Dis-Orientating Welcome Week


A new Welcome Week event on campus aims to engage students in social justice issues

Sophie Long
News Writer

The first week of university across Canada means one thing for new students – countless events and seminars to attend while becoming accustomed to the university life. The University of Regina has done the same and this year there is the usual dichotomy of events. First, there are the orientation seminars, which tell new and old students all of the necessary things for surviving at the U of R. Second, there are the welcome week activities organized by URSU that encourage you to relax, have a beer, and pie your professor in the face.

These two types of activities tend to contradict one another. The orientation seminars give new students sage pieces of advice, warning that texting during class is rude, procrastinating is bad, and that university is much harder than high school. The welcome week parties tell students that the University of Regina is a place for meeting people, having a few drinks, and partying like you’re still in high school.

However, this year there is an alternative that bridges the gap between these two ideas. The Regina Public Interest Research Group (RPIRG )is hosting its own Welcome Week events under the name Dis-Orientation. RPIRG has organized two events that balance the fun atmosphere of welcome week with the more somber introductions to university life. These events offer a public forum for discussing social issues, but keep things light.

Halena Seiferling, the events coordinator at RPIRG, explained the reasons behind Dis-Orientation, saying “Other PIRG’s across Canada already do this event, and it’s a play on words because as opposed to orientation we are just talking about changing up the way you see your school, and the things you can engage in on your university campus, especially in the first week of school. Students can see other options of what they can get into, and get ideas for what they can get involved in.”

Changing the way students see the university and how it can work for them is the key to Dis-Orientation. The University of Regina offers several opportunities to engage in exciting and thought-provoking events, but these are often overlooked. Dis-Orientation focuses on the alternatives available for students.

“I would like for students to see the social and environmental justice opportunities that they can get engaged in here on campus – not that we offer all of those opportunities – but I think it’s a good chance for students to get interested and involved in things even in the first week,” commented Seiferling.

RPIRG’s Dis-Orientation consists of two events: a movie night and a cycling celebration.

“I would like for students to see the social and environmental justice opportunities that they can get engaged in here on campus." – Halena Seiferling

“Both events aren’t too radical or anything, but it’s a good way to start the conversation and put these things into people’s minds” Seiferling explained.

The alternative movie night on Thursday September 6 is a double feature of two documentaries. The first is about the privatization of water, which will be followed by a presentation by URSU’s  bottle-free water campaign. The second is a movie documenting John Lennon’s quest for peace. Seiferling explained the incentives for students, as well.

“We’re working with resident services, and they’re providing a documentary and fair trade prize pack, and there’ll be popcorn and drinks” she said.

The Cycling Celebration is taking place on Friday September 7, outside the Riddell Center, and aims to build and connect the cycling community on campus.

“There’ll be mechanics there doing workshops throughout the day [and] there’ll be a few different organizations there too,” Seiferling explained. “Also, Regina transit is bringing a bus to demonstrate how to use the bike rack on the front.”

Students will also be able to license their bikes with the city of Regina, and Nature’s Best will have a bike-powered smoothie machine at the event.

“I think URSU does a really fantastic job providing lots of fun things for students to do and getting them excited about the U of R,” Seiferling said. “But [the Dis-Orientation event] will add on more of a justice focus.”

This year’s first ever Dis-Orientation will focus on issues that affect Regina on a local and global scale. The event isn’t just about getting ready for class, but it hopes to challenge students to learn and take action while making friends.

For more information on the Dis-Orientation events students can visit RPIRG’s facebook page.

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