Let’s talk about Orientation Week.
It’s an issue that has come up in nearly every debate during this campaign. Between the sophing bursary, bringing O-Week downtown [update: and how could I forget the Soph Association?] and discussions about integrating myriad other platform points into the first week of university, it’s something all the candidates obviously care about, and have put a lot of thought into.
I’m sick of hearing about it.
The USC puts a lot of time, money and effort into trying to make O-Week the best it can be for everyone who participates, so in a way I don’t blame them for over-stating its importance. The Orientation Planning Committee and all of the assorted sophs put a lot of effort into the planning and execution of that week, and that’s awfully nice of them.
But that’s the thing—it’s just one week out of at least four years. My experience at Western was not defined by the dances, or Shinerama, or the MIT flash mob, or the carnival, or the concert, or the sophs.
Because they are so involved in the event, I think a lot of sophs and USC-types tend to lose sight of the fact that O-Week is really not that important to the average student. No one chooses their university based on who rolls out the nicest welcome wagon—they go for the academic program, or because it’s close to home, or because that’s where they got the best entrance scholarship.
And this might be hard to swallow—sophs are a notoriously sensitive bunch—but I can’t even remember my sophs’ names. They didn’t really affect my life at all. I’m sure they were all filled with boundless enthusiasm, but the only important thing sophs really did for me was carry my stuff up to my room on move-in day.
When you take several thousand hormonal, drunken teenagers (you can call it a “dry O-Week” until you’re blue in the face, but that won’t make it true) who are all away from home for the first time and stick them in residences together for a week before school starts, they will find a way to have fun with or without sophs and the USC holding their hands.
O-Week should not be an election issue for one simple reason: no one voting in this election is even going to experience O-Week, except of course for sophs. And candidates, if you want to include soph-related points on your platform that’s fine (it pays to pander to them, after all), but know that the only people who care about sophing are sophs themselves.
I’ve been at Western for four years now. In that time I’ve made a lot of friends, accomplished a lot of goals, had a lot of great experiences and changed my outlook on the world—and my O-Week experience had nothing to do with any of that.