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Fall first instructional day suspended

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A day slated for activities and orientation is now scheduled for Tuesday, Sept. 4, previously the first day of classes in the fall semester.

At the May 4 Senate meeting, the UFV Student Union Society (SUS) advocated for a full day for new student orientation. After discussion, Senate approved SUS president Gurvir Gill’s motion to suspend the first day of classes one day for their orientation and push the course schedule back one day.

Jaleen MacKay, SUS vice president, said at the Senate meeting, “We want an opportunity when people have moved in, had an opportunity to settle down, to receive the programming and information they need to integrate to UFV.”

Last year, the SUS orientation day was held on Labour Day, and saw about 400 students attend.

SUS president Gurvir Gill said in an interview that many students don’t return to school or finish work until the day before classes, and having a full day within the semester is ideal for offering a full student welcome experience.

New student orientation is the programming offered to welcome students and orient them toward services and resources offered at the university. It also serves as an opportunity to connect students with one another through social activities.

“One of the biggest reasons for why we wanted a full day is we find that orientation is a really key pillar of students getting oriented into university, and a big part of their whole transition and experience,” Gill said.

UFV Student Life is organizing the rest of welcome week, which will take place during the first week of classes this year. In past years, the week was scheduled for the last week of August.

“What we were finding was that students are busy,” Kyle Baillie, director of Student Life, said. “We’re not going to ask them to give up a Friday or a Saturday, or a day before classes start, we’re going to take all the things we’d do in that late summer orientation, and build them into their first week.”

The welcome week activities will be scheduled at multiple times throughout the week to give students the opportunity to attend at various times.

Each faculty will hold a welcome session as an opportunity for students to connect with faculty members and other students in their discipline.

“We want to get them to meet their advisor, to meet upper year students, and to meet faculty, the dean, and to engage with their student association if one exists for their program.”

Other services to be offered during the welcome week are UFV Lead, UFV’s leadership program, and Student Life’s Sexualized Violence Prevention (SVP) training. This year, SVP is not mandatory for first-year students, but Baillie said they will push for it to be for Sept. 2019.

“What we’re really trying to do is shift orientation from being purely social, which it had been five years ago, to something that’s more academically integrated,” Baillie said.

“Every year we try something a little bit different, building orientation around our students and making it more convenient and more catered to their needs and lifestyle demands.”

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