PCP Against Short O-Week

Alexa Grittani - 4A Mechanical
Posted on: October 14, 2017

Is a shortened orientation week worth an extra two days of break after Thanksgiving? Orientation is an important start to most students’ university careers. It introduces students to the university and its community. It gives you time to find your way around campus so you’re not getting lost on your way to your first class. Having a whole week for Orientation allows students to get used to living away from home before the stress of classes starts.

Orientation used to last a whole week before classes would start on the following Monday. Now, depending on when you move in, new students only get three or four days of orientation before they are thrust into the stress of classes. Orientation kind of continues after classes have started, but not much happens, and a first-year engineering schedule is very overwhelming, especially if you ever compared it to people you know in other faculties. So Orientation is really only those first few days before classes start.

First-year orientation is a process that helps new students feel better prepared for their university experience. It gives them the opportunity to make new friends so they have someone to sit with on that daunting first day of classes. You’ve got to become familiar with the environment where you’re spending the next five years of your life.

So, if orientation is shorter, it could reduce the success in fostering school spirit and create a welcoming atmosphere for first-years.

So why is the school doing it this way? Well, it’s for this amazing new Fall Break that we’ve just enjoyed. I admit it was nice to have a couple extra days, but I had to move in four days early for two extra days of break. That doesn’t really add up.

Some students are losing their break between terms because a lot of co-op students work for as long as they can at their jobs to make money. So, by shortening orientation week, they are losing their guaranteed week off between terms. Is it an even trade off? Losing that week between terms could be preventing some out-of-province students from being able to have the time to go home between terms.

In comparison, Wilfred Laurier University starts classes on the same day as the University Waterloo, but they have a full reading week during the fall term instead of an extended long weekend. They make up for those two extra days at the end of the term. Laurier has the same three days of study break and then a thirteen day exam period that ends on the 22nd of December. Waterloo has a fourteen day exam period that ends on the 21st of December.

So, if Waterloo isn’t willing to give us a full reading week in the fall term, why can’t they take those two extra days for our “fall break” from the end of the term? They might have to shuffle around a few extra exams, but it sounds doable. Then they wouldn’t have to sacrifice orientation week.

Orientation week is so important to give first-years a good first impression of the school and the community. It gives them a chance to see others’ school spirit and to find their own school spirit. Also, those first friends you make are important to not feel alone away from home.

When I was in first year I made fast friends with the first people I met in my class so that I knew at least a couple people that I would be spending the next five years of my life with. I also latched on to the first girl I met in my class. This sounds like a shallow way to make friends, but I am still very close friends with her to this day. We ended up having way more in common than just what we were taking and it would have taken me a lot longer to drum up the courage to introduce myself to her if we hadn’t been in the same orientation group. And now I had someone to sit with.

Orientation is important. Don’t cut it short.