Deconstructing the semantics of titles and their powers (if they have any)
Orientation week is a time of new experiences, new classes, new friends and of course, new parties. StFX is at the top of the list for party schools in Canada according to Maclean’s magazine, but if you dig a little deeper, the parties don’t necessarily constitute the new-coming class or hold relevance to the orientation week. When discussing the parties both on campus and in town, “The pub (the Inn) stopped serving chicken at 9 p.m. and booted out anyone under legal drinking age; the night has become a High School Musical sing-along that is nearly frosh-free.” Campbell states in an article posted on the magazine’s website. The distinction between current students and freshmen is important because the title of the party school is advertised mostly to new comers and can deter prospective students from applying to our campus.
StFX, among other schools, have begun to switch from the infamous “Frosh Week” to a more study-friendly “Welcome Week”, and although there has never been a firm implementation, it leaves this author wondering whether the title change would make a difference. StFX has always held a tradition where their introductory events built a sense of community, ranging from team building activities, presentations, house competitions, and of course parties; but these events do not span across the year and do not condone excess drinking or partying. The university takes pride in its students and emphasizes the strong bond developed among peers. If the university officially changes the title of the introductory week, it does not mean that they change their activities. It is important to remark that while the university provides activities, they are not the ones responsible for actions taken by students. Many of the university’s events are often listed as dry or are activities that can be enjoyed without the use of recreational substances.
There are many students who come to StFX to learn, myself included, but that doesn’t make the effects of peer pressure any less prevalent. The fear of missing out (FoMO), according to Oxford Dictionaries, is an “anxiety that an exciting or interesting event may currently be happening elsewhere, often aroused by posts seen on social media.” In an article for the American Journal of Medical Research, Louise H. Graham states that “FoMO may make people more conscious to what is happening around them, improving their awareness, but the preoccupation with what they may fail to catch may disconcert them, curbing their capacity to be knowledgeably vigilant.” which can correlate with its definition to imply that our sense of peer pressure and wanting-ness to belong is greater than ever before. Students may partake in activities because of FoMO and wanting to develop a bond, but StFX makes a point to host events in separate locations and filter those who aren’t of age so that it becomes a choice rather than an obligation. These events are specifically designed so that people are given the opportunities to participate and belong without having to make decisions they might otherwise regret.
This leaves hazing; Frosh Week no matter where you go, often suggests that there are rituals or activities that someone must partake in to belong to a house, or a group. I came from a university before StFX where there was a lawsuit against residents in my house due to actions taken during my frosh week. I bore witness to attempts to try and take advantage of those who were incapacitated, and I said no. You always have the right to say no, and if someone tries to force your hand, then they are breaking the law, and if you see someone else who can’t say no for themselves, then stand up and say no for them. The people who try to do those things are not people you want to affiliate with, and they do not represent a norm, and they do not represent your school. There is nothing wrong with partying occasionally in my opinion, but a big part of university is involvement and what you make of it. If you’re not a partier, then StFX is loaded with options for alternatives, but it may be up to you to take advantage of those or to develop them as you see fit. If you are put in an uncomfortable situation, you have the right to move, and to voice your concerns. Pitching ideas to your student union of activities or ways to improve the school is how you can make the difference you want to see. I don’t believe a title change will change the way the school is perceived, but I do think less emphasis on the party activities and more emphasis on the other ways the school provides its strong university bond, and how students can get involved is the best route to take.