Pump it up
By Geoff Ash
On Labour Day Monday, while most faculty and staff on Memorial's St. Johns campus are enjoying their final summer holiday, the campus itself will be bursting with energy.
Each September, Student Affairs and Services on Memorial's St. John's campus holds a two-day fall Orientation, and this year it's shaping up to be a landmark event.
For the first time, the mayor of St. John's, Dennis O'Keefe, will speak to nearly 2,000 incoming Memorial students.
President and Vice-Chancellor Dr. Gary Kachanoski, along with the dean pro-tempore of Student Affairs and Services, Dr. Rob Shea, and Michael Walsh of MUNSU will also have their turn welcoming the new students into the Memorial family.
Always beginning on Labour Day Monday, this year's new student Orientation will take place Sept. 5-6, with a concurrent Orientation for parents of new students also taking place Sept. 5.
Orientation is a free service co-ordinated and delivered by the Answers office, a unit within Student Affairs and Services. It is available to all new incoming Memorial students, whether it's their first experience with university, or a transfer student attending Memorial for the first time, whether they are from right here in St. Johns, or coming from halfway around the world, Orientation can be a benefit to anyone.
Fall Orientation is the largest on-campus event next to Convocation, and for anyone who hasn't experienced the energy, you're strongly encouraged to check it out. During welcoming ceremonies the field house is packed with eager, excited students ready for their first taste of the Memorial experience. They receive greetings from university officials, get introduced to our athletics teams and programs, educated about our offerings of programs and support services, and take place in a massive icebreaker activity called P.U.M.P. (People Up Meeting People).
Over the past several years, Orientation on the St. John's campus has grown tremendously in size. So much in fact, that it prompted the need for a complete revision of the format and programming.
"Because we're getting so many more students, we've got different needs, wants, and expectations to fill," said Sandra Cook, student leadership co-ordinator. "We were using an Orientation program that was designed for half the number of students we get now, and it wasn't effectively meeting all of those new needs and expectations."
After a great deal of research and evaluation, the team overhauled the Orientation program to meet the increasingly diverse requirements of the students. It was becoming clear that the second day of programming yielded a smaller turnout.
Many students were not attending day two because they were going off and doing other things that they needed to do, like get a bus pass, or a campus card. Dr. Amy Butt, manager of Answers explains that the new program "allows us to give the students the critical information they need on day one, without overloading them, but also gives them the opportunity to get a lot of their important tasks done on day two before classes even start."
The new Orientation program transforms the second day. Rooms, booths and checkpoints are set up throughout the University Centre from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., giving students the opportunity to get many essential tasks completed all in one place, at their leisure. It also allows students the flexibility to attend academic orientations or other specialized events which occur that day.
Last year's Orientation was the pilot of the new format, and as an indication of it's success over 1,000 campus cards were printed during the second day and over 1,200 students attended the Get Connected Fair to learn about on-campus engagement opportunities and resources.
With registrations even higher than last year, the Orientation team is bracing for the biggest and best event yet.
For more on Orientation, see http://www.mun.ca/student/orientation/index.php.