RPIRG prepares to perplex students with (Dis) orientation Week

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Sarah Carrier. RPIRG offices

RPIRG to host welcome workshops

The University of Regina 2019 fall semester is officially in full swing and Regina Public Interest Research Group (RPIRG), your on-campus home for all things social justice, is ready to kick start September with this year’s edition of (Dis)orientation Week, Sept, 9-12. 

Since Julian Wotherspoon stepped into her role as the Outreach and Events Coordinator at RPIRG, the second week of September has been slotted as (Dis)orientation week, a former RPIRG tradition that Wotherspoon discovered in the non-profit’s archives and has brought back for a new generation of U of R students.  Wotherspoon said that, Over the course of the week, various free workshops will be held with the aim of challenging what students think they already know.  

“Once you’ve oriented yourself to the campus and you have your bearings, University is also a really great opportunity to unlearn things, to disorient yourself, and to branch out and learn new things.” 

This year the schedule is as follows: Food Justice Potluck & Community Conversation” on Monday, Sept. 9 from 3-5 p.m. at the Green Patch Garden (Research & Innovation Centre Atrium should weather interfere), “Media Literacy & DIY Journalism” on Wednesday, Sept. 11, from 12-2 p.m. in Education Building Room 209 and “Student Fight for $15 Minimum Wage” on Thursday, Sept. 12 from 12-2 p.m. in Riddell Centre room 286. 

Monday’s event, Food Justice Potluck & Community Conversation, should interest students and community members who are concerned about the viable nutrition options available on campus, said Wotherspoon 

“Nutrition [on campus] is not easily accessible. It’s not healthy in a social way, it’s not quality in a physical way and it’s not accessible financially. 

The university’s current food services contract holder, Chartwells, has come under fire numerous times for its failure to meet expectations regarding nutritious selections, sanitation, and the distribution and proper labelling of Halal and non-Halal meats, said Wotherspoon. 

 “We have a campus that is not built; it’s not easy to share food in a communal way.” RPIRG’s outreach and events coordinator spoke to the challenge of finding catering, with Chartwells being one of the only options aside from the Student Union, which is available in certain circumstances. It is also worth mentioning that the University has two communal kitchens, but as Wotherspoon notes, “The hoops that you have to jump through to actually use [the kitchens], make them really inaccessible.” The Food Justice event promises conversations around sustainability, food security for students, as well as what it means to live and study on campus with the food systems that are currently in place. 

Two days later, on Wednesday the eleventh,, RPIRG will host a Media Literacy & DIY Journalism workshop. This second (Dis)orientation event will help  answer questions such as “where do I get my news?” and “how can I distinguish a reliable source from the overwhelming flood of what we deem ‘news’?” as well as “whose right is it to determine what warrants reporting?” and “how might that create an inequity in the stories we read?” The workshop also aims to open students’ eyes to the world of student journalism and the possibility of creativity, exploration, and investigation.  

To close the week, the Student Fight for $15 Minimum Wage workshop will take place on Thursday afternoon. This workshop will be put on by a group of organizers who are working to bring awareness to the need for a more realistic minimum wage in Saskatchewan. Currently, our province has the lowest minimum wage in Canada, sitting at $11.06 an hour. This amount is set to increase by just 30 cents this October. Comparatively, British Columbia’s minimum wage is set to increase from $13.85 to $15.20 by June 2021 and Ontario presently sits at an even $14. RPIRG’s goal for this workshop is “to give students a really tangible working example of what organized activism could look like and the success that [this group] has had.” Wotherspoon emphasized 

“[Minimum wage] is one of those things that very heavily affects students, who are often working numerous jobs in order to pay their way through school and so I think we really need to be mobilizing on this as students who are often taking these minimum wage jobs that are insufficient.” 

Also on the horizon for RPIRG this semester are the results from the Our Turn survey from the last academic year, the focus of which centred around the elimination of rape culture on campus. As well, RPIRG’s Annual General Meeting is scheduled for Thursday, Sept. 19 and will feature a hands-on banner-making workshop as well to help out with all of your activism needs.  

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