WLU GSA plans O-Week programming

Social activites and information sessions set for graduate students during first week of school

Photo by Jessica Dik
Photo by Jessica Dik

Wilfrid Laurier University’s graduate students are in store for their own week of orientation activities.

The graduate student orientation week, which runs from Sept. 8 – 12, serves much of the same introductory purpose as its undergraduate counterpart.

“While there are a number of graduate students who continue on at Laurier, there’s a number of students that come from different schools,” said Ian Muller, president of the Graduate Students’ Association. “Part of orientation is to welcome them to Laurier specifically, and the Waterloo region more generally.”

Activities organized by the GSA for their aptly named ‘Explorientation’, such as a Foodie tour of the area or canoeing in the Grand River, provide graduate students with the chance to familiarize themselves with the Waterloo region.

“Our focus is to welcome them to the Laurier community by showing them both what the GSA does, what graduate studies at Laurier is like, but then also helping them get more familiar with the new area that they may be living in,” Muller continued.

While the GSA is organizing social activities and information sessions, the faculty of graduate and postdoctoral studies has planned department specific programming to help ease students into their studies.

“Individual graduate programs have time Tuesday morning and Wednesday afternoon to do more program specific orientation,” said Michael Bittle, communications coordinator for the faculty of graduate and postdoctoral studies. “You can meet your colleagues, your professors, your friends, sort of these people that you will be moving forward with you through your graduate studies.”

This year’s events are a marked change from the previously held graduate and professional student symposium, with organizers opting for coordinated events rather than a single cohesive program.

Nevertheless, the GSA and faculty’s events will be joined by sessions from the Career Centre, the Centre for Teaching Innovation and Excellence, as well as other campus organizations aiming to help support graduate students.

“[It] was a collaborative effort between all of the different areas on campus that sort of support graduate students,” said Muller. “All of those different partners are still providing graduate orientation activities, but in a less comprehensive format.”

Despite the voluntary nature of most of the programming, faculty of social work and MBA activities aside, organizers are confident students will be eager to participate in graduate-specific programming.

“We feel that on the whole graduate students are pretty serious about wanting to start out on the right foot,” said Muller. “So a good percentage of students definitely make the point of coming out to things.”

Nevertheless, the GSA were still responsible for creating a week of programming which linked both the social aspects of university and community, with the realities of the demands of graduate level studies.

“We’re trying to find that balance,” said Muller. “That balance between not overwhelming students with information, but wanting to provide them with the tools and the knowledge they need to start out their graduate degree.”

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