York University turned 50 years old last Thursday to a resounding chorus of noisemakers and shouts as students gathered in front of a seven-foot-long cake to celebrate York’s anniversary and Student Appreciation Day.
“York students are without a doubt York’s greatest asset,” Vice-President Students Rob Tiffin told the crowd in the CIBC Lobby of the Accolade East Building.
Right: Dianne Phan (left), Gauthamie Poolokasingham and Rob Tiffin
Holding up York University Professor Emeritus John T. Saywell’s book, Someone to Teach Them: York and the Great University Explosion, 1960-1973, Tiffin pointed to the famous front cover picture of founding president Murray Ross at his desk in an open field. “See that ground? That’s what we are standing on right now.”
There were 76 undergraduates enrolled at York during the first year and there are over 51,000 now, plus some 200,000 alumni, said Tiffin. “Each student brings a tremendous amount to the vibrancy of this campus. Students such as you today…contribute significantly to York and its history.”
Before the official cake cutting, there were performances by the York Lions Dance Team and the York Hip Hop Team. After, loot bags were handed out to anyone who could correctly answer questions about York.
Fourth-year psychology student Daniel Burke, a coordinator with york is U, described York’s 50th birthday as “a celebration of all the opportunities that are available at York.”
Left: York Lions Dance Team
Gauthamie Poolokasingham, a second-year psychology student and york is U special events director, said York’s birthday was a time for everyone to come together. “There are a lot of students in different Faculties and they don’t really get a chance to really meet with each other or they’re from different colleges and they might show up for events in their area, but this is a chance for everyone to get together. It’s the biggest day-long event at York. I’m really excited to be a part of it.”
The fun included waffles being handed out in the morning and extended into the evening with Red Pub Night at the Underground.
Right: Daniel Burke
York has come such a long way from a tiny campus in Toronto to Canada’s third-largest university, said Poolokasingham. “Just looking around there’s so many different kinds of people, doing so many different things with their life. I think it’s a great place to come to school. There’s a lot more we can do and I’m excited to see what York’s going to do in the next 50 years.”
For Dianne Phan, a fourth-year psychology student and a york is U event coordinator, the day provided the opportunity for York to showcase its diversity. “It doesn’t matter what background or culture you are from, everyone celebrates birthdays.”
Left: Gauthamie Poolokasingham (left), Dorinda Osei and Dianne Phan
Following up on Phan’s comments, second-year economics student Dorinda Osei, a york is U volunteer, said the 50th anniversary “reminds us to become one.” York got off to a rough start this year, said Osei, but she remains confident the University will make it through, saying, “We can get better. We can shine.”
In addition to the main cake, there were another 150 smaller cakes to give out at different locations around campus. Lineups for a piece of cake stretched three dozen students long in some places.
Student Appreciation Day was supported by the York U50 Office, Student Community & Leadership Development, york is U, the college councils of York University, the York Student Centre and Aramark.
Above: Student volunteers hand out pieces of York’s 50th anniversary cake