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Orientation Committee solicits input

Last March, the Review Committee on Orientation was established and commissioned to examine and re-evaluate MIT’s orientation program. This includes the Freshman Pre-Orientation Programs (FPOPs), Freshman Orientation, Residential Exploration (REX) and Housing, and FSILG Rush. On Nov. 10, the committee held its first public forum for students to give their input on the orientation evaluation process. The committee expects to present its findings and final recommendations in January 2012 to Dean for Undergraduate Education Daniel E. Hastings ’78 and Dean for Student Life Chris Colombo, who will make a final decision.

The primary purpose of the meeting was to get feedback from students about what they thought was the most important aspects of orientation. According to Professor Merritt R. Smith, committee chair and housemaster of Burton Conner, “We need a more holistic approach to the orientation experience with better coordination between the REX, student life, and academics component of orientation.”

Smith also mentioned the importance of discussions with freshmen on alcohol, drugs, academic honesty, and similar topics.

“We must rekindle these discussions as a way [to] keep it on [students’] minds,” said Smith, who added that talking about those topics should not end with official orientation events.

The committee also expressed its concerns regarding the lack of time students have to make a decision about joining a FSILG. According to John M. Essigmann PhD ’76, housemaster of Simmons Hall and committee member, “The classic question is, when is the right time to have rush and recruitment. … it might be in the interest of students to have in January compared to right away upon arrival.”

Students at the meeting countered that January weather could hinder rush activities, and that first-term freshmen would miss out on support systems they could find among FSILGs.

Still, the committee emphasized that no decisions have been made and that they will continue to solicit input. “We have not reached any point of conclusion,” said Smith.

The next public forum will be held on Monday, Nov. 21, at 7 p.m. in 10-250.

—Naina Mehta