Union makes scheduling changes

With the approval of fall reading week, the Wilfrid Laurier University Students’ Union was forced to review the scheduling of Orientation Week.

Photo by Ryan Hueglin

Photo by Ryan Hueglin

But according to Heather Gaffney, vice-president of programming and services, the Union was ready for the changes.

“What we promised students and our student volunteers was that O-Week would not be shortened,” she said.

Gaffney explained that last year’s executive team helped prepare the incoming team on how to approach the new O-Week scheduling.

“They gave us a lot of suggestions when we took office, and we kind of had a plan when we took office of how that would come to play with the budget as well.”

According to Gaffney, the Union’s operating budget was not altered because there were minimal changes and the executive team knew their proposed plans when they created it.

She also explained that minor changes, such as two waves for Thursday and Friday night programming and on-your-own dinners for the final three evenings, were added to the scheduling.

The Get Involved Fair is also now “passive programming,” which means students and O-Week volunteers can check out the clubs and organizations’ booths when they don’t have class, and there is no trip to Bingeman’s scheduled during the week.

Other notable changes are that the Get Involved Fair will run longer — until 3 p.m. — and there will be no football game on the Saturday, so the closing ceremonies will occur at the Athletic Complex. In addition, Friday morning’s programming is “choose your own adventure,” which is also passive programming.

With classes in mind, Gaffney said it was a lot more “back-end work.”

“What we promised students and our student volunteers was that O-Week would not be shortened.”

“Schedules were difficult especially for Thursday and Friday because our volunteers are expected to go to class,” she said. “So we can’t assume 650 people are going to be where we need them.”

Icebreakers, volunteers and committee members will be expected to sign back in to O-Week when they finish classes.

Despite the changes, Gaffney believes volunteers will be more committed to programming.

“They have to balance more of a schedule now,” she explained. “There’s not much down time, and because they are still role models, they’ll make sure they go to classes, but encourage their first-year students as well.”

Sam Lambert, president and CEO of the Students’ Union, believes having classes during O-Week will be beneficial for first-year students. Volunteers can do debriefs with students and see how they feel about their schedules.

“With classes in the week, there are so many opportunities to talk about class and to ingrain the fact that class is just as important as all of this programming.”

Gaffney said this year’s O-Week will be a “unique experience” and the number one goal is to provide first-year students with an enjoyable orientation to Laurier.

“I think there are some really exciting changes this year and hopefully it goes smoothly,” she said.

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