F!rosh Week is one of the first times that the incoming engineering class gets introduced to the Skule™ community. It’s welcoming, fun, and a great way to meet classmates and upper-years. Typically, this week-long event is paired up with the summer sun, exploring campus and Toronto, wacky events on campus, and filling up the air with cheers with large groups. But, with COVID-19, this approach had to change.
However, this didn’t mean that the spirit of F!rosh Week was going to be missed or that students were going to miss out. This year’s Orientation Team, led by Orientation Chair Gabe Sher (ECE2T1+PEY), decided to take F!Week online. When planning an event for over 1000 students, lots of collaboration, planning, and students come together to make the events the best that they can be. It’s a lot of hard work and the 2T4s best interests are at heart.
As someone who has helped out with Orientation Week before, I decided I wanted to learn more about what’s happening with this year’s plans and reached out to the Executive team! Let’s get to learn about the team and some of their experiences so far!
- Introduce yourself and your role in F!Week 2T0
Aidan: Hiya! I’m Aidan, an EngSci 2T2 Aero, and this year’s VC Logistics – this means I lead a team of 16 people in planning many of the events you’ll get to experience during the week. I also work with the rest of the executive team to set the vision for the week, and get everyone excited about welcoming our newest peers – the 2T4s!
Dana: Hi! My name is Dana (ECE 2T0 + PEY) and I am this year’s Vice-Chair Marketing for F!rosh Week! I oversee all the marketing initiatives for F!rosh Week including social media, graphics, videography, photography, outreach and the web team. My job is to make sure that the word about F!rosh Week gets out to YOU and that you register for a super HYPE first week of university (that being said, head on over to www.orientation.skule.ca to sign up!).
Gabe: I’m Gabe, I’ve just finished my third year in ECE and I’m working at an Electronics company downtown for PEY. I’m the Orientation Chair (OC), so I lead this lovely bunch of people and help support the entire organization that makes F!rosh Week happen.
Hanna: Hiya I’m Hanna, VC Operations for F!week this year and I oversee a team of 14 amazing Subcom Chairs responsible for different events/groups of F!week and work closely with the other execs to make it all happen. I’m finishing up my PEY at Inkbox (making semi-permanent tattoos) and am coming back for 4th year EngSci Robo.
Lisa: Hi y’all, I’m Lisa (ECE 2T1 + PEY) and I’m Vice-Chair Leadership for F!rosh Week 2T0, yay! I work with leedurs over the summer to provide them with the training and support to take you through our events and make sure you have the best time.
Puru: Hello, I’m Purushoth (Chem 2T2) and I am this year’s Vice-Chair Finance for F!rosh Week. I look after the F!rosh Week budget and manage where our money is being spent so that we can have an awesome F!rosh Week full of fun activities for F!rosh!
- What inspired you to get involved this year and/or previous years?
Aidan: F!Week was a really special time for me in my first year. As someone from abroad, I felt unsure about arriving in a new city and new place. F!rosh Week quickly quelled a lot of my concerns about starting university; I found friends and my feet in the Skule™ community. Since then, I’ve been involved with F!rosh Week each year as one of the organizers, and the spirit of the Orientation Committee is so infectious. We’ve all been in first year, and we know how important orientation is!
Dana: I was positively influenced by my F!rosh leedurs when I was a F!rosh, and really enjoyed being a part of the F!rosh Week team as a leedur, subcom and now a VC. I’ve made so many friends through being involved with F!rosh Week and wanted to help organize and plan this amazing event to give back to the community, and ensure that all the first years are welcome in the most positive way possible.
Gabe: I remember making great connections with some of my Leedurs during F!rosh Week, and later on in my first year meeting upper years who really helped me find my comfort at Skule™. After being an HL twice, I ran for OC sort of on a whim because these sorts of leadership and people-oriented roles are super comfortable and interesting to me. I haven’t regretted it once!
Hanna: The caring and passionate atmosphere is for sure what draws me back to F!Week each year. Coming into uni, I was super stressed about a lot of things like academics, making friends, and having the freedom to just be my weird self. I felt like U of T Eng was a good place to be, so getting involved was my way of passing that amazing feeling to future generations of Frosh. Cycling through my roles of Skule™ Patroller to Subcom to Photographer to HL to now VCOps, I’ve realized that F!week is the kind of thing that brings amazing people together from all corners of Skule™
Lisa: F!Week was such an incredible experience the first time around. I had so much fun and met so many people that later on went to become some of my bestest friends and people I looked up to. However, I recognize that not everyone’s experience is as great as mine! I’ve been involved in F!rosh Week since my second year because I want to be part of the changes to make our events more inclusive and deliver this magical experience to all incoming students.
Puru: F!Week was a valuable time for me where I met a lot of people and I started to get out of my comfort zone. I really enjoyed making the connections I made through F!rosh Week and I want to help future students have the same great experience or even greater in whatever way I can.
- Describe the differences in planning for an online orientation vs an in-person one.
Dana: I find myself on my laptop a lot, constantly checking messages and video-chatting with all the members of the marketing team. My subcommittees had to pivot a lot of the work they are doing to reflect the online shift this year. For example, the photography subcommittee has been learning to operate Zoom-photoshoots and using Photoshop to make exciting promotional material.
Gabe: It’s been really weird getting to know the team online – even the Exec team only met in person 3-4 times before school went online, and we brought on all our HLs and SubComs through a remote interview process. In many ways, we’ve had to rework F!rosh Week from the ground up.The added challenge and demands of doing all this thinking have really brought us together, even as we all work separately from home. Usually, you come on campus, you’ve left your house (for the day or for the year), and you’re in a standard University environment – this year, you do F!rosh Week at your house!
Hanna: [There are many differences including] things like screen fatigue, wondering what “engaging” programming looks like online, keeping the F!week online space safe/comfortable/accessible, accommodating for different time zones, what “leeding” looks like in a digital space, planning for the technical/logistical worries that come up when you have 1000+ people in video calls at the same time, and much more. On the upside there are some things that are no longer issues like room bookings and bad weather. It’s more vital than ever to keep everyone on the team up-to-date on the ever-evolving plan and working as a team to put it all together.
- What is an unforeseen challenge you have faced so far with planning and how are you working through it?
Dana: One unforeseen challenge I’ve faced was finding ways to bond with all the members of the marketing team! We have been trying to get to know one another better by having ice breaker questions at the beginning of our video calls, and having online board game socials.
Lisa: Figuring out meaningful ways to present content and engage our Leedurs in important discussions that will help them throughout F!rosh Week. Luckily, Head Leedurs have been running activities and bringing real life experience that helps me shape the training content.
Puru: We realised that since orientation will be online, F!rosh Kits will be the sole tangible item they can have from that week. With all our Frosh living around the world and taking part in F!rosh Week we took the mission to ship our F!rosh Kits to every Frosh’s home around the world. It may be hard but we are determined!
- What are some ways you and your teams will be spreading Skule™ spirit through the online platform?
Aidan: Did someone say PURPLE? That’s right – our fabulous D!ye Subcom has not taken a break, and instead went straight into figuring out how to spread our purple spirit across the globe. This year, everyone will get a special purple item in their Frosh Kit, and D!ye will lead an activity during Campus Tours, as is traditionally done. Now, I won’t spoil the surprise – but know that, in the words of the D!ye Subcom, the vibes will be scrumptious.
Dana: Check out our social media (Instagram: @froshweek Facebook: @froshweekuofteng) to see all the exciting F!rosh Week content getting posted regularly! Our awesome website (orientation.skule.ca) and YouTube channel (froshtube) have tons of Skule™ spirit, and I highly recommend you check them out.
Hanna: We are spreading the spirit by embodying the human aspect of Skule™, building in lots of chances for genuine connection through things like speed friending, study buddies/upper year/commuter buddies programs, smaller chat rooms during activities, and more. Also, having chances to engage with Skule™ tradition and the club’s space in a authentic way through things like fireside chats about Skule™ traditions in Nightlife (now the Twilight Zone), Zoom room surprises by some special guests during Campus Tours and Downtownwalkaround (now the “Downtown Spacewalk”), real talks with fellow students from clubs at the Exhibition (new subcom!), and much more.
- Lastly, what’s your favourite shade of purple?
Aidan: It’s a tossup between #6F1E88, #4C2679, and #DCC7E3.
Dana: Definitely #4C2679
Gabe: #6F1E88 is one of our official ones that I love because it has all of the punch of a strong purple, but there’s something about the slightly more subtle
Lisa: #6E2B88 (not an official F!rosh Week colour!) that does it for me.
Hanna: #6f00ff it’s just chaotic and I love that about it.
Puru: #4C2679 is eye-catching.