If you see a flash of red dash through U of T’s downtown Toronto campus on Saturday, that’s the Massey College Gown Run.
Fellows and friends of Massey College participate every year in a 5 km run, walk or stroll around U of T and neighbouring areas wearing bright red gowns.
They’re raising money for the Scholars-at-Risk program, which offers support to academics and graduate students who have fled war or persecution in their homeland.
This year Massey has three Scholars-at-Risk: one from Gaza, another from Syria and a third from Zimbabwe.
“It’s a great thing to do to raise money, but it also raises awareness for the program,” said Emily Mockler, who is the programs and events coordinator at Massey College.
Last year, the run raised approximately $5,000 for the Scholars-at-Risk program. The School of Graduate Studies and Massey College also provide funds for the program. In 2015, U of T expanded its Scholars-at-Risk program to undergrad and grad students living as refugees in Canada. The university also committed last year to match up to $500,000 raised by students, faculty, staff, alumni and supporters for the initiative.
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The program offers $10,000 a year in bursaries to the scholars to help them get back on the academic track.
“I got involved in the Gown Run because I strongly believe in the Scholars-at-Risk program and want to give back to our wider academic community,” said Alex Harris, a PhD candidate in nursing and one of the organizers this year. “I'm very lucky to live and study in a country where I'm free to think without fear of persecution, but I realize that many students aren't as fortunate. Being part of this event helps to raise money and awareness about the importance of supporting academic freedom.”
For the 5th Annual Massey Gown Run, participants pay a $20 registration fee. The event begins in the Massey College quad at 9:30 a.m. on Saturday, October 22, followed by the run at 10:30 a.m. The gowns are donated by Gaspard.
People can also make a donation by emailing the Massey College Community Service Committee at firstname.lastname@example.org.