Dundurn Castle, one of Hamilton’s several attractions. Rick Cordeiro, c/o Wikimedia Commons

Curious McMaster students seeking adventure need look no further than Hamilton itself.

That’s the message from one of the McMaster Students Union’s newest campaigns. Discover Your City is a initiative designed to connect students with the city around them. The operation will focus on promoting events, businesses, sights and restaurants to McMaster students.

Hamilton has earned a reputation. People say it is dirty, gross and sketchy; elsewhere in the province, it is called “The Armpit of Ontario.”

Spencer Graham, MSU vice-president (Education), is concerned that students are accepting this. “We as students believe that narrative without actually going into the city at all.”

He feels that students should author their own judgement of the Hammer; to draw their own conclusions, they’ve got to cross the 403 and actually explore the city.

Hamilton truly has a lot to offer. The MSU wants to use Discover as a vehicle to inform and impassion students to leave Westdale and appreciate the city they live in.

The idea originated with last year’s Vice-President (Education), Huzaifa Saeed. As a lover of Hamilton, he had worked in local advocacy before finishing his time at McMaster. He also focussed on surveying perceptions of Hamilton. His vision is being carried on by Graham and a team consisting of representatives from the Student Community Support Network, the External Affairs Commissioner and the MSU Advocacy office.

Similar promotions have existed. Most recently, the Get Cultured campaign helped to connect students with the arts in Hamilton. Discover differs from previous attempts in that it is more wide-ranging. The hope is that something will appeal to everyone. One week it may be a music festival, and the next could be a Hamilton Bulldogs game; it could be a waterfall, a restaurant or an historic site.

During Welcome Week, Discover will be spreading their message and trying to build brand recognition, before planning events later in September. Representatives will be giving away free t-shirts and telling students to look out for Discover Your City promotions. Residence Orientation Advisors will be starting early—hosting events that draw residence students off campus to introduce them to the city.

Graham also wants to gauge student input in the campaign. Suggestions for events and locations can be sent to vped@msu.mcmaster.ca.

Spencer Graham’s final words of advice? “Go explore Hamilton. A majority of students will be here for at least four years, so make the most of your experience in the city. Hamilton isn’t a scary place, it’s home.”

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