While leaving itself open to criticism regarding inclusivity and necessity, the University of Saskatchewan Students’ Union Welcome Week undeniably provides a means by which to make new friends, explore new avenues and start the fall semester in a fun way.
Settling into life in university means facing an onslaught of activity from the very first day. Just arrived, in masses: hundreds of us young, bewildered, first-year students, tightly clutching our backpack straps and frantically looking for classrooms. What comes next, we’re not too sure, but we hope it will be fun and we hope there’s free stuff.
Free stuff doesn’t just happen though, and all elements of Welcome Week must be paid for somehow — and it does add up.
The two day event is funded entirely by sponsors. While still unsure of this year’s price tag, USSU president Jack Saddleback confirmed that past Welcome Week expenses have totaled around $20,000.
Is it really necessary to spend that much on the first two days of classes? Well, consider this: reports say that Kim Kardashian and Kanye West spent upwards of $1 million on their daughter’s second birthday party.
Just as one couldn’t imagine Kim and Kanye forgoing a chance to throw an extravagant party, it is impossible to consider starting the fall term — be it for the first time or the fifth — without the help of Welcome Week.
Welcome Week really can offer a lot of new opportunities — if you play your cards right. Veterans of past Welcome Weeks will tell you to pick up as many USSU survival calendars as you can — without making it obvious of course — because the coupons in the back will come in handy when you’ve got a hankering for pizza at one in the morning. Also, if you hit all the tents and tables, you can most definitely collect enough pens and highlighters to fuel your entire university career.
Hungry? No problem, Welcome Week can provide you with three square meals a day, for free. From mini doughnuts to boxes of Kraft Dinner, pancakes and BBQ, free food is only a lengthy lineup away. For those willing to pay for more than just their necessary daily caloric intake, bring on the food trucks.
In some aspects, of course, Welcome Week might have its shortcomings. Perhaps first-year students are subject to spending too large a portion of Welcome Week on the outside looking in — literally. While a crowd gathers under the great white tents of the beer gardens, another settles outside of its barriers. Oh, the wistful stares of us, the underaged.
To compensate, come back for the carless drive-in. Now a more than 15 year tradition, it aims to cater to the underage and non-drinkers alike. I went with a friend and it was a good time — the popcorn was particularly yummy and the movie this year, Jurassic Park, is arguably the pinnacle of all dinosaur-related films.
If not for the free stuff or just something to do, Welcome Week is worth it for the chance to make a pal. It could be a new lifelong best friend or maybe just someone you’ll see in the Arts Tunnel from time to time, but every connection counts.
The effort put forth by the USSU to do something positive is something we ought to take a moment and appreciate, rather than pick apart for its flaws. Welcome Week isn’t just a lot of money spent, it’s fun — and a university student needs all the fun they can get.
Photographic Illustration: Jeremy Britz / Graphics Editor