Campus Life Q & A
Campus Life Q&A: What’s Residential Orientation All About?
Deakin Residential Services organizes and facilitates a comprehensive orientation program for residents across its multiple campuses. All residents are invited to arrive early into on-campus accommodation to participate in a range of activities targeted at supporting their transition to the university and residential environment, including meeting with staff and Residential Leaders, compulsory information sessions, communal dinners, and community excursions.
We spoke with our Campus Life staffing teams at each campus to chat further about the tailored residential orientation programs at each site.
What makes the Residential Orientation program at your campus so special for new students?
Will Taylor [Burwood]: Resi Orientation allows the incoming cohort of students to truly feel at home – it’s effectively a week-long welcome to new students and helps set the expectations that shape the year ahead.
Eliza Hart [Waterfront]: The central location of the Waterfront residence provides a fantastic opportunity to utilise the CBD to showcase some of Geelong’s finest assets – Eastern Beach, Wool Museum, and Old Geelong Gaol plus other great locations.
Gel Klein-Boonschate [Waurn Ponds]: Waurn Ponds offers a unique orientation experience, providing the first week of the program for new students only, before returning students arrive back on site. This ensures our new students feel comfortable in their new environment, ensuring a sense of place and belonging from day one.
Mariah Carlin [Warrnambool]: Warrnambool Campus life staff work collaboratively with DUSA to ensure a positive, fun and engaging experience for the whole campus throughout the Orientation program! Our program begins with Residential student-only events and activities, to provide Resi’s opportunity to meet their neighbours and other residents in a safe and inclusive environment. Week 2 involves campus wide activities, including a campus carnival, cinema night and bus trip to participate in Geelong O-Week.
What activity or event was most popular with your residents this year?
Gel [WP]: Our Outdoor Cinema + Food Truck event on the Gordon Green saw the most overall engagement.
Will [Burwood]: Our residents loved the Social Mixer night on the Tuesday - a combination of great food and a relaxed atmosphere helped keep everyone buzzing.
Eliza [Waterfront]: Our most popular event was our dinner at The Dome inside the Geelong Library complex. This venue has fantastic views across the city and of the Waterfront Residence. It was a great opportunity for residents to get to know each other and the staff over a beautiful two course meal!
Mariah Carlin [Warrnambool]: Our Scavenger hunt & hallway event were both well attended by residents. Feedback was that residents highly enjoyed the campus tour, following Brunch on the 3rd day of O-Week.
What do you think is the most important event or activity for residents to attend during Orientation, and why?
Gel [WP]: At all campuses, staff host a Welcome Meeting on night one. This one hour session, coupled with the individual community meetings held with RL’s later that same night, are pivotal in ensuring a safe and welcoming transition onto Residences, providing residents with the opportunity to hear key information and DRS expectations, meet relevant staff and mingle with their new room-mates.
Eliza [Waterfront]: I agree with Gel - events on the first evening which include an entire residence welcome information sessions and individual floor meetings (hosted by Residential leaders) are 100% the most important. It is really important for the residents to gain that sense of belonging early and to feel comfortable with those they live in close proximity.
Will [Burwood]: I have to agree with both Gel and Eliza. The initial floor meeting is the most important event to attend as it provides them with an opportunity to meet and greet those who will be their closest connections for the year.
Mariah Carlin [Warrnambool]: Our event on the 1st night of orientation week in 2018 was a free dinner & trivia. This was a fantastic event for residents to attend, as students got to meet key Deakin Staff (inc GM, Campus life, student life, central, DUSA, psychologist, Head of Campus) as well as participate in teams in a non-threatening/confrontational activity – Trivia!
How did you create a sense of community through your Orientation program?
Will [Burwood]: At Burwood it’s by the use of inter-floor competitions, for example the Res Olympics and Amazing Race. This sense of floor identity was cemented with an Arts and Crafts session where each floor and unit created banners to rally around.
Mariah [Warrnambool]: We have a smaller cohort in Warrnambool, that we breakdown even smaller into their hallway communities. Each hallway has a residential leader and hallway theme, in which the RLs decorate, create door signs for each resident to create a sense of place & home for each resident. Hallway meetings are held prior to the first event in Orientation week, so the resident can establish rapport with their Residential Leader and get to meet the other members of their community.
Warrnambool’s orientation program also offers a range of diverse activities, to ensure likeminded residents have opportunity to form relationships over common interests.
Gel [WP]: Our residents are welcomed from day one into their new College (Parkes, Barton or Alfred Deakin), and this sense of community is continued throughout their transition as part of welcome flyers, signage and merchandise. We also hosted an ‘interest group’ day for the first time this year, where our residents could ‘sign up’ for interest groups operating within the precinct, for example, surfing, exercise or arts and craft amongst others. These groups foster a sense of community outside of the traditional unit or college structure.
Eliza [Waterfront]: Waterfront residence is a smaller cohort, therefore allowing us to tailored activities and build a strong sense of community within the building. This year this involved introducing our residents to the wider community of the ‘Brougham Barracuda’s, the smaller community of their floors and then their academic faculty groups.
What role does Orientation play in helping students to get to know the local area?
Mariah [Warrnambool]: Our Scavenger hunt on day 2 of O-Week is the perfect opportunity for students to get to know the local area and city of Warrnambool! Set throughout the town, beach & Lake Pertobe, students complete challenges in their hallway teams, visit iconic Warrnambool destinations (including the fruit shop & supermarket !) and race to the end of the course. This year we finished with a BBQ and cricket at Lake Pertobe!
Will [Burwood]: We include walking tours of the various University Faculties and facilities and shopping tours of the local Burwood area.
Eliza [Waterfront]: To make the new residents feel comfortable in their new community we incorporated a range of events and activities around the Geelong region, including a ‘becoming a local’ tour, a visit to Eastern Beach, the Geelong Library and the Little Malop street precinct for a ‘cake night.’
Gel [WP]: As Eliza and Will have discussed, all of our programs involve a range of activities to get to know the residential precinct and local area. We included a bus tour around Waurn Ponds and the CBD, offsite events in neighbouring suburbs and opportunities to travel to the local shopping centre.
How does Orientation prepare students for the year ahead?
Eliza [Waterfront]: Our Orientation program included activities that provided an introduction to the local and Deakin community, equipping them with the tools to prepare for their first week at university but also for living away from home and in a shared environment. In particular, activities such as the ‘meet your faculty’ session, floor meetings, local tour and shopping trip and the yoga class, all helped to support student transition and meet and make new friends.
Gel [WP]: Our program provides new residents with a broad range of activities designed to prepare them for the year ahead – from opportunities to explore the local area, meet staff and student leaders, access information regarding DRS and Deakin support services and develop skills to prioritize their health and wellbeing.
Mariah [Warrnambool]: Orientation program allows students to meet their fellow residents in a safe, inclusive and non-threatening environment. In Warrnambool, we also assist students to get their Deakin Card & take a tour of the campus, so they don’t feel intimidated, underprepared or overwhelmed at the beginning of the Trimester.
Will [Burwood]: Orientation week prepares the student by setting up expectations of life on campus. It also provides an essential guide to support services available through DRS and the wider Deakin community.