York University’s 2021 Orientation kicks off this weekend. Here’s a look at what’s planned

With fall term classes beginning on Sept. 8, the official start of the new academic year at York University is almost underway – and that means there’s plenty for new and returning students to do, think about and remember.

Luckily, the Orientation 2021 website helps with all of that, providing a schedule of events and corresponding registration information, a college finder tool, a resource guide listing academic and financial supports and student services, information about the York Orientation Welcome Kit and much more.

Due to the evolving nature of the COVID-19 pandemic, many of this year’s Orientation events will be held virtually.

Orientation 2021

This year’s Orientation Week runs from Aug. 28 to Sept. 5 and includes a variety of events, workshops and icebreakers during which students will have a chance to meet other first-year students as well as upper-year students in their respective colleges and Faculties.

For more information about the various Orientation programs and how to register, students can visit the college and Faculty website links below. (Students can use the college finder tool to determine which Orientation to sign up for based on their academic program’s college affiliation.)

York University offers a wide variety of Orientation programming for new and incoming students

Orientation Day

One of the most highly anticipated events of the week is always York Orientation Day, a full day of activities on Sept. 3, where incoming students will be introduced to their professors, fellow students and University resources, and get a glimpse into what their first year at York will be like.

Academic Orientation will be hosted by the colleges and Faculties, with most sessions being held in the morning, followed by the 2021 York Orientation Day Welcome Ceremony, which will welcome the incoming undergraduate class with a special video premiering on the Orientation website homepage at 11:30 a.m. For more information about Academic Orientation, click here.

Black Excellence YU Welcome Event

Black Excellence YU (BEYU) provides Black students with the supports they need to transition to university and maximize their student experience on the path to graduation. The BEYU Welcome Event, taking place on Sept. 21 from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., will foster a sense of community among incoming students so they feel welcomed, seen and supported at York, while equipping new Black students with the knowledge of where to go for a range of academic and personal support. For more information, visit this link.

Indigenous Student Orientation

The Centre for Indigenous Student Services (CISS) welcomes incoming Indigenous Students to York. Meet the staff at CISS, learn about our services and meet other Indigenous students at York on Aug. 24 from noon to 1 p.m. via Zoom.

International Student Orientation

The International Student Virtual Orientation, taking place Aug. 23, 25 and 27, is a great way to start the first semester, prepare for university life and connect with other international students. York International and so many other supports, services and resources at York are all still available, no matter where in the world students are.

Alternatively, for those who are on campus, join for a fun afternoon of activities and food in person at the International Student Picnic taking place on Sept. 2, 6 and 10. This is a great way for first- and second-year students to learn more about the Keele Campus, connect with students from the same Faculty and make new friends. There will be a campus tour towards the end of the picnic.

For more information and to register, visit this link.

Mature and Transfer Student Orientation

In addition to the Mature Student Orientation taking place Aug. 26, all newly admitted mature and transfer students are encouraged to take part in the Mature Student First-Year Experience. The program consists of a series of online stand-alone workshops aimed at supporting mature and transfer students’ transition to York. Students may participate in as few or as many sessions as they would like via Moodle, an interactive learning platform used throughout York to deliver course content online. It is available 24-7 and lets students set their own pace for learning.

Residence Orientation

Residence Orientation will be multifaceted this year. Housing Services will host a video series outlining what it is like to live in residence, followed by individual building Orientation events that will take place during Orientation Week and the first week of school. Students should ask their Don about it when they move in.

YorkFest 2021

Each year the York Federation of Students aims to make YorkFest the largest back-to-school Orientation festival held on a Canadian University campus. Get ready for a week packed with good vibes and fun, Sept. 20 to 24. For more information, visit the YorkFest web page.

A look at what’s planned for York University’s Virtual Winter Orientation

Winter Orientation banner
Winter Orientation banner

Winter term classes begin on Jan. 11, 2021, and with the official start of the new academic term at York University, there’s plenty for new and returning students to do, think about and remember.

York’s official Virtual Winter Orientation takes place on Friday, Jan. 8. The official website launched this week and features a wealth of information for new and incoming students. As with fall orientation, all activities will be virtual and online due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. For this reason, students should visit the website as soon as possible to register for events and explore the resources and videos currently available.

Winter Orientation banner
Winter Orientation banner

Virtual Winter Orientation: Jan. 8, 2021

College/Faculty Orientation will take place on Jan. 8 and includes a variety of College/Faculty-specific events, during which time students will get a chance to meet other first-year students as well as upper-year students in their respective Colleges and Faculties (find your session information here) and participate in workshops, ice-breaker activities, panels and other exciting activities. Students who are uncertain of which College or Faculty they belong to can use the College Finder tool for help.

Virtual Service Fair will take place from 12 to 4 p.m. on Jan. 8, giving incoming and returning students the chance to connect with various student and support services using the EasyVirtualFair platform.

Additionally, two Consent Talks sessions will be offered through York’s Centre for Sexual Violence Response, Support & Education. This is a series of vignettes about sex and consent, focusing on the university experience during the global COVID-19 pandemic. Some of the themes include virtual hookups, sexual violence, online harassment, and the impact of social media and physical distancing rules. (Content warning: sexual violence.)

International Student Orientation

A student uses a device at a desk
York University offers a wide variety of Orientation programming, all online in winter 2021, for all new and incoming students. It is a great way to discover campus resources and learn all about your degree while supporting a smooth transition into university

As the designated support office for international students, York International offers crucial services and programs tailored to address the unique needs of international students. The York International team will host a series of virtual orientation events designed specifically for international students on Jan. 7 from 2 to 4 p.m. and Jan. 8 from 8 to 10 a.m. via Zoom. More information can be found on the International Student Virtual Orientation website.

For those students looking to get a head start, there are numerous videos and video series featured on the site that serve to get students acquainted with the overall York community, including:

  • York Welcome Ceremony video
  • YORK 101 video series
  • Zooming Through YorkU series
  • Parents & Family Orientation session

November serves up three more lunch talks, including McLaughlin College Union Debate

McLaughlin College invites the York University community to come and listen to interesting speakers as they share their knowledge on a variety of topics during the popular Lunch Talks Series. The long-running series continues this year in a virtual format via Zoom.

Students who attend six or more lunch talks throughout the year will receive a Certificate of Participation, while those who attend 10 or more will receive a Certificate of Honour.

There are three more events in this series scheduled for this month on Nov. 18, 19 and 25, and all events take place online through Zoom.

Nov. 18 – Emergency Management and Civil Liberties, from 1 to 2 p.m.

Michael Bryant
Michael Bryant

This talk is presented by Michael Bryant, the seventh executive director and general counsel of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association.

The COVID-19 pandemic in Canada is a public health emergency which has triggered emergency action on the part of government. Such action has entailed the use of emergency management legislation by all levels of government and resulted in a range of restrictions on a variety of rights. This seminar will canvas the effects of the use of emergency powers on civil liberties and will examine issues concerning the potential overreach of governmental use of these powers. These issues in turn raise questions about the nature of the rule of law and the ethics of the use of emergency powers.

Bryant is a member of the Law Society of Ontario, and was the 35th attorney general of Ontario. He has appeared before all levels of court, from bail courts as duty counsel through the Ontario Court of Appeal and Ontario Review Board as solo practitioner, to the Supreme Court of Canada as counsel at McCarthy Tetrault LLP. A clerk for the former Chief Justice of Canada, he has also been a lecturer in Law at King’s College, London, and adjunct professor at U of T and Osgoode Hall Law School at York University.

Register for this event here: https://yorku.zoom.us/meeting/register/tJUpf-uprT4oHdN2ij7y4huORmoYOgRAT2gU.

Nov. 19 – The Election of Elections?, from 12 to 1:30 p.m.

Election 2020

This year’s election in the U.S. is one of the most important in the country’s history. One would have to go back 160 years to the election of Nov. 6, 1860, won by Abraham Lincoln, to find a reasonable facsimile. Then, as now, America is divided into two opposing constituencies to the point where the future of the country is at stake. This panel brings together some of York University’s candid political minds to discuss the significance of this election.

Register for this event here: https://yorku.zoom.us/meeting/register/tJ0tc–tpzIqHdNli3TI-qQo28vEbJKrhpZK.

Nov. 25 – AI as an Existential Threat? The second McLaughlin College Union Debate, from 12:30 to 2:30 p.m.

Organizers have assembled an exceptional panel for the second McLaughlin College Union Debate that will consider the following proposition: The rapidly accelerating advances in artificial intelligence (AI) could pose, quite likely, a serious existential threat to humankind in the not too distant future.

AI research
AI research

Artificial Intelligence (AI) research is accelerating, and its rapid development, innovations, and discoveries are already having an impact on society in quite dramatic ways such as autonomous vehicles, AI-generated music, poetry and storytelling, customer service bots and portals, and so on. The term “transformative AI” is used to describe a range of advances in AI that could impact on society in dramatic and difficult-to-reverse ways. Government policies and regulations will, undoubtedly, find it extremely difficult to keep up with the pace of technological progress with AI.

Researchers are already working on advanced warning systems for any possible extreme events. However, AI forecasting based on measuring AI progress is at its early stages of development and its utility has been challenged by those who point out that it could never be able to account for the revolutionary breakthroughs and discoveries that have the potential to achieve AGI (Artificial General Intelligence), that will allow machines to adapt to a variety of situations to maximize their potential, or to achieve high-level machine intelligence (HLMI), to perform at the level of an average human adult on key cognitive measures necessary for economically relevant tasks, or to achieve “superintelligence,” that Nick Bostrom, states “greatly exceeds the cognitive performance of humans in virtually all domains of interest.” (Superintelligence: Paths, Dangers, Strategies. Oxford University Press, 2014).

Register for this even here: https://mycentre.apps01.yorku.ca/machform/view.php?id=613581.

McLaughlin’s Annual Public Policy Lecture explores cost of healthcare in a post-pandemic world

A stethoscope and patient chart
A stethoscope and patient chart

A presentation exploring the costs of healthcare in a post-pandemic world will be the theme of this year’s McLaughlin College Annual Public Policy Lecture, running Nov. 12 in an online format.

Dr. David Naylor

“Paying for healthcare, investing in health: Options after COVID-19” will be delivered by Dr. David Naylor, president emeritus of the University of Toronto and the former dean of the Faculty of Medicine, University of Toronto. The lecture runs from 6:30 to 8 p.m.

In September 2020, Canada’s premiers requested the federal government raise its contribution from 22 per cent to 35 per cent of existing provincial/territorial healthcare outlays – the latest episode in six decades of disagreements over how to share the costs of Medicare.

Meanwhile, there is pressure on governments to support improved coverage for drugs, dental services, and mental health care. The toll of COVID-19 has rekindled debate about funding and regulation of long-term care and nursing homes – and focused attention on social interventions to improve health equity.

Naylor will review the history and consequences of inter-jurisdictional gridlock for both expansion of public coverage and successful health care reforms. He will also highlight the challenges facing decision-makers and all Canadians as we contemplate investments in healthcare versus new social programs.

To register for the lecture, visit https://mycentre.apps01.yorku.ca/machform/view.php?id=616006.

McLaughlin Lunch Talk presents discussion on ‘The Right to Religious Freedom’

McLaughlin College invites the York University community to come and listen to interesting speakers as they share their knowledge on a variety of topics during the popular Lunch Talks Series. The long-running series continues this year in a virtual format via Zoom.

Students who attend six or more lunch talks throughout the year will receive a Certificate of Participation, while those who attend 10 or more will receive a Certificate of Honour.

Satvinder Singh Juss

The next event, titled “The Right to Religious Freedom,” takes place Oct. 19 from 2:30 to 3:30 p.m. and is a lecture and discussion with Satvinder Singh Juss.

Through the lens of leading decisions by the European Court of Human Rights, this lecture considers the major questions confronting advanced western democracies with respect to freedom of religion, namely: whether the majority is justified in imposing its religion on non-adherents or in giving it a legal status above that of other religions; whether  the Swiss ban on minarets violates such rights; whether there is a realistic distinction between “bearing Christian witness and improper proselytism”; whether individuals should be forced to choose between their religious beliefs and employment, education and other opportunities; and, whether the right line has been drawn with regard to female Muslim dress (headscarf vs. cloak vs. face covering) in education and employment.

Singh Juss is a professor of law at King’s College London, U.K., and a barrister-at-law of Gray’s Inn, London, U.K. He has published widely on the subjects of migration and human rights law.

To register for the event, visit https://yorku.zoom.us/meeting/register/tJAsc-uvrDgtGtXXbXt5BBXvT_iZCRN-kNEm.

McLaughlin College serves up a lunch talk on significance of Koblenz case

Balkees Jarrah
Balkees Jarrah

McLaughlin College invites the York University community to come and listen to interesting speakers as they share their knowledge on a variety of topics during the popular Lunch Talks Series. The long-running series continues this year in a virtual format via Zoom.

Students who attend six or more Lunch Talks throughout the year will receive a Certificate of Participation, while those who attend 10 or more will receive a Certificate of Honour.

The series will continue on Oct. 7 with a talk titled “Justice for Syria in German Courts” presented by Balkees Jarrah, Senior Counsel on international justice at Human Rights Watch.

Victims of crimes around the world have increasingly looked to European courts in the hopes of seeing some accountability. The trial of two alleged former Syrian intelligence officials implicated in serious abuses in Syria’s prisons started April 23 in the German city of Koblenz. According to Jarrah, this is a moment of great significance, as the first criminal trial in the world involving state-sponsored torture in Syria.

The Koblenz case stands out because it will be the first time a former higher-level Syrian official is prosecuted on charges that more fully reflect the breadth of abuses and the type of brutal criminality committed in Syria over the last decade. This is a rare piece of good news in the international justice world, and particularly in the Middle East region. In her  presentation, Jarrah will explore the trial’s significance, behind the scenes work to promote these types of cases and what can be expected going forward.

Those interested in attending the event, which will take place from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m, can register here: https://mycentre.apps01.yorku.ca/machform/view.php?id=616006.

McLaughlin College Lunch Talks Series dishes advice on coping with COVID-19

Shaila Khan
Shaila Khan

McLaughlin College invites the York University community to come and listen to interesting speakers as they share their knowledge on a variety of topics during the popular Lunch Talks Series. The long-running series continues this year in a virtual format via Zoom.

Students who attend six or more Lunch Talks throughout the year will receive a Certificate of Participation, while those who attend 10 or more will receive a Certificate of Honour.

The series will continue on Sept. 30 with a talk titled “Coping with Covid: Key to Academic Success: Health, Wellness and Well-being,” presented by Shaila Khan, a health educator and training specialist at Student Community & Leadership Development.

Transitioning from an in-person university experience to remote learning during a pandemic is a new challenge that both students, staff and faculty could not have anticipated. This new configuration has impacts on the way students form friendships, establish connections to their teaching staff as well as the motivation to study. This workshop provides a high-level overview of how mental health and well-being is interconnected to student success. Students will gain new ideas on how they can support their wellness, which is a foundation to their personal and academic success. Academic wellness can enable students to secure better grades or access new opportunities to build their careers during their time at York. Additionally, the workshop provides an overview of key campus services that can support students during this transition.

Khan has passionate group of peer health educators who are student leaders that deliver workshops and provide peer-centered support on various health topics from a non-judgmental and harm-reduction framework. She has recently completed her master’s in dance from York. She is concurrently training as a dance movement psychotherapist (DMT) through the National Centre for Dance Therapy in Montreal. Her work focuses on movement for trauma regulation. She offers mindful movement classes for York students.

Those interested in attending the event, which will take place from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m, can register here: https://laps.apps01.yorku.ca/machform/view.php?id=935347.

Navigate 2020 helps students connect with their courses and supports for the fall term

Group Of Students Meeting For Tutorial With Teacher

The York University community is just a few weeks into the fall academic term. Despite the difference between this year and any other, the Division of Students, along with Faculty and college partners, other student service units and resource departments, collaborated to create a one-stop website to help students achieve a smooth and successful transition to this academic year.

It’s called Navigate 2020.

Back-to-school protocols are primarily virtual, so the Division Of Student’s annual revamp of the Current Students homepage focused on collecting and curating key online/remote services, support and events to help students navigate through their first term of fully online/remote learning. On this bilingual site, students can find links to everything they need to help them get through this transition.

While the site contains all the usual back-to-school information, such as links to YU START and the Fall Activities Calendar. The site also it also contains information on remote/online learning, such as  Well-being Resources, which support students in the transition to online learning and social/physical distancing, My Online Services, which allows students to access many of the academic and wellbeing services they may need at the start of term, the new online and remote ways of connecting with services and resources, as well as the Online Learning Protocol for York University Students, among many other resources.

A new addition this year is York’s Peer Mentor guarantee, which ensures every new student has access to a peer mentor. Students are matched with an upper-year student who has been trained as a peer mentor to assist them during this unique term. Peer Mentors are from the same program as the students they are mentoring, so can help answer questions, give advice, and recommend services, supports and ways to get involved that are relevant to each individual student. This year more than ever, with most courses and services offered online/remotely, the support of a peer mentor is invaluable. If students haven’t heard from their Peer Mentor by Sept. 18, they are being asked to contact mypeermentor@yorku.ca with their name and Faculty to receive follow up information.

Brendan Schulz, executive director of Student Success, believes that this new initiative will be critical in helping students acclimate to the unique term. “Peer mentorship is a proven support for student success.  Students know students and students trust other students,” he said. “Particularly this year, when informal, in-the-moment conversations with other students are harder to come by, I’m delighted that all new students have access to peer mentors through their Faculty or college and from many support units.

The site itself is very easy to navigate. Students can self-identify their year of study to be served content specific to their stage in the student life-cycle. For instance, students in their final year will see information about graduation and more specific career information while students in first year are provided with information about Orientation, YU START and the Peer Mentor program. Students can use this redesigned page as their guide to get settled and access all the services and resources they will need for a successful start to a new academic session. There are also easy-to-read sections on Getting Settled, Academic Success, Mental Health & Wellbeing, Financial Support, Student life & Community and Career Education & Development.  The page also introduces students to SAVY, the student virtual assistant, our student-facing social media channels, and provides direction for accessing online resources from the York Libraries and the Bookstore.

The goal for Navigate 2020 is to help make the transition to this unique term seamless, smooth and successful for new and returning York students.

Debate and book launch on the menu for this week’s McLaughlin Lunch Talks

McLaughlin College invites the York University community to come and listen to interesting speakers as they share their knowledge on a variety of topics during the popular Lunch Talks Series. The long-running series continues this year in a virtual format via Zoom.

Students who attend six or more Lunch Talks throughout the year will receive a Certificate of Participation, while those who attend 10 or more will receive a Certificate of Honour.

On Sept. 23, attendees can watch and participate in the Inaugural Debate on the Future of Higher Education.

The sudden onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting and immediate pivot to virtual, remote and and online modes of learning have raised serious questions regarding the future course of higher education. In the face of necessary social distancing measures and the resulting turn to virtual instruction, some have observed that the traditional modes of higher education where face-to-face instruction predominated will be replaced inevitably by video conference, online platforms and asynchronous instruction, while others have noted that the future of higher education still lies in its long well-established and distinguished past of in-person instruction.

At this talk, a panel of speakers will consider whether the COVID-19 pandemic will change inconvertibly the future of higher education from the traditional in-person on site mode of delivery to remote and/or online virtual modes of delivery.

James Simeon
James Simeon

The panel will be moderated by James Simeon, head of McLaughlin College, and will include Charles Hopkins, the UNESCO Chair in Reorienting Education towards Sustainability at York University and an advisor to the UN University’s Institute of Advanced Studies in Sustainable Development; Norma Sue Fisher-Stitt, a professor in York’s Department of Dance; David Leyton-Brown, professor emeritus in York’s Department of Politics; and Jennine Rawana, head of Calumet College, an associate professor in the Department of Psychology at York and an executive member of the LaMarsh Centre for Child and Youth Research.

Following the presentation, participants will have an opportunity to ask questions and cast a vote for or against the question.

Those interested in joining the debate, which will take place from 1:30 to 3 p.m, can register here: https://mycentre.apps01.yorku.ca/machform/view.php?id=615246.

On Sept. 25, York community members are invited to attend the online official book launch for Terrorism and Asylum, edited by Simeon.

This book explores terrorism and asylum in all its interrelated and variable aspects and permutations. The critical role terrorism plays as a driver in forced displacement, within the context of protracted armed conflict and extreme political violence, is analyzed. Exclusion from refugee protection for the alleged commission of terrorist activities is thoroughly interrogated. Populist politicians’ blatant use of the “fear of terrorism” to further their public policy security agenda and to limit access to refugee protection is scrutinized. The principal issues and concerns regarding terrorism and asylum and how these might be addressed, in the public interest while, at the same time, protecting and advancing the human rights and dignity of everyone are offered.

The event will be moderated by Simeon and will feature a presentation including Joseph Rikhof, an adjunct professor at the Faculty of Common Law of the University of Ottawa who will be speaking about his chapter in Complicity in Exclusion for Terrorist Crimes, and Selina March, an interdisciplinary researcher holding an MA in Refugee Protection and Forced Migration Studies from the University of London, who will be speaking on her chapter in the book In the Name of the Law: Securitization in Contemporary U.S. Immigration Policy.

The launch, which takes place from 12:30 to 2 p.m., can be accessed via this link: https://yorku.zoom.us/j/98106457862?pwd=Qk5DSlNYRk5CbXg1MjMvTkRUV1hnUT09.

The next talk in the series, titled “Justice for Syria in German Courts,” will take place on Oct. 7.

McLaughlin College Lunch Talks Series serves up special panel to start term

McLaughlin College invites the York University community to come and listen to interesting speakers as they share their knowledge on a variety of topics during the popular Lunch Talks Series. The long-running series continues this year in a virtual format via Zoom.

Students who attend six or more Lunch Talks throughout the year will receive a Certificate of Participation, while those who attend 10 or more will receive a Certificate of Honour.

The series begins this year on Sept. 21 with ceremonies and a special panel recognizing the United Nations International Day of Peace.

James Simeon
James Simeon

The International Day of Peace is observed around the world on Sept. 21. The UN has declared this as a day devoted to strengthening the ideals of peace, through observing 24 hours of non-violence and ceasefire. 2020’s theme is “Shaping Peace Together.”

This year, a tireless virus threatens health, security and ways of life around around the world as COVID-19 reminds that what happens in one part of the planet can impact people everywhere.

Each year, McLaughlin recognizes a number of UN International Days with special panel sessions to further the UN’s call for education and public awareness on issues related to peace. All members of the community are welcome to join the College for this special panel.

The talk will be moderated by James Simeon, head of McLaughlin College and an associate professor in the School of Public Policy and Administration at York University. Panelists include Adam Chapnick, a professor of defence studies at the Royal Military College of Canada and deputy director of education at the Canadian Forces College; Matt Legge, peace program coordinator for Canadian Friends Service Committee (CFSC), the peace and social justice agency of Quakers in Canada; Stephanie Stobbe, interim dean and associate professor of Conflict Resolution Studies at Menno Simmons College, Central Mennonite University at University of Winnipeg; and Metta Spencer, emeritus professor of sociology at University of Toronto and author of 10 editions of the Foundations of Modern Sociology textbook.

The event takes place from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. Those interested in attending can register here: https://mycentre.apps01.yorku.ca/machform/view.php?id=613581.

Upcoming talks in the series include:

  • Sept. 23: Inaugural Debate on the Future of Higher Education
  • Sept. 25: Online official book launch for Terrorism and Asylum edited by James Simeon
  • Oct. 7: Justice for Syria in German Courts