ASFA tackles the culture of frosh

Arts & Sciences Federation Association (ASFA) will be kicking off Frosh week by hosting consent workshops for the first time on Aug. 30 and Aug. 31.

It will be mandatory for anyone who has purchased a ticket to Frosh for the full week to attend the workshop prior to being let into Frosh events. “We decided we would take precautions this year and be careful and [ensure] that everyone was safe,” said ASFA internal affairs and administrative coordinator Julia Sutera Sardo. “Executives, leaders and volunteers have already undergone consent, harm reduction and the safe serve program (SSP) in preparation for frosh week.”

This is part of ASFA’s goal to reduce the typical culture surrounding Frosh, said Sutera Sardo. She said that she had not previously attended Frosh, due to not appreciating the culture of binge drinking and lack of consent surrounding the week.

However, Sutera Sardo said ASFA wanted to change how frosh was organized this year to provide a safer space for everyone attending the events. “I was really happy I got to take part in changing the culture of how things work,” she said.

ASFA social events coordiantor Marc Da Silva said Frosh is really well organized this year as opposed to last year. “I’m definitely really excited about the consent workshops that are being given,” said Da Silva. “I think that’s a necessity in making sure frosh is safer.”

Sutera Sardo said that ASFA’s goal in changing the culture of Frosh has definitely been a group effort. ASFA is working in collaboration with the Dean of Students office to provide the consent workshops.

ASFA VP of community outreach and sustainability coordinator Agunik Mamikonyan said ASFA will be hosting five different sessions for the consent training, each session lasting an hour and a half each.

“We’re going to register [Froshees] when they come in and they are going to get their bracelets by the end of the session.” Mamikonyan said this is in order to ensure all attending the week of events at Frosh will have undergone consent training.

Dean of Students Andrew Woodall said ASFA reached out to the Dean of Students to get information about consent, bystander intervention and how to organize safer events. “We’ve been working with the execs—the outgoing and incoming since January as a group on trying to change the culture of orientation of Frosh,” said Woodall.

Woodall said Froshees will undergo workshops focused on consent training and understanding how alcohol may impact and limit decision making. While executives and Frosh leaders are undergoing workshops focused on not only consent, but risk reduction as well, said Woodall. “Generally what we’re doing with the execs and the Frosh leaders is more about risk reduction—so consent and bystander [intervention], alcohol, what to watch out for and some drugs, too.”

Woodall said that the extensive training for leaders and executives is due to them setting up the event. The training will address how to set up an event in a manner with least risk to the Froshies—such as having longer lineups for alcohol, having water and food available and not having alcohol as the point of a game.

Sutera Sardo also ensured Frosh participants would have a safe space if they needed it. “I made sure that we had a safe room [for beach day], because I feel having experienced panic attacks myself before, sometimes you just don’t feel comfortable in a specific zone with people or you may be dehydrated,” said Sutera Sardo. The safe room will help those attending Frosh by offering a separate space to relax and lay down.

In addition, there will be plenty of water available, first aid certified executives and security will be present. “By implementing some chill stations and safe rooms in all of our events we’re going to be able to have that place there, in case somebody feels uncomfortable and wants to speak to us,” said Sutera Sardo.

Sutera Sardo said that in order to create a more inclusive platform for Frosh week, ASFA is trying to involve not only first years, but undergraduate and graduate students. “Frosh isn’t only about freshmen,” she said. Sutera Sardo explained the first event being the cocktail mixer party is designed to incorporate more mature students. Sardo said her goal is to make more of a connection between new students, experienced undergraduates and graduate students, as well as creating a better network between students at Sir George Williams campus and Loyola Campus.

Sutera Sardo said while planning frosh there were many meetings with other student groups and associations, as well as representatives from Concordia’s security, hospitality, electricity department and facilities management departments to generate a greater communication with one another.

“I feel like a lot of times problems that arise at Frosh all start in the planning of it, so we took about four months to plan everything,” she said.

Last year ASFA changed the title of Frosh week to “launch week” in order to change the bad vibes associate with the events. However, this year the title has been changed back to Frosh. “Students were not familiar with the term “launch” and didn’t realize it pertained to orientation activities,” said Da Silva.

“We’re doing the best we can and I really buy into this team’s desire to do away with the reputation [ASFA] had a couple of years ago,” said Woodall.

“In the end, all we want is to be able to communicate and share our ideas in a really safe manner,” said Sutera Sardo. “[ASFA] council has sometimes been an unsafe place and by having these trainings [for frosh executives] hopefully it will be safer and will be conducive to just better communication.”

This article has been updated for accuracy and clarity since publishing. The Concordian regrets the error.

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