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The value of orientation week

Perhaps the most embarrassing situation I have been through as an adult was going through the orientation week.

These were my first days at campus and, honestly, I felt as if I had just joined senior one; I felt timid. I waited to be guided in everything to do by the ministers in my hall. Some activities during orientation week were exciting, especially the whole-week bazaar at Mitchell Hall and the early morning running around campus.

However, the songs sang during the running were vulgar, making me feel a little uncomfortable. Having expected to join a unique institution, I felt somewhat disappointed, but one of the ministers told us that that was the hall culture which had to be respected.

However, I was eager to attend the various talks scheduled for us, because each had a lesson for me.
The orientation week, held for freshmen a week before the continuing students report, is meant to help them get informed of the university programmes like course works, registration, exams and direction to different places.

Rachael Ainomugisha, a third year student at Makerere University, credits the period for allowing her get a sense of direction.

“Most people I met shortly before joining campus had made me believe that one needs not to read hard at campus but most of the speakers made me realize that I have to define my future by working hard,” she recalls.

During the week, different speakers are invited to speak about different subjects, like welfare, health, counselling, spiritual matters and where to access these centres. The idea behind this is to give the new students an insight into what it means to be a university student.

Makerere University dean of students, Cyriaco Kabagambe, says that through orientation, new students are reminded of the consequences of negligence and helps them put the freedom at campus in check.
The guild president, Shaban Senkubuge, agrees. “I got the idea of getting a first class degree from a talk during orientation,” Senkubuge says.

“I also didn’t have to ask for directions because through orientation, I had learnt almost all the directions on campus.”

However, the Mitchell Hall warden, Edward Lukabala, says one’s background contributes a lot to their behaviour at campus.

Lukabala, a former counsellor at the university, says students who come from single-sex schools are more likely to get excited about relations with the opposite sex than those from mixed schools.

“It’s possible that when such people get out of those rules and are not given guidance, they are likely to get spoilt because they feel an opportunity has struck and they are free to experiment,” Lukabala said.

In previous years, Lukabala says, students were never counselled nor guided. Today, the university provides counselling books placed in admissions packs for the students.


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