Rad Week ‘filling gaps’

Graphic by Lena Yang
Graphic by Lena Yang

For the fourth year in a row, Laurier Students’ Public Interest Research Group is putting on Rad Week, which offers alternative orientation programming to first-year students. LSPIRG’s programming runs in tandem with the Wilfrid Laurier University Students’ Union Orientation Week, in an attempt to ensure greater diversity and sensitivity.

This year, however, LSPIRG has been working more closely with the Union to ensure student success.

“This year we’re actually kind of lucky because there’s no better feeling than not needing to ensure greater accessibility or diversity, and that’s because simply the university and Students’ Union are a little more on top of things this year,” explained Allison Leonard, communications and community director at LSPIRG. “They’re filling these gaps better than we’ve ever seen.”

Last year, just under 600 students participated in Rad Week programming.

“I think it’s good to be critical of ourselves,” said Leonard. “There was a lot lacking in terms of collaborating with the Students’ Union and with the university to make sure we’re not competing with them or having really strong programming overlap.”

Instead, she said, they needed to work together so they weren’t taking away from each other’s events.

“Because that’s not really the point,” she continued. “We’re all working toward student success so why would we compete with each other?”

Since the Union has had to revamp O-Week due to classes starting on the Thursday after Labour Day, LSPIRG has had more of an opportunity to work with them to coordinate programming.

According to Leonard, the Union has made O-Week more accessible and flexible this year so students feel they have the option to partake or not partake in activities depending on what they are comfortable with.

“We’ve all been really good with working together this year. We’ve got a decent relationship with the Union, with the university — that’s allowed us to provide some more cohesive programing.”

Most of this collaboration has been around educating Students’ Union representatives about Rad Week so they can direct students to the alternative programing if they seem like they’re not benefiting from the traditional programming.

LSPIRG also partnered with other organizations on and off campus to provide programming to students.

Radio Laurier is helping put on a folk music night at the Princess Café, while Kitchener-Waterloo Poetry Slam is helping to put on an event at Veritas Café on campus.

The week also includes free yoga each morning, a documentary night and do-it-yourself activities.

New this year, they are running a consent campaign on campus.

“With just messages around consent that students can absorb during the week whether in first-year or otherwise, because this is a time of year when people are considering sexual activity for the first time,” said Leonard.

This will also be the first year that LSPIRG will be present in Brantford for O-Week, taking part in their Mohawk Park Day and Get Involved Fair.

Leonard said LSPIRG doesn’t have a number of people they are hoping participate in the Rad Week activities this year, though they’d love to have more than last year.

“But definitely the LSPIRG mentality in a lot of ways is if five students come out to an event that means we’ve bettered five students’ Orientation Week programming and five students who maybe didn’t feel like they fit in with traditional programming at all. So any number is a success for us.”

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