Alternative Frosh Week not a threat: OPIRG

Alternative Frosh Week organizers encourage students to explore the flip side of Frosh Week, as well as the traditional shenanigans, (traditional shenanigan shown above).
Alternative Frosh Week organizers encourage students to explore the flip side of Frosh Week, as well as the traditional shenanigans, (traditional shenanigan shown above).
Journal File Photo

Several groups on campus are inviting incoming students to take a walk on the flip side of frosh week, and the Head Gael is questioning whether they’ve gone about it the right way.

The Ontario Public Interest Research Group (OPIRG) is spearheading the first ever Alternative Frosh Week, along with the Queen’s Coalition against Corporate Globalization and the Ban Righ Centre.

The week’s events have yet to be finalized but will include talks by political speakers, workshops, a social justice filmnight, and an outdoor street party.

Head Gael Natalie Abdou thinks alternative frosh week fills a void, but is concerned incoming students will consider alternative frosh week to be an official, University-sanctioned event, because, according to Abdou, “the name is misleading.”

“I’m comfortable with the idea and I don’t feel threatened by it,” said Abdou. “But the frosh week part of their title might make people associate them with official orientation activities.” It may be called alternative frosh week, but it’s not a direct challenge to traditional orientation activities, said OPIRG co-ordinator Marney McDiarmid.

“The intention of alternative frosh week is not to dis the existing frosh week,” said McDiarmid

“The point is to raise the visibility of people interested in social groups.” McDiarmid said organizers do indeed intend to use tactics exercised by existing orientation groups to draw first year students to their events, but “we’re doing it with a political bent.”

McDiarmid is most excited about the radical cheerleading workshop, “another form of political protest,” used by protestors during the FTAA summit in April.

“Our members will get people yelling and shouting like other frosh groups do on the street during the week, but instead of chants, [they will use] cheers, like ‘riot, don’t diet, come on girls let’s try it.’” Coalition member Sarah Miller said their event offers alternatives “for people who aren’t into drinking or formal Queen’s welcome stuff.”

“We’d like to fill a gap we see,” Miller said.

“We don’t expect orientation organizers to meet every need, but we are trying to offer what isn’t there.”

Miller said organizers did consider calling the event by another name to avoid confusion with official activities, but opted to “call it what it is.” “We just wanted to keep the theme of welcoming incoming students, and it is essentially a week of orientation,” said Miller.

“It’s not official. It’s for fun.”

And according to McDiarmid, the organizers of alternative frosh week are not obligated to follow frosh week guidelines or require their leaders to receive mandatory sensitivity training because, McDiarmid pointed out, they do not receive funding from the university for this event.

“This is just like any other event we do,” said McDiarmid. “This is to meet people, and most of the activities have been scheduled so as not to conflict with faculty frosh week activities. This is for fun. Fun is what it’s about.”

For her part, Abdou agreed, with reservations.

“I just think the regular rules should apply,” said Abdou. “The idea is good if they’ve gone about it the right way, and I don’t know if they have.”

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