Sept. 3 marked the last day of Welcome Week 2016.

This year, approximately 6,000 incoming first year students, McMaster’s largest incoming class since 2003, engaged in eight days of cheering and activities led by enthusiastic reps.

“It was the smoothest welcome week so far,” said Patricia Kousoulas, fourth year Honours Life Sciences student and faculty orientation planner. First-year midwifery student Lauren Tignanelli, the residence orientation planner agreed.

“Everything seemed to click.”

Tignanelli explained that the reason things felt smooth was due to the increased effort of ensuring that people in charge were in better communication with each other before first year students arrived on campus.

“One thing that I felt this year was that people were a lot more open to talk and work things out together before the week happened. People had known each other early enough to work out those knots so when it came to, it was like ‘oh yeah we have a good relationship, this is good, we know what we’re doing.’”

Marina Bredin, fourth year Honours Arts & Science student and faculty planner agreed.

“Lauren and Patricia really cultivated a bonding environment for the reps throughout the summer that really trickled down and spread throughout the rep teams.”

Many of McMaster’s traditional Welcome Week events returned this year, such as the Faculty and Residence Cup competitions. The competition consists of points being awarded throughout the week for faculty and residence teams for events such as Airbands, Bedracers, PJ Parade and Shinerama. Nursing won the Faculty Cup while McKay Hall earned the Residence Cup.

This year, the competition seemed less emphasised than in previous Welcome Weeks.

“In the past, the cup was more of a focus of Welcome Week, especially for faculties,” said Bredin.

To Kousoulas, the cup undermines the aim of Welcome Week.

“For a lot of people Welcome Week feels like a giant competition and that’s why I’m not the biggest fan of the cup.”

This year, however, Kousoulas explained that there was a more collaborative atmosphere around campus.

“It felt like there was a lot more love between the faculties and students. You have an event like Faculty Fusion and everyone’s cheering for their own faculty but you always end with the message that we are “One McMaster.”

The collaborative spirit was also seen in the Shinerama fundraiser, a national post-secondary fundraiser for cystic fibrosis research. Rather than promoting events from previous years that aimed to decrease other groups’ points during Shinerama, reps embraced a more mutually beneficial approach to fundraising. Massages given from Kinesiology reps in exchange for donations were a particularly popular fundraising initiative throughout the week.

Though students and reps did not beat the 2013 Shinerama record of $180,000, McMaster students still came together to raise a total of $107,000.

To concerns regarding the dwindling attendance of first year students at events toward the end of the week, Tignanelli explained that the low turnout is actually a positive sign.

“It shows that students are starting to feel more comfortable on campus. Students are more comfortable going to places on their own and choosing what events to go to, and I think that’s why we do Welcome Week – we want students to make connections and feel comfortable on campus.”

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