After a controversy-ridden 2015 Orientation Week, Western and the University Students’ Council are set to modernize their student orientation program for the first time in over a decade — and in time for 2016’s incoming students.
The updated orientation program will include renewed goals and a multi-year strategic plan developed by the orientation governance board and orientation planning committee.
“The last official strategic plan that we had … was in 2003,” said Taryn Scripnick, USC vice-president student events. “We’re hoping to review our programming, what we’re doing with our sophs and how everything affects students.”
The OGB and OPC provoked community criticism during Western’s 2015 Orientation Week when the OPC banned traditional soph apparel like bandanas and fake dreadlocks in an effort to be culturally sensitive. Many criticized the USC of undue censorship.
Scripnick said that while the September drama didn’t prompt the orientation program’s review — it was initiated last spring — the review will ensure that OPC members are performing their duties accountably and in the interest of students.
“We’re reviewing [the] OPC and its function and making sure that we’re taking a look at all of the areas of the orientation program,” Scripnick said. “Not just programmers, not just sophs but taking a look at [OPC members'] roles and making sure we’re performing properly and … that we’re also being accountable."
According to the OGB’s mandate, the board is responsible for setting the directions and guidelines for Orientation Week while the OPC’s role is to develop methods of implementation. To develop the strategic plan, the USC groups will collaborate to collect input from Western students, faculty and staff that will determine the proposal’s direction.
“As we’re moving forward, it’s really important to have transparency around the procedure, but also about what’s going to happen [to the orientation program] so people can get behind it,” said Jana Luker, Western associate vice-president student experience and OGB co-chair. “Right now, we’re looking for feedback.”
Scripnick said interested students can submit feedback online, or participate in focus groups that will help shape the draft of the strategic plan up for review in January. More information is available at orientationplan.uwo.ca.
“If the students want to come out and they want to be involved, then we highly encourage that," Spripnick said. "Without them, we can’t make any of these changes.”