Pin-on Buttons Encourage Curiosity and Comfort

Photographed is Amber Norman who is the organizer for Welcome Week. With her strong role in student relations, she is all about how to make student life easier. Even without the ask me button she is posing with in this photo, she is often approached by students seeking help.

by Shelbey Hernandez
The Lance – News Editor

Her first reaction is horror.

Walking onto the green grass and staring across the large expanse of property, she is scared. Her high school was one large building. Here, there seems to be hundreds of buildings with hundreds of rooms for her to go to class. Her high school gave her all her textbooks. Here, there is one small room in one huge place where she is expected to find them herself. Her high school life was paid for. Here, she has to pay for her schooling and there are processes to do so.

Finding the solution to each new task seems impossible. If the solution were a physical thing, it would be lodged right in the middle of a haystack mountain.

It is so overwhelming and she doesn’t know anyone. That is until she looks up from her shoes and sees two things: a smiling face and a button that says “ask me.” After that, all of her problems melt away.

Many students over the years have had a similar experience. Through the “ask me” button program, new students to UWindsor are given a much more comfortable and easy transition into post-secondary.

Every year, many faculty members pin these buttons on themselves, usually during events such as Welcome Week, head start and orientation. By doing so, these UWindsor members open themselves up to new students.

“We want our students to know that we’re here to help them,” said Shelby Marchand with the Student Success Centre. “They’re very scared when they’re here. Just working the info fair for the August orientation, you see the look on their faces and it is pure panic. So if they see an ‘ask me’ button, they may feel a little more comfortable going to that person to ask a question.”

So far, 200 buttons have been requested. Just some of the many staff members participating include the faculty of nursing, residence services, student health services, information services at the Leddy Library, registrar’s office, student recruitment and the bookstore.

The bookstore in particular has been using “ask me” buttons for about 10 years now. It is one of the main places students have to go to, especially during the first month of school.

It is the first few weeks when the bookstore is most hectic. So the need for a helping hand is crucial.

“It’s good for students to be able to identify who might know the answer to their questions or who can help them,” said Martin Deck, the sales and marketing coordinator for the bookstore. “It does get quite confusing in the rush so it’s good for people to be identified.”

It may seem unlikely that a button could have so much power but the campus community have seen the difference they can make.

They serve as icebreakers for students. Even if the students are not particularly fond of piping up and asking questions, they may find themselves asking soon enough, whether they want to or not.

“It gives people an opening line,” said Amber Norman with the Welcome Week committee. “Like I see parents and their kids and the parents will say, ‘See? She has an ask me button, ask her something!’ and they’ll force their kids to ask me something. Then what happens too when their kids start attending the school, they’ll say, ‘Oh I remember you from wherever, whatever transition event!’ and the relationship is already there … I become someone they can talk to.”

Norman can’t even count how many students have asked her questions because of her ask me button. Marchand said just from one day of wearing an ask me button, she had about 50 people approach her.

If it were up to these ladies, the buttons would be worn for the entire month of September. Norman said even further than that, in an ideal world, they would be worn for the entire year. However, it isn’t expected for faculty and staff to go that far. However, if anyone does want to be the face that has the answers, they just have to be the face that asks the question: where can I get one?

The Ask Me buttons are simplified. With just a UWindsor logo and the words "ask me," there is nothing to intimidate students from making sure they get answers when they really need them.

The Ask Me buttons are simplified. With just a UWindsor logo and the words “ask me,” there is nothing to intimidate students from making sure they get answers when they really need them.

Photographed is Martin Deck with the UWindsor bookstore. He along with everyone else employed at the bookstore wear Ask Me buttons because they know how hectic it can get buying books, particularly in September.

Photographed is Martin Deck with the UWindsor bookstore. He along with everyone else employed at the bookstore wear Ask Me buttons because they know how hectic it can get buying books, particularly in September.

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