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Rez move-in day up in the air
By Stephanie Cesca
Orientation Week could be a thing of the past if a suggestion by housing and ancillary services is acted on.
According to Peter Mercer, Western's VP-administration, the university will be making a decision within the next few days regarding the length of next year's Orientation Week.
Last week, the university's Senate made a decision to move the first day of classes to the Monday after Labour Day, which would effectively create a week-long O-week.
However, Mercer said an entire week was just too long. "The one thing, quite clearly, is that we don't want to go back to a full week," he said.
Susan Grindrod, senior director of housing and ancillary services and member of the Orientation Governance Board, agreed a week was too long. "We don't believe it needs to be made a full week. It's a costly week."
Despite the cost factor, Grindrod said more and more underage students would be coming into Western, which caused concern with regards to underage drinking. "With younger students coming, our programs are going to have to be different. Having a week-long time seems to be a fairly risky business. It's an issue we have to deal with at the university."
In an OGB meeting held last Thursday, Grindrod said proposals were made to push the residence move-in day or days to later on in the week, which would make O-week only a few days.
She added she would be working with the University Students' Council to ensure activities and programming existed for students who were coming to Western for the first time. "I'm not sure the USC would take a leap to make it a full week," she added.
But USC president SzeJack Tan said as far as he was concerned, move-in day was still Labour Day Monday. Tan said students should have an entire week to get settled.
"We continue to show a commitment to academic programming," he said. "I don't feel that the week is too long. The greatest student investment the university can make is the welcoming of the first-year students."
Although Tan said he recognized Grindrod's concerns regarding safety, he said he thought Western ran the safest O-week in the country, adding most schools run a full week of programming.
"Ten out of 16 schools have at least seven full days before classes," he said of Ontario universities.
But Mercer said O-week would presumably be the same length as in the past, it would just begin and end later in the week.
However, Tan said he was concerned changing the start date of classes could potentially cause O-week to be shortened to less than a full weekend, as parents may not be able to move their children in the middle of a work week.
"A lot of parents agree that the move-in on a Labour Day is a great thing. Every university in Ontario except for Nippising [University] moves in either Labour Day or the weekend before Labour Day."
Mercer said he did not think this would be a problem if parents were given due notice.
USC orientation officer Tim Shortill said he hoped O-week would remain a week-long experience for students. "Students hold O-week so close to their hearts. It's hard to believe why anyone would want to take that away."