Alternative frosh weeks offer other options

Activist groups aim to bring students a different perspective on Queen’s orientation

Kingston’s Ontario Public Interest Research Group (OPIRG) hosts an alternative Frosh Week for students who don’t necessarily identify with Queen’s culture, says coordinator Kavita Bissoondial.

“The faculty frosh weeks can pull you into celebrating this history and culture that you don’t necessarily identify with. It can be very overwhelming,” she said. Bissoondial, ArtSci ’10, said faculty orientation week is not the only way to learn about Queen’s, adding that RadFrosh week engages students’ interests in social justice, anti-racism, anti-capitalism and activism.

The alternative week was created in 2001. Two years ago, OPIRG started running RadFrosh after Frosh Week to give students time to attend as many events as possible. This year OPIRG has lined up a range of events that will highlight art and politics with a series of workshops, screenings and panels. The events will run throughout September and October after classes start. Last year’s RadFrosh hosted a panel of alumni speaking about their experiences of racism at Queen’s.

“We’re here to support each other and no one should feel alone,” Bissoondial said. “It was a powerful night that we hope to replicate.”

This year OPIRG will host American comedian Hari Kondabolu as a special guest whose humour supports RadFrosh’s themes like poverty and racism.

All events are funded by OPIRG and free for students. Attendance varies by event, ranging from five to 75 participants.

Queerientation is another option for those looking to participate in an alternative frosh week. Organized by the Education on Queer Issues Project (EQuIP), Queerientation runs from September 12 to 25 after Orientation Week.

This year’s EQuIP Chair, Jessie Sinclair, said Queerientation’s late start gives people a chance to adjust to Queen’s before they start seeking out new communities.

“During Frosh Week everyone is constantly trying to impress each other. But a couple of weeks in people are more comfortable being themselves,” Sinclair said.

Queerientation 2011 will include art workshops, a barbecue at the Grad Club, outdoor movie night, karaoke night at Tir Nan Og and a dance hosted by Queen’s Pride Project.

“Queerientation is meant to be encouraging for everyone, even those who don’t identify as queer,” Sinclair, ArtSci ‘13, said.

David Coulson, Head Gael for the Arts and Science Frosh Week, said alternative frosh weeks complement those run by faculty societies.

“Orientation week alone hosts over 2,000 students,” Coulson, ArtSci ’12, said. “The alternative frosh weeks can hit specific goals identifiable to new students and that’s an important thing too,” Coulson said, adding that students need not choose one or the other.

“At the end of the day, we all have the same goal of welcoming students,” Coulson said.

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