New O-Week programs run smoothly

Students took part in a headphone party for this year's On-Campus Celebration. (Photo by Ryan Hueglin)

Students took part in a headphone party for this year’s On-Campus Celebration. (Photo by Ryan Hueglin)

The energy, excitement and spirit of Orientation Week (O-Week) has been slowly dying down with the start of the fall semester, but these words are still bouncing around campus as students discuss the events of the past week.

2013 O-Week at Wilfrid Laurier University spanned September 1-7, with over 600 volunteers helping the 2,940 first-year students on the Waterloo campus who registered for it make the transition to university.

While the structure of O-Week was largely the same as other years, it did see some new additions such as the headphone disco at the On-Campus Celebration (OCC) on Tuesday night.

“We’re still getting more [survey] results back — but at the moment from the students who responded they rated it an 8.84,” explained Annie Constantinescu, president and CEO of the Students’ Union.

This involved students wearing headphones rather than having speakers blasting music late into the night. Part of the thought process behind this was to reduce the noise emitting from campus which, in past years, nearby residents have complained about.

“You could basically hear how much better it was,” said Alex Macdonald, director of orientation. “If you were on another city block you’d never be able to tell we were having a party outdoors. And then once you saw it, it basically looked like any other party that we’ve ever hosted.”
This year, two opening ceremonies were held as opposed to one large ceremony.

“They rolled out just like any other opening ceremony we’ve had in other years,” Macdonald said.

Though the turnout for Laurientation, the series of info sessions held to teach students non-academic skills, wasn’t as high as other events during O-Week, according to Constantinescu, the students who attended “said they did learn from it” and, in her opinion, it was “very successful.”

The last change that was made was to Game Show Night. In past years Uh-Oh has been played, but this year new game shows were incorporated to encourage greater student engagement.

“It just had a general more feeling of enjoyment from everyone in the crowd,” said Macdonald.

Overall, Constantinescu found the week ran very smoothly.

“Nothing big happened that required my attention.”

In past years, the bulk of incidents occurred at the OCC, resulting in students getting their bracelets cut. In response to this, Drew Piticco, student conduct administrator, has been meeting with students the following morning to discuss their cases.

This year, Piticco — alongside Constantinescu, Seth Warren, vice-president of finance and administration and Leanne Holland Brown, dean of students — met with 20 students. Last year, 31 violations of the non-academic student code of conduct were reported during the OCC.

“We want to see them really quickly the next day, hopefully before noon,” explained Piticco. “So that whatever sanction we usually give out, they have some time to complete and they can get their O-Week bracelet back to participate again and eat and all those things.”

The sanction is generally a one-to-three page reflection. In his two years doing this, Piticco said they have never not given a student their bracelet back. The goal of the meetings, he explained, is to educate students, rather than shame them.

“It’s not just about getting you back into O-Week,” he continued. “It’s how do you move forward now knowing that there’s a student code of conduct, knowing there’s special constable services, knowing that we are trying to support a safe and positive environment.”

All of this year’s cases involved an alcohol-related offence, or behaviour that occurred, in Piticco’s opinion, as a result of alcohol use.

But speaking to the week overall, Macdonald said, “This is probably one of the smoothest orientation weeks that I’ve seen in my five years partaking in it. We didn’t really have any problems that came up. Because even if we did, they were resolved the second of. My executive team did a fantastic job this year.”

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