The Western University campus really is a small, self-contained city.

It is a shining example of where different cultures, perspectives and approaches are shared, discussed and embraced.

There is so much happening on Western’s campus that you can spend almost all of your time and focus here. This makes it easy to overlook the opportunity to explore, embrace and contribute to the wider community in London.

On this topic, I can speak with some level of perspective. I came to London in the late 1990s to attend Western University. At the time, London really was not much more than part of the address of the institution that I was going to spend the next few years attending.

Over that time I embraced Western and took full advantage of its extracurricular opportunities. In my first year, I got involved with my Alumni House residents’ council.  In my second year, I was elected as the Social Science Students' Council president as well as a student senator.

During the following two years, I joined a number of clubs, was an Orientation soph, served as a University Students' Council (USC) Commissioner and was elected as a vice-president of the USC. (Not to mention that while at Western, I met my wife and we now have three children together.)

While doing all of this, I generally ignored the city that I have come to know and love. In retrospect, this was a huge missed opportunity and one that I hope you can avoid.

The fact is the City of London should matter to you. The decisions city council makes impacts each and every student on this campus on a daily basis. Garbage collection, roads/sidewalks/bike paths, the quality of your tap water, near-campus neighbourhood rules, transit and the proposed rapid transit plan, bylaws and regulations that range from parking rules to speed limits: these decisions and rules impact you and you can influence them or leave it up to others to do that in your absence.

Not only can you participate and shape our city, it is to your advantage. The networks, contacts and knowledge you can gain may aid you in either an academic or a professional career.

In a mid-sized city like London, there are many ways to be involved: business associations, service clubs, not-for-profits or one of our city advisory committees, focus groups or engagement opportunities are all available.  

Finally — our city needs you.

We need you to be a part of our city. We need your talent, your ideas, your hope and optimism for the future. We need the incredible diversity of culture and perspective that exists on Western’s campus to be added to that of the wider community.

We need your innovative spirit and your compassion to help us tackle some of our most significant challenges. We need dreamers, thinkers and those willing to take action on issues like poverty, diversity, city building, economic growth and job creation.

The choice to shape the larger London community is yours. I hope you embrace the opportunity.

— Josh Morgan is a London city councillor for Ward 7 

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