Program to help first-years feel at home

by Susan Stern
Staff writer

Six hundred first-year UBC students will participate in a pilot program this year that organizers hope will make it easier for students to form friendships and feel part of the campus community.

Students in the My Undergraduate Group (MUG) Program will join one of 30 small groups led by a senior student. Groups will meet regularly throughout the year to talk about their campus experiences and concerns.

The program is part of Imagine UBC, a day of activities and social events to be held Sept. 8 to welcome more than 4,300 first-year students to the university.

Allison Dunnet, student co-chair of Imagine UBC, believes MUG will be good for students who commute to school.

"It's harder for students to feel like UBC is their home when they're only here from nine to five," says Dunnet. "These small groups will hopefully become like a UBC family."

Imagine UBC's first-day events begin at 9:45 a.m. when UBC President Martha Piper and Alma Mater Society President Vivian Hoffman will welcome the students at the War Memorial Gym.

Later, talk show-style workshops will give students an opportunity to ask panels of professors and group leaders about academic issues and for advice on a range of topics from medical treatment to grocery shopping.

Later, students will take part in sessions with deans and program directors to discuss their studies, and can participate in a scavenger hunt designed to orient students to useful locations within their faculties including computer labs, libraries and classrooms. All classes for first-year students will be cancelled for the day to encourage participation.

Heather Kerr, an Imagine UBC event co-ordinator, says the activities will give new students the big picture about people, faculties and what they have to offer.

The public is welcome at "The Main Event," a roaring 1920s carnival taking place from 3-9 p.m. in front of Main Library. Parking for the public is available in the North Parkade. Enter at Gate 2 off Wesbrook Mall.

Members of UBC clubs and societies, in period costume, will operate booths featuring dunk tanks, dart games and other amusements. Student bands will play throughout the evening and free swing-dancing and Charleston lessons will be offered.

The carnival's theme commemorates The Great Trek, the march by UBC students in 1922 that persuaded the B.C. government to complete construction of the campus.

This is the second year of Imagine UBC, which is organized by students, staff and faculty. Last year more than 95 per cent of first-year students participated.