one love event jessi

Update: The Gazette Posted a new article about the event, “Money can’t buy me (One) Love” (I know I loved that witty title too!) and quoted my post below in their article.

On Thursday November 28th, 2013, Western University‘s University Students’ Council (USC) brought the Orientation Week event “One Love” back to campus and made it available for any student or community member to attend.

On Tuesday, our student newspaper (Canada’s only daily university newspaper) The Gazette wrote a scathing article about the event and lack of ticket sales. Under the guise of “The Gazette Editorial Board”, they wrote “For that matter, we aren’t sure why this event was even held in the first place. Was there ever any demand for a second One Love rally? If Thursday’s insubstantial audience was any indication, probably not.”

I attended the One Love event  and asked mental health advocate Mark Henick about the importance of coming to Western for the event, to which he responded, “I think that right now, mental health…on our university campuses, is one of the most talked about issues. When we have youth suicide rates that are staggering high, when we have rates of depression and anxiety among young people… that are as high as they are, this is an incredibly important discussion to have and this is the perfect venue to have it in.”

The suggestion that this event shouldn’t have been held again in the first place is quite alarming from our friends at the Gazette, especially when just a few months ago, in an apology about a comic that made light of depression and suicide, they said: “We take mental health very seriously… If you or anyone you know is seeking help for depression or other metal health-related concerns, I urge you to access the many resources available to you as Western students.” As the MC for the event, Jessi Cruickshank alluded to in her opening address, Western has some of the best resources and programs available for students regarding support and One Love is one of those programs. Eliminating the event or only having it accessible to sophs and frosh, just doesn’t ring right to do.

selfie with jessiIndeed, the turn out for the event was disappointing and minimal, to say the least. But the energy in that room was electric! I was so proud to have gone to that event and at the end of the day, even if one or two people were affected positively through the event, the mission of the One Love event was successfully completed. The low turn out of students actually, in my opinion, added to the event. I felt connected to everyone in that room. While waiting in a line for a selfie with Jessi, I talked to students I had never seen before and saw countless students interacting with each other after the event. With thousands of people in one venue, there’s no way that the event would have felt as personalized as it did. After the event ended, the thousands of students would have shuffled out of the venue like cattle, never having the opportunity to chat with other students and speakers. I saw a student talk to Mark Henick, who had revealed his struggles with depression and suicide during his talk, for at least 35 minutes. While I am not privy to what was being discussed, I am almost certain that that one person being able to confide with a speaker after such a meaningful event, most likely had a positive impact on their life. At least, I would hope it did.

I agree that the events turn out may have had to do with the promotions and the timing of the event. I have no doubt that the organizers will keep these issues in mind with future events, and even before the event started there was a suggestion from one of the VP’s that a large sign advertising the event at Alumni Hall could bring in students walking by/advertise the event for students waiting for a bus. While there are some feasibility issues with that, as another VP on the USC pointed out because the USC does not have control over that bus stop, their suggestion for having signage at the Weldon bus stop seemed like something they will consider doing in the future. And that’s what the USC is about! Providing events, such as bringing One Love back to campus, and learning from such events how to improve in the future and how to get even more students involved.

one love event crowd

I think that anyone at the One Love 2.0 event in Alumni Hall, on that snowy day at the end of November, would agree that the speakers at the event had an impact. I can tell you, Gazetters, that this event was never about the money. There was no way that $5 a ticket would have covered the costs involved with bringing notable speakers to the event. This event was about giving the opportunity for those not involved with the Orientation program the chance to be a part of such an impactful event.

I don’t agree that there wasn’t an interest for students to go to the event. I think that many students were confused about what the event was about, (Something that even I was confused on before attending the One Love event during my O-Week) and students were extremely busy with school, as suggested in the Gazette article. Moving forward, I think that One Love shouldn’t be limited to O-Week and should be an event that is available to the community and students not involved with O-Week. And I like the Gazette’s suggestion to have the event during Frost Week in January. However, it is my opinion that the minimal turnout of students was not because of a lack of interest but rather other factors and thus, the statement “Was there ever any demand for a second One Love rally? If Thursday’s insubstantial audience was any indication, probably not.” just doesn’t seem like the proper stance to take regarding the event, in my opinion.

I did appreciate the email from an editor of the Gazette before I published this post, asking multiple students for their feedback about the event. This showed me that they want to add student input to their article and take that into consideration with their views.

For those who didn’t attend the event, don’t worry, we have you covered via our Big Purple Couch coverage:

Feel free to leave your thoughts via a comment on this post!

 

 

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