As a Laurentian University alumna, there are certain subtleties, experiences and memories that flood my mind about those first few months of the fall semester, and, of course, of the years ensuing.
There’s the flurry of students rushing to the bookstore to gather the crisp new books that they need for their classes. And maybe some first-year students are going a little overboard and spending too much on LU memorabilia like hoodies and lanyards.
I remember walking by the Jeno Tihanyi Olympic Gold Pool, though it wasn’t named that at the time, and thinking that even in my childhood, the ultimate dare was to jump off the highest platform. One of my kinesiology friends in university would dive off it in stunning fashion. I’d just plop down like a bag of sand. But in the fall, as a student and an avid swimmer, I would think about the countless laps and early practices of the swim team, perfecting every stroke, kicking their feet like a Yamaha boat motor.
At times, during my late-night classes, I would walk by Huntington University and hear the faint sounds of the musical instruments being tuned, polished and played over and over. The strumming of guitars, the beating of drums, the violins where I could picture the player gently moving the bow back and forth. I remember one year, one of my friends played the clarinet in a jazz ensemble there, and I went to see the concert. It was riveting to see such talent.
My first year of university, I chose to take classes in Arts d’expression – the French theatre program and be part of La troupe. I quickly learned about Pavillion Alphonse-Raymond Pavillion, its smells, its bricks, its yellow couches. That year was their very first graduating class – ever. We created some of the most innovative and ground-breaking performances and that year alone, I was part of over six productions.
I was immersed in French creativity and even attended a play at the Sudbury train station that was a one-man play in an entire monologue. I also made friends for life. That year will be etched in my mind as one of the most enriching.
Now I think about the new or returning students at Laurentian University this fall. I think about the bookstore being permanently closed, the pool being locked, the music not floating in the air and the stage at Alphonse-Raymond empty of players wanting to play.
I think about the absence of programs like physics, mathematics, economics, not to mention the decimated midwifery program that was a cachet at LU.
This is not to simply underline the life-altering losses of this beleaguered university. It is to highlight the fact that the fight is not over, and the process begun by the CCAA (Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act) is ongoing. It continues to annihilate student programming, faculty and ex-faculty and is even threatening LU greenspaces around campus. LU is not a “company” and it was not designed to be left in the hands of one.
This is no afterschool special. This is the struggle to recapture our economic and cultural vitality in the North. This is demanding restoration in education and reprimanding those responsible for this malfeasance.
Get your backpacks ready.