I’ll admit it; I didn’t really participate in the university-sponsored orientation activities when I was in first year. Granted, I stopped by for the cheap food and free pens, but when the circle-sitting and name games started, I knew I had to leave.
Last year, however, I applied to be a Frosh leader (called a “ROC” at Ryerson) and by some administrative error (I kid, of course) I was accepted. I conceded to the idea that this shiny new line on my resume would cost me four days of nausea-inducing icebreakers and embarrassing Ryerson cheers. I was pleasantly surprised, however, and in the end I had an amazing time.
I think my good fortune had a lot to do with the fact that my co-ROC, Chen, and I were given a fantastic group of first-years. We seemed to bond almost instantly, taking in all the O-Week activities and discovering a few of our own (including an impromptu visit to Toronto’s Stag Shop and exploring Chinatown’s underground eats.).
For incoming students, O-Week can be an invaluable experience. Katie Blodgett and Jason Grossman, two of Ryerson’s O-Team members, certainly think so. I posed some questions to these orientation-enthusiasts to find out a little more about what’s planned for this year. Though Katie and Jason refer specifically to Ryerson’s O-Week, you’ll find that many of their responses hold true for Frosh Week festivities at universities all across Canada. I’ll be popping in my own responses at well—just to provide the perspective of someone not actually employed by the university.
Katie Blodgett is the Human Resources Assistant for Ryerson’s Orientation Team and a Radio and Television Arts student.
Jason Grossman is the Events Assistant for Ryerson’s Orientation Team and a Politics & Governance student.
(Robyn Urback is a lowly Frosh leader)
Q: Anyone who’s seen a bad 80s college flick assumes that the nighttime dorm scene is where the real Orientation action happens. Why should first years bother coming to the organized daytime events?
Katie: The daytime events are great because we hold events that will help first-years get to know Ryerson better. Also, night-time parties are all going to be the same with the same types of people. The daytime events provide the opportunity to meet all sorts of different people.
Jason: Yeah, those movies are pretty cheese and lame.
Robyn: This way, you’ll have stories you can actually tell your parents about.
Q: Will there be beer?
Katie: Nope, all of our events are dry events. The pub night is the one exception, but there is a wristband policy in effect.
Jason: Nope. Having beer involved in activities just creates more risks. Plus, almost all first-years are underage, and we don’t roll like that at Ryerson.
Robyn: Before you ask: no, I’m not going to buy you beer. C’mon, we were all 18 once. You’ve got to be a little more creative than that.
Q: Be honest, is Orientation Week just for keeners?
Katie: Kind of the opposite, I’ve found that the majority of students who come out to O-Week are shy and looking to meet new friends.
Jason: Absolutely not. Orientation is a great opportunity for first-years to get to know campus so they can they hit the ground running when school starts.
Robyn: I think “keeners” would be appalled by some of the things we get up to.
Q: OK then, are the Orientation leaders big keeners?
Katie: Again, not really. It’s mostly just regular students looking to meet new people!
Jason: If by “keeners” you mean “student leaders who love to have fun, help people and volunteer their time,” then yes, I guess they are keeners. But, they are keeners in every positive sense of the word.
Robyn: I am not a keener.
Q: The biggest myth about O-Week is…
Katie: You can only have fun if you’re wasted the whole week. We’ve spent the whole summer coming up with great “dry” events. With our events you won’t puke, get hung over or spend tons of money on booze!
Jason: The biggest myth about Orientation is that it’s full of drinking and crazy people cheering lame cheers all the time.
Robyn: The “O” stands for something much more exciting.
Q: What is your best memory of last year’s Orientation?
Katie: I really enjoyed the icebreakers in our groups. Sounds simple, but we got to know a couple of cool students and it was fun watching everyone slowly engage. Oh! And I definitely loved breaking the Guinness World Record. Sword fighting around the Quad was hilarious.
Jason: Getting a bucket of water dropped on my head during the Condom Olympic event (which is happening again this year).
…Well, maybe it wasn’t the best moment, but it sure was a lot of fun.
Robyn: The photo scavenger hunt. And associated mischief.
Q: What are you most looking forward to this year?
Katie: I’m looking forward to watching it all happen. We’ve spent so long planning—it better be a hit!
Jason: It’s more like, “what am I not most looking forward to?” Between meeting new students, working with great volunteers and going to some pretty sweet events, I’m really looking forward to the whole shebang.
Robyn: Meeting some new people.
Q: More than just a week of campus shenanigans, Orientation Week provides the opportunity to…
Katie: Start over somewhere new. You’ll meet tons of people and get to know the campus and the various different services offered to students. O-week provides the chance to really feel part of a new community.
Jason: Meet new people, get to know the campus, meet some of your professors, and HAVE FUN.
Robyn: Connect with a mentor. It sounds lame, but O-Week provides the opportunity to connect with upper-year students on a personal level. You’ll have a new resource to help you through those first-year bumps and bruises. I look forward to your panicked, night-before-exam, 3 a.m. phone call.
Q: For students planning to attend Orientation Week, be prepared, you will…
Katie: Be out of your comfort zone at first. Being nervous is completely normal. But don’t worry, we have so many ways to change this. Just be excited!!
Jason: Have the time of your life! (Cue: 1980’s theme song from Dirty Dancing)
Robyn: Lose your voice.
Q: Don’t forget to bring…
Katie: Money (just in case), extra food, water.
Jason: Your beautiful self (no parents or friends please), sunscreen, water, and a smile.
Robyn: I would say, leave your shame at home. We all make fools of ourselves during O-Week.
Q: And wear…
Katie: Running shoes!! Shorts and a t-shirt (weather depending, obviously) and a smiiile :D (cheesy, I know).
Jason: Comfortable clothes and shoes.
Robyn: Disposable clothes. Chances are, they’ll get ruined.
Q: For students that really aren’t interested in coming, they should at least show up for…
Katie: The Guinness World Record attempt for sure. Also, I’d check out the Condom Olympics and the first ever sports game during O-Week at Ryerson: Ryerson basketball.
Jason: Our campus wide Guinness World Record event. It’s one of our signature events and we’ve been breaking records for the last three years. This year it’s (drum roll please) LARGEST AIR GUITAR!
Robyn: The cheap food and free pens.
Q: You have a chance to shamelessly promote one aspect of Orientation Week. What’s it gonna be?
Katie: Guinness World Record!! It’s really cool to see hundreds of students cheering crazily and breaking a record together. And keep in mind, O-Week is what you make of it. Don’t be one of the “I’m-too-cool-kids.” Just let your guard down and be open to meeting new people. You’ll remember O-Week for the rest of your university life!!
Jason: This year, for the first time ever, we’re having the RU Ryerson? Orientation video contest. First prize is a Nintendo Wii. More info is here.
Robyn: I’m a ROC again this year, so if you’re looking for a not-quite-by-the-book experience, look me up. It’ll either be lots of fun or really, really scary. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org or twitter.com/robynurback
Here are some links to a few O-Week pages:
(Note: some of the larger universities have college-specific orientation programs.)