28 September 2020

Welcome Week: how did it go?

It’s done! Welcome Week is behind us. And how did it go? Well! I think it was a mixed bag. It was bound to be. You can’t have what people think of as a traditional Welcome Week in a pandemic. It was always going to limit things! No indoor gatherings, lots of online activities, social distancing... and as well, the university didn’t want all students moving in at the same time. That would mean lots of people in corridors! So the students had to come in spread out over more time. And that meant that on the Monday, not that many students had actually arrived. They would keep arriving until the Sunday before teaching! 

As the students and their peer guides could only meet outside, the whole event was rather weather-dependent. The Peer Guides had organised lots of trips: in town, to the Pier, and to the beach. And the week started with glorious sunshine! But North Wales in late September: glorious sunshine can't be taken for granted. And it did leave. It got colder and wetter! Unfortunately. 

We also had the usual communication problems, but exacerbated by the pandemic. Since GDPR came into force, we are rather restricted in what information about the new students we can give to the peer guides. When the new students register, they have to indicate what information they are happy with to be shared. And most toggle on only their Bangor University email address! But that means we (peer guides and such) can't contact them until they have activated their university account. The university itself can email them reminders to please do that, but practice has shown they are not as active with that as we would like. And in other years, the peer guides can just knock on their doors and introduce themselves, but now that's illegal! So we had a bit of a problem of new students only keeping an eye on their private email accounts, and missing loads of vital information. Last year I had already tried to convince the people who made the registration page to please please please add big flashing fluorescent messages saying: please allow us to give your personal details to your peer guide, because otherwise they'll struggle to contact you. I think it hasn't happened! I keep my fingers crossed for next year... 

I have spoken with quite a lot of students by now and most are quite happy with how things panned out. I suppose, though, that it's the students I haven't spoken with that may be the ones that could be sitting lonely in their halls, staring at their private mailbox, and feeling a bit lost! I hope it's not many of them...

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