The first week of university is often portrayed as a week of excitement and new discoveries. It is also often evoked as a week of transition, especially for those starting university for the first time.
Others have criticized orientation week as being a week of activities that do not address the enormous diversity of the student population and mostly only delivers activities that supposedly fit the view of a few.
What is orientation week all about? Arthur talked to Sako Khederlarian, the Orientation Coordinator and Mauricio Interiano, one of the TIP co-chairs for Orientation week.
Khederlarian described Orientation Week as a program which aims to provide students with academic, social and skill oriented activities and events to help them transition into university.
What makes orientation week different at Trent is the specific programming developed by each college, academic departments, the Trent Central Student Association, First Peoples House of Learning, the Trent International Program, and clubs & groups, which creates a sense of belonging. They play a large role in providing students with diverse and meaningful programming.
Khederlarian also explained that since all students arrive with different needs and preferences, Orientation Week at Trent has one of the most diverse and inclusive schedules from any post-secondary institution.
During Orientation Week, the Trent Carousel will be running for the second time, which splits students into smaller groups depending on their college affiliation. Khederlarian described that from that point, upper-year student leaders facilitate activities throughout campus.
The activities to take place include: challenge course sessions; a seminar run by the First Peoples House of Learning; activities run by the Trent International Program, and many more.
The First Peoples House of Learning often runs sessions at the Tipi, to explain the significance of the tipi to all new students, and the strong reputation of the Indigenous Studies program, Khederlarian added.
The Trent International Program runs the annual TIP Camp, where all new international students experience a weekend away just north of Peterborough.
During the camp, participating students will receive additional activities and sessions, as there are specific transition needs associated with starting a life in a new country.
Mauricio Interiano, one of the TIP co-chairs for orientation week 2015, explained that they are hosting activities and events that reflect the diverse community that we have at Trent under the name of“Trent Global”.
For instance, Trent Global will partake in the mid-time show for the annual varsity game, will host a cooking event with Lady Eaton College, and will have a picnic in collaboration with Champlain College.
In terms of how this year’s Orientation will change from previous ones is that a more collaborative approach between the colleges, academic departments, and student associations will be taken.
Interiano articulated that they are no longer hosting“Trent World Day”and that rather than packing everything in one single day, the events and activities will be scattered throughout the week.
Furthermore, the name was strictly changed from Introductory Seminar Week (ISW Week) in order to better communicate the purpose of the week, as it is consistent with other post-secondary institutions throughout Ontario, Khederlarian explained.
When asked what he hoped orientation week would achieve, Khederlarian expressed that“the purpose is to create a meaningful experience for new students; to connect them to their college and available resources; to highlight the importance of academics at Trent, and provide students with sessions necessary to meet the academic standards; to connect them to their peers; to develop a strong and supportive bond between the new student and an upper-year student leader; as well as inform them of the community they live in, which includes Trent and the greater Peterborough community, and the standards we live by.”
Following orientation week, (dis)orientation week will take place. Dis-O week will include workshops, discussions and events. Dis-O week was born in 1999 when the university centralized the campus and closed the downtown colleges. In response to this and following the idea of Trent as a community integrated college system, Dis-O week was created to generate awareness and provide an alternative perspective.
This September, Dis-O will have student and community driven initiatives brought by OPIRG Peterborough, the TCSA, the Center for Gender and Social Justice (CGSJ), the Trent Queer Collective, Community and Race Relations Committee (CCRC) among others.
Khederlarian agreed “(Dis)orientation week is a wonderful initiative developed by students. While orientation week includes a variety of different activities and events, (Dis)orientation continues the following week with incredible programming.”
Interiano stated that Dis-O Week, and Orientation Week as well, are not only for new student but also for returning students.“I am sure Dis-O Week will provide a week of alternative, informative and relevant programing for all students”, he added.
“Our goal is to provide students with the skills necessary to successfully complete their degree, meet their own personal goals, and to provide them the skills necessary to be successful contributors to whatever professional direction they choose” Khederlarian concluded.