Orientation not fun for everyone

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

This week, campus thrives on its annual swarm of frosh timidly participating in orientation events and being led around campus by overly energetic sophs who may or may not be painted entirely purple. By now you have probably heard, maybe even believed, the rave reviews of how the best student experience comes to life this week.

But what seems to be overlooked and overshadowed by this crazy week is the serious side of such a huge adjustment.

Without taking anything away from the sophs, residence advisors and numerous other Orientation Week organizers who work diligently to create a smooth transition for first year students at Western, their approach could use a dose of reality.

O-Week is designed to be fun, energetic and memorable. It does not, however, properly nurture the probably higher than expected number of students who do not respond well to being pushed out of their comfort zone and thrust into university life.

I consider my O-Week to be one of the worst weeks of my university career so far. I have never felt more out of place with less people to confide in. There just isn’t room, in a week packed full of getting to know each other activities and cheer-offs, to admit that I didn’t immediately love my new school.

There are an abundance of sophs and RAs who will graciously lend an ear to first year students who are having difficultly adjusting. But if you are someone who hasn’t warmed up to Western and Orientation Week, it is difficult to find solace with an individual who exudes such intense Mustang pride.

Fortunately, Western is well equipped to provide support for students with both Student Health Services and Student Development Centre offering counselling services. It is worth noting, however, that as the academic year progresses it becomes more and more difficult to schedule an appointment on campus, as the demand for such services increase dramatically.

The intense struggles facing first year students are very present during O-Week. Despite efforts to the contrary, they often remain silenced. A greater commitment to these issues during O-Week will prevent alienating unenthusiastic frosh and allow for Western’s counselling services to be effective earlier in a student’s life.

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