About

The Orientation Program at Western University is a large source of pride at Western. The program is a campus wide effort and is nationally regarded as a model of student orientation for all students new to the University and its Affiliated Colleges. The engagement of student leaders in our program is second to none and with the help of over 800 upper year student volunteers we have successfully hosted one of the largest orientation programs in Canada for many years.

The Orientation Program is a joint effort between multiple stakeholders on at Western University, University Students’ Council of Western, Brescia University College, Huron University College and King’s University College. The Program seeks to provide a robust orientation to the many facets of campus life for incoming students. In collaboration with staff, faculty, and students, the Program aims to facilitate a seamless transitionto campus, provide the resources necessary to succeed, and provide intentional activities to support students in developing a sense of belonging at Western and its Affiliated Colleges. 

The Orientation Program is an important element of a larger ecosystem of programs and services that support student transition to Western. Student affairs literature informs us of the difference between orientation and transition. The Orientation Program is heavily focused on orientation; however, the Program also serves as a catalyst for the beginning of the lengthier, year-long transition, connecting students to learning and development resources at the university. 

Our vision is that through exceptional orientation programming, students will maximize their individual potential in the classroom, on campus and as citizens of broader communities.

“The most helpful parts of OWeek were the times when we come together as a faculty, as a residence, or even as a Western community to get to know each other. The more people you get to know, the more you feel as if you are a part of the Western community.”

2018 OWeek Survey Findings

The History of the Orientation Program

Way back in the day, before the phenomenon of online registration, class registration had to be done by hand. As you can probably imagine, that took a long time – a week to be exact. Gradually, upper-year students on campus noticed that first-year students’ first impressions of Western involved waiting around in line. Something needed to be done! These upper-year students (now called “Sophs”) started to organize events for the incoming first-year students, to welcome them to Western and demonstrate the wide range of opportunities our school has to offer. Orientation Week was born. 

Since online registration takes a matter of minutes and now happens in the summer, Orientation Week can focus on welcoming you to your new home, helping you meet other first-year students, and giving you a chance to learn about all the different aspects of life at Western. O-Week has evolved into an incredible and truly unique experience that you are sure never to forget.

Past OWeeks, Pictures & Testimonies

  • By the end of OWeek 2018, 98% of respondents felt like they were part of the Western community
  • 88% of respondents indicated that their overall experience of OWeek 2018 was excellent or good
  • “The message that I remember most from Welcome Rally [during OWeek 2018] was that others are supposed to feel just as welcomed and safe at Western as I am, no matter how nervous, and that I can make a meaningful impact on others’ experience at Western.”
  • “[Throughout OWeek 2018 I learned that] everyone has their moments of loneliness, insecurity, or just simply sadness. Western is here to support you as a family while you build a new better life alongside an education.”

Sophs: your new automatic friends

“The presence of Sophs with great pride in not only their faculty, or specific residence, but within the Western community as a whole felt very welcoming and [I felt] as though for my first year I would not be alone.”

OWeek 2018 Survey

Sophs are Western’s beloved orientation leaders who help welcome new students and provide an orientation to campus life. Sophs volunteer their time as spirit leaders, role models, and campus guides to help promote personal wellness, encourage participation in a variety of campus community building events, and positively connect new students to the University’s social environment and its academic resources.

Sophs are an important part of students’ OWeek experience. In the OWeek 2018 Survey, students indicated that the relationships built with their Sophs, the relationships Sophs helped facilitate, and the knowledge the Sophs possess were some of the most helpful and enjoyable aspects of OWeek. Students reported that their Sophs made them feel safe, supported, and welcomed at Western. The impact that Sophs have on first-year students lasts throughout the entire year.

Sophs are super spirited and become like the siblings you never had. Their pride for the Western experience has granted them the role to be that connecting link for students starting on move-in day. Sophs role model strong academic achievement, promote healthy lifestyles and experiences that foster personal development and support a diverse population of students in their transition from home to University life. 

After Orientation Week, Sophs transition to a yearlong support role for new students. This support role includes regular contact with first year students, participation in programming events, and referring students to campus and community resources.

In a sentence, Sophs are meant to be the easiest friend one could make, and the hardest to let go.

Residence Soph: 

Rez Sophs are upper year, undergraduate students that volunteer to live in Residence as mentors for incoming students. Their primary function is to act as emotional and social supports for students, as well as redirect them to appropriate resources when needed. Rez Soph teams undergo training that equips them to fulfill these duties, while managing their own personal and academic requirements. They spend ample time engaging in team building activities and forming meaningful relationships with each other in order to form a cohesive unit. In turn, they foster an inclusive and welcoming environment, rich in culture and tradition, for incoming students in their respective buildings. 

Faculty Soph:

Faculty Sophs are there to support incoming students in their academic transition into Western. As preparation for their role, Faculty Sophs are given training to understand the specific academic resources that incoming students may need. Their training makes them great people to approach if incoming students are ever struggling academically or advice about academic resources. Faculty Sophs are also in the same faculty as the incoming students they are paired with. This gives them a better ability to speak from first-hand experience about the courses and resources the incoming students have questions about.

Off-Campus Soph:

Off-Campus (OC) Sophs are there to support students living Off-Campus as they transition into Western. We recognize that Off-Campus students have a different set of needs that those living in residence, and the OC Soph team is there to specifically address that. OC Sophs are your first friends on campus and are there to help you meet other incoming students living in the London Community. If an incoming student has questions through the year about wellness resources or ways to get involved as a student living Off-Campus, the OC Sophs are the ones to ask.

Afilliate Soph:

Affiliate Sophs (Huron, Brescia, and King’s) are mentors for incoming students at the Affiliated University Colleges. Affiliate Sophs are both Residence and Faculty Sophs in that they support students emotionally and socially as well as academically. They receive Affiliate specific training and are prepped with all resources on both Main Campus at Western University and at the respective Affiliate University College. Like all sophs they are primarily a resource for students to go to when struggling with anything and are tasked with ensuring that students transition with ease and effectiveness. 

Charity Soph: 

Charity Sophs are responsible for planning, executing, and promoting philanthropic events for incoming students and Sophs. Their goal is to empower students to volunteer with local organizations and participate in the London community. Charity Sophs are paired with each constituency (Residence, Faculty, Affiliate College, OC) rather than incoming students. They are a great resource for students looking to get involved in London.

Our Strategic Plan

Western’s Orientation Program last renewed its goals and vision in 2003. With ongoing expansion of Western’s exceptional Orientation program, and changing needs of our diverse incoming students, Western’s Orientation Governance Board, now Orientation Advisory Board, in collaboration with the Orientation Planning Committee, now Orientation Operations Committee, initiated the development of a new strategic plan in Spring 2015. 

Vision

Through exceptional orientation programming, students will maximize their individual potential in the classroom, on campus and as citizens of broader communities.

Purpose

Student Orientation at Western facilitates incoming students’ ability to thrive in university by fostering connections with peers, faculty and staff, expanding their knowledge of campus resources and developing their personal and academic skills.

Values

  • Diversity
  • Collaboration
  • Safe campus climate
  • Integrity
  • Community
  • Respect
  • Leadership
  • Fun

Who are we?

Orientation Staff is a group of 7 student leaders responsible for the planning and execution of Orientation Week endeavors in collaboration with the Coordinator of Orientation Initiatives. The group is tasked with and primarily responsible for planning campus-wide events during Orientation Week and assisting with the implementation or recruitment, selection, training, and recognition initiatives for Sophs. 

Please email us at orientation@uwo.ca with any questions, comments, or concerns. 

Orientation Staff 2019

Aleesha Rehill
Orientation Coordinator
oco@uwo.ca

Irfan Jivs
Residence Orientation Coordinator
roc@uwo.ca

Andrea Lee
Academic Orientation Coordinator
aoc@uwo.ca

Beth Connelly
Charity Orientation Coordinator
charityorientation@westernusc.ca 

Connor Cozens
Associate, Orientation
associate.orientation@westernusc.ca

Alisha Moosajee
Orientation Program Generalist
opg@uwo.ca

Domenic Parlatore
Orientation Program Intern
opintern@uwo.ca

Rich Caccamo
Coordinator, Orientation Initiatives
rcaccam@uwo.ca