A different kind of welcome

University District

Alternative Frosh Week and Queerientation put a new spin on traditional orientation

A FREC gives a Sci ’12 frosh a custom cut during the annual “EngCut Palooza,” held at Agnes Benidickson Field Wednesday.
A FREC gives a Sci ’12 frosh a custom cut during the annual “EngCut Palooza,” held at Agnes Benidickson Field Wednesday.

Sean Haberele, MA ’08, still remembers his Frosh Week experience: he didn’t have one. “I didn’t do Frosh Week, I opted out of it,” he said.

Haberle is the coordinator for the Ontario Public Interest Research Group (OPIRG)’s Alternative Frosh Week, one of several alternatives to the faculty-run Frosh Week events.

Haberle said Alternative Frosh Week, which runs from Sept. 3 to 7, is open to students of all years and faculties whose interests don’t align with Frosh Week, something he didn’t have when he started his first year at Queen’s.

“I’ve known people that have been excluded from Frosh Week for the entire time I’ve been at Queen’s, and a lot of people are turned off by the aggressive or confrontational attitude of Frosh Week,” he said. “A lot of certain types of people have a lot of problems with the way in which Frosh Week focuses on splitting apart the disciplines. People are fighting against each other in their disciplines.”

Haberle said although Frosh Week can be an enjoyable experience for many students, it can be socially ostracizing for those who don’t agree with the values of the faculty-run events.

“If you trace the roots of this tradition back, they’re not all that good. It’s been fairly oppressive,” he said. “The structure of Frosh Week itself is based exclusively on military practices of hazing, and the way it has manifested itself at Queen’s has historically been racist, homophobic, sexist, ableist, excetera.”

Haberle said the influence alcohol has played in previous Frosh Weeks could also be a turn off for some students.

“In the past, there was a lot more of a focus on drinking, and that has been curbed to some extent, but we all know it’s still there,” he said. “A lot of people aren’t down with that either.” Haberle said he doesn’t consider Alternative Frosh Week a threat to Frosh Week, but instead a chance for students interested in activism, environmental issues and Kingston’s history to learn more about grassroots community organizations at Queen’s and in Kingston.

“It’s an opportunity for people who can take it, and if other people aren’t ready, Alternative Frosh Week is open to people of all years, so come around the next time.”

For students of all years and faculties looking to get in touch with queer resources at Queen’s and in Kingston, the Education on Queer Issues Project (EQuIP)’s Queerientation runs from Sept. 9 to 27.

Althea Green, ArtSci ’11 and chair of EQuIP, said she started researching Queerientation before she even arrived at Queen’s.

“I knew Queen’s had a queer resource. I came straight up to the office and said ‘I want to get involved with Queerientation instantly,’” she said. “I waited it out and came to every Queerientation event I could.”

Green, who is also a Cape for Nursing Frosh Week, said Queerientation is less focused on day-long tours and introductory events for first-year students.

“For Nursing Frosh Week, we spend basically all day running the tours and everything else,” she said. “Students that come out to Queerientation are not necessarily just first years, it’s anyone who’s queer or queer-allied who want to come out to any of the events.”

Green said Queerientation events are scheduled around Frosh Week so students don’t have to choose one over the other.

“It’s not like you have to choose if you want to go to Queerientation and get connected with the queer community or do you want to get connected with your own faculty,” she said. “I like it better because you don’t have to choose, you’re able to do both.” Green said Queerientation, which will include a walking tour of queer Kingston, a barbeque at the Grad Club, an EQuIP meeting and a movie night, is an important resource for first year students looking to connect with Queen’s and Kingston’s queer community.

“Even though Queen’s is a mid-sized university, it still can be very intimidating,” she said. “It’s important to have events like that to create a sense of community and as a way to get everyone involved and hopefully to make their experience better.”

For a complete list of Alternative Frosh Week and Queerientation events, go to queensjournal.ca

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