The RED Zone wraps up its third year with stellar attendance

It’s a wrap of another busy summer in York’s RED Zone. The red dots that mark the path to the one-stop shop for new students have been rolled up, the favourite red couches have been rolled out and the statistics are rolling in.

York University’s RED Zone has once again proven to be a tremendous success with more than 9,000 visitors dropping by the zone from May through August. This past summer, the RED Zone transformed the Complex 1 Computer Lounge (Room 034 Founders College) into one of the busiest locations on campus.

Created in 2006, the RED Zone serves as a welcome point for all new students – including Canadian high school, international, college, university transfer and mature students – coming to York for the first time. The RED Zone, through its innovative programming, offered new students a one-stop shop to assist them with their smooth transition to life at the University. This year, 26 per cent of students visiting York’s RED Zone also brought their parents along.

Frank Cappadocia, director of York’s Centre for Student Community & Leadership Development, the department responsible for the RED Zone, was thrilled by the level of participation and interest in the zone. “The RED Zone has proved to be an outstanding resource for our newest community members," said Cappadocia. "It’s a pleasure to see the faces of students and their parents as they leave the RED Zone because they’re reassured that York believes in them and is ready to support them right from day one.” 

While at the RED Zone, students were introduced to "everything York" including:

  • how to get and use their YU-card;
  • how to access Passport York;
  • getting answers to important money questions, including information about bursaries, and how to access registered education savings plans and student loan programs; 
  • learning about student clubs and organizations;
  • planning for fall social and academic orientation and the York Day Information Fair; and
  • signing up for college-hosted events for incoming students. 

Since its inception, the heart of the RED Zone has always been an enthusiastic and knowledgeable team of student ambassadors. This year was no exception as 94 per cent of visitors to the RED Zone who were surveyed said they were either impressed or very impressed by the quality of service and the warm, welcoming attitudes of the ambassadors.

Above: The 2008 RED Zone student ambassadors. Back row, from left: Rachael Gumiela, Mike O’Reilly, Caitlin Crawford, Gina Oades, Joshua Paquin and Christina Huang. Front row, from left: Claire Simpson, Genevieve Kang, Aleks Sagan and Kat Abraham.

Made up of senior students, extremely well-versed in all things York, the RED Zone ambassadors introduced services, programs and resources geared to new students. They also responded to thousands of questions posed by new students and their parents. Helping the RED Zone ambassadors to field these all-important student questions are a long list of partners who have been essential to the success of the RED Zone. First and foremost, the Faculty Advising Centres were key partners as they referred the majority of new students to the RED Zone. 

Left: Making their mark on the RED Zone wall of fame are Gina Oades, Aleks Sagan and Rachael Gumiela

Ambassadors received specialized training from York’s Security Services, Parking & Transportation Services, York International, the York University Bookstore and Student Financial Services. York’s colleges also played an important role in the success of the RED Zone and the close partnership was achieved with the assistance of college masters including Ian Greene, master of McLaughlin College; Stan Tweyman, master of Vanier College; and David Leyton-Brown, master of Calumet College. The ambassadors offered plenty of information about the University’s academic and social orientation activities. Survey results revealed that 88 per cent of those visiting the RED Zone indicated they would be attending academic and social orientation events.

Right: RED Zone ambassador Claire Simpson

The RED Zone ambassadors also connected with those who either could not make it into the zone or who wanted to discuss and ask questions beyond their interaction in the zone. The ambassadors made themselves available through on the RED Zone Blog. Topics of discussion ran the gambit from where to find particular soft drink varieties on the Keele campus to how to use the York Atlas contact database.

The RED Zone also extended its hours of operation into Wednesday evenings. Traditionally open between the hours of 10am to 4:30pm, the longer Wednesdays meant that doors stayed open until 8pm to accommodate needs of students working full-time jobs who could not visit the zone during regular business hours. This initiative was reflected elsewhere on the Keele campus at the Atkinson Centre for Mature & Part-time Students and in Student Client Services located in the Bennett Centre Centre for Student Services.

The friendly faces of the RED Zone ambassadors return during York Day on Sept. 2. They’ll be there answering questions and speaking with new students.