The Canadian Press / Jonathan Hayward photo.

UBC welcomes students back with virtual orientation

First-ever virtual orientation for COVID-19 school life begins this week

UBC students are being prepped for how to live the university life from home this week.

The university’s first-ever “virtual orientation” is getting students ready for the upcoming fall semester, where most classes are only available online due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The three typical orientation events, Jump Start, Imagine and Create are all being delivered in an online format.

“This is an historic moment for UBC,” says Amandeep Breen, senior director of student engagement for the Vice-President, Students. “This year marks the first time that orientation will be offered entirely online.

“Shifting to virtual orientation in response to the COVID-19 allows us to ensure the safety of our students while still offering an exciting opportunity for students to connect with one another, faculty and staff, from wherever they are in the world.”

The orientation began on Monday, Aug. 31 with Jump Start, a five-day program which gives new students a glimpse at what to expect, and an opportunity to connect with teachers and fellow students.

Using online platforms such as Zoom and Canvas, students can take part from around the world (with both live and pre-recorded activities), and virtually attend a number of scheduled events, sessions and socials.

There is also focused programming for Black, Indigenous, People of Colour and the LGBT2SQIA community.

On Sept. 8, the Imagine UBC Pep Rally takes place online, keeping a UBC Vancouver tradition alive that goes back to 1997. A parallel event, known as Create Kick-Off, will happened on the same day for UBC Okanagan.

The events will feature addresses from UBC President and Vice-Chancellor Santa Ono, Alma Mater Society (AMS) President Cole Evans, and UBC Students’ Union Okanagan (UBCSUO) President Ali Poostizadeh.

“In previous years, the Imagine UBC Pep Rally was only open to first-year students due to space constraints in Thunderbird Stadium,” says Breen.

“But this year, we are able to invite both new and returning students, faculty and staff, for a virtual ceremony that will include many traditional elements as well as some exciting new features that are now possible in the virtual environment.”

The AMS and the UBCSUO student unions are also leading many clubs and service groups during the orientation.

For Vancouver, first-year students are encouraged to join the Virtual UBC Collegia and the Virtual Indigenous Students’ Collegium, forums meant to meet their peers and share information and social events.

For the Okanagan, first-years will be shown the ropes by veteran students through the UBC 101 online orientation.

“While our priority is the health and safety of the UBC community, we are also committed to ensuring a high-quality virtual orientation that supports all our students in building and maintaining peer connections,” says Phil Bond, director of student development and advising in UBC Okanagan’s Office of the Associate Vice President, Students.

“Orientation may be online this year, but that doesn’t mean the student experience has to be put on hold.”

RELATED: What happens if B.C. re-enters a COVID lockdown? Psychologist says we’ll be OK

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