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Students Debate New Orientation Schedule Plans at Town Meeting

By Eric J. Cholankeril


Members of the Residence System Implementation Team presented plans for a one-week 2002 orientation schedule at a town meeting hosted by the Undergraduate Association on Tuesday.

The abbreviated schedule would reserve three evenings in the week for Residence Orientation, a scaled-down version of dormitory rush. The Residence Midway would follow Monday night’s welcome dinner. Individual residence hall events would take place Tuesday and Wednesday night, while an IFC-wide event for students interested in pursuing Greek life would take place Tuesday night as well.

On Thursday, students would enter the “Orientation Adjustment Lottery” and either choose to remain in their assigned residence hall or switch to a different one. In-house dorm rush would occur Friday night and Saturday, and students would move to their permanent rooms by Sunday.

Other Orientation activities, such as the President’s Convocation, Welcome Dinner, informational sessions, and advanced standing exams, would take place during daylight hours.

Squatting policy clarified

At the meeting, Dean for Student Life Larry G. Benedict also announced that incoming freshmen would not be allowed to preferentially “squat” rooms assigned to them over the summer, although they would be allowed to remain in their assigned residence halls.

After receiving the Orientation mailing in mid-May, freshmen would make a preliminary housing selection in mid-June and receive a room assignment by July 22.

Benedict added that rooming assignment chairs would continue to have authority over room assignment within a residence hall, both during the summer and after the Orientation Adjustment Lottery.

IFC events scaled down

IFC involvement will be significantly reduced during 2002 orientation, said IFC Recruitment Chair Joshua S. Yardley ’04. Formal fall recruitment by fraternities and living groups will take place well into the term, from September 20 to October 4. Panhellenic rush will not begin until the last week of IAP.

The summer IFC mailing will not be sent out until July, after freshmen have indicated their residence hall preferences. The Interactive Introduction to the Institute CD-ROM will be split into separate residence hall and FSILG discs, to be mailed separately in the May Orientation mailing and the July IFC mailing.

Adjustment lottery draws debate

Discussion of the adjustment lottery focused on whether freshmen should be penalized for failing to enter the lottery.

“We’re trying to come up with positive rewards” such as a raffle, so that freshmen will be encouraged to enter the lottery even if they wish to remain in their assigned residence hall, said Dormitory Council President Matthew S. Cain ’02.

“If you don’t enter the lottery at all, you’re going to be in the same dorm ... You cannot be put someplace you didn’t choose,” said Residential Life Associate Anthony E. Gray. “In the [Bacow] report, you are guaranteed not to do any worse than in the adjustment lottery.”

Howard N. Kleinwaks ’02, co-chair of the Committee on Housing and Orientation, dismissed concerns that freshmen would not enter the lottery. “Everybody is told that they have to go to that page and click on it,” he said.

“The answer is that you don’t tell them” that they don’t have to enter, said UA President Jaime E. Devereaux ’02.

Cain advised against penalizing freshmen who may simply forget to sign up. “I really don’t want to make them feel like they’re a loser already.”

Length of orientation questioned

Some students who attended the meeting expressed concern over the short period of time allotted for Residence Orientation, and proposed adding a few days on either end. “We don’t have any days, we have evenings,” said Josiah D. Seale ’03 about the proposed schedule.

Ricky A. Gresh, assistant director of student life programs, explained that a long orientation made faculty participation difficult. In addition, he said, the view of the faculty was that a long orientation period has caused “exhaustion” at the start of the fall term.

“This is something that faculty want,” Cain said.

Students also questioned the rationale behind scheduling residence activities in the evenings, with advanced standing exams scheduled for the following day. “I understand the faculty concerns, but do they want students to do badly on the exams?” asked Sherri E. Davidoff ’02.

One favorable aspect of the schedule is that it allows pre-orientation programs to begin and end on later dates. “Up to this time, Interphase and international students have been excluded from pre-orientation programs” due to overlapping schedules, said Julie B. Norman, associate dean for academic resources and programming.

Cain described the RSIT plan as a good compromise given the complexity of the report issued by former Chancellor Lawrence S. Bacow ’72. “The Bacow report is as easy to interpret as the Constitution or the Bible,” Cain said.