Hart House’s “What If…?” lecture series launched on September 26. The program’s theme was the question, “What if…you were President of U of T?”.
The discussion addressed a variety of student issues, both academic and extra-curricular.
Featured guest, U of T President David Naylor, joined student panelists Kate Bruce Lockhart, Shagufta Pasta, and Kevin Sousa in the conversation.
“If you could leave any future legacy for U of T students, what would it be?” asked CIUT moderator Cynthia Yao.
Lockhart said she would aim to improve the University’s purchasing policy; Shagufta Pasta emphasized the importance of signature U of T resources such as the Multi-Faith Centre; Kevin Sousa would like to see the empowerment of students and their ideas through peer mentorship programs and other networking opportunities.
Naylor took a different approach: “The things that you can affect are most often very personal — a professor dealing with students, a coach dealing with a team, your interactions with your peers and your friends, your own research as a scholar … those are the minutiae that I think matter in terms of legacy.”
As much as this was a forum for students to debate current issues, such as the promises made to students by political parties in the current election, it was also an opportunity to discover more about programs currently underway at U of T.
The importance of virtual and physical space was a hot topic of discussion. “The importance of engaging our campus physically, whether it’s through a club, Hart House, or the Athletic Centre … these things really enhance our student experience,” said Sousa.
More seminar classes, study abroad programs, and engagement with the broader Toronto community were suggested as means to enhance student experience and campus atmosphere.
When asked what he hoped to take back to Simcoe Hall from this experience, Naylor replied, “I think any chance that we in the administration have to talk with student leaders and engaged students who have views they want to share … it’s a chance to learn, and I’ll always be looking for chances like this.”
At the end of the event, President Naylor stepped into the crowd to chat with students.
“It’s really nice hearing about all the things that are happening at U of T,” said Pasta. “As a student you have your own experience, but hearing the different pieces … gives you a sense of the university as a big picture. I feel like conversations like this should happen more often.”