Undergraduate Orientation Review Working Group releases final report

20 recommendations suggested for implementation across all faculty Orientation Weeks

The Undergraduate Orientation Review Working Group final report.  
Credit: 
Julia Balakrishnan

Following a six-month consultation period with faculties and students across the board at the University, the Undergraduate Orientation Review Working Group (UORWG) released their final report on Mar. 1.

The group was commissioned in August of 2017 by Principal Woolf following the Principal’s Implementation Committee on Racism, Diversity, and Inclusion (PICRDI) recommendations to reevaluate Orientation Week to facilitate a more inclusive and welcoming transition to Queen’s.

The final report, which provides 20 recommendations to the University, will be implemented throughout Orientation Week in the fall of 2018 and 2019.

Composition of the group included presidents of the undergraduate societies, deans or staff representatives from each undergraduate program at the University and members of the Social Issues Commission and Human Rights Office, among other organizations on campus.

“The process we engaged in was first a review, we understood what other institutions do. We reminded ourselves of the recommendations that were made in the PICRDI and [Truth and Reconciliation Commission] TRC reports about Orientation,” Deputy Provost Teri Shearer told The Journal in an interview. “We invited many groups to make submissions to us or hold meetings with us. We held two town halls, met with SOARB, and did a wide range of consultation.”

As chair of the Working Group, Shearer was pleased to be part of a group that, to her surprise, was extremely cooperative in their processes to create the final report.

“I would’ve predicted we’d encounter some challenges but almost from the beginning it was always a collaborative working group which is amazing given the size of it – which was very large,” she said. “It was a lot of work but everyone was working together towards a common goal. It turned out to be not so difficult to reach those goals.”

Amongst the recommendations being implemented for September 2018, all hired orientation leaders will engage in a peer-led training session that will instruct on how to build a more inclusive community.

Some recommendations, however, won’t be implemented until the fall of September 2019 because of the timing of the report with respect to orientation hiring this year.

For Shearer, one important recommendation she’s excited for is training for orientation employers that would incorporate implicit-bias recognition and inclusive hiring practices.

“I think that’s important because all the efforts we might make to be inclusive are not going to be successful if the leaders organizing, planning and delivering orientation are not themselves diverse,” she commented.

Arts and Science Undergraduate Society President Jasmine Lagundzija told The Journal the benefits of the report extend beyond just bringing attention to the need for a more inclusive Orientation Week.

“We intend to use the report as a guiding document while planning, and aim to include the recommendations in our week moving forward,” she wrote in an email. “Overall I believe many of the recommendations seek to find more consistency in our approaches to creating an equitable and inclusive week.”

Lagundzija, who represents the largest faculty at the working group, reflected the initial challenge of critically analyzing her society’s Orientation Week was quickly overcome by the presence of other faculty societies’ input.

“Of course it can be a challenge to be objective when analyzing your own faculty’s week, but having representatives from each faculty was great because they could provide input as a third party to the week,” she wrote. “Many of the recommendations will take time to implement, but I hope we as students can ensure regardless of faculty, all first-year students feel welcomed, included, and represented at Queen’s.”

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