Ryerson University may have to mix in some orange with its blue and gold next year. For the first time, the university will have its own Dutch Students’ Society.
“When I came here in first year, I realized there were no groups that I could be a part of. I just don’t fit in any of them,” said president Erin Hesselink. “So after a year and a half, I decided to just make my own.”
She and two others hope to get RSU approval in July, after a long administrative process, which included finding executives and members, creating a constitution and coming up with event ideas.
The words “soccer,” “cheese” and “orange” have all been thrown around during the brainstorming process.
There are no requirements to join — students don’t even need to have any Dutch heritage.
The three women behind the scenes are hoping to “create a nice community where people can come and have fun and meet new people. Hopefully (they’ll) have something in common or learn about the Dutch culture,” Hesselink said.
There won’t be a huge time commitment for those who join, the leaders said, because that’s especially important to Ryerson commuters. There will be five events during the upcoming year, and no weekly meetings.
“There’s no real downside to joining,” said vice-president Chelsea Schuringa.
Growing up with a strong understanding of her Dutch heritage, Schuringa said she wanted to create the group to find and share a piece of herself that often stays hidden.
“Coming to Toronto, to Ryerson, the most multi-cultural city in the world, and especially (to my) social work (program), I am learning a lot more about other cultures. (And) I have come to label myself as white,” said Schuringa.
“I think (creating this group) is a cool way to say, ‘wait, I do have a cultural background. We do have something that I can be a part of that isn’t just Canadian or falls under that label.’”
The Dutch Students’ Society will be the 30th student culture group to join the Ryerson community.
“I feel like Dutch people are kind of hidden at Ryerson,” Hesselink said. “I haven’t met too many. And being Dutch is something to be proud of. So, I think if you got a bunch of (Dutch people) together, it would be fun.”
This story was first published in The Ryersonian, a weekly newspaper produced by the Ryerson School of Journalism, on April 9, 2014.