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Like prize fighters and rap singers, each of the 10 prospective students gathered on this day at the Welcome Centre for a tour of the university comes with a substantial entourage. However, instead of gold-toothed gangstas and weather-faced cut men, each posse is comprised of smiling parents, proud grandparents and the occasional bored sibling. "I only ask two things of you," says our impossibly-friendly student guide. "Keep up with me and laugh at my jokes." Neither will prove easy.
Each day, the Welcome Centre conducts several such tours. Lasting about an hour, the walkabouts are designed to introduce potential students and their friends and family to the university and to campus life. In addition, the Welcome Centre distributes pamphlets outlining self-guided walking tours.
Despite launching a few jokes that can only be described as Hindenbergesque, our guide proves to be a mine of interesting and useful facts. She intersperses practical information about security, job services, internship programs and where to buy the best —and cheapest — coffee on campus with decidedly more whimsical nuggets. The phoenix on the south face of the MacDonald Engineering Building? It represents the building's rebirth after burning down in 1907. Countries represented in the McGill community? 140. And what the heck is a marlet anyway? Why, a mythological bird in perpetual flight because it has no feet, of course. Although a little out-of-breath at tour's end, everyone is, nonetheless, all the wiser for it.
Tours should be booked at least two working days in advance. Call the Welcome Centre at 398-6555.
Every fall, you see them wandering around campus, scouring maps and scratching their heads, trying desperately not to be late for their first class. The onslaught of freshmen? No, new faculty.
Incoming tenure-stream faculty members will be eased into their new surroundings with an orientation session on August 30 at the Faculty Club. The by-invitation-only event will open with a welcome by Principal Heather Munroe-Blum. Other presenters will cover such topics as McGill's mission and strategic objectives; undergraduate, graduate and postdoctoral studies; and support services, like Teaching and Learning Services, Information Systems and University Libraries.
The morning session will end with a services fair with representatives from various McGill departments and external agencies. This way, the new arrivals can discuss immigration issues with someone from Immigration Québec one minute and investment options with an agent from the Pensions Office the next.
After an informal buffet lunch, new faculty can meet with a different group of representatives from other McGill units.
The afternoon lineup includes presentations on student life, research, university governance and dealing with the media. The event concludes with a reception in which new faculty and their spouses can mingle with their peers.
New students and faculty aren't the only people who need to be shown around. A half-day orientation session for new administrative and support staff is slated for September 28, during which participants will learn about McGill history, governance and culture as well as meet with experts in IT support and human resources. The invitation-only session will include staff hired since May 18, the date of the last such orientation. For more information call Audrey Lew at 398-2299.
The Milton-Parc Community (better known to many as the McGill Ghetto) is home to residents and families who live shoulder to shoulder with thousands of McGill students. They share in the youth and excitement our students bring to the neighbourhood, but also the noise and waste that comes with an expanded school-year population.
On Wednesday, September 7, McGill students will show their dedication to their community through a massive clean-up of the streets between University and Ste. Famille. Gloves and shirts will be provided by the McGill Alumni Association as teams of students tidy the neighbourhood and chat with local residents.
The clean-up effort will take place between noon and 2:00 pm, and represents only one of the many ways McGill and its students reach out to surrounding communities. To volunteer, send an email.