Effort makes it happen, Vanessa gets it all ready

Orientation may be a time to let your hair down, but for the organisers of the event it was a case of putting your head down and working hard.

Otago University Student Association events manager Vanessa Reddy (32) said this year's Orientation had got off to a good start. ‘‘This year, OUSA is focusing on student welfare, and the first years this year seem incredibly well behaved.''

She said with Orientation the biggest event on the OUSA events calendar, it was important to get the recipe right, ‘‘because we want to welcome students to Dunedin''.

Ms Reddy said the toga party was a ‘‘classic example'', where 2000 students went to the Regent Theatre and were entertained by Christchurch-based comedian Sam Wills, who touched on student welfare topics, such as homesickness, alcohol and making new friends.

While some in the crowd were initially sceptical, Ms Reddy said, ‘‘At the end of the performance, he had them eating out of his hands''.

She said it was important for students to feel comfortable at Orientation, because it was a time of challenges for some students, with some experiencing problems, such as with alcohol, relationships or feeling alienated from their peers.

With planning for Orientation beginning back in October, Ms Reddy said she would meet other student association event managers to contract bands to play, securing the likes of the Datsuns and Supergroove.

She said the welfare message had even been given to bands, with them allocated several beers and some bottled water, a far cry from when the Violent Femmes played Orientation.
‘‘They wanted a cheese-only pizza, with a raw capsicum.''

She said this year's line-up has proved popular, with the $95 tickets selling out faster than normal and the focus was less on alcohol and more ‘‘on having a good time''.

Ms Reddy said more people seemed to drink from water bottles rather than consuming alcohol and one popular initiative was the $2 mocktails.

For Otago Polytechnic student support adviser and Orientation organiser Kitty Keogh, Orientation at the polytechnic was a joint affair between the polytechnic and the student's association, OPSA.

Held at the same time as OUSA's Orientation, Ms Keogh said the polytechnic's Orientation was a more inclusive affair, with lecturers and students all taking part in their lunch-time based activities.

‘‘We are working hard to make this their place, and I think we are achieving that,'' she said.

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