‘Enhancements’ made to WLU O-Week

Uptown tour, carnival night and emphasis on mental health, consent all added to weekly events

File photo by Kha Vo
File photo by Kha Vo

Incoming first-year students at Wilfrid Laurier University can expect new changes in this years’ Orientation Week, where they can socialize with upper-years and get the chance to explore their new home.

This is also the second year that Laurier’s Orientation Week has been adjusted to accommodate for earlier class schedules, which will begin on the Thursday.

One of the major changes includes the ability for students to move out of the “Laurier bubble” into different parts of Waterloo.

“We actually added an event on the Friday that would allow students to kind of integrate into uptown Waterloo and explore what’s going on there and all the things that are around,” said Tyler Murdock, orientation and transition coordinator.

According to Murdock, businesses in uptown Waterloo are planning a sidewalk sale for incoming first-years on the Friday. Students will finish in the Beertown plaza where there will be food trucks and live entertainment.

“There’ll be some buses looping back to campus so if students have classes they can hop on a bus back to campus and go from there,” Murdock explained. “[Friday] gives students the opportunity to get familiar with the area as well and kind of bring them out of that campus bubble right away in that first week of classes,” said Deborah Lam, promotions and programming manager for the Students’ Union.

O-Week’s annual Comedy Night, usually taken place on the Wednesday, will now be an event of the past.

“In the past we’ve kind of found that it’s really hard for comedy because the way to make people laugh is basically crossing the line and that isn’t really something that fits with the values of Orientation Week,” Murdock explained.

“You don’t really want to make people uncomfortable.”

He also explained it is difficult to find a comedian who is “PG-rated” and won’t offend first-year students. Instead, the Students’ Union is hoping to bring in a carnival on Wednesday night.

“With an event like that you can kind of socialize with more people other than sitting and watching [a comedian].”

O-Week volunteers will also notice a change during this years’ bootcamp training. As opposed to learning about personality types, campus partners will be speaking to volunteers about what first-years need to know during their first weeks at Laurier.

One of the speakers, Ben Yang from Laurier International, will give information to volunteers on what it is like being an international student at Laurier.

Speakers from academic advising will also be focusing on proper techniques for MyLearningSpace and LORIS so volunteers can properly teach their first-years how to use the services and succeed in the classroom more efficiently.

“It’s kind of cool that we’re putting an academic focus into the week again and making sure that that’s a good priority,” said Kaipa Bharucha, vice-president of programming and services.

Students’ Union president and CEO Olivia Matthews believes the new events are enhancements rather than changes.

“I think changing the week is important because although legacy and tradition is important, even more so is keeping up-to-date with our current students,” she said.

“So we got the 1997 [birth-year cohort], which is crazy to say, but what the 1997 want isn’t necessarily what the 1993 wanted.”

Even with these enhancements, Matthews said the university and Students’ Union always keep certain elements of tradition during O-Week.

“Shinerama will always be a huge part of Orientation Week, and it starts a good community culture of charity.”

Orientation Week will begin September 6 with the first cohort of students moving into residence and run until September 12.

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