We walk amongst you. “Isn’t he that kid from Minnesota? No—Alaska.” The Canadian students’ experience here at Williams can be summed up in that small anecdote. The fact is, most Williams students, seemingly headed towards the top of their fields, can’t identify us from the rest of the populace as we walk from class to class, clothed in toques and flannels—apologizing to everyone who accidentally bumps into us. Though not entirely our experience, the following has been compiled from a series of interviews with fellow ‘hosers’ who were asked to describe how they felt being a Canadian at the College. No longer will we be shunned watching TSN alone on our computers while the common room is dominated by whatever college sport the season dictates you Americans watch. These are the confessions of the Canadian student’s experience.
This anonymity has led to some issues we the writers feel the need to air out. Let us begin with the dining halls. Though incredibly accommodating of Halal, Kosher and vegetarian/vegan options, the fact that poutine isn’t available as a late night meal is enough to make any Canadian on campus cringe. I’ve seen some fellow Canucks sink as low as spreading barbecue sauce and string cheese on an order of french fries to cope. To add insult to injury, generic mac ‘n’ cheese–not even Kraft Dinner–only just became available as a late night option. Quick research shows that this staple of Canadian cuisine “revolves in an all-but-unobtainable orbit of the Tim Horton’s doughnut and the A&W Teen Burger. It is one of that great trinity of quick digestibles that have been enrolled as genuine Canadian cultural icons.” (Rex Murphy) Why then have students been forced to go without its liquid cheesy goodness for years?
We mentioned earlier a Canadian sports channel called TSN. It has reminded us of another part of the average Canadian’s life style that the student population seems to wholly ignore—Hockey. Yes, we have some hockey teams here on campus. And yes, they do fairly well each year. However, student organizations throw parties for the Super Bowl, March Madness, and a host of other Amerocentric sporting events, while playoff hockey season mysteriously falls over finals–surely a ploy by the administration to ‘Americanize’ Canadians by not allowing us to partake in the time-honoured tradition of watching the Leafs not make the playoffs and chanting “bring home the cup” while every Canadian team is—slowly but surely—eliminated from the running.
While we are eating not-poutine and watching not-hockey, we will be able to wash our sorrows down with not-Canadian beer as the 82’ Grill doesn’t offer any options from north of the border. To that point about bars: Every time the “Star-Spangled Banner” is sung here in our beloved Herring, it is only rarely preceded or followed by a proud chorus of “O Canada.” Why is the College—allegedly a leader in intellectual, multicultural thinking—lagging so far behind sporting events around the country?
We feel that our experience might be best explained through a series of anecdotes. The majority of these stories are real and others are only slightly detached from reality, and we feel that they accurately represent the Canadian student experience:
“I remember being harangued once for arriving late to a class. ‘Don’t you have watches in Canada?’ my friend jeered at me. The actual reason I was late: I got stuck holding the door for 15 minutes in Schow Atrium. I was too embarrassed to admit it.”
“I failed my first French oral assignment because the teacher said my Quebecois accent wasn’t legitimate. It was humiliating.”
“I’m tired of getting points off in my Chemistry lab notebook because my observation tables have “colour” as one of the columns. THAT’S A PERFECTLY VALID WAY OF SPELLING IT!”
“My sincere excitement about the keystone XL pipeline is stigmatized here on campus. I’m tired of people thinking I’m being sarcastic.”
“Constant complaints about the ‘polar vortex’ from the Canadian north make me feel both uncomfortable and disgraced about where I come from. On that point, the school uses aspects of our culture associated with the cold—Winter Carnival, for example—as mere novelties.”
“Some days I’m admittedly afraid of being tarred and feathered—labelled a loyalist—for wearing my “I heart the Queen” shirt to class.”
MinCo represents thirteen incredible groups on campus from a variety of geographical backgrounds, yet one group of northern heritage seems to be missing. What about the History Department? Surely they offer some window into the Great White North. Shortly put, no.
When asked about his experience as a student here, Canadian sophomore Andy Yao, ’17 had this to say, “I got the last pick in the student housing lottery… What the hell?”
We propose, then, a Canadian Club, or CC. It will be a group designed to ensure our Canadian students’ needs are better taken care of from here on out. It will aid in creating bilingual signs to help ease the transition of Canadians to the Purple Bubble. It will change speed limits from mph to km/h all across Berkshire County. It will compile playlists of Michael Buble, Justin Bieber, and Drake to be played frequently in the 82’ Grill. It will establish the proper spelling of words like colour, neighbour and centre in all the school’s publications. These are just a few of the hurdles we must clear as a school to help our toque-wearing hosers from north of the 49th. No longer will Mighty Canada play second fiddle to its shrunken, southern neighbor. Or maybe not. We’re sorry for wasting your time. Again, sorry.