CANADA’S THIRD LARGEST UNIVERSITY WITH AN EXPERIENCE LIKE NONE OTHER.
Molly McFarlane, President
I am from a small town, located north of the GTA. Not knowing much, I decided to move out east for my first year of University. Little did I know this small, albeit adorable town had a smaller shopping mall (if you can even call it that) than the one in my own hometown. I had essentially ventured from my petite ensemble to an even smaller escapade. I attended a smaller University for the sake of risking becoming “just another number.”
Although I remained there for the duration of my first year and had an awesome residence experience, I realized I wanted something bigger. I applied to the ‘big league schools’ in grade 12, but I didn’t see really myself attending any of them. It wasn’t until I began researching the university transfer process where I became something of a self-taught guidance counselor. At this point, I realized my options were endless, but I also knew three things: entry into concurrent education, high school teachables, and one of them had to be social science. After a lot of research and pricey long-distance cell phone calls, I decided York University was where I wanted to be. Fast forward three years since coming to York, I am in my 5th year of University and couldn’t have been happier with my choice.
Although York has over 50,000 students, you would never know it. Of course some areas are busier than others, but I can’t ever think of a time where I was frustrated enough and felt like I didn’t like sharing the campus, space, and services with the surplus of people. Because I don’t have to commute using the TTC, this becomes more of a Toronto issue than a York dilemma. Moreover, we are spoiled at York for the fact that you can basically walk from one end of campus to the other in less than 15 minutes. This is not the case for those significantly smaller than York.
It’s like we exist in our own little city.
I also think that we get a lot of benefits associated with belonging to one of the largest institutions in the country. Of them, a huge library with good operating hours; shopping mall status; unlimited food and personal services, not to mention a huge array of undergraduate and graduate programs. Although programs and courses differ, my personal experience with class sizes have been amazing. I was afraid moving to a huge school would mean having to become a number in a sea of thousands, but that hasn’t been my experience and I am so thankful for that.
York is an epicenter of cultural diversity and may very well be the one of the most diverse campuses in terms of student population on the planet. I say this in contribution to the common global recognition that Toronto continuously warrants as being one of the most diverse cities in the world. For those who choose to embrace this broad spectrum of diversity that York offers (i.e. ethnic, racial, cultural, religious, sexuality, etc.) comes great opportunity.
This exposure and engagement with so many diverse individuals gives us a whole new outlook on life and fosters a greater understanding and acceptance of practices that differ from our own. Learning alongside people from all walks of life enables us to become more global-minded; more patient and understanding; better team players; critical thinkers and learners; more open to a growth-mindset; and finally, just generally better people in the grand scheme of things.
These are just a couple of ideas that start to scratch the surface of York’s strength and diversity as an institution. Of course, York remains unique as well in the large number of students who commute to York throughout the given week, which, for many I have spoken to, works against building a sense of community. I think this is a totally valid point, and would challenge students at York to immerse themselves in the abundance of extra-curricular activities that York offers. This is another plus side of York being the size it is—there are clubs, intramurals, and events galore to get involved with. If this is not for you, try reaching out to some classmates you recognize from previous classes—if you share similar interests you can take more classes together. This is also a great way to get to know people and make lasting friendships and memories! The media and the public at large tend to pick on York and I wanted to challenge these notions a bit by offering some insights into why I think York has so much to offer us as students. Of course, it has its woes, but overall I personally feel very fortunate to have attended York and I know that the experiences and learning that I have done here extend well beyond the classroom.