Good day, all. A very warm welcome to new and returning students this Fall term on all three University of Toronto campuses! This is a meaningful Fall term for me, personally, because it’s my first as Hart House’s Warden – a position I began four months ago. I have greatly enjoyed getting to know Hart House’s students, community members, alumni and staff over the past few months; connecting with others has been a genuine delight for me. I look forward to meeting and engaging with more folks as the term unfolds.
Xplore Hart House and Other Orientation Highlights
Orientation is a wonderful way to begin the year, a definite highlight where students can thrive and start or continue their U of T journey. Here at the House, orientation is centered around Xplore Hart House, an annual event held this year on September 21, from 11 am to 3 pm.
This may be a one-day event, but it means a great deal to Hart House because it’s our chance to welcome students and introduce them to a place that could be a focal point of their undergrad and grad years at U of T; a place to meet new friends and find welcoming and unique ways to connect with each other and the broader world through engagement with the arts, dialogue and wellness.
This year’s Xplore Hart House was a huge success. It featured a scavenger hunt, wellness moments, giveaways and prizes, free food, music and more. It was great to see students from UTM and UTSC in attendance, and our tri-campus participation in Orientation activities included organizing a bus for UTSC students to come to Xplore Hart House.
Students met our friendly staff and Student Ambassadors and discovered all the different ways to get involved and have fun through co-curricular activities, events and programs. They found new places to meet, eat, mingle and learn about student employment opportunities. They also found out more about our fitness and wellness activities, and hung out with friends in the many cool places around the House.
I, personally, enjoyed walking through the spaces and partaking in some of the activities, including the Open Cypher where I had the opportunity to listen to some freestyle, as well as the basketball shoot-out in the Hart House Fitness Centre. Lots of fun!
We also supported the annual Queer Orientation Week and this year's Queer Disco at Hart House, which took place in the evening of Xplore Hart House.
Tri-campus outreach activities were aplenty this fall. It was also wonderful to see Hart House active on all three campuses, participating in UTM activities, including the Resource & Involvement Fair and UTSC Welcome Day orientation activities.
I love how we foster a presence, on the three U of T campuses, so students feel like they belong and can find an entry point to their engagement with our activities, spaces and people.
Other Orientation-period highlights are still ongoing: Visitors to the House will want to spend some time with the new Talking Walls exhibition: “Liberation on the Dance Floor,” closing November 2. This exhibition features posters, photographs and other materials created by Toronto’s Gay Community Dance Committee, a volunteer-run, coalition-building organization in the 1980s.
This September and October at Hart House have seen a great celebration of Hip Hop’s 50th anniversary. (I grew up listening to many of the artists being celebrated as pioneers, including some of the Canadian greats.) Our We Do It for the Culture event series has been very popular. There is still an event on October 27, Lyricists’ Lounge, in which I encourage everyone to participate if they are interested. I really like the First 50: Toronto's Hip Hop Architects artwork outside my office. Come check it out and say hello.
Congratulations to the Facilities and Hospitality Teams
I am pleased to share that Hart House’s signature bookable rooms received a sustainability certification from U of T’s Sustainable Change Program. Congratulations to the Facilities and Hospitality teams who worked diligently to ensure our spaces are sustainable!
The following rooms are now Platinum Certified: the Great Hall and the Quad, the Debates Room, the East Common Room, the Music Room, the Bickersteth Room, the Board Room, the Committees Room, the Meeting Room, and the Donald Burwash Dining Room and the South Sitting Room.
Visit the Gallery Grill and The Arbor Room
Just a reminder to all readers that the Gallery Grill and The Arbor Room, with Executive Chef and Culinary Operations Manager Marco Tucci at the helm, are open this fall. Come and drop by. Both are built on a reputation of delicious menus crafted with the freshest of ingredients.
This Issue of the "Hart House Quarterly"
I encourage you to read the Fall 2023 issue of the Hart House Quarterly, which features the following stories:
- Student to Alumnus to Staff to Donor: Michael De Angelis Champions Global Education for U of T Students: Michael De Angelis gifted Hart House a game-changing endowment for U of T students as a way of helping them and honouring his deeply held belief in the value of global education. Students who benefit applaud the donation, which also supports the Vice President, International’s plan to strengthen U of T’s presence on the world stage.
- Intrepid Student, Global Citizen, Seeks to Make the World a Better Place: Alazne Qaisar, of the Hart House Student Social Justice Committee, launched an international organization in Grade 11 to give youth a voice. She is also active in U of T’s Reach Alliance, striving to improve the lives of migrant workers in India. She encourages new students to get involved at Hart House, where “there is a place for everyone.”
- Fitness Instructor, Director of Public Policy, Wellness Champion: The Many Hats of Alumna Sandani Hapuhennedige: With a Master of Public Health from U of T, Sandani Hapuhennedige channels her passion for wellness into a hugely popular Zumba class, which she has been teaching at Hart House’s Fitness Centre for nearly ten years. She urges new and returning students to check out the many offerings.
In closing, I’m very excited to be part of the Hart House team for this Fall term. Come by and say hello. The success of Hart House is rooted in the people, the passion and the commitment.
Best wishes for a happy and fulfilling Fall term,