Orientation Week Student Event Planner Starter Guide

This guide is designed to give you helpful information for planning events for Orientation Week 2018: I Am a Gryphon (September 1st – September 10th). This step by step process refers to a variety of forms and resource documents that will be posted on this site throughout the Event Proposal process. Information sessions will also be held in the Winter semester; you will be required to participate in a session as a prerequisite to approving your event.

As always, the Orientation Team is happy to discuss your plans, ideas, and questions at any stage during the Event Proposal process. Please don't hesitate to contact us through our organizational email account: orientation@uoguelph.ca.

Things to Keep in Mind

To run an event in Orientation Week you must be part of an on-campus organization or department, and have that organization/department take responsibility for the event. The list of organizations that can run events are:

  • Primary Student Organizations
  • Accredited Student Organizations
  • Special Status Groups (with insurance)
  • University Divisions/Departments/Colleges/etc.

Orientation Objectives

The most important, and most commonly missed, step in creating your Orientation Week event is determining why you are running the event and how that helps to meet the needs of new students. A great event focuses on one objective and does not attempt to meet all seven. The objectives are:

  1. Health and Well-Being: Students are encouraged to make healthy lifestyle choices that will benefit their mental, physical, and emotional state(s).
  2. Embrace Diversity: Students will understand and respect the diversity that exists on campus related to race, culture, ethnicity, gender, physical ability, sexual orientation, and other characteristics different from themselves. Students will create an inclusive space and promote authenticity.
  3. Community Establishment: Students will develop an understanding of the norms and expectations upon them as a member of the University of Guelph Community through integration into academic, social, or cultural groups, and engagement with various groups on campus.
  4. Academic Transition: Students will understand academic policies and expectations and how they are connected to being prepared for first year. Students will gain the tools to begin their academic journey with a strong foundation.
  5. Community Engagement: Students will engage in meaningful, sustainable contributions to the welfare of others emphasizing caring and respectful behaviour. Students will start to explore their individual effect on the various communities that make up the University of Guelph.
  6. Way Finding: Students can navigate campus, get answers to questions, and be comfortable with the campus environment.
  7. Accessing Resources: Student will be familiar with services and opportunities available for them on campus, understand activities offered during the week, and access/attend according to their needs.

Creating a Vision for Your Event

Step 1: What will the event look like?

Imagine yourself attending your event. What activities are taking place? Where is the event occurring? What do you want participants to experience and how will you make this happen?

Step 2: Who is responsible for your event?

Who will plan your event? Who will run your event on the day of? What will be the responsibilities of each person or group of people involved? Think about:

  • Executive members of your organization
  • Internal volunteers or general members/participants
  • Orientation Volunteers
  • Collaborations with other organizations

Step 3: What is needed for your event and how will you pay for it?

What financial support can you allot to this event? Who else can contribute financially to your event? Think collaboratively!

The Innovation Fund is an option for Event Planners proposing a new, innovative event that requires extra funding. Applications will be made available in March, and due in May for first round funding, and July for second round funding.

Inclusiveness of Your Event

Not all new students have the same needs or abilities - take a moment to think about how everyone will be able to participate in your event, given the range of diversity that might be among those who show up. It is particularly important that people who experience disabilities not be centered out.

It is expected that all events will be inclusive of persons with disabilities.

A few key things to remember:

  • Physical disabilities can include those with limited sight or hearing; conditions that require easy access to a washroom; or lessened ability to participate in physical tasks.
  • Some individuals experience emotional or psychological disabilities, which can mean a heightened need for personal space, sufficient time to process instructions, and the opportunity to opt-out without being made to feel bad.
  • Inclusiveness goes beyond disability and encompasses students with varying identities, experiences, backgrounds, and financial means.
  • A good way to prepare is to ensure participants have access to contact information for the event organizer(s) well in advance so they can connect with you if they have any questions.

Manage Your Risk

Please visit the Risk Management Guide for a full list of all Guidelines.

Event Approval Process

The process for running an event for Orientation Week 2018 is:

  1. The primary Event Planner must attend an information session in the Winter semester (offered multiple times in March and April)
  2. An Event Proposal is created that asks for all relevant event details (including orientation objectives, location, risky factors, resources needed etc.) All proposals must be submitted by the end of May. Event Proposals are submitted online through the Event Proposal website, available in March.
  3. The Orientation Team will review your event and ask for clarification when needed.
  4. The Orientation Risk Management Sub-Committee (ORM) will evaluate events for high-risk concerns in mid-June. Some modifications to your event may be required. This process includes approvals from Public Health, Hospitality Services, Student Housing, Physical Resources, the Wellness Education Centre, the University's Insurance Manager, and other key campus stakeholders.
  5. To avoid conflicts, the times and locations of events may be shifted throughout the review process.
    1. The Orientation Team will book all on-campus venues for you
    2. The Orientation Team will book things such as tables, chairs, garbage/recycling cans, and barbecues based upon your requests - please be clear about this when requesting your resources during the Event Proposal process. It is YOUR responsibility as an Event Planner to make sure you have requested what you need for your event(s) and to make the appropriate confirmations if needed. Any resources outside of what the Orientation Team can provide are to be coordinated by your organization.
  6. In early July, final approval will be given, and the schedule will be locked in. This allows time for the Orientation Guide to be produced.

For all stages, the Orientation Team will contact you by email to request clarifications/changes to your events activities, scheduling, resource assignment, and potential collaboration with other Event Planners. Prompt replies (within 72 hours) to these emails in May and June will be required for your events to be approved.

Failure to reply to attempted communication in this time may result in your event not being approved.

Your approved Event Proposal represents a contract between you and the Student Transition Office (on behalf of the University). Failure to run your event in the way you described, with the resources you agreed to use (e.g. handwashing stations, etc.) can result in fines or further disciplinary action.

Fine Tune It

Develop a Solid Name for Your Event

  • The name of your event must reference the target audience or group that is hosting the event
    • A target group could be Off Campus Students, Muslim Students, residents of Maritime Hall etc.
  • If you're using an acronym, be sure to use something that is widely recognized or meaningful for new students who don't know the campus acronyms. The CSA is recognizable. However, BASSA or FAN are more obscure and would be better referenced by saying "Arts & Science" or "Fine Arts"
  • Avoid putting an exclamation mark at the end of your event title unless you're answering a question. "Ice Cream with Johnston Hall!" is not acceptable. "What Time? Maritime! Ice Cream Time!" is okay

Write an Effective Event Description

  • Try to reference the theme (I am a Gryphon) into your event description
  • Event descriptions should include the following:
    • What will make the event meaningful (why is it important?)
    • The activity that you will be engaged in
    • Information on food that you will be providing (if any)
  • Proper grammar, spelling, and punctuation is a must
    • Adding in some ‘punchy’ language is also a bonus!
  • Remember that all event descriptions are published on the website and descriptions for highlighted events are published in the Orientation Guide too


  • Word of mouth is the most powerful way of drawing participants. Build interest in your target community by engaging them ahead of time. Talk about things that are coming up later in the week at earlier events
  • After your event is approved (not before) you might want to advertise on Social Media and GryphLife to get the hype about your event started early
  • If your event is indoors you might consider putting up signage to help attract people and assist them in finding the location


  • Recognizing and motivating your volunteers during your event is essential
  • Make sure you keep OVs in the loop - let them know what you need them for and what they can expect to happen, this way they can stay engaged!
  • If you are running an event that is serving food, please feed the volunteers that are helping you

Trouble Shooting

  • Don’t panic!
  • An OV Team Leader or Orientation Team member can support you during your event to help troubleshoot anything that arises – just ask
  • Always know where the emergency poles and phones are, and seek emergency help if needed

Assess It

Write a short summary about the outcomes of the event that can be passed along to the Event Planners for your organization next year. Here are some issues you might consider addressing:

  • How did I know this event helped new students adjust to campus life in a meaningful way?
  • Did this event meet the goals and objectives it set out to meet?
  • What challenges arose in the planning and implementation process? How did I overcome these challenges?
  • What would I do differently if I was to run this event again? What would I do the same?
  • How did I manage the volunteers and other Event Planners involved in this event?
  • Would this event be appropriate to repeat in future years?

Thank you for participating in Orientation Week!

It is because of the fantastic Event Planners and outstanding Orientation Volunteers that we can continue to offer such an amazing Orientation Week experience for new students.