Open House to open doors to some 5,000 visitors

Annual event moved to November to take advantage of warmer temperatures

By Neale McDevitt

Weekends at McGill are generally quiet – squirrels forage for snacks as the occasional student walks toward the library. But this coming weekend the peaceful scene will be replaced as Open House will transform the University into a lively hub of information, presentations and tours.

Anywhere between 4,000 and 5,000 visitors will descend upon the University on Nov. 8 (downtown campus) and Nov. 9 (Macdonald campus). Faculty, students, administrative staff and some 1,000 volunteers from every academic and service-related unit at McGill will be on hand to greet people and field their questions. Over the course of the day, visitors will be able to take in lectures, information sessions and a variety of tours that cater to all levels of prospective students, from undergraduate and graduate to those looking at Continuing Education options.

“Everyone is looking for the school that will best serve their needs,” said Deborah Dimitruk, the organizer of this year’s Open House. “Our job is to present McGill in the best possible light.” Although presentations and activities will focus on academics, Dimitruk added that “there will also be people talking about student services and student life because these are all important components when choosing a school.”

The showcase must be pretty appealing as it will attract visitors from around the globe, including those from Italy, Mexico, the Philippines, Belarus, Algeria, and Venezuela. In keeping with tradition, McGill is also busing in several hundred people from Hull, Quebec City and the Eastern Townships to take part. “We want to show the wonderful diversity of what McGill has to offer. This is our time to showcase all of the things about McGill that we are so proud of.”

Entirely aware that first impressions are important, the Enrolment Services team and its partners across the campus have once again prioritized the user-friendly features of the event. For starters, Open House has been moved from its usual frigid slot in January to a (hopefully) more temperate time when visitors will be able to enjoy the full beauty of both campuses.

In addition, many more graduate students will be on hand to respond to questions, and visitors will have the opportunity to go to Macdonald Campus the following day, where a wide choice of activities will await them – from attending mini lectures to sitting in on regular classes and touring the facilities.

The decision to move Open House was more than cosmetic, however, giving students significantly more time to weigh their options before making the January to March application deadlines.

Dimitruk has also spearheaded the initiative to make Open House the greenest on record. For starters, significantly less printed material will be distributed to visitors – something that will both reduce the carbon footprint of the event while also playing into its very raison d’être. “People come to Open House with interests and questions. They want face-to-face interaction with people who can answer their questions.”

As well, a “green team” from the Office of Sustainability will be on hand offering advice and taking part in a waste audit to see how much refuse is generated by Open House – the first ever such audit. “It is important to set benchmarks, ” said Dimitruk. “This way we will be able to compare how we are doing from year to year and event to event.”

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