For the Ontario Public Interest Research Group (OPIRG) Kingston, the end of frosh week and the first week of classes won’t be the end of first-year-oriented activities.
Starting on Friday, OPIRG is hosting a series of events as part of Alternative Frosh, or Alt-Frosh 2014.
According to their website, OPIRG Kingston is “dedicated to research, education, and action in the public interest” and is part of a province-wide network of 11 PIRGs.
Alt-Frosh events include a language and power workshop with Queen’s Human Rights, a peer helping workshop with the Peer Support Centre and a resilience panel for mental health with the Mental Health Awareness Committee. Though they’re targeted to first-year students, events are open to everyone at Queen’s.
The week concludes with a diversity potluck dinner on Sept. 21 at the Grey House, where OPIRG is located. The dinner will feature food from Four Directions Aboriginal Centre, the Queen’s Turkish Students Association and other organizations.
Queen’s Human Rights, the Peer Support Centre, the AMS Social Issues Commission, the Four Directions Aboriginal Centre, Queen’s Pride and Loving Spoonful are among the groups involved with Alt-Frosh activities.
Chantal D’Souza was OPIRG’s Orientation Coordinator this year. She said that while “traditional frosh week” helps introduce students to other people in their faculty and creates a sense of school spirit, it tends to focus on commonalities between students.
“It can be a little bit homogenizing because the Queen’s experience — traditional frosh week — tends to focus on what everyone has in common, overarching as Queen’s students, rather than individual identities and differences,” D’Souza, ConEd ’15, said.
“Alt-Frosh tends to try and celebrate those differences and different identities. We’re talking about different genders, different sexualities, different cultural identities, race, mental health.”
D’Souza said OPIRG wants to ensure incoming students are aware there’s a place for them on campus, no matter their background or how they identify.
“You don’t have to fit within a very traditional perspective of what a Queen’s student is, in order to find your place here at Queen’s,” she said.
“There will always be upper-years and people trying to make sure that you feel included and make sure there are spaces where you belong.”
Brea Hutchinson, OPIRG coordinator, said OPIRG has been running variations of Alt-Frosh for the past 11 years. Last year’s events were entitled “Q Series: Questioning the Status Quo.” The year before, it was “Rad Frosh.”
Hutchinson said there were fewer — albeit bigger — events last year, most of which were for students 19 years of age and older.
To make the events more accessible, they’ll be open to all ages this year. There will also be more events this year.
“[These] smaller, nearly-free if not free events [allow] much more of a wider conversation to be had,” Hutchinson said.
“This year is exceptional, I think, in the sense of our promotion, our outreach, the scope of the events and the comprehensiveness of the community groups and campus groups we’re working with.”
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