Volume 91, Issue 71

Wednesday, February 4, 1998

sock it


O-Week changes on the way

By Sara Marett
Gazette Staff

Students are concerned that the administration's recent decision to cut the number of Sophs living in residence by half for next year will significantly change the face of orientation week, as student representation and leadership in residence undergo drastic alterations.

"It is like throwing a boulder into a pond – the ripple effects are going to be enormous," said Meg Symsyk, University Students' Council VP-student affairs and chair of the University Committee on Student Housing.

The administration recently announced that next year there will be only one Soph per floor plus four executive residents' council members in residences. The change is due to last year's recruiting tool used by the university to guarantee all first-year students a room in residence – thereby not having enough space for upper-year students and volunteers such as Sophs.

Symsyk said the Soph changes will definitely change the face of O-Week. "We may have to assign off-campus Sophs to particular residences [to make up for the reduced number of Sophs living in the residences]," she explained.

Symsyk explained with less Sophs in residences next year, resident advisors and dons will have added responsibilities. "There is a difference between RAs and Sophs though – Sophs are considered mentors and leaders for first-year students and RAs aren't looked at the same way."

First-year student Cynthia Kumar agreed. "Sophs are a vital aspect of residence life – I am amazed that the university does so much to recruit us here and then takes away what makes it so great," she said. Kumar added the new policy has discouraged students from applying to be a Soph next year as they are unsure what kind of atmosphere the changes will bring.

Next year's USC Orientation officer Szejack Tan said he is currently working to make sure students do not lose interest in being a Soph. "We're going to have to really hype it up to make sure we don't lose the volunteer base."

Senior director of housing and food services Susan Grindrod admits O-Week will not be the same next year. "The demands will be different for both the staff and the Sophs, but we will have to work together to ensure we put on a program the first-year students need with fewer upper-year resources," she said.

Grindrod added that further changes to O-Week, including making programming more faculty based, will be in the future. "This will be a further challenge for the councils to get involved."

To Contact The News Department: gaznews@julian.uwo.ca

Copyright The Gazette 1998