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Student experience

HIVE Program helps new students find friends, connections and support throughout their first term at SFU

September 10, 2020

Simon Fraser University has launched HIVE Program, a new online program to help more than 4,600 new students meet up with their peers for ongoing connection and social opportunities throughout their first term at SFU.

Offering classes and programming online has been a major adjustment for everyone at SFU, but one of the most heavily impacted groups is the new students starting this September with no previous experience of attending university in person.

Before the COVID-19 pandemic began, SFU already had a suite of online orientation activities to help new students adjust to university life. Surveys of new students over the summer revealed that that they are looking for more ways to connect with their peers. “I hope that virtual connections can help keep my university experience social,” says one of the respondents.

Through the HIVE Program, students are placed in small groups based on their faculty, classes, campus, basis of admission, and current time zone. The groups are led by more than 250 volunteer welcome leaders, who initiate icebreakers and social activities, and answer new students’ questions throughout their first term.

“The type of engagement and questions you get within the HIVE is different from what we would get on a one-day welcome event. They’re more in depth. Students have more time to think of their questions,” says Aran Armutlu, student engagement coordinator.

That extra time is giving students more space to form connections with each other. One participant states: “we made a group chat on Instagram and I've actually reached out to some of them individually. Going into university with some new friends helps to alleviate the anxiety I had whenever I even thought about post-secondary.”

For others, HIVE provides a central place where students know they can go to find support. “What I found the most impactful part of my HIVE, was learning that there are so many people there to support the transition to university,” says another participant. “No one is heading into university alone. It was comforting learning that there are people to fall back on for support and that they are there for any questions or concerns I have.”

The HIVE Program is available to all new undergraduate students. Registration details have been emailed inviting students to the SFU 101 online course, which includes HIVE.