Toronto O-week cut down to one day
By Sandra Dimitrakopoulos
While the issue of orientation week has become a hot topic at Western, students at the University of Toronto are reacting to news they are limited to one day of planned orientation.
Peter Harris, assistant dean in the faculty of arts and sciences at the University of Toronto, said the decision to cut down orientation week to one day was made due to calendar restraints which had labour day falling much later next fall.
"We have to fit in a 13-week term with a minimum of eight days exam time in the faculty of arts," Harris said, adding they would like orientation to continue as long as possible but will not sacrifice courses for it.
Orientation staff will be encouraged to proceed with activities before September and as soon as calendar restraints on the week have been lifted, the week will again follow its traditional time, Harris said.
Ted Falgado, president of the Students' Administrative Council, said they are very concerned over the decision and plan to have meetings with faculty deans and the provost to find out why it is necessary.
"This school can be a cold place if students don't get involved and with orientation week being cut down to one day, students will take much longer to climatize," he said.
If this year's week is cut down to one day, Falgado said he believes it will continue in future years, adding they hope to propose administration extend Christmas or have students return to school later in January.
"There is definitely an overt trend by universities to becoming more academic, forgetting about the importance of extra-curricular activity," Falgado said, adding he is not surprised the university is doing this so blatantly.
Western's orientation week has also been cut down to three days in recent years, yet Roma Harris, vice-provost and registrar at Western, said she does not see Western moving towards a one day orientation in the near future.
"We decided to shorten our orientation week because we received feedback from faculty and staff that orientation week needed to have a greater focus on academic life to balance the social," she said.
The Orientation Governance Board, made up of members of administration and the University Students' Council, review how O-week went every year and decide on recommendations, Harris said, adding the meeting has not taken place yet this year.
Feedback from orientation week has been good and there is no intention to change its basic structure, said university President Paul Davenport.
Meghan Symsyk, VP-student affairs for the University Students' Council, said reducing the number of orientation days will still take away from studies because students are going to be preoccupied with moving in and getting settled.
"The more they take away from students getting comfortable, the more they take away from the experience," Symsyk said. She added if the decision at U of T was based on a calendar, then the same argument could be used at Western.