Freshman Orientation, dubbed “Camp Wes” by the class of 2013, is one of the defining weeks of college life. For the class of 2014, however, the week will be two days shorter. In light of the economic crisis, the University pinpointed Orientation as an area where cost-saving measures could be applied and shortened it to five days.
According to Dean Mike Whaley, Vice President for Student Affairs, shortening Orientation week by two days will save the University around $20,000.
“Some of the savings will be in the Orientation budget itself and some of the savings will come in other budgets (such as Residential Life) who will be able to save money currently spent on food costs associated with student staff training,” he wrote in an e-mail to The Argus.
In addition, Labor Day will fall during next year’s Orientation week, which factored into the Administration’s decision to cut Orientation.
“The staff who work most closely with planning the Orientation Program have observed that the first four days are quite busy, while the holiday weekend tends to be fairly light in terms of content,” Whaley wrote. “We think this is the right time to proceed with changing the Orientation schedule such that it consists of a focused five day program with additional sessions that are offered to new students during the first few weeks of the semester.”
Whaley said that at seven days, the University’s orientation far exceeded those of other institutions. The Orientation at Williams College lasts for four days; Tufts University, Connecticut College, Hamilton College and Vassar College all have orientation programs that last five days.
“We have heard comments from staff and faculty that Wesleyan’s Orientation Program is quite long compared with other schools,” he wrote. “Indeed, when we did some research among our peers last year, we discovered that almost all of our peer schools have orientation programs that are four to five days in length.”
No definite decisions have been made regarding the specific activities that will take place during Orientation week. Certain events such as ‘In The Company of Others’ and ‘Bend It At Beckham’ have come to be regarded as staple features in the University’s Orientation Program.
“I am seeing this as an opportunity to look at the Orientation Program from the ground up and build something new,” said Timothy R. Shiner, Director of Student Activities and Leadership Development. “It’s my opinion that the Orientation Program should take care of academic advising by introducing students to the academic life here and to the community values and traditions. Some programs may remain the way they are, some in a different format and some might even be cancelled.”
According to Alan Rodi ’12, who worked as an Orientation Leader this past summer, certain features of the program should remain as they are.
“What I would recommend keeping would be the First Year Matters Common Moment on Foss Hill,” he said. “For the students who took part in the discussions and went through the required reading, the program not only addresses campus-wide sustainability issues, but also global environment issues we will be seeing much more of in the coming years.”
Another feature of the Orientation Program likely to be affected is the International Student Orientation (ISO), which is traditionally four days long.
“It may or may not be shortened by one day,” Shiner said. “I have received feedback from some of the international students that ISO could be a day shorter.”
Whether this move will affect the transition for the class of 2014 remains unclear.
“If we do our jobs right and focus on the goals, Orientation can be a better transition,” Shiner said. “We can make it more of a shared experience between the members of the class.”