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Opinion

Building a better NSO

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I attended the Student Union Society’s (SUS) New Student Orientation (NSO) in September and one of the UFV-lead, program-specific NSOs in March. The two NSOs were vastly different experiences. One provided me with the useful information I needed for my first year, and the other left me with a few familiar faces on campus.

At the SUS-lead NSO there were amiable leaders to help us along as we were separated into small groups. In the morning there was time dedicated to workshops. In the afternoon many students had left as the NSO shifted to a social atmosphere for the new students to get to know each other better.

The experience on a whole lacked information on the community activities offered at UFV and didn’t have much impact on us students. It was visible that roughly half the students that attended the morning sessions were gone by noon. I myself chose to stay because the afternoon schedule included a mini-carnival set-up for the students to socialize.

As time in the day went on, less and less attendees stayed for the orientation activities. By the time the mini-carnival activity started, almost all of the attendees left were local Abbotsford and Chilliwack students, and students that are dorming. As a Surrey-Abbotsford commuter I struggled to make connections as the vast majority of people I spoke to were living on campus and in a different program.

At the UFV-lead NSO, despite how I was late for the event, there were friendly students to help me along. I received a focused tour of the school based on my program and information on how to register for courses as well as how I should pick which ones I take. The program-sectioned sessions allowed me to meet other students taking the same program as me and make a couple friends. The NSO was short and efficient.

Both NSO events were helpful, but both could also be improved. The SUS NSO could use more information on topics relevant to the students instead of a semi-rushed Q and A session where they went over a smattering of topics including how to save on textbooks, what kinds of clubs we had and other personal advice. The UFV NSO could benefit from having more time dedicated to giving students a chance to get to know each other. I was personally disappointed to find that the SUS declined joining the Orientation Strategic Plan (OSP) committee to work on future NSOs, because the SUS would bring a good balance to the previous NSOs.

Another part of the NSO process were the U-Join events. The U-Join I attended seemed a tad unorganized, though the clubs and associations present were enthusiastic to share their passions. The U-Join could benefit from being given more advertisement outside of email reminders. Posters giving more explanation to the event would increase the amount of students that show up.

UFV is working on improving their NSO based off of our feedback. They plan to hone in on community, health, diversity, and collaboration. I found that health was actually already covered quite well in this year’s NSO events. My NSO experience had an underlying theme of “safety” going on. I was made aware of the various security buttons and where I could go for counselling. I was given an array of information on health and well-being resources. This is great, but didn’t fill me with confidence about what kind of people I would be expecting to meet.
The implementation of changes to the NSOs are supposed to take place in September 2019. The changes will hopefully be for the better and the next group of incoming Fall 2019 students will have an easier time transitioning into UFV.

Image: UFV Flickr

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