What’s Res Orientation All About?
- 5 min read
- •Posted February 2021
Deakin Res organises and facilitates a comprehensive orientation program for residents across its multiple campuses. All residents participate in a range of activities targeted at supporting their transition to the university and residential environment, including communal dinners, community excursions, meetings with Residential Leaders and staff and information sessions. We spoke with our Campus Life staffing teams across our four campuses (Melbourne Burwood, Geelong Waurn Ponds, Geelong Waterfront and Warrnambool) to chat further about the tailored residential orientation programs at each site which are currently underway.
What makes the Residential Orientation program at your campus so special for new students?
Rachael Gibson [Burwood]: Resi Orientation allows all residents to get to know each other to help make res feel like home. It allows residents to get to know not only the Deakin Burwood campus, but also Melbourne and surrounding areas, all while having the chance to meet and make lifelong friends.
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.
What activities or events are most popular?
Gel [WP]: Our Outdoor Cinema and Food Truck events on the Gordon Green have always been very popular with new students.
Rachael [Burwood]: Anything to do with food or entertainment, such as our Outdoor Movie sessions, or live music night. We intentionally provide a variety of activities in scale and size which enable our residents to get know others in both small and larger groups.
Eliza [Waterfront]: One of our most popular events was a welcome 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!
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.
Rachael [Burwood]: The initial meeting on the first night is essential to help you feel at home straight away as the other campuses have noted. However if you do arrive later, there are many more opportunities to meet others in your area as the Residential Leaders (RLs) organise plenty of other events to help residents gets to know each other.
How did you create a sense of community and enable students to meet new people through Orientation?
Rachael [Burwood]: Community is all about communication and support. We know it can be daunting to suddenly walk into a large and potentially daunting new place, so having regular communication with your RL is important. We also encourage you to ask questions and join in on small and large events so you can take up every opportunity possible to meet others.
Gel [WP]: Our residents are welcomed from day one 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 recently, 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 run tailored activities and build a strong sense of community within the building. Last year this involved introducing our residents to the wider community of the ‘Brougham Barracudas', 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?
Rachael [Burwood]: We have a variety of events on offer, such as campus tours, trips to local shopping centres as well as to shopping centres a bit further away and iconic places such as Queen Victoria Markets.
Eliza [Waterfront]: To make the new residents feel comfortable in their new community we usually incorporate 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 Rachael have discussed, all of our programs involve a range of activities to get to know the residential precinct and local area. In the past we’ve included tours 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]: Orientation includes activities that provide an introduction to the local and Deakin community, equipping students with the tools to prepare for their first week at university, but also for living away from home and in a shared environment.
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.
Rachael [Burwood]: Orientation sets up the year, not only personally, but academically as you get to know not only the campus, but other residents who will be studying similar courses to you and who can become part of your support network. You also have a great group of Residential Leaders and staff who can help you prepare for the year ahead so that when Week 1 comes around, you know where everything is, where to go and most importantly, where to get a coffee on campus for those early morning.
Laura is widely regarded as an industry expert in the theory, planning, and delivery of exceptional student experiences, having honed her skills over the course of a career spanning two decades and multiple higher education institutions.