week last year.
Many a student was drawn by U of T’s Hip Hop Headz, whose outpost by Soldiers’ Tower invited passerby to sample what Albert Le, a secondyear Economics and Philosophy student involved with the Headz, calls “the four elements of hip hop: MCing, breakdancing, DJing and graffiti.”
Also present was the unofficial fifth element of any good club recruitment: free pizza. At first, the Headz only gave slices to students bold enough to “bust a move for pizza,” but eventually they relented.
“Lots of people are pretty shy, I guess,” mused Albert.
“What are you writing?” demanded a fiery frosh entering commerce at UTM, as I jotted something down. I told her I was writing about them for The Varsity and she opened up.
“You should tell them that UTSC and St. George suck!” she offered, adding “I want to see my fucking name in the paper!” though she only identified herself as Niwaz. [Editor’s note: of course, you can’t hide from The Varsity. We got her full name, address, and baby pictures, just to prove we could. They’re in the office, in a filing cabinet labelled ‘Just in Case’.]
The parade, once it got underway, drew onlookers all along its route along Bloor and down Yonge street.
Frosh parade, while nominally an event that brings all U of T’s campuses and colleges together, is mainly a chance for each group to show off how much better they are then the rest.
In wildness and sheer numbers, UTM’s militia of rowdy frosh ruled the day from their position at the head of the parade. Just because their dominance was secure, though, didn’t mean they were above taunting everyone else.
“What do we think of St. George? Fuck St. George!”
“What do we think of Scarborough? Fuck Scarborough!”,and countless obscenities heaped upon engineering students were among their arsenal, chanted with rehearsed precision—and helpful gestures—by the Erindale mob.
My own college, UC, disappointed with their attempts (“You can’t spell ‘seduction’ without UC?”) but when a trio of Ryerson malcontents somehow infiltrated the parade and started chanting “sucks to be! U of T!” the normally tame UC crowd rallied and the rogues were quickly dispatched.
Though they had only a third of UTM’s numbers, scrappy underdog Woodsworth, whose past frosh activities included a siege on New College, held their own, with a catcall to cook up everyone.
“Your priest touches you!” they chided St. Mike’s.
“You can’t spell ‘douche’ without UC!” they called, turning UC’s own godawful chant against them.
Perhaps sensing they were outnumbered, the pharmacy students stayed safely neutral with their “mix it up” chants. And in the music section, as UC and UTSC got into a shouting match in front of Hart House, the marching band played on.