What is the UC Lit?
The UC Lit, also known as the University College Literary and Athletic Society, is the student council of University College. It is the oldest democratically elected student government in Canada -- it was even created before confederation!
What does the UC Lit do?
The UC Lit aims to enrich the student experience of University College both academically and extracurricularly by hosting a wide range of events, from pancake brunches, career and academic support, coffeehouses, big formals like Fireball, to providing students with a central hub for initiatives within equity, sustainability, and mental wellness. Above all else, the UC Lit endeavours to make UC a home for students, both on residence and commuting.
Why should I run for the UC Lit?
For the snacks! Jokes aside, being on council is a great way to be involved in something bigger than yourself. It’s an opportunity to meet new people, help put on our awesome events during the year, and give back to the community. It’s definitely a commitment during the year, but also a really fun way to get involved. If you’ve done student council in high school or ever had an interest in it, it’s a way to experience student government in a university setting where councils matter a lot more.
Is running for election difficult?
It definitely depends on how comfortable you feel putting yourself out there. While campaigning takes effort and time, you get to talk to a lot of new people and get the experience of running in a university election. You can also be creative in your campaigning; while there’s the traditional postering and online messages, you can also record a video, sing a song, hold a Q&A, and so much more! The UC Lit aims to make elections as accessible and clear as possible for anyone thinking about running for council.
Do I have to be on council to get involved with the UC Lit?
Nope! We have so many other incredible and rewarding ways to get involved without the commitment of being an elected student representative.
For example, in the spring you can apply to be a commissioner’s deputy (think of it like a second-in-command position) where you support the commissioner throughout the year. Moreover, you can also join the commissions themselves which are less intense and something that can work on your time if you’re unsure about how much time you can commit to extracurriculars. Some examples are the Literary and Creative Arts, Services, and Off Campus commission.
Finally, you can also get involved with our clubs and ancillaries! Think of ancillaries as branches of the UC Lit; they provide a different kind of university experience that might appeal to you more. Examples are our theatre troupe, the UC Follies, our official literary journal, the UC Review, our avant-garde satirical newspaper, the Gargoyle, and our dragon boat team, the UC Water Dragons. You can also join intramurals at UC if you want to stay active during your studies.
There’s something for everyone! For more information, please check out our Get Involved section!
What are all the positions on the UC Lit?
You can find them here!
Tell me in one word why the UC Lit is cool and I should get involved.
(FAQ by Albert Hoang, President 2017-18)
A Brief History
The University College Literary and Athletic Society, previously known as the University College Literary and Scientific Society Canada’s oldest democratically elected student government, established on February 22nd, 1854. “Omnium regina rerum oratio” meaning “The power of oratory, eloquence” – a famous quote in the words of Pacuvius, served as the first motto for The University College Literary and Scientific Society. In its early beginnings, the Literary and Scientific Society’s main purpose, rather than act as an administrative body for students, was to discuss and debate scientific and philosophical essays. In this early version of the Lit, the first constitution (accessible here) mandated the holding of weekly meetings. Every Friday evening during the term, from 7 to 10 o’clock, an essay was presented and a question debated. In this early version of the council, not only were members were required to pay fees to belong to the society (as they are today), but fines were imposed on members who did not attend meetings, read the assigned essays, or obey the meeting Chair during debates.
After 100 years of change, the society evolved into something much more elaborate and influential than it was in the past. After some years, the society became known as the University College Literary and Athletic Society, at which point it became the primary administrative council for the student body of University College. Originally the society consisted only of men, but since 1958, the UC Lit, as it became known, grew to include both male and female students as members. Upon being imbued with this new role in UC as an administrative council, the UC Lit held democratic elections with the student body to elect a core executive consisting of a President, Vice-President, Literary Director, Athletic Director, and Treasurer. In addition these members, students from each year of study were elected as representatives: three from first year, six from second year, six from third year, and four from fourth year.
There were numerous criticisms about some of the activities of the Lit, including its history of closed debates and restrictions on the subjects to be debated. As a result of some of the criticisms it has encountered the society has had a number of short-lived rival societies such as: The Mathematical and Physical Society, the Natural Science Association, the Modern Languages Club, and the Forum, which carried activities that they claimed were more in tune with the needs of University College students. “As one correspondent stated in 1886, ‘they bear more directly on the work at hand, and the work, moreover, which is most at heart: they give more opportunities to individual talent and aspirations; and they have enlisted the heavy sympathy and valuable co-operation of the professors, who have ever been conspicuous in the Literary Society by their absence.”
The UC Lit served to subsidize numerous publications, student clubs, and extra-curricular events. For instance, “Freshman Weekend”, an early predecessor to our Orientation Week, was designed to introduce new students to University College, its culture, and its ways of life. The council also took on an annual lecture series called “Current”, which featured distinguished scholars and important people from all over North America. A particularly noteworthy event in 1966 was the successful “Pop Culture Festival”, which featured “panel discussions in the Junior Common Room, art shows, audio-kinetic exhibitions, [and] film festivals.” (’67 Bulletin)