UPEI orientation helps grow sense of campus community

Almost 900 new students are signed up at the University of Prince Edward Island to spend the next week taking part in campus activities as a part of orientation and building a sense of campus community.

'Pretty excited but stressful a bit' says student moving into campus residences

More than 880 students signed up for the new student orientation on the campus of UPEI, the highest number in the school's history to take part. (John Robertson/CBC)

Nearly 900 students, a school record, are registered to take part in new student orientation this week at University of Prince Edward Island in Charlottetown.

The event kicked off Saturday with campus-wide activities. The goal is to have new students work toward a sense of community at the university.

It took four months of planning and will take around 100 volunteers and team leaders to help guide the students throughout the week.

"I have been talking to a few students and they are having a great time already," said Kali Ross, the UPEI new student orientation co-ordinator.

"It is just great to know that what we are all doing here is making them feel welcome and happy to be on campus."

Kali Ross, the new student orientation co-ordinator, said the week helps bring students together. (John Robertson/CBC)

Events like scavenger hunts, information sessions, games and picnics are all on the agenda.

The orientation is open to all first-year students entering UPEI.

New students explore the campus. (John Robertson/CBC)

Donna Sutton, associate vice president of students and registrar, said she wants the students to feel welcome.

"To make them feel like this is their second home, that they are safe here, that they are cared for here and that in addition to a great education they are supported by the staff and faculty that work here," she said.

There are also international students from more than 70 different countries arriving at UPEI campus, Many are taking part in school-orientation activities.

The students were split up into teams to help bond with each other. (John Robertson/CBC)

"To be a successful university higher education participant, you are not only focusing on your studies but also your social culture, personal growth, those aspects of your life," said Jerry Wang, director of recruitment and international students office.

"For students to feel that they belong here, they belong in the group and then they have community to resort to once they have challenges."

A large number of the new students and team leaders lined up in the quad to pose for a group photo as part of the new student orientation kickoff. (John Robertson/CBC)

The new students also learned about the facilities and services offered on campus, including dining halls and residences.

"Pretty excited, but stressful a bit," said first-year year student Josianne Lévesque from Bathurst, N.B.

She was excited to be moving into her room in the campus residence.

"Mostly that it's so close, I don't need a drive or anything to come to the campus," Lévesque said.

Josianne Lévesque was one of the many students who found housing on campus by signing up early. Some students say they started looking for housing last January to make sure they had a spot. (John Robertson/CBC)

She was one of the fortunate ones as some students are still facing challenges to find a spot to live in Charlottetown's record-low vacancy market of 0.9 per cent.

"It is not uncommon that we have students come up to our offices, they just arrived here and they are looking for a place to live," said William McGuigan, UPEI student union president.

"With the vacancy rate that it is, it's a big issue that the student union is monitoring and it's one of our top priorities this year, so we are hoping to get some movement on it in the near future."

UPEI Student Union President William McGuigan said the orientation does help the new students find their own sense of community on campus. (John Robertson/CBC)

The orientation wraps up Sept. 8.

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About the Author

John Robertson

Video journalist

John Robertson is a multi-platform journalist based out of Charlottetown. He has been with CBC News for more than a decade, with stints in Nunavut, Edmonton and Prince Edward Island. Twitter @CBCJRobertson Instagram @johnrobertsoncbc


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