Creating first impressions: A vision for OCAD U Orientation

A lively group of students, staff and faculty gathered last week to create a new vision for orientation for OCAD University. We tried, as much as possible, to empty our minds of what orientation has looked like in the past, and create a shared vision for how we could welcome the incoming class of 2011. We asked ourselves:

What should a new student’s first impressions of OCAD University be?

Brent Everett James summarized the results:

The group acknowledged the orientation starts well before the traditional welcome days just before the start of class but that capital “O” orientation should:

  • engage and inform
  • connect the students to their first-year faculty
  • introduce the students to our entire campus CORRIDOR (gateway to a bright future), facilities and neighbouring community
  • reinforce their decision to come to OCAD U
  • and importantly, create tradition and pride!

It was loud and clear that the following are important and necessary:

  • we are NOT U of T or Ryerson. We are unique!
  • continued collaboration with OCADSU; merged/integrated activities over separate enhance OCAD U uniqueness
  • online event promotion and professional branding
  • safe open and accessible
  • welcome art AND design students TOGETHER; they get divided far too quickly
  • recognize diversity
  • resources promotion and a willingness to help our students succeed
  • keep them shiny, emphasizing the personal… not a number
  • engaging opening welcome activity that recognizes that not all new students are joiners… they can be shy/awkward but we should empower them, allowing them to connect, meet and get excited
  • students are not alone but in this together
  • all departments/staff should wear ‘Welcome!’ buttons and participate in the welcome
  • NO SILOS! Come out of their offices to help us welcome! Perhaps a ‘tunnel’ of whooping, hooting OCAD U community: student leaders, staff, faculty, Deans, VPs, Prez that the new students pass through
  • FREE food!
  • Sponsorship and $$$ support
  • OCAD U is part of the city!
  • Invite neighbours/community to participate (including a continued relationship with Aboveground Art Supplies who have always been very supportive)
  • Take advantage of existing OCAD U connections/relationships within the city
  • Continue to involve Student Groups but they need to be more obvious
  • Student-, faculty- and alumni-run workshops
  • Creativity is serious work, is valuable and is professional… fun day but SERIOUS messaging needed too

Now comes the work: we’ll be teaming up with our partners across campus to turn these goals and ideas in to tangible events and activities in time for Orientation 2011.