Rethinking frosh week

One ArtSci student's perspective on why orientation week misses the mark

Luca Dannetta.

Frosh week sets the tone for the best four years of your life—full of fun, new friends, and new experiences. 

But not for me.  It was the most underwhelming experience of my time at Queen’s so far and I felt isolated throughout my first week here.

Putting it bluntly: my Frosh Week sucked—but Queen’s doesn’t. That’s okay. 

As an ArtSci student, I felt my faculty’s Orientation Week events missed the mark. I didn’t experience the same kind of bond between classmates that I thought my peers in Commerce and Engineering seemed to enjoy. 

While these faculty’s may appear to have more fun, tight-knit Orientation Weeks due to smaller number of students and longstanding traditions, ArtSci frosh organizers fail to relate to a mature and quickly evolving audience. 

In recent years, the University has increasingly tried to discourage the drinking culture often associated with frosh week. 

But to curb drinking habits, especially during organized faculty-wide events, there has to be alternatives to events centered around shaving cream and hula hoops.

To me, making 18-year-old students play games designed for children doesn’t discourage drinking. It encourages it.

We’re young adults and smart ones at that. Covering each other in shaving cream, rolling in the dirt, tossing bean bags, or running through an inflatable obstacle course isn’t engaging. It doesn’t hold your attention. 

When the choices presented to incoming first-year students during frosh week are drinking or participating in events that resemble summer camp activities, plenty of students will choose the booze. 

This isn’t to say drinking culture should be embraced or tolerated by Frosh Week organizers —it shouldn’t. 

But there must be a middle ground where students can enjoy themselves in an environment they find engaging. 

I spent the whole of my ArtSci frosh week experience looking at my phone, bored out of my mind, or wishing I was somewhere else.

While other faculty’s first-year students bonded based on shared interests, talents, and tradition, I bonded with my new classmates over how disinterested we were while participating in ArtSci’s Orientation Week activities. 

I made my first friends here. Even the one ArtSci frosh event I looked forward to most—the mystery concert—left much to be desired.  

The mystery concert was hyped up all week, and I remember my frosh leaders talking about how excited they were and how we were going to love it. 

After hearing about my friends at other schools seeing some of my favourite artists, I had high hopes.

Post Malone played at McMaster. Mariana’s Trench played at Western. Jazz Cartier played at McGill. 

At Queen’s, we had Mother Mother, and I don’t think that I’d ever been more disappointed—especially considering the hype the concert had garnered over the course of Frosh Week.

With all of this being said, I love Queen’s, I loved first year, and I wouldn’t choose anywhere else if I had to do it all over again. 

The people here are smart, engaging, and fun young people. I was able to discover that with no thanks to an underwhelming Frosh Week. 

The importance of Frosh Week can’t be overstated, though. Although I survived through it enough to eventually love Queen’s, there are other ArtSci frosh who might not have been as lucky.

Frosh Week sets the tone for how incoming first-year students will feel about their school, and establishes whether they’ll start the academic year discouraged or with positivity.

It stands as the first real opportunity to teach incoming students the important things that will make their experience at Queen’s safe and successful. 

It’s an opportunity to start things off on the right foot.

Arts and Science is the biggest faculty at Queen’s, and it really has the potential to create something special. 

But it’s incumbent on the leadership of those who organize its Orientation Week activities to engage with students and ask what they’d like to see changed.

Luca Dannetta is a second-year History student.

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