C/O Travis Nguyen, Photo Editor

Second-years were able to experience their own Welcome Week after a year of online class

Often, when students think about the beginning of their university experience, they think about Welcome Week, a week dedicated to welcoming first-year students to campus. Welcome Week provides first-year students with the opportunity to meet new people and orient themselves around campus. 

However, students who entered university in the year of 2020 faced a new reality to this monumental event. For the majority of those students, classmates were met virtually, through platforms such as Zoom. Though this had its own benefits, these students were not able to experience Welcome Week. 

The missed occasion was not unnoticed by those who planned Welcome Week as McMaster University announced that these students who missed out would be able to join their classmates on Sept. 11, 2021. 

Second-year undergraduate students were offered a Second-Year Welcome, where they can register for and attend a variety of events meant to capture community-building aspects of an in-person Welcome Week. 

In the morning, students can discover the student services provided by McMaster, then have a few hours to meet peers within their faculty and make friends at different MSU events. These events seem to very simply condense what would have happened over a week into a day.

“We want to give you the in-person welcome we couldn’t give you at Welcome Week 2020,” the Student Success Centre said in their announcement.

Jacquie Hampshire and Rachel Nelson were two of the staff members of the SSC who helped ensure that Second-Year Welcome unfolds accordingly. They stated that given how last year’s welcome week had panned out, this year’s welcome was in the making for over a year.

“When we had learned that last year was going to be a virtual welcome week, at that time the welcome week advisory committee alongside all of our partners on campus had committed to hosting an in-person event when it was safe to do so. So this has been, I would now say, well over a year in terms of thinking about this welcome, and waiting until we were safely able to welcome students to McMaster campus,” said Hampshire.

“When we had learned that last year was going to be a virtual welcome week, at that time the welcome week advisory committee alongside all of our partners on campus had committed to hosting an in-person event when it was safe to do so. So this has been, I would now say, well over a year in terms of thinking about this welcome, and waiting until we were safely able to welcome students to McMaster campus.”

Jacquie Hampshire, staff member of the SSC

While discussing the meticulous planning that went into this event, Hampshire and Nelson explained the question that was on many second-year students’ minds: Why was a traditionally week-long event limited to a single day? When asked this question it was all down to one word: accessibility. 

“We had considered all options when we were looking at the planning of this event to figure out what was going to be the best. We had landed on offering a one day event for a number of reasons. One is just logistically, for students that are living out of town to provide them the opportunity to be able to come to campus. Offering the event on multiple days doesn’t afford the quite same accessibility for students that may not be in close proximity to the campus. Looking at a one day format has allowed us to maximize the event and also be able to provide this event to all students,” said Hampshire.

They were also asked how exactly the entirety of the second-year population would be on campus while maintaining social distancing guidelines. Hampshire and Nelson quickly reassured that when sign-ups for events had 100 person limits on each and all events were guaranteed to be outside. 

Alongside this, students were also required to use MacCheck to ensure they were allowed on campus. MacCheck is an app where McMaster students have to upload proof of vaccination and daily check-ins to ensure that no one is entering campus with COVID-19. With all these precautions put in place, it would maintain the guidelines that were instructed by the city of Hamilton. 

As Vice-President of Student Affairs for the McMaster Science Society, Isabelle Son was in charge of ensuring that second-year science students would be able to socialize with their faculty peers during the event. 

She was asked to summarize what she wanted Second-Year Welcome to achieve. 

“It’s an opportunity for second years to meet each other, because they didn’t get the opportunity to have on-res experience or the in-person welcome experience last year. I know that’s where I met a lot of my friends, and how I met lots of people so this would be an opportunity for them to socialize with their peers and get a glimpse of what welcome week in-person would look like for them,” said Son.

With the large variety and possible popularity among some events, Son’s team had to plan how to ensure science events were all within guidelines.

“Our capacity for outside is 100 people. But we are splitting it up into three different stations and all three stations are in different areas on the Burke Science Building field. So each station can have 100 people. We will have 20 executives and/or representatives at each station so that means only 80 students can sign up for each station. Masks will be encouraged, all the executives and representatives will be wearing them. Within events, each person will be spaced out and put into smaller groups at each station. This is to encourage interacting with less people,” Son explained.

McMaster’s second-years have waited diligently for the idea of a proper welcome to the campus where they will be spending their years as a young adult. The Second-Year Welcome has given them the opportunity they had been waiting for.

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