After several months of discussion between the Students’ Society, faculty associations, and members of the administration, major changes may be in store for Frosh this coming year.
“The university is looking for basic, systematic changes, but those changes are very big ideologically,” Students’ Society Vice-President Internal Alex Brown said. “As it stands right now, the people who have the best time at Frosh are the Frosh leaders, which is not really the point of Frosh. So, [the administration is] looking to make it more focussed on the first-year students.”
Brown indicated that the changes would affect how Frosh is approached by coordinators, Frosh leaders, and first-year participants.
“The idea is that the primary activity should never be drinking,” she said. “You can drink while you’re doing something, but the activity shouldn’t be ‘Drinking While Playing Frisbee.’ It should be a Frisbee tournament while the bar is open. A lot of it is trying to make leaders more focussed on the activity, rather than the drinking.”
Most of the upcoming changes will focus on Frosh leaders and their role in the event. During this year’s Science Frosh, McGill Security felt that Frosh leaders were too rowdy even closing the beer tent for one of the afternoons during the three-day event.
“This year, out of all of the problems that we had, a large majority of them were with Frosh leaders,” Brown said.
Among the most noticeable changes to Frosh could be the way Frosh leaders are selected, as well as the decision to forbid Frosh leaders from drinking alcohol during the daytime activities.
“The university would like to see Frosh leaders sober during the day, so that they’re really focussing on meeting their students and leading their students.” Brown said.
Some of the calls for change have come from the students themselves. Anurag Dhir, the director of Molson Hall residence, was recently brought on by the Student Services Office to evaluate the transition experience of first-year students into university.
“I organized focus groups of students in residence to ask them questions like, ‘What did you like about orientation and Frosh? What didn’t you like? How would you like it to be different?'” Dhir said. “I wasn’t sure about the kind of response I would get from people, but it was actually very enlightening in terms of the diversity of responses.”
Some students described Frosh as “a realistic introduction to college life” at which the “beach party was fun, especially because it was an all-faculty event.” Other students claimed that “non-drinkers feel out of place,” however, and that “Frosh leaders were sometimes aggressive with students regarding drinking games.”
“In the past ten years, Frosh hasn’t changed all that much, but the make-up of the student body at McGill has,” Dhir said. “There are a lot more international students for whom the North American culture is unique. They want to meet other people, and how else can you meet other people outside of the usual pub crawls?”
Jana Luker, executive director of Student Services, insisted that the university has only played a small role in these discussions. The administration is not looking to be “a wet blanket,” but only to help the faculties optimize the Frosh experience.
“We are just trying to help facilitate the conversations, because it should be student-run for the students,” Luker said.
“The whole purpose is that it’s a student led thing and the dynamism and creativity happens from the students,” said Dhir. “But we can offer resources and tools like facilitating conversations or access to training if they need it.”
Brown emphasized, however, that the university is not looking to eliminate Frosh.
“[The administration] is very reasonable about it,” she said. “Nobody is trying to spoil the fun or anything like that, but they really do want to see a lot more accountability and responsibility in the Frosh leaders.”
Correction: The original headline of this article stated that changes to Frosh would eliminate daytime drinking for Frosh leaders. In fact, the changes to Frosh may eliminate daytime drinking for Frosh leaders.