By: Ehima Osazuma – MSU President
Back in my first year I missed out on Welcome Week. I spent most of it in my room playing video games. Fast forward to my sixth and final attempt, when I finally got the chance to experience it. The week was an amazing and exhilarating experience: from the events, to the people I met, to the atmosphere on campus, Welcome Week is a week I will not forget.
I was thoroughly impressed with the diverse programming offered to students. In previous years, events had been catered to extroverted students with only a few alternative programs. This year was more balanced. McMaster focused on three strategic priorities: consent, mental health and alcohol consumption. It was uplifting to see these topics be the focus of Welcome Week, especially since these are issues that affect a large portion of students.
This year was also ideal in its duration and timing. In past years the week had overlapped with classes but this year those involved did not have to choose between attending classes and events. Students also had a daylong break between events and the beginning of classes to recover from a fun but exhausting experience.
McMaster has done a great job in making Welcome Week an entertaining and inclusive week but there are still little changes that can be made to improve the experience as a whole. One of my biggest takeaways from Welcome Week is that the reps are crucial in making it happen. I am of the belief that we should further reward the energy and resources these volunteers put in. For example, reps have to cover the cost of a rep suit that ranges from $50 to $90, which could be a barrier to students who cannot afford to pay this fee. These volunteers work tirelessly to make Welcome Week run smoothly — the least the MSU and the university can do is to cover that cost.
Additionally, I believe that faculty reps should spend more time interacting with first-year students. They have so much to offer: from their academic experiences, to the culture and faculty society they can share with first-years in their faculty, to the role they could play in developing interfaculty relationships. Reps volunteer their time to help make the Welcome Week experience the best it can be. They should be given as many tools and opportunities as possible to do their job and enjoy it.
Admittedly, before I became the president of the McMaster Students’ Union, I was skeptical about the Maroons. I did not previously know exactly what their role was during Welcome Week, but now I can easily say that Welcome Week would not have been as successful as it was if they were not present. The Maroons helped the MSU, SOCS, faculty societies and residences with the planning and execution of their events.
Additionally, I was very pleased with the engineering reps and the Inter-Residence Council. In the past couple of years, both student groups have undergone major internal restructuring, and the results have been positive. The engineers still came last in the Faculty Cup, but this time they did it with a sense of discipline while having fun and being inclusive to first years. The IRC, back from a hiatus, was also phenomenal. They had a fantastic presence on campus that I hadn’t noticed in previous Welcome Weeks.
So Welcome Week 2015 was great, but is it time for Welcome Week 2016 yet?