Have you ever gotten along with someone in your class but noticed all you talk about is the school work for the class you both take, and wished that you could talk about something else? Join a club! 

Clubs help foster friendships that are not predicated on academics. You are there to make friends and meet people with similar interests — people who you might not meet otherwise. Lucky for you, U of T offers many clubs, and The Varsity has taken the time to outline the values and benefits of just a few of them. 

Chess Club

Founded in 1895, the Hart House Chess Club hosts casual games, internal in-house competitions, lectures, tournaments, workshops, and seminars from chess masters. You can engage with the events depending on your skill and interest. 

If you are interested, start by going to weekly casual chess Fridays in the Hart House Reading Room between 4:00–11:00 pm. It helps to have a basic understanding of how the game works before joining, but if you do not, executive and club members will walk you through it.

For more committed players, there are some national events like the Canadian University Chess Championship in Ottawa in January, and international events like the Ivy League Chess Challenge in November.

To join the club, drop in on Fridays, email [email protected], or even check out its Instagram at @hhchessclub.

Debate Club

Others might enjoy the Hart House Debating Club, which offers a space where students can express their opinions, learn to listen to different perspectives, modify their attitudes in discussions, get comfortable with articulating their arguments, and learn to critically question their own beliefs, as well as scientific methods and pop culture. 

Members debate topics ranging from global to local issues. Georgia Samuel, the club’s outreach director, wrote that the club has seen debates ranging from “monetary policy to parenting your child to [preferring] single life; international relations crises; [and] whether feminists should reject corporate girl boss narratives.” 

The club holds two meetings per week, during which members participate in practice rounds and seminars on debating tactics or global topic prompts. In addition to weekly meetings, students can attend optional weekend tournaments or other outreach events.

If you have more questions or would like to sign up, send an email to [email protected], and don’t feel shy to check out their Instagram at @harthousedebate

Animation and Cartoons Club

U of T also offers students a variety of opportunities to tap into their creative side, including The Animation and Cartoons club which aims to get its start and add new members. In a statement to The Varsity, Ahimsa Kodikara, the club’s founder, wrote that its purpose is to initiate themed discussions about “cartoon animation and its impact on pop culture, the animated medium and social rights issues.” This club aims to host two-hour biweekly meetings in Robarts’ screening room or over Discord. The club would discuss Dreamworks Animation films, animated music videos, and specific animators such as James Baxtor and Alberto Meilgo. 

The club plans to schedule interviews or events with animators, directors, and producers. To join this club, email [email protected]!

Anime and Manga Club

Students can also zero in on their animated interests by joining U of T’s Anime and Manga club. The clubroom is at 21 Sussex Avenue in room 532, which is open Mondays to Thursdays from 1:00–6:00 pm. This is space for casual drop-ins, but most major events and meetings are announced ahead of time through Instagram and Discord. 

In general, the club hosts monthly social events, anime screenings, game nights, origami and cosplay workshops, and movie nights on or off campus in movie theatres, restaurants, karaoke bars, or board game bars. This club provides a great opportunity to build friendships on the basis of common interests. To join the club, email [email protected] or follow on Instagram @ut.anime for updates about major events. 

Astronomy and Space Exploration Society

Last but not the least, the Astronomy and Space Exploration Society is an undergraduate-run community that gives students an opportunity to attend events and panel discussions about space and astronomy. 

Its signature event is the annual symposium that usually runs for three days. The 2022 symposium, Stellar Spectacles: Peering into the Cosmos, was about how astronomers study the universe and what tools they use to detect matter or its effects, such as neutrino detectors and gravitational waves. The 17th symposium, titled “Mysteries of the Universe,” involved guest lectures on dark matter, black holes, and dark energy, as well as an astrophotography workshop. 

The club also hosts Star Talks, which is a lecture series given by professors or scientists. The most recent Star Talk, “Infrared Eyes on the Universe,” featured David Law, an associate astronomer at the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore. Law spoke about the James Webb Space Telescope, which can operate in infrared wavelengths and is undeterred by dust, allowing us to learn about the first stars. 

To get involved, email the society at ​​[email protected] and follow its Instagram @asx_uoft for consistent updates. 

Whatever your interests are, there’s a club at U of T for you. For a more cohesive directory of the clubs available to you, check the “Groups” section in the Student Organization Portal website.