With the 2014-15 school year working towards a close, the Trent University Office of Student Affairs is well into planning the week of events that will welcome new students to the institution come September. This year, the event has undergone a name change. What was once Introductory Seminar Week will now be known as Orientation Week.
While the biggest difference is just a title rebranding, the Office of Student Affairs and orientation organizers are implementing some ideas that they believe will make the event more inclusive than ever.
ISW becoming Orientation Week is an attempt to more accurately represent the concept of the event, which has changed over the years.
“We were finding that first year students found ISW a little confusing,” said Nona Robinson, Associate Vice President of Students.
Back before Trent Students would register for all their courses online prior to coming to the university, Introductory Seminar Week used to be exactly that; a week where students would have the chance to attend a variety of different seminars that would help them select courses they wished to take.
Due to Internet-based pre-registration however, this is no longer the case. “We instead offer them as much information before summer, even as they’re applying for courses, as to what each course includes,” said Orientation Coordinator, Sako Khederlarian.
Giving students a chance to experience a classroom environment and various disciplines during the first week is still beneficial however, and ways to do so are being examined.
“I still love the idea of students being able to have the opportunity to be exposed to a bunch of academic areas. Someone coming in might not necessarily know what Cultural Studies or Anthropology is,” said Robinson. “We will continue to look at different options to increase the academic component of orientation week.”
One method of doing so has been to integrate the Take the University Challenge into the orientation week events, and attendance numbers for the information seminars have shown success.
Actual class information however, is now supplied mostly online and earlier on in the year. “We’re moving a lot of that orientation introductory course stuff earlier on into the year,” said Khederlarian. “Then we’re focusing more on orienting them to the other aspects of the university like the many services we have, the colleges and then connecting to their peers.”
So the name of Orientation Week has been changed to better reflect the content, and it is likely the biggest change to the entire event.
Khederlarian said that no big changes to the programming are envisioned at this point, though there has been a move to include more athletics and wellness events and events that have to do with the clubs and groups that are at Trent.
Likewise, the leadership structure of orientation has remained mostly the same with just a few changes. Khederlarian said that, as has been the case in previous years, each college will have two co-chairs.
Additionally, however, there have also been athletics co-chairs elected and a First People’s House of Learning co-chair who will be elected shortly.
Rounding out the co-chairs will be the Trent International Program co-chairs and the Trent Central Student Association co-chairs who will be the elected Vice Presidents of the TCSA.
Kherderlarian said the positions such as the FPHL and athletics co-chairs are in place in order “to be as inclusive as possible.”
Also in a bid to improve inclusivity, each year steps have been taken to increase ISW’s—and now Orientation Week’s—relevance to off-campus students. Khederlarian said that lots is being done to encourage such students to take part in the event: “Everything from offering free meals just to get students on campus, to organizing the buses and scheduling better when they come, to getting off-campus students on campus. We’ve also offered free parking to off-campus students during that week.”
Despite the name change, upper-year students should easily recognize Orientation Week as an event similar to those in previous years. “I think the one thing that people will notice is that they made the decision to call it Orientation Week instead of ISW,” said Robinson.
Khederlarian said he is looking forward to Orientation week, as well as additional summer programming, because as he said, “orientation essentially starts the moment they accept their offer to Trent University.”