Orientation events must be condensed following schedule changes
By Sasha Dudding, The Dartmouth Staff
Published on Tuesday, September 4, 2012
New Student Orientation for the Class of 2016, which officially began today, faces the new obstacle of the Fall term schedule change, which truncated Orientation by two days, according to Collis Orientation Team co-leader Adam Kraus ’14. Incoming freshmen began arriving in Hanover on Aug. 31 to take part in pre-Orientation festivities ranging from barbecues to bingo prior to the start of Orientation.
About 100 students arrived to campus each day leading up to Sept. 4, and most of the 1,080 members of the Class of 2016 should have arrived for Orientation by today. The final section of First-Year DOC Trips does not return to Hanover until Sept. 5.
Because Orientation is shorter this year, the week is busier and gives freshmen less time to socialize during the day, Kraus said.
“This year, they’re condensing everything, so there’s a lot less time for [the Orientation Team] to do events,” he said. “Most of the things that were canceled were movies in the afternoon — there was nothing too specific.”
The Collis Orientation Team, a student-run group consisting of 12 upperclassmen members, is in charge of organizing many of the activities that occur during Orientation, as well as all activities during pre-Orientation.
“A lot of what we do is try and transition everyone to on-campus activities and further the connection that freshman can make with each other,” Kraus said.
Incoming freshmen interviewed by The Dartmouth said they looked forward to engaging in various Orientation activities and do not mind the schedule revisions.
“I haven’t done Orientation before, so I don’t know what kind of difference it would make, but I’ll take what I can get,” Charlotte Smith ’16 said. “I just wanna meet people. I just wanna get it started.”
Callan George ’16 said she planned to explore academic offerings, specifically in the French, engineering, and theater departments, and the shorter schedule will not impact her experience.
“[Orientation] seems long enough to me,” she said. “I’m excited to learn about the Dartmouth traditions, of course, and to be on campus and to meet people, and to get my classes.”
Academic departments planned open houses as usual, but the initial round of placement tests occurred earlier in Orientation this year. This change may cause new setbacks for departments that use these tests, according to chemistry professor Jane Lipson.
“In other years, the open house has been a way for students to ask detailed questions about the introductory sequences and requisite background,” she said. “Having the testing before the open house makes that impossible.”
Other departments planned to take part in additional Orientation activities this year, according to Spanish department chair Raul Bueno-Chavez.
“This fall, we are actively participating in the Off-Campus Programs in-depth presentation of the Spanish, Spanish-American and Brazilian programs,” he said in an email to The Dartmouth. “The goal is to get more freshmen interested in taking Spanish classes, to be more involved with our overseas programs and to become an active part of our department by means of majors, minors or teaching assistantship.”
Undergraduate advisors will also play a significant role during the week, though they are not formally working with the Orientation Team. This year for the first time, new UGAs will go on a three-day retreat as a bonding experience, according to Joyce Pan ’15, who will be a UGA in the fall.
“Essentially, the UGA is supposed to be there for them throughout the week and help them with the sudden transition and ease some of the craziness of Orientation week,” she said. “I want to help create a safe, fun and memorable Orientation week.”
By contrast, pre-Orientation events tend to be less serious than the Orientation events, according to Collis Orientation Team co-leader Joseph Styer ’14. Though it occurred earlier in the year in order to accommodate the new Fall term schedule, the goals of pre-Orientation were the same as past years, according to Styer.
“As pre-Orientation goes on, a lot of the events are trying to target more people because more people are on campus,” Kraus said.
“There are some more serious events, but the main idea is to let them have a good time,” he said. “They get to travel campus and get used to it and learn their way around.”
One of the best-attended activities during pre-Orientation is the annual “capture the melon” game, which occurs each year on the Green. The winners of this event are awarded t-shirts, according to Styer.
“The gist of the game is capture the flag, except you have a melon greased with Vaseline. When it falls and breaks, pieces count as parts of the melon,” he said. “It gets kind of crazy.”
Members of Orientation Team tried to concentrate on planning activities for Labor Day, which occurred during pre-Orientation for the first time this year.
“We’re the only source for any of the freshmen, since nothing is going to be open,” Kraus said. “We’re going to schedule as much as possible for that day so they have options.”
Among these events was “Meet Your Future Professors,” where members of the Class of 2016 had the opportunity to meet Dartmouth professors chosen for the event by the Orientation Team. A barbecue took place later that night, Kraus said.
“We have more responsibility during pre-Orientation because we have the only events that are going on,” Orientation Team member Nushy Golriz ’15 said. “There are going to be a lot of food events because those are the ones that attract more kids. Before Orientation, the meal plan doesn’t work.”
There may be added benefits to this year’s shortened schedule for pre-Orientation, according to Golriz, who attended pre-Orientation last year.
“For [the Class of 2015 Orientation], I was on campus for two weeks where it was deserted and empty and kinda weird,” she said. “They’ll get a feel for what the actual college environment is like earlier.”
The original version of this article stated that all freshmen should have returned to campus by the start of Orientation, when in reality the final section of Trips did not return until Sept. 5.