Volume 96, Issue 16
Wednesday, September 25, 2002

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Soph costs may be lowered, still face week-long sobriety

By Kelly Marcella
Gazette Staff

Paying a high price to volunteer may no longer be the case for Orientation Week sophs.

The University Students' Council is working on a new plan to lower the cost of soph fees for Western's Orientation Week leaders, focusing specifically on the uniform prices, said USC President Chris Sinal.

According to Sinal, there are three fees associated with becoming a soph – a basic USC fee of $35, a weekend retreat fee of approximately $50 and the uniform fee, which ranges anywhere between $100 and $200. The USC fee covers soph training and the cost of the soph ball at the end of O-Week, Sinal said.

"I believe there are a lot of people that would make excellent orientation [leaders] but can't afford it," Sinal said, adding addressing the high costs of uniforms makes the most sense in the larger plan to reduce the costs of O-Week for sophs.

"People are paying too much and we want an Orientation Week that's inclusive – money should not be a question," said Lil Chieh, USC VP-student affairs.

Chieh said the USC wanted to implement a cap on uniform fees, in which there would be a minimum requirement for the uniforms at a lower cost and extras could be purchased independently. The crucial time to have the new plan completed would be around mid-February, before the head soph selection process begins, she added.

"Some of the soph uniforms were in excess of $200. It seems to me it's a little excessive," said Bob Gough, assistant director of residences at Western. "We had residence managers concerned that soph fees were really high," he said, noting there must also have been concern expressed by individual sophs.

"I think it's a good idea and something that should have been looked at for a few years now," said Chris Lunn, Western's orientation officer, noting re-wearable uniforms would also be more efficient.

"If there was any way to decrease the cost of soph uniforms, that would encourage more people to participate," said Elgin head soph, Caitlin Brandon, noting, despite the lack of amenities to their uniforms, Elgin sophs paid almost the same price as some of the costlier outfits.

According to Shari McIntyre, promotions assistant for Purple Door Promotions, four months of the year are spent at Purple Door preparing for O-Week.

"It would have a huge [financial] impact if [teams] went from a full uniform to just a hat," McIntyre said, but noted, with the USC's current proposal, the change would not be that drastic.

"I think we have the best orientation program in the country, but I don't think it's because of soph uniforms," Sinal said.

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2002 THE GAZETTE