Queen’s has a celebrated school spirit, but few take time to think about its implications.
Every year, newly admitted students are thrust into the traditions of the University during Orientation Week.
Having arrived at Queen’s as a frosh, I was bombarded with Queen’s paraphernalia and up-beat cheers — all methods of welcoming a new class to the University.
Orientation Week can be a great resource, helping students transition into the University.
But many of these events don’t create much space for students to think critically about Queen’s. They also don’t give students a chance to think about what they want from their own university experience.
Although all Orientation Week events are optional, there’s an underlying culture of conformity — something problematic, especially when new students are insecure in an unfamiliar place.
While steps have been made to make the week more welcoming in recent years, more efforts could be made to foster a space for critical reflection during the week.
Asking, “frosh, how do you feel?” and having students respond, “I feel so good, oh, I feel so good, oh!” doesn’t change the fact that they might feel isolated or vulnerable.
I didn’t enjoy most of my frosh events because I felt uncomfortable with the idea of random people telling me how to act or feel. I came to Queen’s to develop my own voice — not have it drowned out by others.
University should be a place of social and intellectual growth. It shouldn’t be about slapping on a happy face around your peers while screaming in Gaelic.
Students need time to find their footing within the University. They need the freedom to critically analyze it as a social community. The school should take further steps to allow for this focus to be integrated into future orientation weeks.
Vincent is one of the Assistant News Editors at the Journal.
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