First-year students and Orientation Week organizers faced disappointment on Saturday when several Frosh Week activities, including the Grease Pole event, had to be postponed due to inclement weather.
Parts of Kingston received up to 50mm of rain Saturday — over half of the average amount the city usually receives for the entire month of September. Gusts of wind reaching up to 78 km/h and a risk of thunder storms led to the postponement of the events until the tentative date of Sept. 22, depending on weather reports and booking confirmation.
“We just kind of collectively determined that it was unsafe for the frosh, which was obviously not what we wanted because their safety is our first concern,” Engineering Orientation Chair Andrew Turvey said.
The Grease Pole event requires students to capture a tam from the top of a large pole covered in lanolin, a type of grease similar to hair gel.
The decision to postpone the event was announced to first-years on Friday night in an email to all Engineering students, including those that graduated in the spring.
“[The first-years] were visibly upset about it, but I think after they climb the grease pole they will realize that it was the correct decision and that it would have been irresponsible and unsafe for us to run it today,” Turvey, Sci ’14, said.
He added that organizers were unable to secure a location for another event on Saturday, due to clearance issues and the large size of the frosh group.
Queen’s University Historian Duncan McDowall said he’s not aware of organizers of the annual tradition ever postponing the event due to bad weather.
“In 1988 the event was cancelled because of the number of injuries sustained while climbing the pole, but there’s no record of it ever being postponed because of the weather,” he said.
Turvey said he thinks it happened once in the 1970s.
“I believe it was ’74, they went to the Grease Pole site, had the climb, but the weather got bad, and midway through the climb they had to schedule it for later on in the semester,” Turvey said.
Planning the Sept. 22 Grease Pole event will require a lot of work, Turvey said, but he’s already well into the process.
“We know exactly who to deal with, how to deal with it, we already have several contracts written up, but I’m sure there will be some logistical issues over the next two weeks,” he said. “If there’s a large university event that day, which would draw away Campus Security staff and [Student Constable] staff, that could change it.”
The weather on Saturday, the final day of most faculties’ orientation weeks, also led to the postponement of other events on campus.
The Arts and Science Undergraduate Society (ASUS)’s Shine Day, which annually raises thousands of dollars for Cystic Fibrosis Canada, was postponed until Sept 22 as well.
Students raise money for the foundation on Shine Day through a variety of activities, including a bottle drive and car washes, as well as window and shoe shining.
Saturday’s plans included a carnival in Confederation Park.
The event is designed for all Arts and Science frosh to participate, which this year numbered around 2,190 students.
Aanjalie Collure, Head Gael for ASUS Orientation Week, said organizers aren’t expecting a drop in participation because of the postponement.
“Something we strive for is to make sure the spirit of orientation happens beyond the week itself,” she said. “This is the perfect way to do it and we think everyone is excited to have another opportunity after Orientation Week to get together with their groups and participate again.”
She said the inclement weather could have been detrimental to raising money for the Foundation had it been held as scheduled, due to the activities occurring primarily outdoors. The event has been postponed before because of the weather, she said.
“They are our community outreach where we raise money we wanted to make them as effective as possible,” she said.
ASUS Orientation Week organizers also felt the brunt of the bad weather when the tent covering Nixon Field for the ArtSci semi-formal tore in half and blew down the field five hours before the event on Friday, causing the dance to be relocated.
“That was one of the scariest moments,” Collure said. “Within five hours we came together and moved the dance to the main gym in the ARC.”
The weather also forced the New, Exchange, Woohoo Transfer Students (NEWTS) to reschedule their annual mystery road-trip to Sandbanks Provincial Park on Saturday.
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