The University of Toronto Students’ Union (UTSU) held its annual Unity Ball last Friday evening, honouring outstanding clubs and student leaders for their contributions to the campus community.
UTSU vice-president, university affairs, Munib Sajjad said the event showcases the great work done by campus organizations, and inspires future achievements. “Our clubs form the backbone of the UTSU and are a great way for students to get involved,” said Sajjad.
“A lot of clubs work to create a sense of community, and at U of T it is hard to achieve that. We like to recognize their efforts,” said Noor Baig, vice-president, equity.
Although nominations came from students, the award winners were selected by the UTSU Clubs Committee. The UTSU Club Leadership Awards included Commission and Campus Life Awards.
The People’s Choice Award was presented to the Orphan Sponsorship Program, which also won the Social Justice and Equity Commission award, which it shared with Journalists for Human Rights (JHR).
The Transitional Year Program Preservation Alliance (TYPPA) won the Academic and Student Rights Commission Award. The Transitional Year Program (TYP), currently an independent faculty, is attempting to resolve a budgetary stand-off between program administrators and Simcoe Hall over a proposed merger with the Faculty of Arts & Science.
“We have been working tirelessly to get the word out about our situation,” said Eric Jadidzadeh, who accepted the award on behalf of the TYPPA. Worried that the proposed merger will undermine the TYP’s autonomy, Jadidzadeh lauded the UTSU’s recognition of the group’s work.
Juxtaposition Global Health Magazine, a student-run magazine covering global health issues, won the Outstanding Publication Award. Editors-in-chief Sarindi Aryasinghe and India Burton said that the award acknowledges the hard work done by the magazine in addition to getting the word out about the publication.
The Black Students’ Association (BSA) won the Event of the Year Award (Summer) — presented as Event of the Semester — for their ‘High School Conference.’ One of the biggest events to take place on campus, the conference is an opportunity for the BSA to encourage access to education in groups that are historically underrepresented in post-secondary institutions.
The Event of the Year Award (Fall) was shared between the Muslim Students’ Association, Organizations of Latin American Students (OLAS), Egyptian Students Association, Hindu Students’ Council (HSC), Power to Change, Afghan Students’ Association and the Arab Students’ Association for hosting ‘The Big bbq’.
The Hindu Students’ Association also won the Event of the Year Award (Winter) for their ‘Garba,’ which took months of planning and was attended by over 200 students.
“The Garba is an important annual event which we try to make open to everyone,” said Arjun Bhalla, HSC co-president. In addition to cultural celebrations like Holi, Diwali and the Garba, the group hosts popular Bollywood nights.
OLAS and the Silhouettes Dance Company, a performance-based dance troupe at the University of Toronto, performed on stage before the dance-floor was opened to the attendees.
The Unity Ball, as its name implies, seeks to bring students together, and with recent talk of “defederation” from the UTSU by some groups, the symbolic value of the event was clear.
“The Unity Ball is an opportunity for club executives, directors, volunteers and general members to celebrate the campus groups that create student life. Since the creation of the Unity Ball we have seen more clubs collaborating with one another and the building campus unity — working together is the kind of thing that makes the clubs on our campus so great,” said Yolen Bollo-Kamara, vice-president, campus life, in a statement to The Varsity.
Ultimately the goal is to ensure that students have a good university experience, said Baig.
The award ceremony was interspersed with dinner, dancing, and live music. The evening’s celebrations also featured a buffet, candy station, and a cash bar, in addition to the awards.