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By Sophie Hamelin

Last year I wrote news and bar-life articles in my first semesters of journalism school as Aidan Hamelin, keeping the student body informed on the whereabouts of red-tailed hawks and how shit Grace O’Malley’s is.

This year, every week, I will be reporting and commenting on queer issues taking place on campus as Sophie Hamelin, The Eyeopener’s new queer-affairs columnist.

As September closes and the parade and the 6-god become fond memories, I’d like to extend my own personal words of welcome to the new and returning students of Ryerson. The events and excitement are dialing down and all of you are settling into your new lives. You are defining the sleep schedules and impoverished budgets that will be your year. Now this can be gloomy, scary even, but chill though, this will be good. I will now highlight your freedoms.

If you have never lived alone, if you have never been away from your hometown, if you have done nothing but live under the expectations of others, congratulations! This new semester grants you the opportunity to finally start being who you are.

You will craft an identity expressing how you feel and how you need to be perceived and as exams, professors and institutions test you, pure joy will be found in who you are — in defining this individual to yourself and your peers.

For some of you this will mean goth or non-stoner, for others this will mean shaving your legs (or stopping) or finally sleeping with whomever you think is cute or tall enough. All of this is okay, Ryerson has protective policies in place to ensure that you can’t get evicted from residence or barred from classes because you are an orientation or identity that deviates from the binary.

At Ryerson, on campus, you are free and encouraged to live your life as you see fit and no one can say shit. People will, unfortunately, but now there are supports and services that you can go to for help — such as the equity centres in the SCC or your faculty adviser — to keep yourself going. Your parents aren’t here, your old friends are in different cities.

Know that for many of you, this is the first place where you can hold discriminatory individuals accountable and that it is no longer a tactic of your survival to take abuse with a smile. Go forth and flourish, little Ryes, you are free within these rules and these walls.

While you are here at school, slaving and paying your way to the future, I will be here in the pages of The Eyeopener, discussing queer-centered issues on campus and providing the student body with voices and information rarely heard in the media.

But for now, I would like to welcome you all, new and returning students of Ryerson, to explore and define yourselves in the place that let me be Sophie for the first   time in my life.

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