By Nicole Kobie
It’s happened every September for the past five years.
Hordes of name-tag wearing, binder-carrying frosh descend on the University of Calgary to learn the ways of their new world from yellow-clothed seniors.
This year, the mandatory first-year orientation program began Wed., Sept. 5, and ended Fri., Sept. 7.
Few changes occurred in 2001. More elective sessions were created, involving campus media, career services, and clubs. For the first time the Community Welcome–essentially a gathering of all frosh students–featured performances from the Faculty of Fine Arts. The biggest change was that undecided students were not automatically signed up to take extra workshops on topics such as goal planning and learning style. Such workshops were instead recommended as electives.
"Students who are undecided are basically at greater risk of dropping out or not being successful," said U of C 101 Coordinator Amy McEvoy.
Turn-out this year was unknown at press time, but attendance at elective sessions was high. McEvoy thinks students seem more enthusiastic this year, in spite of the wet weather.
"The calls we were getting [in previous years] from students were ‘Do I have to come?’" explained McEvoy. "This year, students are anxious and ask ‘When do I get to come?"
Enthusiasm is not just found in the students, but in the Group Leaders, Administration and faculty as well.
"The level of support is great, everybody from the President [Harvey Weingarten] to VP Academic have helped out," said Associate Vice-president Student Affairs Dr. Peggy Patterson. "It’s become a community event."
Some Group Leaders noticed waning attendance throughout the day, however.
"There seemed to be less people in Community Welcome," said Group Leader Trevor Trinh. He added that students, though often still lost, are very enthusiastic. "It’s a very good program as it is."
Some contradictions in opinion arise in discussions on the length of both the sessions and the entire program. According to both Dr. Patterson and McEvoy, most feedback they receive suggests students want to increase the length from three days to a week, or implement a semester-long class instead.
"When we do evaluations, we get people saying they want longer, not shorter," Dr. Patterson said.
"It would be next to impossible to shorten it," said McEvoy. "What do you want us to cut? Everyone finds value in different parts."
However, some students take issue with the time commitment.
"They should start it later in the day," said first-year Communications and Culture student Sarah Zendel.
"I don’t think there’s three days worth of information here," said first-year Management student Tyler Blasetti.
Others agree, but do feel the material covered is valuable.
"Seems like kind of a waste of time to wake up at 8:30 to play ice breaker games," said first-year Fine Arts student Kim Kerschaw, as she stood in line to get her ID card. "I’m not sure you need three days for this, but if I had no clue what I was doing I would’ve been scared."