By: Crystal Lobo

Human interest issues were at the forefront from Sept. 26 to Sept. 30 as the Ontario Public Interest Research Group McMaster presented Making Connections Week to inspire students to get involved in issues important to them.

OPIRG McMaster is an organization that aims to link students with resources to help them with initiatives and movements they care about. Rachel Goodland, a former staff member with OPIRG McMaster stated, “I want to point out basically to students that OPIRG is there, MUSC 229, and it has resources for students all the time. If there is an issue that they care about, somewhere along the OPIRG spectrum, they can literally go into that office and just say I care about this issue… They’ll work with you. It’s something that is a really valuable resource that not enough students know about.”

The two main connections OPRIG focused on building were those between students and communities on campus, empowering their interests, as well as the relationship between students and OPIRG McMaster.

“What I really wanted to do this week is to partner with student groups that already exist to make those groups even more accessible to students to kind of highlight them and focus on them while also highlighting OPIRG as an organization,” said Goodland.

Various workshops and events throughout the week were conducted in partnership with existing student groups at McMaster, such as the Women and Gender Equity Network, Queer Students Community Centre, McMaster EngiQueers, Mac Farmstand, McMaster Indigenous Student Community Alliance, and McMaster Science Society, among others.  Examples of special events put on in collaboration with student groups included, but were not limited to Intersectional Feminism Workshop 1A03, Interrupting Norms, Simply Sustainable: Sustainable Eating for Students, and Blanket Exercise: The Colonial History of Turtle Island.

OPIRG McMaster also collaborated with faculty to have important and interesting conversations with students. STEM Women’s Stories: A McMaster Prof Panel, for example, provided students the opportunity to ask professors questions about challenges they faced as women working in the stem field.

“They had really great anecdotes and stories that made it… me feel like I could go forward in my career …  that there’s ways to manage it and ways to deal with it that like role models of mine have been able to do.” remarked Goodland.

Greg Zilberbrant from the Academic Sustainability Programs Office is another staff member involved with OPIRG McMaster. Zilberbrant delivered a talk about sustainable development from an intersectional approach to introduce students to the topic and how they could get involved in this initiative.

When asked what McMaster students should take away from Making Connections Week, Goodland responded, “I hope that they can take away that there are ways to get involved with activism on campus that are comfortable for everyone.”

OPIRG’s office is found at room 229 of MUSC, and students are encouraged to drop in for further information.

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