Welcome Week organizer promises an epic first week

Frosh gather in the court yard for the cheer off on the first day of Welcome Week in 2010. (Karissa Donkin/AQ)

If you don’t know your away around campus or Fredericton, check our interactive Welcome Week map for all the tips and tricks.

Nicole Pozer is hoping this year’s crop of first year students have an epic first week at St. Thomas University.

Pozer, this year’s Welcome Week chair, chose STU Epic as a theme because of the parallels to the university experience.

“(It’s) epic in the sense of a hero going on a journey, kind of like there’s the hero and he doesn’t know that he’s a hero yet. You hand him a sword and a shield and he goes off into a new place and doesn’t quite know what he’s doing,” Pozer said.

“Somehow at the end, he comes back as this perfect hero who has learned so much.”

The third-year student hopes that by the end of the week, students will have transitioned into university and academic life and have made a mark on the place they will call home for the next four years.

“I want students to end the week feeling as though they finally found the place where they belong,” she said.

“As upper year students, we already know that. We’ve walked the university so many times that I could do it with my eyes closed now.

“Incoming students haven’t realized that yet.”

Welcome Week kicks off on Saturday as first-year students begin moving in. The first day ends with the cheer-off, an high-energy event where houses battle for spirit supremacy. The ladies of Vanier Hall are the reigning champions.

Grand Theft Bus will highlight the Friday night concert in the SUB atrium. Like last year, upper-year students will be able to attend the concert and Pozer advised students to check their email before the event.

To end the week, students will don togas for a party in the Forest Hill Ballrooms, where they’ll celebrate making it through the first week of university.

The final day of Welcome Week will also be filled with fundraising for DOTS NB, a local organization that aims to raise awareness about mental illness and develop treatment services for young people facing mental health issues.

The charity seemed like a good fit for Welcome Week because everyone knows someone with a mental health issue, Pozer said, and because many students will study mental health in some way throughout their university career.

In the past, STU has distributed information about Welcome Week and other first-year university experiences to students via mail-outs or emails. During the past few years, everyone from residence advisors to admissions officers have taken to Facebook to answer questions and amp up excitement.

With many of the new students in one place, the Facebook page dedicated to the incoming class also helps newcomers feel like they’re not alone in the fears or worries, Pozer said.

“If someone had issues or troubles transitioning, then I feel like it makes people feel like there’s another 1,000 students behind you who feel the same way.

“(It makes it) easy to answer questions and relate. The excitement is viral.”

Before students step into the coliseum and prepare to battle the first week of university, they will first receive a Welcome Week kit with a few university essentials and school swag.

Last year, a controversy erupted when an unclear policy suggested condoms couldn’t be added to the kits.

The condom controversy seems to have evaporated, as each kit will have a condom in it, as well as information programs offered by AIDS NB.

“I contacted AIDS NB and they were really excited about it to get their word out,” she said.

Pozer knows not everyone will want to participate in Welcome Week or will have the time of their life during the events. But she encourages everyone to at least try it out, because you never know what you’ll discover or who you’ll meet.

“It’s an experience that won’t be forgotten. And whether you have a good or a bad time, you still learn from everything.”

Her final piece of advice to first years? Start reading and never stop, so you never fall behind in your classes.

“Just read. Even if you don’t think you have to read. Even if you’ve already read, keep reading.”

With files from Alyssa Mosher. 

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