On the morning of November 28th 2011, all the good little boys and good little girls walking through the front foyer of CPH were greeted by a massive Christmas Tree. Held up by a wood base and supported by bungee cords, the tree was so tall, that it even went through the ceiling tiles.
At the base of the tree sat a sign that read “Have you been a good boy or girl? Take a gift!”
One eyewitness said: “Upon opening one of the smaller boxes, I discovered that it was some sort of sleeve for a penis, that had tentacles etc on it. (I am 100% Serious, I think the box was in Chinese)”
Unfortunately, members of Plant Ops were not filled with the holiday spirit and decided that the tree must come down. Using a gas-powered chainsaw indoors, they hacked away at the tree and eventually felled it.
UW’s media darling, the Student Success Office, has announced its intentions to have Orientation Week shortened, requesting that the Thursday and Friday of O-Week become class days. This is in line with the University’s yearly attempts at shortening the week (every year for the last 4 years).
This Tuesday, the Undergrad Senate is meeting to decide whether to forward the recommendation to Senate proper (where it will come to a vote in November).
In light of this, we offer this article about O-Week history from the Iron Warrrior:
The History of Orientation Week at UW by Ross Ricupero
The oldest recorded discussion of Orientation Week at the University of Waterloo is from the October 13th, 1961 edition of The Coryphaeus, the University of Waterloo’s first student newspaper. It’s a simple article that welcomes freshman engineers to the school and the Engineering Society. It also gives thanks to Dave Smith, chairman of the Initiation Committee (Orientation used to be called initiation) and announces the Initiation Dance as part of WA-WA-WEE ’61 (The old name of Warrior Weekends).
The September 27th, 1963 edition of The Coryphaeus gives even more details on “initiation” with an article discussing the school-wide scavenger hunt (apparently they acquired things like wagons, tractors, hay bales, snow fences and pictures of someone named Brigitte Bardot), a game to measure the length of a city block with hotdogs, a challenge to make a line of pennies stretching from Kitchener City Hall to Waterloo City Hall (which is apparently approximately 140,000 pennies), the (seemingly) annual “Froshman Hop” dance, and some unknown event called the “Hootenanny.” Each faculty organized their own Initiation program and worked with the Orientation Committee, which ensured the individual programs worked across the school.
In ’64, ’65, and ’66, even more traditions had started to form. First-year students from Arts, Science and Engineering (the only faculties at UW at the time) were all awarded “beanies” or caps at the beginning of (the now called) Orientation and the cheer of “I’m a dirty rotten dead horse and I stink!” was used throughout the week, accompanied by students falling to the ground, laying on their back and sticking their arms and legs in the air. The Frosh Queen competition, in which “Freshettes,” or female first-year students, competed to be elected to the position complete with sash and crown, became a major event. The penny-drive also became Slave Day, where first-year students would be sold to members of the community to help them with whatever they choose, or for charity purposes.
In 1967, Stewart Saxe, a political science student and head of the Orientation Committee, re-imagined the entire week and introduced the big-brother concept. All first-year students (there were only 2,200 in 1967, a third of the 6,000+ we expect this year) were divided into groups of ten, each of which were overseen by an Archon, a single upper-year student leader, which stayed with the group the entire week. This year continued the method of each society running their initiation programs, and the Orientation Committee overseeing the entire thing.
1967 was also the first year that an aerial photo from Orientation Week was published. The 360 strong group spelled “Hagey” across the Arts quad to salute then-president J. G. Hagey (the same Hagey that Hagey Hall is named after).
It was during the late 1960s that the bulk of Orientation Week was moved to the control of the Federation of Students (FedS). While the student societies still planned and ran events for their specific faculties, many of the larger events would be planned by FedS. It’s from this point throughout the 1970s that FedS took the Orientation Week of the 1960s and made it into a month-long Orientation program with varied social or educational events each day from the start of September to the end. This included many high-profile concerts such as Meatloaf, Gordon Lightfoot and Ike and Tina Turner, as well as speeches from major political figures, cabinet ministers, MPPs and radical leaders.
While the much expanded programming offered more choices for incoming students, it was during this time that student apathy and low attendance began to take its toll. Concerts lost money (the Ike and Tina Turner concert lost $6,000 in 1972, which is over $30,000 today when inflation is accounted for), speeches went unattended and acts cancelled or simply didn’t show. Reviews of the Orientation program varied wildly from condemnation to enthusiastic.
It was during this time that the Engineering Orientation program moved away from the Slave Day charity and began running the Bus Push charity (which has continued annually since then in the Winter term). 1969 also saw the Engineering Stag event of Orientation Week, which was little more than a drunken strip-tease for first-year students.
It wasn’t until 1978, when the LLBO took dispute with the University’s “beer tents,” that programming needed to be reduced and concerts re-thought. The LLBO refused to license the outdoor tents that were part of Orientation Week in years past, reducing the amount of money that the Orientation program could use, preventing headline concert acts and major guests.
Then began the dark years (or the years where written records become spotty). It’s expected that Orientation Week continued this way for the 1980s and early 1990s. Student societies continued running programming for their faculties, and the Federation of Students continued running the overall program. It was during an unknown Orientation Week during the 1980s that the Education Committee was founded, and that the engineering hard hats became a major symbol. These have stayed as key components of Engineering Orientation Week since then. The oldest record of the Education Committee is an Orientation Week video from 1988 and hard hats could be over a decade older than that.
At the end of the dark years, Engineering Orientation Week was a tight, multi-day program packed with events. Incoming students would go through a program similar to the program we have now, but that had very distinct differences. In 1993, a UW Orientation Manual was produced and distributed to the groups running the faculty programming and soon after, a major part of Orientation Week today was founded: the Federation Orientation Committee (FOC). The goal with FOC was to have better collaboration between the independent groups running various Orientation Week programming and the Federation of Students, allowing a more efficient Orientation Week overall. This started the process of Orientation Week becoming more regulated and controlled, something that would take the unorganized, month-long Orientation programs of the late ‘70s and ‘80s, to the smaller, week-long programs of the ‘90s. By 1996, a schedule that resembles the modern day Engineering Orientation Week began to emerge: Aerial photos were taken (these can all be seen in the POETS lounge), they earned their hard hats, and they all met the Dean. However, they also competed in chariot races, paraded through town and had organized off-campus parties, events long since banned or modified.
It was during 1997 and 1998 that a new program started to address major concerns highlighted in an Orientation Student Survey conducted in 1994 and 1995. This survey concluded that there was a dangerous undercurrent of behavior across all Orientation programs. From discriminatory chanting to exclusive programming and a dependence on drinking, it was seen that there was a fundamental problem with Orientation Week: the leaders themselves. There was no formalized Orientation Leader training program for leaders to go through, and there were few checks and balances on the actions of these leaders. People simply ran Orientation Week like it had been run for the year they went through it and every year before that.
It was because of this that the Provost’s Advisory Committee on Orientation (PACO) was founded, and PACO training was implemented in 1998. This training, mandatory for all Orientation leaders, covered things like drinking and drugs, inclusivity and non-discrimination. While some students cried out that this was gutting the Orientation Week they knew and loved, it ultimately led to the modern Orientation Week we have now, which many believe to be better than ever before.
With the double cohort of 2003, a large percentage of students were now entering university at age 18, which is younger than the legal drinking age. This became a problem as many planned events during Orientation Week were “wet” events where alcohol was served. A controlled environment was implemented, with “beer gardens” allowed at certain events and each organizing group allowed to have a single “wet” event for their faculty or residence.
By 2004, PACO was dissolved and we were left with Orientation Leader Training, the modern version of PACO leader training. 2004 was also the last year that Orientation Week officially included alcohol with a beer garden at the Saturday night Toga party. Once Orientation Week 2004 closed, alcohol would not be part of the week again.
In 2011, Orientation Week is over 50 years old, involves over 8,000 first-year students, 1,000 upper-year students, has a budget in the hundreds of thousands, and the support of countless sponsors and contributors. While it may be completely different from the Initiation of 1961, Orientation Week 2011 has built upon the past decades; all of the conflicts and problems, changes, successes and failures have been rolled into the week.
While it may not be perfect, it is a continuation of a tradition started soon after the University of Waterloo was founded, and it represents the unconventional history and future of this school.
With the University administration’s takeovercontrolofthe Federation Hall on everyone’s minds, we thought that we’d post a few tidbits about the building:
Federation Hall originally to be used by the undergraduate students at the University of Waterloo as a night club. Currently it’s thought to be the largest student-owned bar in North America.
Over the years the hall has been host to some big name concerts:
The Jeff Healey Band
Spirit of the West
The solar panels on the roof were the result of the Sustainable Technology Education Project student group and were added to the building in 2004.
Finally, we end off with an article we came across last week during our research:
June 21, 1989 — UW Federation Hall architects win award
The architectural firm of Dunlop Farrow Aitken Cansfield Inc. has won an award of excellence from the Ontario Association of Architects for its design of the University of Waterloo’s Federation Hall. The architects were lauded for their successful combination of high tech and traditional materials and for the design’s “elegant” detailing and craftmanship.
August 5, 2011 - Following in the footsteps of MIT and Caltech, a Time And Relative Dimension In Space (TARDIS) time machine has landed on campus.
It appeared in the early morning of last Friday inside a locked exhibit among the dinosaurs of the Earth Sciences Museum in CEIT.
Every few minutes the blue roof light and the interior white lights pulsate in time with the machine’s signature “vworp vworp” sound.
Visitors to the museum (which happened to be hosting a big NSERC announcement that day) stopped to wonder about its origins and to take their photo beside the sci-fi icon.
The model is a full-sized replica of the spaceship from BBC’s Doctor Who. In the show, the main character uses the ship (disguised as a 1960s police box) to travel through time and space while exploring the universe.
To the best of our knowledge, it can still be seen there today.
A dedicated group of Grebelites have been ensuring that the Dana Porter library has been part of the Pi-Day celebrations for the past 3 years. By arranging the curtains in the windows, they have made various designs celebrating the day.
2009 - The digits of pi, going around all four sides of the building. Good to 20 digits. (“3.14159265358979323846…”)
2010 - Greek letter Pi.
2011 - The same design as 2010.
Because they wrote into the Daily Bulletin in 2010, we know that the 2010 group was made up of Brent Komer, Sylvia Klassen, Rob Martens, and Katie Schriener. It has become an annual tradition for them.