Trinity College’s Orientation Week event “Island Day!” cost $6200 for a turnout of 11 students. The event was advertised as a fun day to relax on the beach, play games, and go to Centreville, with lunch included. Originally scheduled to take place on the afternoon of Saturday, September 7, Island Day! was rained out and rescheduled for September 27. The event was to provide food, round-trip transportation, and space on the island for 475 attendees. On the rescheduled day, only 11 people showed up. Island Day! was one of the most expensive events of Trinity College’s Orientation Week.
Allison Spiegel, co-chair of Trinity Orientation Week, says that the planning committee had its hands tied with the contract signed with Centre Island. Alyssa Volk, a representative of Centre Island, says that according to the island’s policy, no portion of the deposit is refunded with a cancellation request less than two weeks prior to the event. A full refund is only given when an event is cancelled six weeks prior; Volk adds that the contract signed by Trinity’s Orientation coordinators clearly outlined this policy.
Spiegel says that the committee had explored other options, such as saving the voucher for an end of year party, or using the voucher for next year’s Orientation Week. However, Centre Island’s rain insurance policy does not carry over to the next season. After conferring with administration, Spiegel insists that the best solution was to do a later event. The rescheduled date was decided upon due to its congruence with Trinity College’s social calendar, and an attempt was made to factor in the weather. According to Spiegel, the change of date was advertised through multiple forums, including an email to every Orientation Week registrant and postings on the Trinity College Class of ‘17 Facebook page.
A trip to Centre Island is a regular on the list of Orientation Week activities for many colleges, as it provides an opportunity for students to interact with upper years in an off-campus setting. Benjamin Crase, male head of college at Trinity, defends the choice of event — saying that by voting in favour of the Island Day! event last year, Trinity students made it clear that they were interested. When asked about the low turnout, Crase said that once students are out of “Orientation Week mode,” it is difficult to get large numbers of students to attend off-campus events. Orientation Week leaders, executives, student heads, and dons who would have been at the original event were not obligated to attend, since it was outside of the dates outlined in the original contract.
When asked if she predicts that Trinity will attempt the event for next year’s Orientation Week, Spiegel says that she hopes they will. According to Spiegel, events like Island Day are always a gamble, and there is an inherent risk in planning Orientation Week events of any kind. Spiegel maintains that the originally planned event would have been successful. However, “rolling with the punches” is what Orientation Week is all about, she said. Trinity’s Orientation Week is funded exclusively through participation fees paid separately from student fees.