Faculty, staff and students who returned from the holiday break this January may have noticed a new look and several new faces at the information kiosk in the Vari Hall link. The bright red branding of York’s RED Zone is usually more commonly seen during the summer months at York, but will now be a daily fixture.
Over the past four summers, the RED Zone has grown to become a staple in the orientation and transition process of new and incoming students. Operations have usually spanned the months between May and mid-August when new students are visiting York to attend their advising appointments and choose their first-year courses.
Left: RED Zone student ambassadors Afnan Ullah (left) and Chantel Walker help a new York student
The RED Zone originally grew out of these advising appointments when it was realized there was a need for students to learn more about York prior to classes commencing than just the academic ins and outs. More recently, Student Community & Leadership Development (SC&LD), which coordinates the RED Zone, recognized the need for a version of the RED Zone that operates throughout the fall and winter terms. Anyone who has attended university will probably agree that no postsecondary education experience is complete without a healthy degree of social and extracurricular involvement. In addition, orientation and transition for most students is not something that ends in September, but is an ongoing process that carries through the student’s first year and beyond.
Last summer, York’s RED Zone helped more than 6,500 new students make a smooth transition into university life. Now the 10 highly trained student ambassadors working in the RED Zone are ready to share their special brand of peer-to-peer guidance with students who may already be familiar with what the Zone has to offer, as well as those who may not.
“We realize that our central location is going to attract more than just York’s new students, and that works perfectly for us because that is probably the biggest distinguishing factor between the summer version of the RED Zone and this fall/winter version,” says Michael Kasaboski, orientation & student experience assistant at SC&LD. “Our whole objective is to be readily available to assist any students who need to know what services are available to them at York, no matter where they are in their academic career.”
The RED Zone staff is equipped to answer questions and provide information about a wide variety of York-related information, including transportation services, academic services, clubs and organizations, leadership programming, Student Financial Services, the Career Centre, York’s colleges and much more.
Right: RED Zone student ambassador Christina Huang
“It’s great that the Zone is now open throughout fall and winter,” says RED Zone student ambassador Christina Huang. “Many students will focus on their classes in September and get bogged down with school work. But later in the year, or perhaps in their second or third year, they decide that the time is right to get involved on campus. We’ll be available to remind them what’s available to them.”
During its first week of operation in January, the RED Zone saw between 100 and 150 students per day. Wednesday of that first week saw an amazing 267 students at the Zone. Since then, the number of visitors per day has stabilized to between 50 and 80 students. Mondays see the largest numbers while Fridays see the smallest.
Students can stop by the RED Zone in S107 Ross Building from Monday to Friday between 11am and 4pm. Even if they don’t have a specific question in mind, they can check out the RED Zone information display screen for a preview of the variety of services and events happening at York each day.