Volume 92, Issue 18

Friday, October 2, 1998

homing in


We won't settle for less

The transition to university is never easy. It's overwrought with the stress of adjusting to a new place, new people and a new lifestyle. Most people are away from home for the first time and are nervous and excited about starting off the year with a bang – or at least a spark.

Most universities across Canada, like Western, begin the year with an Orientation Week and it's an efficient means of easing the jitters of each incoming student. The events planned by Orientation staff, silly as they are, are a necessary way of bringing people together, almost forcing people to get to know each other. These events allow students to form friendships which will last throughout their university careers – and possibly their lifetime.

However, the chance to do this is slowly slipping away with each passing year. Two years ago, the administration added classes to Orientation Week. Two days were reserved for classes and one day an academic assembly – where the speeches were drowned by the sounds of snoring students. Time was still available, however short, for students to orientate themselves around campus, with help from their Sophs.

Next year, Orientation Week will be sliced again. New students will be herded into their residences and then shipped off to their courses. A quick in and out, with no chance to get to know anyone – or even settle in.

Without a few days to relax and get orientated with their surroundings, new students will not be ready to buckle down to the books. The impulse to leave the first few classes behind and head off campus will be much, much stronger. How will this direct Western's image towards a more scholarly one?

The school has held a reputation since the mid '60s as a party school and thus the drive to alter its stigma is set into motion. This need is also propelled by Maclean's, which offers an annual survey of the best Canadian universities. Western has yet to reach close to number one.

The apathy of the student body is another negative reputation this university has achieved for itself. Cutting O-week will do nothing but contribute to that apathy, pulling school spirit so far down it may all but disappear.

The first-year student's life at university should not be compromised because of a reputation. Western is chosen because it offers outstanding undergraduate and graduate programs and its name stands alongside the best universities in the country.

Orientation Week does not detract from academics. Instead it rounds out and adds to the entire university experience.

To Contact The Editorial Department: gazette.editor@julian.uwo.ca

Copyright The Gazette 1998