While this past year’s virtual settings were confining in some ways, they also provided many new opportunities for student engagement across the province. For one, it dissolved barriers between universities across Ontario, allowing for more productive cross-campus collaboration and amplified community building between students with shared interests or identities. Moreover, with some campuses lacking a critical mass of students with particular backgrounds or passions, cross-campus efforts were especially helpful in overcoming isolation and loneliness.
In part for these reasons, as an extension of its cross-campus leadership programs, Hillel Ontario will be launching Hillel Ontario Communities (HOC’s) for the 2021-2022 academic year. Both well-suited for a virtual environment and effective in in-person settings, each of these groups (or, communities) will bring together between a half dozen and a dozen students from our campuses under the leadership of one or two Hillel Ontario staff people for learning, training, and brainstorming around a specific topic. In addition, students passionate about that topic will have the opportunity to build relationships with their counterparts on other campuses who share their interests.
In convening these HOC’s, we seek to develop stronger cross-campus communities and relationships, increase cross-campus programs, leverage virtual environments, and provide incubators for student input on Hillel Ontario’s practices and approaches. Among the topics and identities on which HOC’s will be centred are LGBTQ+ Jews, Mizrachi and Sephardi Students, Programming by and for Jews of Colour, Israeli and Israeli-Canadian Students, students with disabilities, Israel advocacy and programming, social justice and sustainability, and wellness and mental health.
Seth Goren, Chief Education and Campus Officer, Hillel Ontario
Jeremy Starr, Senior Program Director, Hillel UofT