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February 25, 2019 | by  | in Features Homepage Splash |
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Togas not for you? That’s cool.

Your first O-Week is a seriously weird experience. You’re thrown head-first into a full week of new people, new experiences, a new environment—essentially, a new life. It can be thrilling, but equally confusing, disorienting (ha!), and daunting. Great opportunities often come with great anxiety and overwhelming pressure to get it right, regardless of your own feelings. After all, you only start uni once. And though it can feel like a leap into the unknown, it should never lead to situations where you feel uncomfortable or unsafe. Ultimately, O-Week is about settling into university life—so here are some tips for having a safe and enjoyable one.

 

The phrase “O-Week” probably brings to mind an image of a seething mass of bodies, adorned with bedsheets and plastic ivy, crammed shoulder-to-shoulder in the Hunter Lounge  downing an endless stream of Jägerbombs. If this sounds like your personal idea of torture, you’re not alone. There’s plenty more to O-Week than the toga party, with a huge variety of things to do and see both on- and off-campus. Try VUWSA’s comedy night, a walking tour of Wellington, or a visit to the university’s Adam Art Gallery. If you’re in a hall, take advantage of the activities on offer—my best memory of O-Week was a city-wide scavenger hunt, with a group of near-strangers who became some of my best friends. You don’t have to step too far out of your comfort zone to find an O-Week event that works for you, and you’re not missing out on anything by skipping the parts that make you anxious.

 

But what if you decide to brave the toga party or that group pilgrimage to town?  Fantastic if that’s what you’re into! Make it even better by putting a few measures in place to make sure you and your new mates get home safe. Keep an eye on your friends, and swap contact details at the beginning of the night in case you get separated (sometimes you run out of data so actual phone numbers are ideal). Have something to eat before you start drinking, and if you’ve had a few too many, bars and clubs are required by law to provide free water. If you’re heading outside, stay in well-lit areas. It’s always safer to spend a little on an Uber than to try to find your way home in the dark.

 

Finally, know your rights when it comes to sex. Whether it’s your long-term partner, an O-Week hook-up, or a stranger in a bar, you are entitled to respect and bodily autonomy. Any sexual activity—including touching and indecent exposure—without your explicit and freely given consent is sexual assault. You can withdraw your consent at any time; just because you agreed to something before, doesn’t mean you have automatically consented again. While O-Week is a shock of new and unfamiliar experiences, you’re under no obligation to do anything uncomfortable or dangerous. You—and only you—get to decide what happens with your body, when, and with whom. If you’re feeling stuck in a tense situation, leave. Call the aforementioned mates, and get the heck out of there.

 

O-Week looks different for everyone, and there are plenty of options for all tastes. Stay safe, take care of yourself, and welcome to Vic.

 

Resources:

 

Wellington Rape Crisis | 04 801 8973

 

Wellington Sexual Abuse HELP Crisis Line | 04 801 6655 (Push 0 at menu)

 

MOSAIC: Male Survivors of Sexual Abuse Support Line | 022 419 3416  

 

VUWSA Advocate | Erica Schouten  | advocate@vuwsa.org.nz | 04 463 6984

Student Interests and Conflict Resolution Office  | Emma Mossman | emma.mossman@vuw.ac.nz

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