PHP Conference showcases student effort

Zach Schmidt, a presenter as well as one of the student organizers of the conference reveals his true identity at the comic book-themed banquet that wrapped up the event. PHOTO BY HUGO YUEN

Sarah Makowsky– News Editor:

The fourth annual student-organized Politics, History and Philosophy (PHP) Conference returned to TRU this past weekend and provided in-depth information on a variety of titillating topics.

The PHP Conference is one of only four in Canada organized by undergraduate students for undergraduate students, according to history professor Dr. Jenna Woodrow.

The conference, which spanned from Jan. 13 to 15, attracted not only students from TRU, but from across Canada and the US, said student organizer Brianna Bennett. Here, undergraduate students have the opportunity to present their research papers to fellow peers as well as a broader audience.

Love, luck and egoism and military influence on gender roles were two of the many issues explored in the presentations Friday and Saturday.

A number of students attended the Prostitution and Ideology: The Effects of Doctrines on the Have-Nots presentation session on Friday.

“It is so wonderful to see so many of you here,” moderator Dr. Anne Gagnon addressed the audience.

TRU’s own Samta Dhanjal presented her paper on a Marxist approach to prostitution and how entering the sex trade isn’t a choice for some women.

This is Dhanjal’s first time presenting a paper in front of an audience other than her class.

“I’m out of my comfort zone, but it’s really neat to be able to present to a broader audience,” said the recent TRU graduate—she was still an undergraduate student when she applied to present at the conference.

Dhanjal’s concentration is in math and statistics, but a philosophy course she took last semester inspired her paper. She incorporated the use of PowerPoint to further illustrate her presentation. “If I were to just stand up there and read off my paper, I’d feel worse after. I have to move around,” she laughed.

“[Presenting my paper is] also good practice for my Master’s,” she said.

Marshall Boyd from the University of Alberta presented on Canada’s struggle with communist ideology, particularly after the First World War.

Boyd has presented at the PHP Conference since the first one four years ago.

“I always really enjoy doing it, it’s a good opportunity,” said the fourth year double major in history and economics.

“It’s a difference experience every time.”

“I feel very lucky to have the chance to present,” said Rebecca Smegal from Grant MacEwan in Edmonton.

Her presentation addressed the impact of prostitutes on Renaissance society. This is the third year history major’s first undergrad conference and she hopes to make the trek again.

Aside from student presentations, conference attendees were treated to a keynote speech by Dr. John Sandlos on Friday night, followed by a wine and cheese social.

A Comic book-themed banquet occurred Saturday night and was complimented with guest speaker Dr. Jeff McLaughlin. After, a dance ensued, and attendees boogied the last night of the conference away.