Dal's Year of Belonging ramps up with month of giving back

- January 29, 2018

Artwork for the Days of Action.
Artwork for the Days of Action.

There are few junctures in the Dal calendar as fitting as Munro Day to kick off a 200th anniversary initiative aimed at encouraging students and others to give back to the community.

Days of Action, part of the university’s larger bicentennial Year of Belonging initiative, launches Feb. 2 on the Dal-specific holiday, which was created in honour of George Munro — one of the most generous benefactors in the university’s history.

While donating the equivalent of $8 million in today’s money to support a cause (as Munro did for Dal) may be out of reach for most, this month-long initiative will provide people with unique opportunities to contribute in smaller ways.

“Dal wouldn’t be where it is today at 200 without the support of many individuals, so this month is all about encouraging members of the university community to give back,” says Jill Malolepszy, director of co-curricular experiential learning and career services in Dal’s Student Affairs department.

A collective effort

Student Affairs, Human Rights and Equity Services (HRES) and the Dalhousie Student Union (DSU), have partnered with dozens of organizations to help facilitate connections for those interested in volunteering through the month of February. Details about some activities will be revealed at the Society & Volunteer Expo, happening Jan.30.

Students will have a chance to get involved straight away on Munro Day by attending or presenting at DalLead, the annual student-leadership conference. Timed this year to coincide with the Days of Action launch, the conference will feature a keynote speech from Canadian senator and Dal prof Wanda Thomas Bernard as well as Ryan McMahon, an Anishinaabe comedian, writer, media maker and community activist.

The event, centred on the theme of looking ahead to Dal’s next two centuries, will also provide an opportunity to tip hundreds of current and prospective students off to some of the many opportunities available to them throughout the month.

Introducing Tiger’s Closet

Staff and faculty will also have an opportunity to get involved by helping with set up for an initiative called the Tiger’s Closet, a resource centre for students in need of professional clothing for info sessions, networking events, and interviews with prospective employers.

Volunteer DPMG staff members will help collect items to fill the closet in a clothing drive. Professional attire can be dropped off at the Bissett Student Success Centre, on the fourth floor of the Student Union Building (SUB), between 8:30a.m. and 4:30p.m. from Monday, January 29 to Thursday, February 1. The closet will be located in the basement of the SUB.

On the Truro campus, donations will be accepted on Monday, January 29 and Tuesday, January 30 between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. at the Student Success Centre in the Dairy Building.

Coordinated by the Dalhousie Professional and Managerial Group (DPMG), the DSU, and Student Affairs, Tiger’s Closet may also serve as a natural springboard for mentorship by connecting Dal employees with students entering the professional world.

“There’s a lot of enthusiasm around this initiative and an eagerness to help prepare our students as they get ready to enter the workforce,” says Malolepszy.

Student and staff volunteers will run the closet for a trial period leading up to the Summer Job and Career Fair on February 8.

Alternative Winter Break

As part of Days of Action programming, Student Affairs will also be coordinating a series of volunteer opportunities during the Winter Study Break (Feb 19-23) for individuals choosing to stick around campus.

In an effort to connect with initiatives aimed at celebrating Dalhousie’s African Heritage Month, which runs for the month of February, the community agencies identified for volunteer opportunities are aimed at supports offered for such communities. More details will be shared when available.

Students and other volunteers are encouraged to share their experiences on social media throughout the month with the hashtag #DalGivesBack. Printed copies of those photos will be available at a closing celebration on February 28th in LeMarchant Place.


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