This year, the Class of 2016 will participate in several brand-new orientation events aimed at providing the freshmen with information on wellness, health, and getting involved in activities on campus. According to orientation leader and main planner and organizer of the new events Polina Mamut ’13, these events, which are organized in collaboration with students and wellness staff, will engage students in ways that will better address issues that were under-emphasized in previous orientation programs.
Mamut reached out to Director of university Health Center Joyce Walter and Director of Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) Jen D’Andrea for help in realizing the new programs. Walter stated that she and D’Andrea welcomed Mamut’s ideas for wellness-related programs.
“We thought it would be an excellent opportunity to meet students and have conversations about staying physically and emotionally healthy by providing information about the health resources on campus,” Walter wrote in an email to The Argus.
According to Walter, the Peer Health Advocates and the student chapter of the national organization Active Minds, which deals with mental health issues, plan to be visible both during orientation and throughout the academic year. Their services will include special programs on bystander intervention and mental health awareness.
“We want students to feel connected and part of the larger Wesleyan community,” she wrote. “We hope students will use our services and know how to refer other students in need.”
Mamut was inspired to establish the new events because she did not want a lack of conversation about health and wellness during orientation to begin a tradition of reduced dialogue on campus.
“So many students approach me with so much misinformation concerning wellness resources, and I thought that at least having an option for freshmen to learn more would be essential toward building a space for better dialogue,” Mamut wrote in an email to The Argus.
Two of the events aim to address that absence of useful conversation and information. As part of the wellness panel to be held on Aug. 31 from 10 to 11 a.m. in the Public Affairs Center (PAC) room 001, the staff of Davison Health Center, CAPS, and other groups will discuss the transition to college and how to stay healthy while at Wesleyan; a question-and-answer session will follow. On Sept. 1, from 12:30 to 2 p.m. in the Downey House Lounge, there will be a wellness reception and brunch, during which new students can meet staff members and students who are involved in health services and advocacy, including staff of Davison Health Center, CAPS, and other groups, as well as learn about health and wellness resources at Wesleyan.
Another new event introduces freshmen to the Greek organizations on campus. On Sept. 2, from 2:30 to 4 p.m. in PAC 001, the Inter-Greek Council Panel, including representatives from local Greek organizations Alpha Delta Phi, Alpha Epsilon Pi, Beta Theta Pi, Kai Psi, Delta Kappa Epsilon, Delta Sigma Theta, Eclectic, Phi Beta Sigma, and Rho Epsilon Pi chapters, will address some of the stereotypes surrounding fraternities, sororities, and societies and give brief presentations on what elements distinguish their individual organizations. Lucy Finn ’14 and Matt Leibowitz ’14 helped organize the panel.
“I felt that an Inter-Greek Council panel would be a fantastic opportunity to dispel stereotypes about Greek life at Wesleyan, which is extraordinarily different than at other institutions where Greek organizations are a bigger part of campus life,” Mamut wrote.
Another event will provide insight into the range of activism on campus. On Sept. 2, from 3 to 5 p.m. in Allbritton 311, “Student Power: Wesleyan Activism Reception” will introduce new students to Wesleyan’s recent participation in activist campaigns and allow them to meet students and leaders involved in Wesleyan’s activist community. Time permitting, the reception will proceed to the University Organizing Center (UOC). Leonid Liu ’14, Isabelle Gauthier ’14, Alma Sanchez-Eppler ’14, and Oliver James ’14 helped put together the event.
Mamut explained that she wanted a reception on activism on the orientation roster because she thought that historically there was a lack of cross-conversation between the various groups on campus. She said that she didn’t even know about the UOC until last spring semester.
“I hope that the activism event will be a space where new students can come and learn about the plethora of activist groups that are on campus, as well as be an opportunity for the different student leaders to meet each other and learn about the expertise each of them can bring to the table,” she wrote.
The New Student Orientation continues until Sept. 2. A complete guide to the Orientation Schedule is available online or in booklet form.