The performers in Red Ruby Burlesque on stage

The Student Initiatives Fund Through a Ruby Red Lens

By: Deighton Edwards, Outreach and Promotions Assistant

Can I be honest with you? When I think of Ryerson, the first thing to come to mind isn’t degrees or classes. It isn’t assignments and it isn’t professors. It isn’t even school spirit.

When I think of Ryerson, the first thing to come to mind is passion, and more specifically, the passion I see in Ryerson students. You can’t walk down a hallway in Kerr Hall without seeing dozens of posters for a new event or conference happening next week. The RSU sends us endless emails from student led groups that want you to be a part of their next great big adventure.

Since beginning my journey with the Student Initiatives Fund (SIF), I have had the unique opportunity to see this passion from all parts of campus. As this year’s Outreach and Promotions Assistant, I get to work one on one with students to help prepare and execute their presentations, all while promoting SIF all over campus, non-stop. Honestly, if we’ve talked any time in the past two months, you’ve probably heard me mention SIF a minimum of 12 times – so sorry, but I’m not sorry about it.

I had the chance to sit down with Cameron Walker Fox-Revett, who came to SIF during the 2015-2016 year to seek funding for his project, Ruby Red Burlesque. Ruby Red Burlesque was a theatrical performance piece that adapted the classic storyline of The Wizard of Oz and through dance and song addressed issues of sexuality, race, gender and finding one’s true destiny. Over a cup of tea, Cameron helped me remember the 5 big truths of SIF and why we have a committee like this in the first place.

Nothing is too big or too small

If you’ve seen our postcards around campus, you know this is true. Dreams come in all sizes and so do initiatives. Whether you’re an individual with an idea just forming, or an established student group looking to bring down the metaphorical house with your larger than life conference, each is equally as possible. Ruby Red incorporated actors, dancers, singers, producers – you name it, Ruby Red probably had it in some capacity. While Cameron’s initiative included many people in many different roles, yours could begin with just you. It just takes a little bit of belief in yourself and whole lot of hard work.

Initiatives are important

We pay a hefty price in tuition, so obviously going to class is important (or at least the one’s with attendance…). But there’s only so much you can do in your 3-hour lectures and in a four-month term. Sometimes we’re missing a few pieces that would help us take our course content and apply it beyond essays and exams. Out of classroom initiatives give us opportunities we may not have had otherwise and can play a vital role. Cameron stressed how, for him, his university career and experience was greatly shaped by what he did outside the classroom. His real world experience led to real world projects, which led to real world success!

We shouldn’t be scared of the new and exciting

Ryerson is all about innovation and giving students new and exciting experiences during their time at the university. It’s taken some pretty bold people to make all of that happen, and those bold people started out just like you. Cameron’s desire to create Ruby Red Burlesque came from a desire to see all forms of art come together while addressing important messages like body positivity, gender, sexuality and race. This event was a first of its kind and yours can be too.

Collaboration and Engagement are a perfect match

There’s nothing cooler than seeing students from different areas of campus work together. Cameron made a point of engaging students all across FCAD to ensure Ruby Red Burlesque had a variety of perspectives. Imagine the possibilities if TRSM partnered with FCS? Or, what if students from Creative Industries partnered with students from Politics and Governance? The possibilities and engagement opportunities are literally endless.

You don’t know unless you try

This sounds cliché, but you really won’t know if something is possible if you don’t give it a shot. Hosting an event on campus can seem intimidating – where will you do it? How will you fund it? Will anyone actually come? Chances are, if you like something and believe in it, someone else on campus will too. Your initiative may be exactly what someone has been looking for at Ryerson. Our greatest growth comes from trying something new, so get out of your comfort zone and make something happen!

The SIF committee is made up of students from a variety of faculties and student groups that believe in the power and importance of initiatives. With meetings every week of the academic year (besides Reading Week and the December break) applications can be submitted up until March 3, 2017.

Check out the SIF website and find more information on how YOU can begin!