Under the current pandemic restrictions, University of Guelph Orientation organizers have developed a novel way of welcoming and spreading the Gryphon spirit to incoming students from a distance.

New U of G students will soon receive Guelph O-Week boxes: red, black and gold keepsake boxes filled with items to help first-year students feel part of the Gryphon family and to set them up for success.

The boxes will contain U of G-themed goodies, necessities and keepsakes – although the full list of contents is still a secret.

“We think students are going to love these boxes,” said Rosanna Beattie, coordinator of orientation programs. “We know this is an unusual year and while we can’t meet each student face-to-face on campus, we wanted to provide them with a tangible welcome and introduction to the Gryphon family.”

Six of the university’s colleges have contributed to the boxes in some way, along with Student Experience, Student Wellness Services, Student Affairs, Alumni Affairs and Development, the McLaughlin Library and the Experiential Learning Hub. Staff from Hospitality Services are assembling them.

Each item inside was chosen to ensure students have a bit of Gryphon spirit with them no matter where they are. A message printed inside the box lid reads: “Welcome to the Gryphon Family.”

Tea was included to be enjoyed with this year’s Gryphons Read selection. A University-wide book club started by author and U of G creative writing instructor Lawrence Hill, Gryphons Read selects a work by a Canadian author to be read and discussed together as a community.

The Guelph O-Week boxes resemble convocation keepsake boxes that were mailed out to all winter and summer graduates this past summer containing their degree, a congratulatory letter from their college dean and a confetti cannon.

Students have been invited by email to sign up for a time to pick up their boxes at tents on campus on Tuesday, Sept. 8. Following the usual physical distancing and safety protocols, students will have a chance to meet and connect with representatives from their college as they pick up their boxes.

“To all of our new students, welcome to the Gryphon family. We know your time here at U of G, while different this year, is going to be extraordinary,” said Beattie.

To learn more about what the U of G student experience will look like this fall, visit the Virtual Campus page.