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Committee Discusses Plans for Orientation

By Beckett W. Sterner

ASSOCIATE NEWS EDITOR

The Orientation Planning Committee is considering a summer reading assignment for freshmen to be implemented as soon as 2004.

The committee, formed this spring to plan events for the incoming freshmen this fall, presented the proposal to the Undergraduate Association at their monthly meeting last night.

The Orientation Planning Committee, chaired by Dean for Undergraduate Research J. Kim Vandiver PhD ’75, conducted an informal survey of undergraduates’ responses to the idea of a summer reading assignment. Dominik R. Rajieb ’04, a student on the committee, said that the replies were “not particularly positive.”

Originally considered for this year, the committee pushed back the proposal for a reading assignment to 2004 because of logistical difficulties. The plan may undergo scrutiny by another committee this fall, Rajieb said. He said that the idea came primarily from the faculty on the orientation committee, and that a similar reading program run by Duke University came up in discussions.

Faculty dinner to move to dorms

The committee examined new possibilities for faculty-student dinners, Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program tours, and the timing of the advanced standing exams offered at the beginning of the week.

“We only got to look at a few events that we wanted to,” Rajieb said at the presentation the committee’s student members made to the Undergraduate Association last night.

So far, the main change the committee made is to split the student-faculty dinner into eight smaller events in different locations.

Which event the freshmen attend, Rajieb said, will depend on their temporary dormitory, with Simmons, Baker, Next House, McCormick, Burton Conner, and MacGregor eating in their respective dormitories. Senior House and East Campus will be hosted at Walker Memorial and Bexley, Random Hall, and New House would meet in La Sala at the Student Center.

The committee’s presentation also addressed scheduling for the advanced standing exams. Committee member Kathy Lin ’06 said that some members were “not too comfortable with freshmen coming in and failing the first three exams they take.” [Lin is also a Tech associate news editor.]

She said that the committee needed to talk with the departments about what changes in the schedule were feasible before any decisions could be made.

Elizabeth L. Greenwood ’05, also a committee member, said that one possibility for an icebreaker at the dinner was an engineering contest in which the students would break into small groups to compete in constructing an object.

Alternatively, she said, the committee was considering encouraging faculty to tell students about their life story as an icebreaker, or possibly discussing their college experiences.

Goal is to connect students, faculty

When the committee was originally formed, Robert P. Redwine, the dean for undergraduate education, said that the committee will look into “anything that will make it possible for students to connect sooner and better to faculty and ... people who can show them what the intellectual experience is all about.”

The committee is made up of eight members of the faculty and administration and four students. Rajieb said that the students applied to the committee for the positions.

He also said that it seemed likely the students will be chosen in the same way if there is a committee on the reading assignment this fall.