Enrolment brings change to O-Week

This fall, Wilfrid Laurier University welcomes its largest group of incoming first year students (3540 registered at the Waterloo campus), 80 per cent of which will be participating in Wilfrid Laurier University Students’ Union’s annual Orientation Week.

Facilities on campus that have been used in the past are unable to accommodate these numbers and as a result O-Week will now be forced to adapt.

“It hasn’t actually, in looking through the internal schedule, affected too many things. The one major change we’ve seen is with the opening ceremonies,” said Burton Lee, assistant vice-president: first year experience for WLUSU. “Now we’re going to be doing two opening ceremonies.”

The first year students will be split into two groups, based on location of residence, in order to ensure that each color team has equal representation at each event and that all students have the opportunity to experience the opening ceremonies.

The Athletic Complex is unable to seat everyone, but with two waves, residence life dons will be invited to join the activities.

The increased number also means that an increase in volunteers is needed to ensure that students receive the same attention and guidance as they have in previous years. WLUSU has brought back the GO Team, which aids in food service and line control for the week; they have also hired more student volunteers to help run events.

“There are still only four teams, they are a little bigger, so there’s more ice breakers, but that just gives even more people the chance to volunteer,” said first time ice breaker for the Green Invaders Dan Towers.

The number of people attending each of the two waves is expected to be around 2000, which, despite being smaller than last year’s orientation group, is comparable to the numbers from only a few years ago.

“It really doesn’t matter because we’re going to make it work,” said April Bannerman, head ice for the Gold Vikings. “Nothing is going to change the effect or the point or the overall feel of the week.”

Organizers are expecting that having two groups will not change the overall experience of the week and it will live up to its previous successes.

In addition to the hiring of more volunteers, the O-Week team has also used a summer conference and volunteer boot camp to ensure that everyone involved is fully prepared to provide the best opportunities for their students during the week.

“It’s really just hammering home the message that [as a volunteer] you can really have an impact on first year students,” said Lee.

Shinerama has been a central focus during O-Week, which encourages first year students to get involved in the community and raise money and awareness for cystic fibrosis.

While an increase in students prompts the expectation that there will be an increase in monetary fundraising, the main goal of O-Week remains to provide students with the best possible introduction and first experience at Laurier.

“No matter what amount is raised we’re happy with it, and the real … importance is that we’re raising awareness for the cause,” said Lee.