A Peek At Disorientation Week

Kevin Veloso - 4C Software
Posted on: February 6, 2013

Every year during early February, a week known as Disorientation Week is planned. Various events are advertised by the Graduation Committee (GradComm) that start from the beginning of the week and end on Saturday, leading up to the Iron Ring Stag (IRS) and more importantly, the Iron Ring Ceremony. During this week, and more notably at the end of the week, you may spot some very peculiar fourth years on campus. By the time this article is published, half the week will have gone by and the graduating class will be three days away from earning their Iron Ring! Most events planned for Disorientation Week would have happened as well, including the IRS slave auction and brewery tour. DUSTED is planned for the evening of this publication, followed by a scotch-tasting event the next day.

One of the most notable events during Disorientation Week is the day before IRS. Professors of fourth year engineering classes are aware of this day, so most of them cancel class for the day. With classes cancelled, fourth years make plans for the morning before IRS with the other students in their class. The day typically starts off with a type of breakfast-champagne party that is hosted at the house of one of the classmates, assisted by lower-year students (IRS slaves) who have offered their service in helping to set up this party. Afterwards, fourth years head to campus, a majority of which wear unusual costumes. These costumes can vary from comic book superheros and villains, to cartoon characters, to milk cartons, robots, and even cross-dressers. Classes typically choose a theme prior to this day so that everyone in the same class wears a costume following that theme.

By the time you arrive on campus, you may notice that a lot of pranks (mostly harmless) have been pulled throughout campus, mostly around the engineering buildings. Examples of pranks that have been pulled in prior years are decorating hallways and walkways with balloons, hanging huge banners along the roof of buildings, construction of a brick wall (2003 IRS), and a Trojan horse in the middle of the Davis Centre (2012 IRS). Fourth years may also visit your class on this day! The visitations are normally tolerated, and in most cases, pre-approved by professors who are aware of visitations. For anyone concerned about how much disruption happens in class, it typically lasts for a minute, possibly more if subsequent fourth year classes come in and out, or if the professor and the fourth years have something specially arranged; lower-year lectures are still held, though. After making class visits, fourth years come together to watch the IRS clock roll over, displaying less than a day until their Iron Ring Ceremony! Most shenanigans stop by then as fourth years begin their PubCrawl.

Why dedicate an entire week to disorientation, and why do fourth years have an entire day full of pranks? The Iron Ring Ceremony is one of the most prestigious events that happens during the engineering undergraduate career. Receiving an iron ring not only serves as a reminder of the duties and obligations of an engineer, it also serves as an achievement that engineers receive after five to seven years of hard work. The costumes and harmless pranks pulled by fourth years act as their last set of shenanigans and antics before entering the workforce as responsible engineers. Traditions are held during IRS to remind students that they’ve entered the world of responsibility. One tradition is the all-black attire required for IRS, with all non-black attire ripped off or removed before stepping into the venue. Some fourth years will wear their costumes one last time before having it torn off and discarded by their peers at the door. Like most large engineering events, the TOOL makes a visit to IRS, and as newly-ringed fourth years, they can finally touch the TOOL.

For lower years, it seems as though these traditional events are too far into the future, with the first and second years having over a thousand days until their own disorientation week. A of lot work has been put into planning these events, especially the Iron Ring Ceremony and the Iron Ring Stag. Fourth years take most of the day before IRS looking back at their time at Waterloo, visiting old professors who have helped them through undergrad and celebrating with their peers, most of which they’ve known and worked with since 1A. If fourth years are leaving the undergraduate life for the scary place known as the real world, they might as well go out with a bang!