Maintaining safety and involvement

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(Photo by Cristina Rucchetta)

The Wilfrid Laurier University Students’ Union is hoping that orientation week this year — commonly referred to as O-Week — goes without a hitch.

While not many major changes have been made to the schedule this year, the O-Week team and the Students’ Union have added another opening ceremony, one on each night of move-in.

To deal with a larger intake of students, as well as the fact that all students go to the Athletic Complex to pick up their residence keys, the university added two move-in days a couple years ago instead of one.

In addition, similarly to how it was last year, the home opener for Laurier’s football team will be on the Monday, Sept. 2.

“The big difference is that opening ceremonies happen twice,” said Annie Constantinescu, the president and CEO of the Students’ Union.

“The football game is at the beginning of the year because it’s a good way to set up school pride.”

According to the director of orientation, Alex MacDonald, O-Week this year will have more info sessions that will teach students non-academic skills. These sessions will be held on the Friday of O-Week under the name of “Laurierientation.”

“A whole bunch of info sessions, little things that are really helpful to know in first-year, however you might not have the direct means to learn about it otherwise,” explained MacDonald. “We’re trying to provide as many opportunities for them to get involved and get out there.”

Furthermore, Constantinescu noted that these sessions will also assist students in financial situations, namely dealing with OSAP, as well as study and learning skills.

“It’s teaching them skills that they wouldn’t learn in the classroom but helping them get through university,” she added.

Some of the programming has also shifted throughout the week, with the addition of more food options for those who have particular dietary restrictions as well as a “headphone” aspect to the party in the Quad during the on-campus celebration.

When quiet hours hit, the party will go from a typical loud dance floor to students using headphones to abide by city by-laws about the noise.

“It’s going to be great for the relationship with the city. Music will start off but when quiet hours happen it’ll switch to the headphones,” said Constantinescu. “It’s a very different type of environment, but I’m kind of excited to see how it goes.”

In terms of safety measures during the week, the university is partnering with the emergency services in Waterloo to have ambulances stationed on campus in case any situation arises.

Two years ago, the university exhausted the ambulances in the area due to the number calls they were making during the week.

“Last year, we started a partnership with EMS, we actually had them physically located on campus both to mitigate the monopolizing of their ambulances and to maximize the student safety on campus,” Leanne Holland-Brown said, the dean of students at the Waterloo campus.

“That worked really well so we’ll be doing that again.”

With Foot Patrol, ERT and other WLUSU services running throughout the week, MacDonald hopes that all the staff and Ice Breakers are close in terms of communication.

“The other thing I’m trying to stress is stronger connections and training for our volunteers,” he continued.

“If we can get all the volunteers on the same page it’ll likely transfer down to the first-years and we give everyone a better overall experience.”

O-Week begins on Sept. 1 and ends off with Shine Day on Sept. 7.

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