Planning, inter-departmental work aids Fresh Fest

Getting students to the University of Lethbridge is one thing – helping them feel comfortable once they're here and setting them up to succeed is of even greater importance.

Fresh Fest is one initiative aimed at not only welcoming students to the U of L campus, but also introducing them to a University that cares about fostering a true student community. The 2010 edition of Fresh Fest proved to be the most successful week of welcome events thus far at the University of Lethbridge and credit can be given to the co-operative work of a number of University units.

"Fresh Fest serves as a release from the stress of the first week of classes and allows our students, both new and returning, to become better acquainted with the University experience as well as opportunities to get involved with their community," says Taz Kassam, University of Lethbridge Students' Union (ULSU) president. "It is believed that the first six weeks of a student's university experience determines whether or not that student will stay at their university. By offering a week of welcome activities, such as Fresh Fest, we hope it helps in making that decision easier."

The Fresh Fest Organizing Committee, a group of nine individuals dedicated to presenting a great event, worked throughout the summer to ensure its success. The committee strived for improvements from previous years, including offering a diversity of high quality bands at the Fresh U Jamboree to entertain Freshies throughout the day.

"We took money that would have been spent on a headliner and spread that out so that we'd have good music playing all day," says Cole Lehto, Jamboree co-ordinator.

Fresh Fest organizers also co-ordinated with New Student Orientation this year, providing a Fresh Fest mail-out to students well in advance of the event. It ensured that all Fresh Fest Packages were sold out.

"A little more attention was paid to finding the right vendors for the event, making it more like a carnival," says Lehto.

A new location for Fresh U Jamboree, as well as close work with Campus Security and Risk and Safety Services, mitigated disturbances both at the event and in the broader Lethbridge community.

"The new green space, beside Markin Hall, controlled the sound from Fresh U Jamboree much better, allowing for fewer disturbances in the community," says Lehto. "It also created a cozy festival feel to the event."

After 61 official noise complaints were filed with Lethbridge Regional Police last year, there were none following the 2010 jamboree.

Fresh Fest organizers met with Director of Security Services and Parking, John O'Keeffe, as well as the Risk and Safety Services office throughout the planning process, working to ensure that noise concerns as well as problems with overindulgence would be mitigated.

Fresh Fest 2010 proved to be successful on a number of fronts, producing a sold-out event that earned rave reviews from students. A dedicated organizing committee deserves credit, as do a number of University units that worked together to ensure a memorable experience.