c/o Sumreen Moughal

c/o Sumreen Moughal

The University community welcomed the last of this year’s bright-eyed first-year students, who joined their international and FGLI peers to complete a full class of 786, on Aug. 30. Despite the stormy weather, spirits were high as they began to settle into their new home and await a jam-packed orientation week full of information, fun, and excitement.

After arriving, incoming first years launched right into unloading rugs, refrigerators, and duffel bags from cars. Move-in was different than in years past, with peer advisors and orientation leaders (OLs) joining athletes to assist with move-in. In addition, move-in was broken up into time slots, and first years went directly to their dorms to pick up room keys and WesCards instead of checking in at another location first.

“We no longer had a separate orientation check-in,” Director of Student Involvement Joanne Rafferty said. “We also implemented move-in appointments, which helped students and their families plan their day appropriately and give them more time to settle in.”

After some tearful goodbyes, first years left their families and made their way toward Foss Hill for their first orientation event, the Welcome Speech.

President Michael Roth ’78, Dean for the Class of 2027 Jennifer Wood, Dean for the Class of 2025 and Transfer Student Contact Kelly Dunn, Vice President for Student Affairs Michael Whaley, and Wesleyan Student Assembly President Orly Meyer ’24 gathered on Foss Hill to briefly introduce themselves, outline their individual roles on campus, and express their excitement to see the class of 2027 thrive at Wesleyan. A class picture was taken to commemorate a memorable first day on campus. The welcome event concluded with a spirited rendition of the Wesleyan fight song and a performance by the OLs of a parody of Taylor Swift’s “You Belong With Me,” called “You Belong at Wes.”

After a bit of downtime, the whirlwind day concluded with the new students’ “First Night on Foss,” which was a night of ice cream, new faces, and class T-shirts. New students ran up and down the ice cream line enthusiastically introducing themselves, and toward the end of the night they had the opportunity to participate in karaoke.

Another critical part of orientation was the small-group meetings. In previous years, orientation groups were organized by prospective major; this year, first years were distributed randomly. In the groups, students discussed their own backgrounds, reflected on the anxieties of starting college, and gained insight from the OLs’ insider perspectives.

Group members discussed the First Year Matters book, “The Loneliest Americans” by Jay Caspian Kang, and had a Q&A session with the author later during orientation weekend. Orientation groups also met to discuss their feelings about the WesTalks they had just attended.

The class of 2027 is off to a great start,” Wood said. “They seemed really engaged and asked great questions.”

c/o Sumreen Moughal

c/o Sumreen Moughal

This year’s WesTalks included “Giving and Getting Good Advice,” where new students had the opportunity to ask peer advisors any questions they had about the University. They were later treated to a parody performance of “I’m Just Ken” from the movie “Barbie,” titled “I’m at Wes.” During the WesTalk “Community Standards,” new students heard from the Office of Public Safety, the Dean of Students Office, and the Office for Equity and Inclusion about community expectations at Wesleyan. Other WesTalks, like “In the Company of Others,” addressed upperclassmen’s experiences at Wesleyan.

“We knew we wanted to enhance our [Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion] program and updated ‘In the Company of Others,’” Rafferty said. “We partnered with [The Office for] Equity and Inclusion and the Resource Center to provide more context to the program…. Once again, this program was rated the highest [among orientation programs] by new students, according to the [new student orientation] survey results.”

On Thursday night, five faculty members from the Dance Department led first years in the simple, fun, exclusive-to-Wesleyan Common Moment dance competition, featuring routines from across the globe. Other choreographers from Urban Bush Women, who are part of Wesleyan’s Embodying Antiracism Initiative, joined in to instruct based on their work, “Batty Moves.”

“The dance I taught encourages students to let go of bodily inhibitions, to celebrate themselves, and to engage with dance as the feeling of abandon and joy,” Professor of Dance Hari Krishnan said to the Wesleyan Connection.

Silent Disco, an orientation favorite, gathered first years into Olin Library for a night of dancing. The event was so popular that the 11:30 p.m. end time was extended to 12 a.m. While waiting in line to enter the library, students were able to make a few fun dorm decorations, including custom street signs and bamboo plants.

Other optional events included Shabbat dinner, the “Sunday Serenade” a cappella showcase, and first-generation meet-and-greets, all well attended. The biggest highlight was the Waste Not tag sale, a program that reduces campus waste by selling goods donated during the previous spring’s move-out. Lines formed down Brainerd Avenue for unfettered access to $20 microwaves, $1 posters, and $3 cookware. Students hauled out large rugs, lamps, and posters, enthusiastically one-upping one another for the least amount spent buying the best dorm supplies. 

With added downtime and schedule adjustments, this year’s new student orientation was one of the best-received. 

“Sometimes the schedule felt jam-packed, but I think it was worth it since it gave us the chance to meet a lot of new people,” Christie Kim ’27 said. 

The composition of the class of 2027 resembles previous class years in a number of ways. Forty-three percent of students in the class of 2027 are students of color, 44% receive financial aid, and 12% are international. Eight percent have a parent who attended Wesleyan, and 57% were admitted through Early Decision. Thirteen students in the class of 2027 are members of the new African Scholars program, and 36 transfer students participated in orientation alongside the first years.

“To this date, your academic achievements, co-curricular accomplishments, talents and hard work have brought you to Wesleyan,” Wood wrote on the class of 2027 blog. “I invite you now to continue on this trajectory…. Get ready for an amazing four years!”


Carolyn Neugarten can be reached at cneugarten@wesleyan.edu.

Mia Dezelic can be reached at mdezelic@wesleyan.edu.