Thousands of new students descend on St. George Street during the frosh week parade. JENNIFER SU/THE VARSITY

It might be awkward, but frosh week is an integral part of new students introduction to university life

Change is stressful, especially when you are entering a new school full of thousands of people you have never met. For many U of T students, frosh week is a breath of fresh air in the face of stress that goes hand-in-hand with transitioning to a new environment.

I know that, for various reasons, not all students attend or particularly enjoy frosh week and orientation events during the first weeks of school. Perhaps you skipped frosh week because U of T wasn’t your first choice, or you heard rumours that the events were boring or immature. With that attitude, you have already started university off on the wrong foot. 

You need to have an open mind and think about the opportunity that has been presented to you. It is your attitude that is going to play the biggest part in determining the value of your university experience. You can choose whether to be the life of the party, or the cynic in the corner.

Frosh week is not just about the activities that are planned for students, but the little things you bond over with the new people you meet. It is about bonding over your love of free food, how much you abhor couples, and how attractive some of your group leaders are. Frosh week is about enjoying the last couple of days of summer, and taking the time to be free of responsibilities before school deadlines creep up.

People forget that everybody is in the same position; you are not the only awkward individual who thinks they won’t find somebody to match their eccentricities and interests. This is your introduction to life as an adult, and you don’t have to censor yourself or feel pressured to conform. You don’t want to spend your time in university always worrying about whether or not people like you. Just be yourself. 

Think back to how quickly your high school days seemed to fly past. Well, university has begun and life is not about to slow down. You may as well take advantage of the opportunity to act out and celebrate your introduction to university.

Frosh week exists  to facilitate mass socialization. This is your time to be yourself — no matter how strange. You will meet some amazing people who might become lifelong friends. 

So party, take full advantage of your education, get inspired, and remember what’s important to you. Fall in love with your school, explore your passions, and find something you believe in. Take advantage of your experience and seize the day.  

When you find yourself thinking back in the future to your early days as a new undergraduate, you will inevitably be reminded of the first week and the friends you made. There is nothing uncool or unnecessary about thousands of nervous freshmen coming together to begin their lives, making some friends along the way, and maybe dancing a bit. 

Mursal Rahman is a first-year student at the University of Toronto Scarborough studying journalism.

While some may feel alienated by structured orientation programs, good luck offering an alternative 

The first week of September marks the inevitable week-long merriment of frosh week: that time-honoured tradition of welcoming new students to university through group activities and events. While it is surely an enjoyable week for the more extroverted of U of T’s newcomers, what about those who are less so?

Though some college and faculty orientation week planners do offer low-key alternative events — such as a quieter games night in place of a large dance party, as was the case for the first night of my own frosh week — rowdy parties and parades are not an issue for many uncomfortable freshman. The real issue at the heart of frosh week awkwardness, as I have heard it best described by a leader during my first year, is that, “Frosh is meant for the leaders, not the students.”

What does this mean? Consider what happens when you put hundreds of diverse people, who have never met before, together, for a week. Sure, some will get along dandily, especially those who see friendly faces from their residence buildings. However, many others — whether they are naturally introverts or commuter students who may not recognize their peers or feel comfortable socializing in such a structured way — are out of luck when it comes to the gargantuan effort of finding a social life at one of Canada’s largest universities.

I was one of those people. I met some great people during frosh week, but by and large, I did not click with anyone until at least two months into the year. By the end of my first year, I had formed real friendships with people I had met not through frosh week, but through clubs I had joined after I became comfortable with U of T, my college, and my classes. Thus, frosh week is a great opportunity for upper-year students to bond with one another. So then here is the sticking point: that’s perfectly okay. In fact, it is great. It is one thing to whine about frosh week programming, but it is very difficult to propose a good alternative. It cannot happen after classes have started and students are more comfortable, nor would it be advisable to cancel it altogether. 

In short: while we cannot create an appealing orientation week for everyone, we can make it appealing to as many as possible, frosh leaders included.

Frosh week is not for everyone, and suggesting that it is the be-all-and-end-all to making friends on campus is ludicrous. It is good for some, but it should not be treated as the only way to socialize; campuses and faculties must promote the plethora of other socialization opportunities on campus, rather than suggesting that frosh week is the only way to do so. If we give students options, they can pick the ones they like most, rather than feel forced into attending something they may not be comfortable with.

Stephen Warner is a second-year student studying English and political science.

Correction: An earlier version of this article, as well as the version in print, misidentified the college of Mursal Rahman as UTM. She is a first year student studying journalism at U of T Scarborough.

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