—When going to university for the first time, students are thrust into a new environment with lots of strangers and a lot of confusion; which is why intro-week plays a vital role for first years at AUC.
At AUC, every new academic year brings around 300 new students, who need to be introduced and adjusted to the AUC bubble. Traditionally the introduction week plays a vital role in making the newcomers feel welcome. While much of what students remember about intro-week may be a blurry haze, a lot of effort is made by organisers to make it as useful and memorable as possible. In pursuit of this goal, four changes were made to intro-week this year.
In previous years, activities of different types were mixed and evenly spread out over the entire week. A significant change to intro-week this year involved the separation of academic activities, in the first two days, and social activities, during the rest of the week.
“It set a very different vibe, and in my regards made them [the first years] focus on the important things”, Commented Evi Sifaki, a second-year Social Science major, who contributed as a mentor. Furthermore, Berend Hilberts, a Second Year-Science major, who was also a mentor, explained that “the first two days of academic stuff lead to some complaints but no more than in my year”.
In past years, students were separated into different groups based on whether they were a first-year or an exchange student. During this year’s intro-week, exchange students were integrated into the same groups as entry level students, encouraging more interaction. “We wanted them [exchange students] to feel more included”, said Louise Ten Bosch, a second-year Social Science major, who is secretary of the AUCSA. When asked about this initiative, Bosch said: “It was great to integrate the exchange students as much as possible into community life as they added an entirely new dynamic. They brought experiences from universities all around the world.”
The “Crazy 44” event involves first years completing as many tasks as possible around Amsterdam to win prizes. In the past, these tasks were designed to embarrass students and sometimes strangers as well. Several changes were made to “Crazy 44” this year including the removal of challenges such as “take a photo with a Chinese tourist” or “take a photo with a sex worker”.
In explanation, Marcus Smit, the staff coordinator of the intro-week, said: “there were specific comments from students in the crazy 44 that they found certain things rude…they found things sometimes racist”. Therefore, intro-week organisers felt specific changes needed to be made for sensitivity reasons. In response to the changes to “Crazy 44”, Hilberts said, “the new 44 still retained all its fun qualities but did not lead to any annoying encounters”.
Finally, the “committee market”, showcasing the different committees available to students, was transformed into a “committee carousel”. With this development, committees were given their own room in the academic building instead of only a table. “It was much more structured, allowing the students to see more of the committees and more in-depth as each committee got about 10 minutes and the whole building was used”, Said ten Bosch in regards to the committee carousel. Hilberts added that “the committee carousel allowed for more exposure of the smaller committees, but the rotation system still needs a lot of perfection”.
In the coming days, feedback forms will be sent to the first-year students to ask them about their experiences with the intro-week. If you are a first-year and have an opinion about any of these changes, or any other aspects of intro-week, you can let the organisers know by telling them on these forms.This provides an opportunity for all first-year students to significantly impact the intro-week experience for future generations, making it as informative and enjoyable as possible.