Disoriented, Again

CSU’s Orientation Report Fails to Address Real Issues

The Orientation Concert is typically one of the CSU’s largest events. This year saw a relatively low turnout, partly due to rain. Video still Corey Pool

The Concordia Student Union Council received the 2012-2013 Orientation post-mortem report at Wednesday’s meeting.

In this document, VP Student Life Alexis Suzuki stated, “the CSU has the ability to reach a mass amount of its members in a significant, momentous and sustainable way.”

The document however, shares little information about the number of students that were actually reached, the promotional strategies used to reach out or the timeline of tasks pursued by the coordination team.

The post-mortem does not include any critical evaluation of failures, challenges faced or even major successes.

This is problematic.

Not to mention that the CSU Events Committee was not involved in the process of planning or executing Orientation this year, making it even more difficult for CSU Council to play a role in the events that were executed on campus, let alone have oversight during the process.

The reality is that newly elected student leaders experience an incredibly steep learning curve when they enter office, and CSU Orientation is a huge project to complete in only three months.

I commend the current CSU for getting the events off the ground, hosting awesome sustainability-related events and collaborating with CSU clubs and other groups.

That being said, student life initiatives at the CSU are given one of the largest budget lines by CSU Council (we’re talking something to the tune of $150,000), not to mention the tens of thousands of dollars provided by sponsorship at Orientation events, and funding provided through the president’s office and the Community Orientation Initiative, a grant program offered by Concordia’s New Student Program.

There are so many folks around the university (Hospitality Services, Security, the Dean of Students Office, Parking Services, Distribution Services, to name a few) who invest huge amounts of time and energy in supporting student groups with their events.

With so much invested effort, so many student fees and so many other available resources, it is difficult to understand why more students weren’t present at Orientation this year.

Did the majority of students even know that events were happening? If they did, why did they choose not to attend? Keep in mind that the CSU represents over 35,000 students at Concordia.

For many students, a social event is the first interaction they might have with the association that represents them—politically, academically or otherwise.

Orientation is supposed to provide the opportunity for groups like the CSU to welcome new and returning students back to campus, to provide opportunities for students to more deeply engage with their campus community and to inform students about resources such as the CSU Housing and Job Bank, CSU Advocacy, the CSU Legal Information Clinic and university services.

Faculty associations, fee levy groups, member associations and departmental associations set really great examples of producing high-quality events, and seem to have very close networks with their members resulting in strong event turnouts, despite having significantly smaller operating budgets and fewer paid staff to assist with the execution of events.

We’ve heard the age-old argument that students are difficult to reach, that they’re uninterested, that they’re busy, or whatever.

I don’t really buy it.

Maybe this argument has expired. I believe that students want to be engaged. Maybe CSU student life initiatives just aren’t accessible to or representative of most students right now. Maybe CSU events don’t currently reflect the diversity and passion that exists within our student body.

How do we fix this?