NSPIRG Rad Frosh

When you ask Caleb Latreille why Dalhousie needs an alternative Frosh week, he has a story.

This year, during Dalhousie Frosh Week, he was eating at a sushi restaurant in Halifax. A pack of frosh decked out in neon walked in. One did a shot of wasabi, puked, and then they all left without paying.

“They took up all this space and didn’t offer anything back,” he said.

Latreille was one organizer of Rad Frosh, an alternative to Frosh week put on by the Nova Scotia Public Interest Research Group (NSPIRG). He says it’s about introducing new students to the wider community they’ve been plunked into — a community wider than a few residence buildings and the nearest meal hall.  

NSPIRG outreach and administration co-ordinator Andrew Jantzen says a critical engagement with Frosh’s usual drinking culture is encouraged, but Rad Frosh isn’t dry, and it isn’t about not partying. 

Jantzen says part of the difference is how events are presented. This year’s itinerary included dance parties and concerts as well as panels about ethical food and sexual liberation. All of the events are open to new and returning students as well as the general population. At Rad Frosh dance parties, marginalized people can feel safe and participants aren’t inundated with negative messages about sex.

Rad Frosh doesn’t pit itself against regular Frosh. Jantzen says co-operation between the two depends on who’s organizing Dalhousie’s Frosh Week. This year there was a lot of cross-promotion, but Rad Frosh is intentionally still separate. 

Rad Frosh lets students pick and choose what they want to do. Latreille says when he came to university, regular Frosh “removed my voice,” by having a solid week of programming during which everyone was supposed to attend everything. 

Rad Frosh has been going on at Dalhousie for six years. Latreille says it doesn’t represent a national PIRG alternative frosh week, but there are others across the country which have been sources of inspiration.

Dance-parties aside, Rad Frosh doesn’t disappoint on the quirky event front.

When asked what the most successful event was this year, both Jantzen and Latreille were quick to bring up Dalhousie Association of Women in Law’s night of feminist legal bingo. They both said it was one of their favourite nights — and educational, too.