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The Tufts Daily
Where you read it first | Monday, June 24, 2024

Freshman orientation ran successfully under new leadership

    For the freshmen who flooded the Tufts campus at the end of August to begin orientation, the changes were nearly impossible to pick up on. But for those who worked behind the scenes, this year's orientation process was all but business as usual.
    This year, the university unveiled its new orientation planning committee; it included a lot of new faces — and new ideas. It was headed by the triumvirate of Jim Ryan, Joseph Golia and Laura Doane.
    Ryan, the coordinator for programs and special projects, is the only one who had previous experience running Tufts' orientation. Golia, the director for campus life, and Doane, the director of advising and scholarships, both started here this summer.
    One of the committee's most visible efforts was an added focus on the environment. All handouts were made from recycled paper, and the Matriculation lunch and Gantcher Center dinner were zero-waste events.
    The committee also took a foray into the social-consciousness arena with the purchase of edun LIVE t-shirts. Run by students, the group adds designs to organic t-shirts made in sub-Saharan Africa and then sells them. Its members aim to alleviate poverty and promote sustainable employment opportunities in that region of Africa.
    Ryan said that the test run for environmental programming went well.
    "[We wanted] green [to be] a theme for orientation," he said. "Now that we know we can do it relatively easily, instead of just making it a theme we are going to make it a recurring goal for orientation in general."
    Another relatively new part of orientation was the use of support staff; this was the second year they were employed. They worked with three student coordinators — junior Nissa Bagelman and seniors Ben Picillo and Shawna Russo — to ensure that operations ran smoothly.
    "A lot of our success comes from the support staff," Ryan said. "We hire a number of students who aren't orientation leaders and who aren't executive orientation leaders, so they just help us do the logistical day-to-day stuff; they stuff the bags, they get things around."
    Although orientation coordinators are only beginning to assess this year's programming with a survey given to all new students, they have already received positive feedback, according to Golia.
    "I heard students say that they really had a great week," he said. "It's a spectacular program; there is so much variety. It's not just the same types of events every night."
    Ryan said that he has seen a positive response and is hoping for evidence in numbers.
    "We've heard a lot of good feedback, but we are waiting for that survey to come back to get our more empirical stuff. Just from a logistical standpoint, I've been told by departments with whom we work here on campus, outside just the dean of student affairs, that things went more smoothly this year than they had in the past."
    Freshman Reeve Bright said that orientation augmented her adjustment to college and her overall planning process.
    "[Orientation] was really helpful. It had everything I wanted to do. I really liked the panels; I went to the pre-med one, which I thought was really helpful for students who were debating about which major to go into," she said.
    According to Russo, orientation ran smoothly because of hard work and collaboration.
    "I would say that there are two parts: the academic side and the social side, and it wouldn't have worked and been the same without everyone's help and cooperation," she said. "Orientation as a whole is a team effort."
    Golia agreed that the students and staff working together made the program a success.
    "[Orientation] cannot be done, and could not be done, without the three student coordinators," he said. "It's an amazingly logistical program that they held together quite smoothly."
    "It was integral that there were all six of us," Russo said. "It wouldn't have happened without the dynamics of the six of us and the guidance we received from Jim, Joe and Laura."

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