McGill’s Campus Life and Engagement hosted its first virtual Frosh the week of Aug. 27 – 30 2020. With public health restrictions imposed on every facet of student life this year, the usually boisterous Frosh festivities were replaced by online events. Hosted over Zoom, each faculty’s Frosh included a range of activities from escape rooms to restaurant tours around the university to welcome the new class.
Led by two to three Frosh leaders per group, incoming students participated in events in groups of 13, though attendance fluctuated throughout the week. Frosh leaders organized activities such as trivia via Kahoot, academic seminars, virtual yoga, interfaculty concerts, talent-optional showcases, and other group bonding exercises.
Several faculties filmed virtual ‘field-trips’ of popular areas on campus, and Science Frosh leaders organized a digital iteration of the university’s Frosh tradition: The ‘McGill Crawl.’ Frosh participants were shown prerecorded YouTube video tours of various eateries and student hotspots near McGill, such as McGill Pizza and Freshii. The videos included interviews conducted by the organizers with the owners of the establishments.
Alexander Achcar, U1 Engineering, participated in Science Frosh, where he claimed to have had an enjoyable experience despite the virtual format.
“[The tour included] places that people would normally visit during Frosh, which was a little bit dead because obviously we were not going to these places,” Achcar said. “So it was kind of weird, people getting hyped around Chef on Call while we were all sitting [on Zoom] in the morning, drinking coffee.”
Discounts were offered by the restaurants as rewards for the winners of the various Zoom challenges. Among the challenges was a virtual escape room experience, where Frosh participants co-operated with their team members to solve puzzles and locate clues in competition with other Frosh groups. Achcar believes that the escape room experience provided a great way for the students to bond with one another.
“[The escape room activity] was really sick,” Achar said. “Everyone thought it was going to be the dumbest thing in the world, but [Frosh leaders] sourced it from an outside company, and it was really well put together. I think it was a really good way for the group to bond initially, because the challenges weren’t super difficult, but you had to think a little bit, so we were all talking and discussing things.”
Logan Pecht, U0 Arts, who attended Arts Frosh, commended his Frosh leaders for their efforts in maintaining the spirit of Frosh week.
“With the expectation that it wasn’t going to be the same experience, Frosh allowed me to grow comfortable meeting friends and socializing in a virtual setting with the aid of my enthusiastic leaders,” Pecht said.
Olivia Mendelson, chair of the Arts & Science Frosh committee, spoke about the initial uncertainty and challenge of organizing the events.
“At the beginning of our planning, it was difficult to envision what the events would be like, but we came up with ideas along the way and figured out how to make them happen,” Mendelson said. “We saw our hard work pay off when our events unfolded smoothly, and we got positive feedback from participants saying they were having fun and thanking us for organizing something for them.”
Mendelson appreciated the unique nature of this experience, and how the limitations of a virtual semester did not prevent the participants from engaging with their peers.
“There was something special about having people participate from different places around the world,” Mendelson said “It really made it feel like we were all coming together despite the difficult and non-ideal circumstances. Overall, virtual Frosh was a success, and I hope it helped set a precedent for future online events at McGill.”