New process to ‘harmonize’ orientation: Mercer

Lambda profile pic

By Kayla Perry

The orientation process at Laurentian University has undergone transformation: the new process, which will begin during summer 2014, will try and ensure that there is a combination of social and frosh events, as well as academic orientation.

“The conversations we’ve had have been about harmonizing what happens during frosh week, and talking about what can happen in advance so students have access (to services),” said Chris Mercer, executive director of Student life and Enrolment Management.

The new orientation process still allows for the usual associations’ frosh events, including the frosh play and concert, but will also allow for, as well as academic orientation: a calendar (which is still rough and has not yet been officially approved).

“We’ve had some complaints from students over the last few years, where they weren’t feeling like they were getting everything they needed through the orientation process,” said Mercer. “I don’t know if we were doing as good as a job as we could, as a university, to make sure that things were clear at the right times.”

Mercer said he had heard from many students that, before they got to Laurentian, they were unsure how to work Webadvisor, who to call for questions about timetables, what courses are required, and various other issues. With the new process, there will be times set aside for students to ask these questions.

Last year, Mark Mancini, VP of student issues for the SGA, attended the NODAC 2013 conference in Huston, in order to gather information from other universities about how they conduct their orientation processes.

Mancini was accompanied by David Vares, President of the GSA, and said the conference was “helpful. (We) saw many universities where the student associations have a very strong presence, but also balance the academic side of orientation.”

Mancini and Vares then drafted a report to the orientation committee, recommending the committee keep the social aspect of orientation going.

In past years, the First Year Experience Office would coordinate a part of orientation: this office has been moved into part of the CAE.

Mercer said the change was planned in meetings with the student associations, and various school officials, over the period of six months.

The new orientation process does not allow for the “weekend orientation” that has happened in the past, where new students and a guest come to Laurentian campus for a weekend, stay in residence, and tour the university. Mercer said there was “limited uptake” on this event which resulted in the cancellation, but have instead replaced the event with staffing every Saturday during summer on campus, to give tours and introduce services.

“I like the changes,” said Andy Rollins, president of the SGA. “It’s important that we set students off on the right foot, both academically and socially… The compromise we’ve come upon has all the social events, and centers all the academic things around that.”