For Trent students beginning their first year or returning to Symons Campus, getting into the routine of university life can be challenging. Whether a summer is spent on the beach or on the clock, coming back to school always takes a fair amount of adjustment. While incoming Trent students have been looking forward to their mandated back to school programming for months, this time upper year students will have something to look forward to as well. First year students can participate in the university’s Introductory Seminar Week (ISW), the rigourous three day initiation into university life that integrates a mixture of college based social activities with academic introduction. For returning students (as well as any first years who want to participate), events and activities have been scheduled for the Trent Central Student Association’s second annual Welcome Back Week (Sep 10-14).
The Week was launched last year as a way of reaching out to returning students and helping them readjust to life at Trent. The event is also a reaction to the 2010 administrative decision to condense ISW from a week long program to three days. Former Vice-President of Membership Services Dani Dhliwayo recalls that Welcome Back Week was first proposed because the TCSA executives “wanted the colleges to shine [during the shortened ISW]” and that having separate TCSA-run programming during the following week was a way to support the colleges’ role in Introductory Seminar Week. Dhliwayo explains that Welcome Back Week was also created as a way for first year students to interact with the larger university community during their first month at Trent. “[First year students] become a part of their college during ISW,” he says, “then they become part of the school during Welcome Back Week. During the Week they are not only interacting with other first years they’re interacting with everyone.”
Current Vice President of Campus Life Aladdin Hasmani has planned this year’s Welcome Back Week in the same spirit and points to the Week’s schedule as proof that it is indeed for both incoming students and returning students alike. “The TCSA is for all students,” he says, “and this is our time to give back in terms of providing programming for upper year student as well as first year students.” Notable events for Welcome Back Week include the traditional Clubs and Groups day (now called Clubsfest), a September Market on Bata Podium and the annual Introfest concert which for the first time will be held downtown at Del Crary Park. The Introfest headliner will be none other than the renowned Canadian hip hop artist Classified.
The largest addition to this year’s Welcome Back Week schedule is the PeteVillage street festival which will be held September 8th from 12-11pm on Charlotte Street. The event represents months of planning and collaboration between the TCSA, the PeteVillage Committee, the Fleming [College] Student Association (FSA) and the Downtown Business Improvement Association (DBIA). The day will be packed with music competitions, street vendors, and performances from local disc jockeys and bands. Mr. Hasmani, who has helped co-ordinate PeteVillage from the TCSA front, says that the day is both about “showing pride for students in Peterborough and showing that students support local business and the downtown.”
Although the social aspects of Welcome Back Week promise to invigorate Symons’ Campus, Brea Hutchinson, who was elected President of the TCSA in the spring elections, is also looking forward to a more subtle side of the Week. For the first time, the union will be opening its eight directorial committees, including the committees for Campus Life, Student Issues and College Review, to their full student membership at Trent. The idea, Ms. Hutchinson says, is to expand inclusivity and engagement within the student body. “What we want to say to our members is that you don’t have to be a director [to get involved]. If you want to run a campaign or organize an event throughout the year just show up; it’s your TCSA too.”
Looking forward towards the approaching year, Ms. Hutchinson feels comfortable with what the student union is offering for Welcome Back Week and acknowledges that students won’t always see what’s under the surface of what can seem like just a big party. “There’s going to be a bit of a split personality happening for the [the Association] during that time,” she says. “There’s going to be the TCSA that students will hear and see at events and parties during the week but there’s also the TCSA that not a lot of people acknowledge, the one that runs services, gets you to-and-from campus and refills prescriptions.” Regardless of that fact, Ms. Hutchinson stresses that she hopes as many people will participate as possible and that students will get more conscious to what the TCSA is doing at Trent. “Our goal is to get every student through our office doors during that week,” she jokes. And while they may not succeed in accomplishing that lofty goal, by the time September draws to a close Trent students will certainly understand a bit more about the drive of their student union.
The full schedule for Welcome Back Week can be viewed on the TCSA’s website at trentcentral.ca/events.