University life this fall will include online Frosh Week for students

With most Ontario universities primarily offering online courses this fall due to COVID-19, the campus experience will be different for those returning to school and for those heading into their first year.

Student associations are taking steps to help students adjust to the new reality this fall, even holding "Frosh Week" online.

Kathleen Weary of the Carleton University Students’ Association says they’re creating online events to help students meet each other.

"We are preparing to support students and enhance their student experience in lots of new ways, so primarily through online engagement and potentially a few social distancing events," said Weary.

They will be holding a virtual orientation week, and this fall will be holding weekly online game nights, including trivia, bingo, and even Netflix watch parties to help everyone get to know their classmates.

Breanna Siriois is excited to be going into her first year at the University of Ottawa.

"I still feel pretty good about it, even though it’s online."

She does say though, it’s not the university experience she thought she’d have during her first year.

"Not ideal, it’s not the way that I envisioned it during my youth; you know, you roll with the punches - I’m really excited to really just get into it."

Her mother, Maureen Hamilton-Sirois thinks Breanna has already missed out on many high school experiences due to COVID-19.

"There was no graduating class, there was no prom; there was no official ceremony for grad; it was a little bit disheartening to know that your child was missing out on that."

Student organizations are stepping up to try to give students a taste of university life. Julia Pereira is the president of the Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance, which represents eight universities in Ontario.

“I think that the student experience for university students will definitely be different this year, I know that student associations and student leaders as well across the province are trying to ensure that the student experience is not tainted."

Pereira say that student organizations are working to create activities online.

"I think that these student leaders are trying their best to continue things like orientation week, clubs, social events; even if it has to be in a virtual setting."

Babacar Faye is with the University of Ottawa Students’ Union, and says they’re also working with other campus clubs and organizations to create an online experience.

"It’s a different experience…It’s difficult to re-create that same atmosphere, usually during (the) week, we come to campus and see all these groups of people...people are excited; you might not have that this year."

As for Breanna.

"I’m just excited to be in the atmosphere. When I think of university, I think of my future, the idea of settling down and knowing what I want to do, acing my classes, doing the best that I can; and that’s the end goal - to just succeed in the career path that I want to pursue."