Laurier’s Orientation Week goes online: How to make the most of your O-Week


Photo by Luke Sarazin

O-week, frosh week or orientation week, whatever you call it, is one of the best experiences in university. O-Week is where students develop their first friendships with other university students, get a taste for living away from home, experience university social life, and more. This year will be especially unforgettable since the events will be completely online, thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Wilfrid Laurier University, among other universities, has begun their preparations for an orientation week entirely online! While this is a brand-new experience for everyone, both students and faculty, it’s important to still make the most out of it.

The first-year residence experience is one of the most important parts of orientation and first year. It is often someone’s first time living away from home and has a lot to offer young adults. Your residence floor and building are where students meet people from all different walks of life and build friendships that they may have for their entire lives. A residence is a home away from home, but it is also a hub for socializing, meeting new people, and participating in a community.

With residence being an integral part of the first-year experience, how is Laurier going to deal with COVID-19 and first-year students in residence buildings?

Laurier is still allowing first years to move into residence rooms, and dropping the $600 deposit fee first-year students typically had to pay as a deposit. It appears there is no official plan for the Winter term, but they are ensuring students that the Fall term plans are set. 

Laurier requires that students must wear masks outside their rooms and has put in a very strict no- guest policy in place. But there are concerns about whether this will be enough protection against a COVID-19 outbreak, and if this will hinder a student’s first-year experience.

Laurier’s neighbouring university, University of Waterloo, took a similar approach to Laurier. They also announced that their residence buildings will be open for the fall term, and have taken some extra precautions, such as plexiglass at front desks, only single dorms, and rigorous disinfectant protocols.

Both universities appear to have put significant planning into procedures for their incoming class of students. As we know though, actions speak louder than words. The true results will be seen once students return to Waterloo in the fall. 

Many of us may be concerned about meeting friends, making memories and generally, having the “normal” residence experience as previous first-year students. Here are a few suggestions to ensuring that the first-year residence experience is almost, or just as “normal” as others. 

First, make a group chat for your residence floor. These are the people you will live around for the next 8 (or maybe 4) months. Group chats can be great for meeting new people and chatting with your fellow students. 

We are heavily influenced and reliant on the internet and social media applications, so why not use them to our advantage, especially in these tough times?

There are a variety of programs and apps available for people to connect for the first time and communicate with each other in unique ways.  Try Zoom calls with your floor, using the whiteboard feature for Pictionary. Use Instagram groups to share personalized memes. Or create a Snapchat group to use their games feature or show what you’re working on for class. The possibilities are virtually endless!

It’s important to continue wearing masks and washing our hands with the global pandemic. It can be easy to get caught up in the excitement of the first year, but it is essential to work towards minimizing the number of COVID-19 cases within our communities. 

Whether orientation is online or in-person, the first-year students will have a great experience. Laurier is known for its great community and school spirit, so it will be shown just the same as we experience the first online orientation week!

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