Opinions

Photo: Faculty of Health Science/ University of Ottawa

Many student associations at the U of O have made changes to their usual 101-kits in order to adapt to students not returning to campus this fall

The University of Ottawa Students’ Union (UOSU) 101-Week is set to start on Sept.8 with freshmen gathering in Zoom chat rooms instead of on campus meaning new students won’t receive the usual 101-Week kits as per campus tradition.

Frosh kits are prepared by student associations and are gifted to the freshmen of the student associations faculty. Normally, these kits are filled with student essentials — e.g. campus maps, ramen noodles, mini toiletries, condoms, shot glasses, and coupons for local coffee shops. 

But this year, student associations have had to redefine the 101-Week kit to meet the needs of students who are starting university amidst a global pandemic and also to be easy to ship to students who live off campus all around the world.

Here are the best ways student associations have found to alter their kits to best fit the needs of students staying home for the fall semester.

Online Stores

Some student associations launched online stores to sell merchandise and other essential items. This system allows for direct shipping to students who live off campus.

For example, the International, Political and Policy Studies Student Association (AEEIPPSAA) is running an online store where students can easily buy discounted items such as mugs, shot glasses, reusable utensils, and wallets that can be attached to phone cases. 

According to Liam O’Brien, AEEIPPSAA’s representative for social events, freshmen can also order the following items for free: “hand sanitizer, condoms, and AEEIPPSAA branded stickers”. 

Focus on Useful Information

Other student associations are putting more energy into providing information to students instead of distributing 101-Week kits. 

The Communications Students’ Association (AEEC-CSA), prepared a, “‘university survival guide’ filled with a bunch of information [about the campus], places to get student discounts, [and…] the university cheers,” said Ilona Szabo, the association’s vice-president of communications. 

The Science Students’ Association (SSA) took a similar approach— having abandoned the 101-Week kit to increase their focus on the dissemination of information and the creation of peer-bonding activities. 

Practical Items 

For the student associations maintaining traditional 101-Week kits, including essential, practical items is key. 

For example, The Undergraduate Nursing Student Association (UNSA) is distributing items such as hand sanitizer, stress balls, melatonin supplements, and Vicks cough drops. 

Advertising fun prizes 

And finally, some student associations are focusing on giving away prizes to students. Another added incentive to make the new-look kits appear as appealing as possible. 

Shawna Perron, president of The Association of Nutrition Students (ADÉNUT), says her team, “decided not to sell kits [to make 101-Week] free for everyone. Nevertheless, [the team] bought prizes and received items from [their] partnerships”. 

This year, they are giving away cookbooks, gift cards, and a University of Ottawa hoodie. They plan to give away these prizes to encourage the participation of students in 101-Week activities.

Overall, freshmen this year will be privy to items and information that are both useful and accessible for this year’s truely unique 101-Week.