Putting together an introduction week that suits everyone is no easy task, which is why the introduction programme, which CBS’ Student Administration has continuously developed, has been tweaked.
But as the two previous years were cut short by COVID-19, this is the first time students will be trying out the full programme, with its clearer focus on both social and academic activities.
“It’s important for us that the introduction week is not simply a week of name games and teambuilding but that we strike a balance between social and the academic activities. We know that some students like to socialise and want to spend as much time as possible bonding with new fellow students, while others value academic activities more, and we want to cater for them too. After all, it is their education that they have in common,” says Thomas Gylling, Guidance Counsellor at Student Affairs.
The introduction week, from 22–26 August, aims to keep both students with both preferences happy. At Student Affairs, the ambition is therefore a 50/50 distribution of social and academic activities.
“Some might think academic activities sound a bit boring and that there will be plenty of those while they are studying, but we are doing our best to make the academic activities engaging so they spark dialogue between the new students and professors,” emphasises Thomas Gylling.
CBS Students: community is crucial
CBS Students welcomes the introduction week focus on both kinds of student preferences. However, the feeling is that the core of introduction week is to help students bond.
“When you feel safe with your fellow students, it is easier to learn, and I believe working to create a sense of community right from the start is vital. The new students can learn the facts necessary for studying later – which should be much easier when they feel comfortable with their fellow students,” says Amalie Kaarde, Director of People and Development at CBS Students.
Thomas Gylling agrees to some extent:
“We can’t expect students to learn everything we want them to in just one week. There are limits to how much they can ‘download to their hard disk’,” he says.
With COVID-19 out of the picture, Generation Lockdown steps into focus
For the first time in three years, COVID-19 restrictions have not interfered with how Student Affairs is organising introduction week for the new CBS students.
Yet, the pandemic is still casting a shadow over introduction week, since the new students have largely spent their high school years behind their computers, studying at home.
“The students starting now belong to what is called Generation Lockdown. They are not used to working together and speaking up in class as much – and we have discussed that while planning introduction week,” says Thomas Gylling.
On a positive note, Student Affairs has learned a useful lesson from COVID-19 that has been incorporated in the new introduction programme.
“In 2020 and 2021, we had to limit how many new students gathered together. That meant new students spent half the day inside at CBS and half the day in the open air. This worked well, and we have implemented it in the new introduction week,” says Thomas Gylling.
Preventing transgressive behaviour
A survey from the Danish Evaluation Institute (EVA) shows that 18% of new students at all Danish universities fear transgressive (unethical or anti-social) behaviour during introduction week. Divided into gender, 24% of new female students and 11% of male students feel intimidated by what might happen.
“Previously, Danish universities had a tradition of transgressive behaviour during introduction weeks. And I think the fear stems from stories that new students have heard. But I want to highlight that creating an introduction week where all the new students feel safe and welcome is our goal. We give our study start guides and study start coordinators thorough training to prepare them for their roles and ensure that they create an environment where everyone feels safe,” explains Thomas Gylling.
This environment includes a no-alcohol policy until after 5 pm and that study start guides and study start coordinators are not permitted to encourage alcohol consumption. For their part, Student Affairs is on call 24/7 if the guides or coordinators need any kind of assistance regarding introduction week.
New narrative – asking for help is OK
Preventing transgressive behaviour is also a high priority at CBS Students.
“Many initiatives have been planned for introduction week that embrace everyone. A culture has been created where saying no if you don’t want to participate in a particular activity is completely OK. This will set boundaries that make everyone feel safe when participating,” explains Amalie Kaarde.
Regarding alcohol consumption, she says:
“It’s not as if the students are not allowed to drink during the introduction week at all – they just have to wait until after 5 pm. I think the culture has changed, with alcohol less in focus during introduction week than in previous years.”
When you feel safe with your fellow students, it is easier to learn, and I believe working to create a sense of community right from the start is vitalAmalie Kaarde, Director of People and Development at CBS Students.
To ensure that the study start guides and study start coordinators are properly equipped to host an introduction week, the student coordinators attend a two-day training seminar and then spend another two days with the study start guides from Student Affairs. Here, they are advised on how to prepare activities that are both fun and engaging as well as inclusive.
“The training is very effective in helping study start coordinators and study start guides to learn the rules. It is definitely creating a narrative that asking for help is acceptable,” reassures Amalie Kaarde.