Queen's Gazette | Queen's University

Search form

Making undergraduate orientation more inclusive

The Undergraduate Orientation Review Working Group has submitted 20 recommendations to foster diversity and inclusivity.

Students meet during orientation week activities. (Photo by Garrett Elliott)
Students meet during orientation week activities. (Photo by Garrett Elliott)

After six months of consultations and discussions, the Undergraduate Orientation Review Working Group (UORWG) has submitted a number of recommendations designed to ensure Undergraduate Orientation Week is more welcoming and inclusive for all members of the Queen’s community.

“The university will be working to address these important recommendations over the coming year and a half, and I want to thank the working group for their efforts to make orientation week more inclusive,” says Principal and Vice-Chancellor Daniel Woolf. “As an alumnus, I know the importance of both preserving our traditions and updating them to ensure future students are able to fully participate. Our campus is at its best when everyone is engaged, respected, and feels safe – and creating that environment starts with events like undergraduate orientation.”

The UORWG was formed in August 2017 in response to the Principal’s Implementation Committee on Racism, Diversity, and Inclusion (PICRDI) final report. The PICRDI report called on the university to make diversity training available to student leaders, and to examine the policy and content of Undergraduate Orientation Week from a diversity and inclusivity lens.

The Undergraduate Orientation Review Working Group, chaired by Deputy Provost (Academic Operations and Inclusion) Teri Shearer, was mandated to examine all aspects of Queen’s direct-entry undergraduate student orientation experience, including university orientation and the student society orientation activities. The 20 recommendations in this new report were created by a cross-university working group of students, faculty, staff, and alumni, who received input from the community through public consultations.

Orientation leaders warm up and prepare to welcome new students to campus for the first time. (Photo by Lars Hagberg)
Orientation leaders warm up and prepare to welcome new students to campus for the first time. (Photo by Lars Hagberg)

The recommendations, which have been submitted to the Principal, consider not only how student leaders are trained, but also how the university communicates about orientation, ensuring all events are inclusive and aligned with the goals of Undergraduate Orientation Week, and making tools available so students can report incidents of racism, discrimination, or accessibility barriers.

In responding to this report, the university and student societies will also look at how to make Undergraduate Orientation Week more affordable for students, clarify the related oversight and policies, review the content of various orientation chants and cheers, and ensure orientation prepares students to be respectful members of the broader Kingston community.

“We are pleased with the level of engagement and dialogue there has been around the review of Undergraduate Orientation,” says Teri Shearer, Deputy Provost (Academic Operations and Inclusion). “These recommendations are aimed at strengthening the student transition experience by ensuring that it respects and reflects the diversity of the student population, is welcoming and accessible for all students, and fosters, for all members of the incoming class, a sense of belonging at Queen’s.”

The aim is to have a number of the recommendations completed in time for Fall Undergraduate Orientation 2019. To review the full list of recommendations and the final report, visit the Undergraduate Orientation Review Working Group’s website.