Photo: Kim Wiens.
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Student Federation to host its first FEDTalks event on Nov. 29

The slogan of the TED conferences, most well-known for their TED Talks and TEDx events, is “Ideas Worth Spreading.”

On Nov. 29 at the University of Ottawa, the Student Federation of the University of Ottawa (SFUO) will help spread student-focused ideas with their first-ever TEDx inspired FEDTalks.

“The goal is for students to feel inspired by these talks and to provide a forum in which issues that directly affect students can be discussed,” says Hadi Wess, vice-president social of the SFUO.

Since the first installment of FEDTalks is intended to be mainly for students, the talks will largely address the student experience at the U of O. Within this realm of experience, however, “the topics of the talks will range from student activism and government, eating disorders, the Syrian refugee crisis, cycling, fashion, and mental health, to identity and bilingualism,” says Wess.

Even though the SFUO has hosted TEDx events in the past, they decided to create the FEDTalks event, which has no official connection to TED, in order to give them more freedom to make the event more inclusive for the U of O student body.

The event will be held in the Alumni Auditorium, which has a capacity of 300, giving more students the chance to attend the talks as typical TEDx events have a 100-person limit for the audience. To ensure that the event is more inclusive than the regular TEDx events, two Francophone speakers will be included alongside the nine Anglophone ones.

“Since the culture of TEDTalks is mainly Anglophone, we wanted to include Francophone speakers so that all of our students on campus could be reached and participate in the forum,” says Wess.

FEDTalks will also be made shorter than the TEDx events hosted by the university in prior years so that students can stay for the whole round of talks.

For Christine Moncrieff, who will be one of the speakers at the event, maximum student participation is her hope for the inaugural event. “I hope that everyone who comes out will be able to take something away from each of the speakers,” she says.

Moncrieff, a fourth-year criminology student with a minor in women’s studies, will be giving a speech entitled “The 8-year battle for the 4-year degree”, during which she will detail her experience with mental illness, and her fight to obtain accommodation while studying at the university.

“I want to give a message of encouragement to other students, to let them know that they are not defined by the labels that society places upon them. What matters is that one lives their life according to themselves, not to the labels that they are given,” says Moncrieff.

Francesco Caruso, a second-year student in conflict studies and human rights, will be focusing on student activism in his talk entitled “The Academic Glass Canon: Combining Self-Worth & Student Activism”. He says that he wants students to realize that activism is important and worthwhile, even if results don’t come quickly.

“Activism is usually time-consuming work for a student, who has to balance other priorities while at university. It can also be difficult to see immediate results.”

Moncrieff and Caruso are just two of the eleven speakers featured at the inaugural event. Along with the other nine speakers, their talks will be inspiring students at the first of what will hopefully become an annual event for students to spread meaningful ideas with each other.

FEDTalks will take place on Sunday Nov. 29, beginning at 1 p.m. in the Alumni Auditorium in the UCU. Tickets are available for students to buy at the SFUO Office at UCU-07 for $5 each.