The Center for Student Engagement announced earlier this summer that Orientation Week would take place during the first week of school, from September 7 to September 11. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this year’s O-Week will be virtual for all first-years who wish to attend. Although you may not be able to interact with your peers in person, the CSE has made sure that all incoming students can have a pleasant university experience.

The orientation team leader, Janina Malapitan, spoke to The Medium about Kick-Off, the first event of the week. As an introduction to O-Week, the event will include “a message from the University of Toronto Mississauga principal, meeting upper-year students, and getting a look at what is in store for an eventful O-Week.” 

This year’s keynote speaker is Fiona Rawle, the associate dean of undergraduate biology. Rawle’s speech is said to provide participants with insight regarding a “surprising new ‘skill’ students will develop in their time at the university.”

Round Table Talks are also scheduled to take place from September 9 to September 11. The talks will discuss topics such as when to get academic support, how to get involved outside the classroom, and details about the UTM community. 

Another series of events to look out for is Ask Me (Almost!) Anything, which aims to help incoming students connect with upper years. Each day, participants will be divided into rooms by academic disciplines, and “students can ask our upper-year hosts for guidance and advice on student life and expectations,” according to Malapitan.

“One of our biggest considerations this year when planning O-Week 2020 for the virtual space is helping students connect with one another while we are not able to gather in person,” continued Malapitan. 

As a response to this concern of building connections through virtual platforms, the O-Week has an event on Tuesday called the O-Week Hangout. “At this event, students will be able to enter Zoom rooms to meet each other and hang out more casually, play team games, and do some art challenges too!” 

Malapitan also stated that participants looking for events suited toward their program of interest should attend Tuesday’s Academic Orientation. The program allows students to “learn more about the programs they hope to enter, meet faculty and staff advisors, and learn more about the next steps!”

Co-Curricular Record, often referred to as CCR around campus, is an opportunity for students to collect university-approved credits by helping students at the University of Toronto get recognized experience and skills recorded on their university transcript. Events held during Orientation Week will be eligible for CCR credit, thus allowing participants the opportunity to expand their resumes and start off their university career brightly.

“The online space also opens up the possibilities of global connections,” said Malapitan. “As students connect online during our events, one icebreaker question that will always be handy is ‘Where are you in the world right now?’ [which is] an exciting opportunity when it comes to globalizing one’s university experience this coming year.”

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