COMPSA orientation on probation

Computing students will join Arts and Science orientation in September 2010

Daniel Basilio, incoming High Tech, and Tamara Redwood, High Tech 2008-09 and COMPSA president 2008-09, say computing students should have their own orientation separate from the rest of Arts and Science.
Daniel Basilio, incoming High Tech, and Tamara Redwood, High Tech 2008-09 and COMPSA president 2008-09, say computing students should have their own orientation separate from the rest of Arts and Science.
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The Computing Students’ Association (COMPSA) will lose its independent orientation and be integrated in the Arts and Science Undergraduate Society (ASUS)’s orientation week next September.

Acting Faculty of Arts and Science Associate Dean (Studies) Hugh Horton made the announcement at Arts and Science Faculty Board—made up of administration, faculty and students—on Nov. 13.

Tamara Redwood, COMPSA president 2008-09 and High Tech 2008-09, said she was told their orientation was cancelled for next year because of organizational difficulties with the Academic Orientation Committee (AOC) in previous years.

The AOC is made up of four teaching members of Faculty Board, four student members and one staff member.

The committee is responsible for recommending an academic orientation program to Faculty Board for incoming Arts and Science, Concurrent Education, Physical and Health Education and Computing students.

COMPSA’s orientation committee is made up of a High Tech and Low Tech, the orientation leaders, and the executive members. One of these members is the academics chair who is responsible for attending AOC meetings.

Redwood said Faculty of Arts and Science Associate Dean (Studies) Brenda Ravenscroft left a file for Horton before she went on sabbatical, saying she had difficulties dealing with COMPSA.

“We were told that Ravenscroft left a file for Horton that she was documenting meetings she’s had with COMPSA in the past,” she said. “We’re under the impression it wasn’t a very positive one. She’s had trouble with academic chairs in the past.”

Redwood said on Sept. 30, Horton met with her and other members of COMPSA and cited four reasons that brought him to his decision, which include missed meetings, lateness and disorganization.

In response to Horton’s four points, Redwood said COMPSA provided counter-evidence for each one, adding that they even suggested an alternative solution.

“We even proposed having COMPSA do all its academics with ASUS and have the rest of our orientation separate,” she said.

Redwood said this year’s orientation was a big success, adding that if they merge with ASUS, it will make things more difficult for them in the future.

“We worked really hard this year to make it more our own, which is why we’re really afraid to lose it,” she said.

COMPSA has been running its own orientation for the past five or six years, she said.

Redwood said she thinks it’s different from ASUS orientation because upper-year computing students tend to participate in orientation events because the program is small.

“We have events … like our talent show, we always have upper years and we invite them so they can meet the first years,” she said.

One of the orientation events is a talk with a faculty member about transitioning from high school to university.

“They have our undergrad assistant meet with them to make sure they’re in the right courses for their program.”

Horton declined the Journal’s request to be interviewed.

Bob Crawford, dean of student affairs from 1995 to 2005 and computing professor, said he thinks the decision to put COMPSA orientation on probation is a good one.

Crawford said the merger isn’t permanent but more of a trial run.

“I have every confidence in our COMPSA student leaders that they will do a superb job this year and will have COMPSA orientation fully restored in the future,” he said.

Crawford said he thinks the best course of action for computing students right now is to sit tight.

“As far as an appeal of the decision of the Associate Dean (Studies) is concerned, I think that it’s better for all concerned if that time and energy is put into orientation planning for 2010.”

Daniel Basilio, incoming High Tech and ArtSci ’12, said he plans to carry on orientation planning as usual.

“We’re still going to hire a full committee to run the week from the planning side,” he said. “If we’re a part of ASUS, we can focus more specifically on fundraising and sponsorship. That way, we should get our week back in future years.”

As High Tech, Basilio said he’ll be responsible for some events during ASUS orientation week.

“Basically I’d be the High Tech for however many events we’d be allowed to have,” he said. “We’re reconstructing how our tech committee is going to be run and how events are going to be organized.”

Carey Metcalfe, ArtSci ’13, said he enjoyed his COMPSA orientation week because it’s a tight-knit community.

The incoming class is about 40 students on average.

“We’re different from ArtSci so why would we be integrated into their frosh week?”

Metcalfe said he thinks it’s important for the two orientation weeks to remain separate since COMPSA students have more specific interests.

“Computing students are into the same things,” he said. “If COMPSA is integrated into ArtSci, first years won’t know as many people in their faculty and they won’t be able to have those people to ask for computing-related help.”

—With files from Gloria Er-Chua

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