My name is Kate, I’m in my second year of graphic design. I came to OCAD because I was looking for an altogether art school experience where I can meet people who are interested in the same things as me. I thought that, because it has a specific interest in art, that I could easily switch the interests and try out a lot of different things in the art world, because I’m not just interested in graphic design. That’s what drew me to an art-focused university.
Were your expectations met? Or were you disappointed when you got into OCAD?
Academics wise, my expectations were met. It’s a very inclusive and very different experience than I had in high school, where everyone had different interests. But when I came here I feel like the people that I met all have the same interest in art, and that made me feel very comfortable and feel more of a connection with people. So I really like the academics and the social part of OCAD, but my expectations were not met with the idea of community that I thought would come with going to a university.
I think OCAD is very isolated in its community feeling. There aren’t enough clubs in my opinion, there is no student life really, and it’s a commuter school. There is not enough space or time for us to connect a lot.
Do you have a specific example of when any of those issues really bothered you or when you felt like this was really not what I was looking forward to?
I guess there’s not a specific moment, but more so a couple of instances where I felt like that. When I was living in Toronto last year and going to school I felt very lonely and isolated. And even though I made some friends, I felt like everybody else, because it was a commuter school and everyone came from different places.They just went home after classes. There wasn’t a place to hang out really, except for that one student lounge, and I didn’t feel like we were all together. I think there was no community feeling. Yeah, no community life at OCAD, really.
So you mentioned that you used to live in Toronto last year. Do you still live in Toronto?
No, I live back home now and I commute. I feel less lonely than how I felt in Toronto because Toronto was such a big city. Also, OCAD is kind of in the middle of downtown and it would be really nice if we had some sort of residence or some more buildings, more workspaces, and more accommodations for students really to get together. I think that there would be less of that lonely kind of feeling.
I also have a lot of friends who live in the area, who are new to the area, and are international students, and they tell me that they feel lonely. They don’t feel like they’ve met a lot of people and really all they do is go home after classes.
What kind of student life would you be looking forward to? Events or activities? What would you be more interested in?
I think for the social events, maybe some meetings held per department. Maybe they can have a meeting—not a meeting, more like an informal social group for graphic design people. I don’t even know everybody, or a lot of people in my program, strangely. It’s already been more than a year for me and I still haven’t made that many friends in graphic design, so maybe we could have some social interactive meetings where I could meet people from my department, so that I get the feeling that I am in this program with all these people.
I know there’s some Facebook groups. Do you think these work? Are they active? Have they helped out at all?
I feel like, because it’s the main Facebook group, it is interactive and people post on it, but I think I might be wrong. It’s run by admins of the school so it’s not really an informal “everybody can post whatever they want” kinda thing. It’s kind of run and managed by admins.
So, you’re saying you want more student-made, student-based groups, “run by the students, for the students” kinda thing? So that there isn’t that question of what is appropriate or not to post there? Or maybe a group that you can ask about specifics in your program and ask other students?
Yes, and actually, I have friends in a lot of different universities and they have very big school-wide events, where its like homecoming. And they have—sorry what’s that? Frosh! Yeah, Frosh. We only have O-Days, and that’s the only school wide like, big social event that we have.
Did you go to O-Days last year? How did you feel about O-Days?
I didn’t really have a good experience with it, I felt like it was more of a seminar. We kind of listened to speeches, and I didn’t have time to connect with people. I believe, after we had an initial speech, we just went inside, and I don’t remember what happened. It was kind of just a crazy chaos, where people were just leaving or talking and eating food, but there wasn’t much of introductions.
You mean something like a program for the day?
Would you have preferred it to be more than one day or over a week, like Frosh or…?
Yeah, I think that would be helpful.
Do you feel there are any other events that, had they occurred during O-Days, would have made OCAD U life easier?
Do you remember if there were workshops during O-Days?
I don’t think there were workshops during O-Days… No, I don’t think there was anything hands on. I remember there was the art fair that was outside, but that wasn’t really a workshop.
I can’t really remember what happened as it wasnt really a memorable experience for me and I don’t feel like I did anything at O-Days. So maybe hands on things like small workshops where I could talk to people and do something with them would’ve been really helpful. Especially for first year.
Is there anything else you wanna add, maybe? Something you really, really want OCAD to start working on, or anything specific you wanna say?
Bigger involvement in clubs. And, I think, that we try to see how we use campus space. All the buildings are separated and small and there is no space to connect, so improving that would be better. I know they’re building a new one right now, but I believe it’s work space as well. I feel like I can’t go anywhere to just relax and not think about school.
— Interview by Hanin Zaki