Embracing frosh

Frosh week may not be perfect, but it’s a memorable, important university experience

Being a froshie is a one time occurrence — it’s a golden ticket not only to drink in public and dance down the middle of Bloor Street, but also to take your mind off of the fact that you’ll soon be embarking on one of the most important periods of your life.

Frosh week is not for the faint of heart. Activities routinely include hazing, public humiliation, and drinking to excess.

In the past several years, however, students have started demanding more from frosh week activities. Issues of safety and inclusiveness have been brought to the forefront of conversations about orientation week, to the point that some universities, around the country, have started requiring more equitable practices.

U of T has made it a priority to erase the stereotypes attached to frosh week — like the one that the entire week is just one big drunken stumble through the city.

Most of U of T’s colleges and faculties have created frosh committees, which elect chairs and co-chairs who are influential during the hiring process for frosh leaders. The chairs of these committees are not only well  versed in their college’s administrative system, but are also student leaders and role models.   

Even in the past few years there have been significant changes to frosh week activities and experiences, but essentially, the tradition remains unchanged. Regardless of how much we hate to admit it, many actually enjoy the cheering and florescent shirts. 

My frosh experience nearly four years ago consisted of my leader taking shots atop the City Sightseeing bus, then proceed to reach out to grab an overhead street-car wire, quickly prompting our already fed-up tour guide to stop and kick us off the bus.

While scary and embarrassing at the time, it was also a perfect icebreaker that prompted a laughter filled walk back to campus with my fellow froshies. Funnily enough, none of the planned events and activities managed to forge this kind of bond.

Frosh week is not at all representative of your university experience — but that’s okay. Most of your time at U of T will see you attending class, writing essays, and taking exams, so it’s important that you have the opportunity to kick-back, lose your voice from cheering, and maybe even dye yourself purple. You’re not likely to get the same chance again. 

Emma Kikulis is a fourth year student at Innis College studying English and sociology. She is The Varsity’s Sports editor.

Frosh week is not reflective of the university experience

Time to tear it down from its pedestal

While free food and condoms are certainly worthy of celebration, frosh week itself hardly deserves the pedestal it is routinely placed upon.

Perhaps most striking is the sheer superficiality of the entire affair. People talk in perky voices, yet conversations are more like hollow surveys — hi, what’s your major, where are you living, this ice breaker is pretty fun, eh. Cue nervous laughter.

Understandably, students are worried about making good impressions and eager to dramatically recreate their identities in a new space. And surely, some will be lucky enough to stumble into another student with whom they instantly click.

But for most, such exchanges simply become cringe-worthy memories and nothing more. It is bizarre then, that we continue to idealize the social aspect of frosh as a formative rite of passage into university.

More unfortunately, the majority of socializing during frosh is done under the constant and disturbing pressure to drink yourself into oblivion. Despite the attempts of noble frosh executives to introduce quieter games nights, many frosh will ultimately turn to alcohol in order to both ease their insecurities, and fulfill, real or imagined, expectations on the resilience of their livers.

While laughter during drunken nights can certainly create some affection between students, binge drinking is, at best, a questionable basis for the long-lasting and meaningful relationships that frosh week purports to encourage.

Not to mention the fact that the culmination of frosh week  — that is, the street parade downtown — fails to foster a coherent school spirit. Instead, it is premised on segregating the student body based on college, faculty, or campus. Most notably, this annual institutional emphasis on internal rivalry reifies the notorious and regrettable disconnect between our UTM, UTSC, and UTSG campuses.

As students will find out after frosh week, university is not simply a series of awkward conversations and booze-filled evenings. Your experience at U of T will not be characterized by strict hourly scheduling, nor peppy handholding authorities. That was what high school was for. 

Instead, the next four years of your life will be based on your decisions and ability to explore what you care most about, at your own pace. Your engagement — whether with course material, professors, or other like-minded students — will certainly be more long-term, deeper, and thus more formative, than the superficial experience of frosh week.

So if you don’t have a good time at frosh week, don’t worry — it only gets better from here.

Victoria Wicks is a third year student at Trinity College studying political science and ethics, society & law. She is The Varsity’s Comment editor.