Great podcasts to make your commute better

Commuting sucks. Believe me, I commute about 3 hours a day getting to and from school.

One of the main challenges with having these long commutes is making an efficient use of time. Public transit isn’t exactly the ideal place to pull out your laptop to do some work. Internet access is not always guaranteed and depending on the time of day, you may be in a #TTCsardines situation for most of your trip. Not to mention, reading on a moving vehicle is nausea-inducing for many.

So, what do you do during that time? Sometimes I try to catch up with my friends and scroll through my various social media accounts. Sometimes I manage to get some reading in. But my absolute favourite way to make use of my commutes is listening to podcasts.

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I didn’t really get podcasts up until about a year ago. It was just the icon on the music players that I never clicked on. I didn’t really see where people could be entertained by only listening to people talk for 20-60 minutes. At least with vlogs there was also a visual element that keeps you engaged.

That all changed when YouTubers Rhett and Link came out with Ear Biscuits, their interview podcast series, where they interview YouTubers (and other interesting people) about their lives. I realized that I love hearing stories about people’s lives, and I’ve become much more appreciative of the art of storytelling.

I came across more and more podcasts that delivered life stories of interesting people, which is what I would like to share with you. The following are four of my currently favourite podcasts, as well as a quick review of the various apps you can find these podcasts.

1. Ear Biscuits – a conversation with an interesting person from the internet

Ear Biscuits

There’s a lot about our favourite YouTubers that we don’t know. People are interested in background information about their lives, like their parents, where they were raised, and other fun (creepy?) facts prior to their YouTuber life. Especially with YouTubers, those kinds of details are hard to get to unless they decide to talk about it in their videos. Rhett and Link fills that void and creates the opportunity to explore these stories from their lives. They interview their guests in a fun but insightful way, and brings out the unique stories of their life experiences. Sometimes the conversations get really heavy but it paints a fuller picture of the lives of internet celebrities.

What I like most about these podcasts is the origin stories; how they got into making videos in the first place, what they’ve tried, and when and how they got their breaks to make it a career. Everyone has a different story, and I find it really interesting to hear about the different life circumstances that brought them to YouTube.

Ear Biscuits episodes are usually about 50-70 minutes long and are available on SoundcloudiTunes, and Stitcher.

2. Not Too Deep with Grace Helbig

Not Too Deep

Grace Helbig, being the first ever guest on Ear Biscuits, has since created her own audio-video podcast. It’s basically the anti-Ear Biscuits, the point of the interviews to not go too complex in subject matter or emotions. Grace compiles her own questions with those from fans on Twitter, and tops off the interview with a game (usually a hilarious spin on a trending YouTube challenge). The interview portion is uploaded as the audio podcast, and the game is uploaded as a video on her YouTube channel.

What I enjoy most about these podcasts is seeing (or rather, hearing) the guests interact with Grace as she throws the most ridiculous questions at them. The questions she asks are totally random and imaginative, and requires them to be the same to provide an entertaining response. It carries the completely opposite tone of Ear Biscuits, but I’ve literally LOL’d in public listening to Not Too Deep, so it’s definitely on my list.

Not Too Deep with Grace Helbig episodes are 40-70 minutes and are available on Soundcloud and iTunes.

3. Serial

Serial

The first time I heard someone talk about Serial I thought they were saying “cereal”, so it didn’t make a lot of sense when they started describing it as a suspenseful story about a murder. A spin-off of This American Life, it’s an investigative audio documentary of the death of Hae-Min Lee in 1999. Sarah Koenig talks the listener through every step of her investigation; who she’s interviewed, the details about the case, and what she makes of the information she’s collected. Although this isn’t an interview podcast like the other two, it cuts into clips of her recorded interviews throughout the episode. It’s suspenseful, great storytelling, and has even prompted the Maryland Court to give the convicted suspect a second chance to appeal his case.

Serial episodes are 30-55 minutes and are available on Soundcloud, iTunes, and Stitcher.

4. Upvoted

Upvoted

If you’re on Reddit, you’ve probably seen posts about their podcast Upvoted. It’s a relatively new podcast and I’ve only listened to the first episode, but from what I’ve heard I know it’s something I can get into. Reddit picks interesting stories on their site to explore even further through podcast form. Most of the podcast is the guest they interview for these stories telling their own stories, cut in with some narration from Alexis Ohanian, co-founder of Reddit. It’s basically a lot of uplifting storytelling that makes you believe in humanity or the internet again.

Upvoted episodes are usually 30-60 minutes and are available on SoundcloudiTunes, and Stitcher.

App reviews:

If you’re an iPhone user or have limited data, then iTunes is probably your easiest choice. Download the audio files (they’re all free!) and sync them to your device.

If you have a great data plan, then streaming might be an option for you. Stitcher and Soundcloud lets you stream for free, the only downside being that you might get cut off when you hit an area without great reception (or underground). In my experience, Soundcloud has a much cleaner sound, though I can see how some people would prefer the Stitcher interface. Just try them out and I hope you enjoy!

 

College is the place where it’s cool to try

If there’s one thing I know I did right in university, it’s all the stuff I did outside of my courses. I’m not saying that the academic things aren’t important, they’re super important. They’re the whole reason why you’re there in the first place. I’m just saying that I did a good job with the other stuff, the extracurriculars. So much in fact, that my high school friends started commenting on the difference between my university experience compared to theirs: mine seemed fun, enriching, and full of new experiences, whereas theirs feels less in all those things.

Their words not mine… but okay :)

I think it’s important to take advantage of every aspect of university. You’re paying mostly for the academic stuff, but a lot of your tuition also goes towards support systems to help you further explore your interests. University is a place where a bunch of people are there to discover and express their passions, and turn it into something that will make a change in the world. Of course it’s not the only place for that, but it’s a great environment for it.

One of my favourite YouTubers, Grace Helbig, did a livestream to answer questions from readers of her new book. Someone asked for some college advice, and I really liked what she had to say about how to have a good time in college.

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so… basically this:

You ARE the dolphin.

Getting an experience out of university is an active process (same goes for life in general). At first you have to go find opportunities for yourself, then you’ll reach a place where the opportunities come to you. Once you spend some time in that comfortable place of endless opportunities, you can then choose to leave and try new things, and it becomes this great cycle of learning and growing.

The university experience is really like a canvas, and the analogy puts it into perspective. University is not the art teacher that teaches you how to paint, like how we usually view school. It’s actually the man that holds the paintbrush up for you, so you can take it and paint memories and experiences… (praises to perfect gif references).

If you go to college and you sit back and try to let college college you, it’s not going to happen. You really have to be proactive to get what you want out of it, especially because college is so goddamn expensive.

Just going to class and getting good grades is not how you make university fun. Sitting in class and hoping someone will come to you with an invitation to join the perfect club or go to a party is not how the college experience happens. Look at the posters, join the Facebook groups, and come to the club meetings. How do I know? I’ve lived it. My first couple of months at Glendon were miserable because I didn’t do anything. I went to class and went home. I didn’t have a community and I didn’t make new friends. I kept to myself, because I assumed things would would eventually come to me. Things changed once I put myself out there, and though it only took a month and a half to get out of that funk, but it was an awful month and a half.

I made videos about my experiences getting involved on campus and making friends (A LONG TIME AGO) if you’re into that kind of thing. I also suggest Grace’s livestream in all its glory. But the conclusion is the same: You just gotta try, because honestly, trying is actually kinda cool.

A couple pieces of life advice

I heard a great piece of advice last month. I’ll paraphrase:

Don’t bother with New Year’s Resolutions. Just set weekly resolutions: goals you have to keep just for one week. Pick a day, and that will be your start-over day. Now, you don’t have the pressure of having to finish a 365-day goal, you only have to work on 7-day goals with the chance to start over every week.

Me to Taylor, me too.

Recently I’ve seen a bunch of posts go up from my friends about their #OneWord365. It’s a great project, and I totally loved the idea. So much in fact, that I started to participate last year. But it’s not for me.

I like to have structure in my life. I need to know the end goal, a vision, to keep working at something. With the #OneWord365, I couldn’t see an end goal to the project (or maybe I just didn’t set any for myself. I didn’t know how to). Just living by that one word for an entire year didn’t work for me.

I think sticking to hard numbers and exact times on the schedule is unrealistic; there’s no space to be flexible, and I like flexibility. But I also know that going with the flow with no schedule is not productive; I never get anything done. That’s why I like the weekly resolutions concept.

As someone who really likes short term goals, I decided to give this a go. With the weekly resolutions, I can see what works for me and adjust my goals for the next week. In the grand scheme of things, I’m really just trying to reach the same place: becoming a better version of myself. Now I find myself focusing on the small victories, which in the end help establish good habits to achieve the bigger goals.

An example of how I plan and fill in my calendar as I get through my week.

An example of how I plan and fill in my calendar as I get through my week.

To help me to stay on track, I started using Google Calendar a lot. I colour coordinate certain tasks (which match with the colour tags I’ve been using on my files on my macbook) and schedule things into my calendar as soon as I make plans. Sometimes unexpected things do come up, so once I finish a task or do something not on schedule, I go into my calendar (synced onto my phone) and fill it in. This way, I’m not restricting myself to only doing things that I’ve pre-scheduled, and it’s turned into this scheduling/journaling system that’s been keeping me on track. The whole point to this is not to be obsessive over time, but to give myself a structured guideline to stay organized and productive.

It’s been working for the last month and I like it.

Thanks Matt Smith.

There’s a second piece of advice…

…one that I’ve heard every year since I’ve started at Glendon, but it’s also the advice I never followed:

Take a break. Go on vacation where you can drop everything and not worry about anything.

That’s not something I know how to do. I don’t like jobs where work comes in waves, I like go-go-go. Taking vacation to relax was not a foreign concept, but I just didn’t think I needed it.

I totally needed it. By the end of September I was burnt out, and I didn’t want to do anything. For two years I studied full time then worked full time during the summer, and I got to a point where I hated everything. I didn’t care that I was almost at the end of school, I just wanted to drop everything and leave. I was miserable.

It’s what happens when you don’t take breaks. That’s exactly what everybody warned me about, and I didn’t listen. Maybe I thought I was stronger than others, maybe it’s coming from the tendency to just repress all of the feelings. I was totally exhausted and struggled through my fall semester.

But my winter break was great. I left everything school-related behind (including my responsibilities on several student groups), caught up with high school friends, and made new friends. I binged on Gilmore Girls, watched a lot of new movies, and had a Lord of the Rings marathon. I ignored messages and all of the group chats I was in, and knitted. I let myself relax, did only what I wanted to, and it was great.

It definitely wasn’t the best approach to taking a break. Avoiding everything and everyone that was related to my student responsibilities was irresponsible and probably very frustrating for my peers. But lesson learned, I need breaks too, and there are more responsible ways of going about achieving that.

Now, with a proper break and a new system to keep me organized, I feel much more comfortable with the way things are going and motivated to keep working hard until graduation. It’s almost been a month since I’ve come back to reality and though there’s an overwhelming amount of work, I’m not resorting to holing keeping to myself. “Win the small victories (so I can get through school and find a job)” is my mantra this year. If you can help me find one word that encapsulates that, maybe I can do #OneWord365 after all.

Racing to the end

I was doing so well with the weekly posting thing. Two week streak!

But things came up, I couldn’t post a video without making a correction in the edit, and it just never happened.

BUT, as sleep deprived and miserable as I am, I’m nearly done the semester!

I just wrote an exam for my Children’s Literature class – don’t ask how it went – and all I have left to do to finish up this semester is to complete my 10 page writing portfolio. It’s not as easy peasy as I’d like, but I’m getting there.

Writing is difficult, as proven by my lack of commitment to my blog. Creative writing on the other hand… that’s a whole other world. Literally.

To create a world with solid characters comes easy for some people. I actually don’t think I have an issue with that part of it. It’s the whole writing that world into a story that flows and keeps people interested is the real challenge. Especially when you’re doing it for marks. I can’t wait until it’s over.

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On the other hand, it’s giving me a reason to actually write by hand and use the beautiful notebooks and pens I buy but never use.. because who actually writes anymore, right? (Funny story: I haven’t used a pencil or eraser since I left high school. My kid brother came to me the other day asking to borrow an eraser, and I was actually confused at the fact that people still used them. I’m pretty sure I don’t even own a real pencil case anymore…)

Once I hand in my portfolio tonight, I can go home and pack for my two day Montreal trip. Yes, Montreal for just two days! It had to be a quick trip, but there will be Book of Mormon, lots of photos, and time spent with my favourite people. I’m so very much looking forward to it.

YouTube Challenges

I didn’t think I would be doing YouTube challenges when I started this channel.

But it’s happening.

Juan found The Tipsy Language Challenge on YouTube, and we did it. Sober. STICKING TO THE BRAND.

We actually shot many more rounds of the challenge, but I didn’t feel like editing all of it to a watch-worthy length. So I left out probably half of the original footage. There’s just so much truth being revealed in this post! (That means we’re friends, right?)

Anyways, I hope you watch and enjoy this video. And be sure to let me know if you want me to make more challenge videos in the future.

The vlog is back.

I’m back to vlogging!

It took a while to get back on camera. The last time I vlogged with the camera pointed at me was over half a year ago. Hard to believe, but at the same time… not really.

I’m naturally someone who likes to get by without people noticing. I like behind the scenes work. How I got to vlogging in the first place, I don’t know. Getting back into vlogging every year is just as difficult as the year before.

But I’ve been inspired. After a weekend at Buffer Festival last month, I felt inspired to get back into making videos to share parts of my life with my friends and viewers. So, here we are.

It’s a rough start, but there will be more and it will get better. Thanks to everyone who’s waited and encouraged me to pick up the camera again. Y’all great.

On a side note, I started a radio show. It’s called Yenny Explains, and broadcasts every Tuesday at 6pm. I share my favourite music of the week, tell some stories, and talk about being a 20-something in university. Tune in, follow it on Twitter, and like on Facebook!

Yenny Explains

Favourite spots on campus: Lunik Co-op

My relationship with Lunik Co-op began with a tweet.

I believe Juan was behind the @LunikCoop twitter account at the time :)

I believe Juan was behind the @LunikCoop twitter account at the time :)

Before I was an eAmbassador, I had no idea I was being watched. Someone made the connection that I tweeted about Glendon sometimes and I was unknowingly followed by members of the Glendon community.

Lunik was probably one of the first groups that interacted with me online. This was weird back then. After being thoroughly weirded out, I did my ninja stalking on them, and found out it was a café in the basement of the manor. It took me a while to make my visit but I fell in love. So much so that I vlogged my experience on my first YouTube channel.

The space (and me) look totally different now. Sidenote: This was kind of an audition vlog that helped me get my eAmbassador position. We do audition blogs for our applicants so start one if you’re interested!

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From then, I became a regular volunteer in the space. My Glendon friends who didn’t spend much time in the space called it my bat cave. Because I was a commuter, it was a treasured place on campus for me to freely chill out in while feeling totally comfortable doing so.

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I learned so many things at Lunik, like how to make myself a latte!

At the end of my first year, the Coordinator at the space announced that there will be a team of 6 Coordinators helping to maintain the space next year. Naturally, I applied. I couldn’t imagine myself doing anything else on campus.

I became the Social Space Coordinator during my second year. It was stressful, and there was a lot of growing done in that year, both for the space and me personally. Because it was the first year with an expanded coordinator team, there was a lot of transitioning that needed to be done with the space management being delegated between 6 people.

Lunik Coordinators 12-13

With these 5 other beautiful people, we met weekly for hour-long meetings to struggle through our problems together, and we became a support group for each other.

During that year, the space expanded in the types of events we offered to the campus. With the GCSU, we hosted a bunch of open mic nights, or Café Chantant for students to take the stage. With drinks, good company, and student talent, Lunik was a great place to unwind on Tuesday nights.

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Sometimes we called up local (and international) talent to take the stage. Some of the coordinators find the most talented people :)

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While my old position has been integrated into other positions, I helped to establish a new position on the coordinator team as I left. I proposed to have an External Communications position onto the team, because any good organization should have a designated person managing their promotions and outreach.

The new position was created, and though I was planning to apply for the position myself, I decided last minute that I didn’t want to continue as a Lunik Coordinator anymore. While I had an incredible experience and I knew it wouldn’t be as stressful the second time around, I wanted to roam the other options I had to student involvement on campus.

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Though I wasn’t able to volunteer and spend as much time in the space this past year, Lunik is still a space very dear to my heart. I still maintain ties to the space as a Treasurer on their Board of Directors, and making it my go-to spot when I’m in need of insightful conversation. I attend their Café Chantant and Late-Night Lunik’s whenever I can, and I usually suggest my class groups and clubs to hold meetings there.

If you’re going to be a commuter student, you’ll need a go-to space on campus. To relax in, to spend off-hours between classes, to nap in. If you’re someone with dietary restrictions, Lunik offers light meals and snacks with vegan, gluten-free, and lactose-free options, all for very cheap.

Though it’s located a little out of the way in the basement of the Manor, it’s definitely a beloved space of our campus.

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Check out Lunik online: Web | Facebook | Twitter

Fav Frosh Photos

I swear I was going to vlog today. But then I lost my voice.

I’ve been at Ontario Universities’ Fair for the last two days, reppin’ Glendon and speaking to prospective students about the awesomeness that is “the smaller, bilingual, liberal arts campus of York. Oh, we’re prettier too.”

Instead of vlogging with a scratchy and patchy voice, I would like to share some of my favourite photos from Glendon Frosh Week 2014. As mentioned in a previous blog post, I ran the Media Team this year with the sole mission of making 2014 look the best out of all previous frosh weeks.

The popular opinion is that we achieved just that. I can graduate happy now.

Commuter Orientation

Taken at Glendon’s first ever Commuter Orientation. We divided the students up into groups based on where they lived in and around Toronto, and had a cheer off. I love this shot because you see the attitude that comes with neighbourhood pride. #commutersunite

I had a vision, and the D-Frosh team made it happen. Someone would hold out a camera and yell PHOTOBOMB at the top of their lungs, then proceed to count down from 5. Everyone within earshot would run and try to make the shot; the only rule is the photo must be taken at 1. #photobombGL

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It’s really difficult to photograph a group of students thrusting, but I think we got it here. #ohwefeelsogoodhuh

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Taken at Soirée de la Francophonie, Kiera sings a Celine Dion song in French. I just really liked the bow in her hair. #superstar

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Taken during one of our off hours, I couldn’t resist taking yet another Manor shot as I was walking by. The lighting was perfect, and it was one of the last opportunities I would get to take a shot of the building with the full garden. #ourcampuslooksbetterthanyours

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This might be a good time to mention that I really enjoy taking photos of DJ/music equipment and big parties. You’ll see what I mean. These are David’s hands at Graffiti Night. #turnup

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Mac and Jelena, discussing important O-Chair things. I love taking photos of candid moments, and this was a side of Frosh Week that we don’t see very often. #2legit2quit

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Who doesn’t want a selfie with Richard? #slay

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The weather during Frosh Week was all over the place, but on some nights it created some beautiful sights on our campus. #magicorhorror

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Turning up at our Glendon-Mac Pizza Party. #goldenhour #lensflare #yaassMiro

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I love this photo because of the colour contrasts, and the slightly vintage camera effect captured in it. I really didn’t edit much on this photo except increasing the contrast and clarity. #art

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Yay more DJs. #smokeandlightstho

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I printed a copy of this and stuck it on the wall of our council office. #ouitheblue

The O-Chairs and GCSU President in action, on stage at the YorkU Pride event. I enjoy the jumping action. #WeAreYU

The O-Chairs and GCSU President in action, on stage at the YorkU Pride event. I enjoy the jumping action. #WeAreYU

There were many more than these, and they’re all posted on the Glendon Frosh Week Facebook page. These just happen to be my overall favourites :)

I hope you like them too, and I’ll be back with a vlog sometime soon. There’s much to see, much to share!

It’s that time again…

Sometime after my first D-Frosh experience, I decided that I would participate in Frosh Week every year that I’m at Glendon. It’s just something I love to do that much.

This year, after two years of D-Froshing, I applied with special plans to make this the best Frosh Week ever. I wanted to use my skills and experience to make the week as memorable as possible, not only by creating the memories during the week but also capturing them in the best way possible. We expanded the group to include a Media Team; designated photographers, videographers, and digital media management.


A pre-frosh week teaser video I put together to get everyone pumped up. If you’re heading into frosh week, or if you have fond memories from your frosh experience, I think this video’s managed to capture it :)

With all of our efforts this summer, we’ve set the record for the rate of frosh kit sales, and put together the coolest looking frosh gear ever. All I wanted to do was to make things look good, and I think we’ve achieved exactly that.

With the O-Chairs going hard with all of their planning, they’ve also been taking chances and brainstorming the best ways to make everything awesome. I don’t think I’ve been this excited for a frosh week before. Maybe it helps that I know a lot more of what’s going on, but it’s going to be epic.

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To participate in Frosh Week, you’ll need a Frosh Kit. This year they’re $125, available for sale on the frosh website.

Be sure to follow @GLFrosh on Twitter and like the Facebook page for more updates!

Video

On student council in university

In university, student council takes a slightly different form. More members, bigger budgets, and less teachers involved. The council at Glendon is called the GCSU (Glendon College Student Union) ou l’AÉCG (l’Association Étudiante collège Glendon).

Sidenote: Juan brought up this important point in passing – the GCSU is the entire student body at Glendon; everybody is technically part of it. The council is the group of students elected into the positions of leadership for the entire college. I will be careful with that distinction with the rest of this post.

I was never part of the GCSU and I don’t plan to be; I made that decision in my first year. That sounds like a decision made as a result of a negative experience, but it really wasn’t. I just realized what student council was in university and it just didn’t line up with what I wanted to do most. I was on council in high school, but was determined to find opportunities to do what I really felt passionate about in university – being creative and being with others who loved creating things.

While I haven’t really had a negative experience with council, I must say it was really difficult to become familiar with them in the beginning. I kept hearing that the GCSU was a great resource for students, and that the office was open to all students to come and ask for help, or use their resources… but I didn’t feel that during my first year. It seemed like an intimidating place, where everybody but me were friends and I didn’t belong. I avoided it that entire year.

Since then, I’ve seen the council members working hard to change that office vibe. The office itself has had major renovations to make it feel more inviting, and the new councils have become more aware of the default clique-y feel they give off without even meaning to. Now, after years of making friends who ended up joining council and becoming a student leader myself, council has become a much more familiar group of friends. The GCSU office is thankfully, not an intimidating place anymore.

They truly are a great resource for students who want to get involved on campus. For anybody who can’t find a club for their interests, start one (talk to the VP Clubs about the process). That’s what I did, and it makes me so happy to make new friends based on what I’m passionate about. The GCSU office also has the cheapest printing service available on campus!

Get to know the council. Talk to council members when you see them at frosh week. If you have questions or ideas about what you would like to see happen on campus, go talk to them about it. They’ll either help you develop those ideas or direct you to people who may share the same interests. They’re just students who are doing what they love for the campus they love. They’re not mean, they won’t shoot you down, nor will they ignore you. Some of them have a weird sense of humour, some have a huge personality, and some are really awkward with first impressions. Basically what I’m trying to say is that they’re normal students just like me and you, and they’re a good group of people to know. Or even join, if that’s what you want to do :)

 — If you feel that a council member is actually being mean to you (which probably won’t happen) or they’re doing things that are unconstitutional, you should address it. If confrontations aren’t your thing, talk to someone else on council about it, or take it to the amazing Student Affairs team. They’re staff who work closely with the GCSU, and can help you figure out a solution while keeping details confidential.