Orientation week at the University of Technology, Sydney began in the third week of March this year, complementary to the atypical attributes of UTS, this was more than a month later than all major Sydney universities.
Held in the main tower building on Wednesday 16 March, O-Day was organised by UTS Activate, the representative university student union. Organising and conglomerating student clubs and societies.
O-Day allows new students to view the diversity of student bodies through their respective stalls; a society ‘fair’ that welcomed them into the social scene of UTS.
The University of Technology Sydney’s Muslim Society (UTSMS) is the main university club that administers to the needs of, and represents Muslims on campus.
It provides a plethora of activities and events throughout the year such as charity campaigns, interfaith events, social and sporting outings and opportunities to connect with fellow Muslims and non-Muslims.
UTSMS prides itself in welcoming students of all backgrounds and faiths, who are interested in learning about Islam and interacting with their Muslim peers on campus.
It also offers, maintains and upholds the services of the Musallah, prayer facilities at the campus.
As the O-Day began, the forecast was foreboding; rain posing a threat to the numbers we hoped to reach. But the lure of freebies and the excitement of first years was no match for the temperamental weather.
The Shura (UTSMS Committee) had come well prepared. Water bottles, bags, drinks and pastries aside, a mini pyramid of glazed donuts stood arranged as the centrepiece of our stall. No doubt the main attraction for those that may be somewhat averse to approaching the band of scarved, abaya- wearing sisters and thobe clad brothers.
For many of the Shura, preparations started right after Fajr; transporting heavy equipment, filling almost two hundred freebie bags, correcting last minute printing disasters and purchasing several boxes of donuts. Before 3 pm every last one of our show bags had been distributed, almost two hundred students signed up, and of course every donut devoured.
Every year on orientation day the UTSMS stands confidently besides its large posters and hovering stigmas. We take every opportunity to dispel the latter but our primary goals are to open the doors of Islam to our brothers and sisters in an environment which can be challenging.
On O-day UTSMS provides new students with the opportunity to network and bond with their brothers and sisters, gain knowledge and have fun through our numerous events and activities; from charity dinners and campaigns, Islamic talks, interfaith events, social and sporting outings and our bi-annual Islamic Awareness week. We hope to intrigue and excite them into being part of our upcoming events and to be part of our tight-knit, warm community.
As youth first entering university, the awareness of a Muslim identity is incredibly more apparent. The sense of community that can be found amongst family and friends is lost amidst an environment of endless personalities and social sects.
Muslim societies play a crucial role in creating a sense of brotherhood and sisterhood, a friendly place on campus where they know they’ll find a sense of peace amidst the confusion of the outside world. On O-Day that main hope of our Muslim society is that as the students wander remarking at the exotic societies, they recognise us as the opportunity to delve into their own spirituality, to make dear friends and long-lasting memories.