Wits University has moved orientation week online in order to adhere to covid-19 lockdown regulations, which enforce social-distancing, restrict gatherings of more than 100 people indoors and 250 people outdoors

The University of Witwatersrand orientation week started for first-time, first-year students across all faculties on March 1, 2021, and it will end on March 5, 2021.

The orientation is taking place via Microsoft Teams through pre-recorded and live videos. The pre-recordings, which are each two to three hours in length, are aired over Teams on different days of the week.

“We have developed a virtual orientation programme that features a variety of workshops and activities that cover the needs of incoming students,’’ reads the orientation programme. It says these features include ‘’a virtual campus tour, meeting faculty and staff, and numerous campus resource seminars”.

In past years, the lawns would be buzzing with activity during O-week, this year it’s quiet. Photo: Khuleko Siwele

Wits Vuvuzela spoke to Lethabo Leeuw, first-year BCom PPE, who said even though he was disappointed he did not get to have the experience of an in-person orientation week, he is still pleased with the alternative.

“Virtual orientation is better than I expected, to be honest. I was expecting to read endless articles about what Wits has to offer and what to expect. But it was much different. [The university] gave us a Microsoft Teams experience that was decent, and it has been heart-warming. Having someone explain everything [via the pre-recordings] feels like I am actually on campus,” said Leeuw.

Nicole Mutsekwa (18), first-year BA general, told Wits Vuvuzela she feels as if she is missing out on some experiences with O-Week being virtual.

“Honestly, I am not enjoying [the virtual orientation]. I feel it would have been better in person in regard to meeting people, and it would be easier for [my faculty] to answer any questions [students] have, because online it is very limited and a lot of the [sessions] are pre-recorded, so [students] can’t exactly ask questions as it goes,” Mutsekwa said.

The only in-person activity happening during orientation week will be assisted registration and the handing out of free Witsie T-shirts to all first-year students, courtesy of the Wits Alumni Relations Office. This will be done at Hall 29. Assisted registration will be happening on different days for different faculties.

To view the orientation week programme go to: https://www.wits.ac.za/orientation/orientation-week-programme/

FEATURED IMAGE: Students walk by a usually busy entrance to the university’s main campus. Photo: Khuleko Siwele