Orientation to get facelift

By on April 16, 2008

Orientation has always been an important part of the college experience for incoming freshmen. It provides an opportunity to meet other students and make new friends while adjusting to life on campus. While orientation is an important and fun experience for incoming freshmen, it is also an enjoyable experience for the orientation leaders.

There is a select group of students, who range from sophomores to seniors, who look forward to spending three weeks out of the summer as OLs. It provides them with an opportunity to meet the incoming freshman class and share their experiences with them. However, many former OLs are becoming unhappy with the program because of new changes being proposed by the administration.

According to Associate Dean of Student Affairs Monique Drucker, who is in charge of the orientation program, the university decided to make changes to a program that was almost 20 years old. She explained that she was asked by Dean of Students Manuel Carreiro to review the program.

“It was a time for us to look at the program as a whole and make sure we were doing the best we can to meet the needs of our incoming students,” Drucker said. “It was critical for us to look at who we are today as an institution and provide a strong experience for our new students.”

The changes include: a ban on students serving as both orientation leaders and residential assistants, a reduced number of orientation leaders, a shift on the number of orientation days from three to two, and a dress code.

According to Charles Fischer, who is a junior and was an OL last summer, these changes are causing problems among some OLs because they are not completely sure of the effects of the rule changes.

“We don’t know the schedule as orientation leaders,” Fischer said. “We only know the changes.”

Some OLs are also disappointed by the new rule that would ban resident assistants from being OLs. Many OLs feel that RAs know more about student life and bring a different view to life here on campus at Quinnipiac.

“I have a buddy who is an RA and an OL,” Fischer said. “He has to choose and from what he’s told me, he will be an RA. If you are an RA you are a good student leader here on campus. They should be given the opportunity to be an OL.”

Andy Clark, who is a junior and an intern with the orientation program, said that one of the reasons for this rule had to do with training issues. Since RA meetings and training often coincide with August orientation, it created a conflict for RAs who were also OLs.

“We just wanted to make it easier for students logistically and with choosing between being OLs and RAs,” said Clark.

Several RAs who were also OLs were contacted for this article but declined to comment.

Another change is that orientation will be shortened to just Friday and Saturday. This has raised concerns with former OLs because many view that second night as a more relaxing and fun opportunity for the incoming students.

“The best part of orientation is Saturday night, which we can presume will be eliminated,” said Phil Maddalena, a junior and OL.

Tiffany Onorato, who is also an orientation intern, said that the change was made to ease the burden on families who travel from afar.

“A lot of parents had trouble losing three days, families come from far away, and students are still in school,” said Onorato, referring to the incoming freshmen. “That’s a lot to ask of our OLs.”

Another rule requires the OLs to work all three sessions during the summer. This has made some OLs concerned about not having enough people to handle the incoming students and not having enough resources to make the weekend enjoyable and fun for the freshmen.

But in an e-mail communication, Drucker said that although the university hired a “few less staff” this year, “they will work all three weekends, [and] we will have the same size group of incoming students per OL group this summer. We will have 8-12 freshmen with two OL’s per group, which is the same as [in] the past.”

Clark said that this change was made to create a sense of consistency within the program. He said that having different people every weekend affects the dynamics of the program.

“We wanted to make it a more professional staff and once again add consistency to the staff,” Clark said.

Clark also said that OLs will now have a dress code consisting of khaki shorts and a collared shirt during the day. He said that there will be a more relaxed dress code in the evening. This is a change that Fischer and other former OLs said takes away from the casual and laid back attitude that orientation has had over the past few years.

“They said that years before we got there that they had to wear khakis, but changed it,” said Chris Brodeck, who is also a junior and an OL.

What has really upset the OLs with the changes is that the OLs were not involved in the decision-making process. They want a say in what happens at orientation, especially if they are going to devote their time and energy to it.

Some of the former OLs who spoke out against the changes also said that they are not against the administration or those who run the program.

“We are just a little confused as to why the changes were made,” Fischer said. “It’s a little upsetting there wasn’t any input from the student body or OLs. I personally believe there is room for improvement in the program. I’m not against the changes.”

Drucker and the orientation interns said that there was some frustration among OLs in the beginning. They have since worked to explain the changes to OLs through meetings run by the interns.

“I have left my door open to students who have questions or concerns,” Drucker said. She said no OLs have come forward yet to personally voice displeasure with the changes. In an e-mail communication, she added: “It is important to note that this year’s staff are all on board with the changes in the program.”

The issue of whether the changes will have a negative or positive impact will be an important part of the summer for OLs. While these changes have caused some unhappiness there is an agreement among OLs and administration that orientation is all about the incoming students and that they want to do whatever they can to make it a fun and positive experience.


About Brendan Rimetz