A new student’s first weeks on campus can be transformative and set the course for the years ahead. By simply being a friendly face, someone who points out a building or helps to identify a course code, York community members can make a huge difference to new students as they arrive on campus.
“This is just the sort of thinking that brought Student Community & Leadership Development’s (SCLD’s) YU Belong ambassador program to life last year with more than 500 individual faculty and staff volunteers,” says Ross McMillan, assistant director, student community, SCLD. “Of those volunteers, 98 per cent said they would volunteer again if asked. We are asking them and other faculty and staff to join us to help welcome our incoming class.”
Many faculty and staff already assist students throughout the year; YU Belong just helps to create greater awareness and provides some identifying items they can wear to be more recognizable and approachable to students. These items include a button, a York lanyard, and an information brochure and map.
“We’ve made some adjustments based on feedback we received last year and hope to keep refining and improving the program each year, “ explains McMillan, noting that signing up for the program is made easy through a convenient online form that can be found on the RED Zone website.
Once volunteers have completed the form, RED Zone student ambassadors will deliver a YU Belong package containing the YU Belong button, lanyard, information-filled brochure and map directly to participants’ offices. Volunteers are encouraged to wear their identifying button and lanyard, particularly during the first two weeks of the fall term, Sept. 2 to 12. They can wear them anytime after as well.
YU Belong is actively being promoted to new and incoming students through orientation programming and online through social media.
“New students will arrive on campus feeling assured that someone wearing a YU Belong button will be available to answer their questions, show them around campus and welcome them to the York University community,” says McMillan.