While Welcome Week at the University of Saskatchewan is an annual feature of student life on campus, this year the U of S Students’ Union has created new activities for students to attend and also scheduled more time to enjoy them.
The customary two day event has been extended to four days and will run from Sept. 6–9. As in previous years, the week includes a variety of events designed to connect students and introduce them to the U of S. According to USSU president Kehan Fu, the major actor behind the change, the event was extended to take advantage of the fact that the coming term begins on a Tuesday rather than a Thursday, as in previous years.
Fu believes that Welcome Week is beneficial for all students but particularly for students who are new to the U of S.
“[Students] might not know how to get involved … And it’s hard, especially if you’re coming from a different country, if you’re coming from a small town, from a northern community, if you’re coming from high schools where they’re smaller, or you’re not used to seeing just how big the university is. And I think the point of Welcome Week is to make everything seem a bit more close-knit. It’s in the Bowl, everybody feels part of the same family and it’s designed so that students can see what being involved looks like.”
This year, although regular events like the beer gardens are still planned, Welcome Week will focus more on events for first-year students and non-drinkers. For example, the week will now feature food trucks, a component that Fu believes will add both community involvement and good flavour. An acoustic concert will also take place in the Nobel Plaza, and Fu hopes that this will get first-year students outside and help them meet new people.
“[Welcome Week] is the way for not only people to attend drinking events or older events like the beer gardens, but we made a push to have events dedicated towards first years — so evening events that are alcohol free — or for students who don’t want to attend alcohol based events,” Fu said.
Fu acknowledges that the first year of university can be difficult and intimidating because students often have a lot less supervision in university than in high school.
“In a lot of ways, you don’t know what getting involved in university feels like, because getting involved in, let’s say, a high school initiative is completely different than university because it’s not about teacher supervision. It’s not about working within the school’s boundaries. There’s still rules, but you’re a lot more free and independent,” Fu said.
While Welcome Week is a time for leisure and community building, Fu adds that it also provides opportunities for students to showcase and promote their initiatives and groups. In addition, the week will offer chances for students to receive scholarships.
“This year we have emphasized on more giving back to students. So, throughout the entire duration of Welcome Week, there will be $1,000 in scholarships, so that’s basically tuition reimbursements provided to students as long as they sign up [and] attend our events … [they] can win a draw to get some money back,” Fu said. “I think for that it’s equally important for us to be doing activities that address the issue of financial accessibility for university, but also it’s just a fun way to get students more involved.”
Although Welcome Week offers many diverse activities, Fu is most excited for one event in particular.
“I think the best part about Welcome Week is the fact that we are going to have Canada National Basketball Association here. So, there’s going to be, on Thursday from about 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. … the NBA is going to be here with a mobile half-court … and Marcus Camby, former two-time NBA defending champion, will be here playing ball, and you will have the rings as well and the trophy,” Fu said. “So, some fun hype and it’s physical activity!”
Graphic: Lesia Karalash / Graphics Editor