The Student Union Society’s (SUS) New Student Orientation day, held on Sept. 4, saw an attendance of over 400 students, an increase from about 300 the previous year.
The day was proposed by the SUS earlier this year, and was approved by the UFV Senate after considerable discussion. The first day of both the fall and winter semesters has been dedicated to New Student Orientation programming for the next two years, pushing back the academic calender by one day. This will not reduce the number of teaching days.
Other pre-semester orientation programming was run by Student Life. Their online orientation, which consisted of Blackboard modules students could do at their own pace to learn about UFV services and receive back to school advice, reached 800 students. Their faculty-run campus tours, which ran throughout August, saw an attendance of 350 students.
The SUS’s orientation programing ran from 11 a.m. to the late evening the day before classes began, after many students were finished settling into residences. The programming had a strong focus on building friendships amongst first-year students, and allowing students to make connection with upper-level volunteers and the SUS.
Students were divided into groups that attended the various workshops and presentations together.
“They will all be doing [the events] in their teams, because the primary goal of orientation for us is really to make sure they make friends, so there is no student left behind,” SUS president Gurvir Gill said.
“I think that friend building is a really big component of just the day in itself.”
Workshops included team finance and budgeting, and team building exercises, such as dancing and lip syncing. Students learned about the services provided by the SUS, and were also able to get their IDs and U-Passes early during the event.
Later in the evening, there was a performance by a hypnotist, outdoor carnival games, and a performance on the lawn by local artists.
“All of this is very optional, and we want to have options and variety for different students,” Gill said.
In previous years, the SUS’s orientation programming had taken place before the start of the academic year. Last year, fall orientation ran on Labour Day, and Gill said it was challenging to get students and staff onto the campus during the long weekend.
The orientation programing will have a two-year trial before Senate gives its full approval to dedicate the first day in each semester to orientation. Gill said that the SUS will be gauging the success of their events primarily based off of participation numbers, but also through a post survey of first year students’ thoughts on the programming.
“Realistically, we want to ask the students what their measurables are, because it’s different for everybody,” said Gill.
“Was orientation more of a prepare for classes or more of a friend building for [them]? Because each incoming class I think is going to be unique and have their own traits as well.”
In the future, Gill hopes to see the dedicated orientation day used for programming run by other areas of the university. He said the SUS will be discussing possible collaborations with faculty and staff associations.
“We have this orientation day; it’s for the university, it’s not just for SUS,” said Gill.
“I can really see the future kind of going somewhere along the lines of students arriving on campus, meeting their faculties, have like a mini breakfast/lunch meet-and-greet mingling, and then going from here into orientation as a whole student body.”
Image: The Cascade