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The reviews are in!

Published: October 13, 2006
Section: Opinions


When Amy Hoffmann 10 arrived on campus for First-Year Orientation, she found herself facing a much more daunting four days than she anticipated.

I guess I thought Orientation would be a campus tour and maybe an alcohol lecture, she said. I didnt understand why it was so long until I got here and saw the schedule.

This years Orientation included a speech from author Nancy Kricorian, presentations on alcohol and academics, skits about topics ranging from diversity to illegal downloading, and a variety of recreational activities like movie showings, dances and the Boston Harbor Cruise.

Jeff Horowitz 10 enjoyed most of these programs. There was always stuff to do, he said, I found most of it either informative or fun.

Allison Talan 10 echoed these sentiments. I really enjoyed the Harbor Cruise a lot more than I thought I would.

Hoffman stopped attending most programs two days into orientation, electing to spend time with people she befriended on her hall. At some point, I started to find it really stressful and kind of weird. I just wanted to break off on my own.

Alex Levine 08, an Orientation Leader, understands the discomfort First-Years might have felt, citing the Harbor Cruise as an example. When you throw 400 people on a boat who just met each other, then either people will recognize that it is just going to be awkward and not go, making the Boat Cruise wholly ineffective, or people will go and will spend 4 hours awkwardly saying hi to people, regretting their interactions later, he said.

One of the integral parts of Orientation is the AIDE Group, consisting of usually eight students and an upperclassman Orientation Leader who travel to and from activities together. AIDE groups also interact and bond through small activities, and they generally eat all meals together.

Julie Albert 09, the CORE coordinator for Orientation, thinks the AIDE Group is an integral part of adjusting to college life. For the majority of students, [Brandeis is] a completely new environment, she said. AIDE groups give new students an opportunity to talk to a current student in a small, informal setting to find out more than they tell you at a general information session.

Hannah Merchant 10 thought the AIDE Group did just that. If nothing else, having people to eat with everyday felt really good. Being part of a smaller group makes it seem less overwhelming. My one suggestion would be to maybe have a survey so that AIDE Groups could be matched up by interest or personality.

I liked my AIDE Group, said Aaron Gell 10, though overall, I think the Residence Hall is a more binding experience.

Albert contends that the AIDE Group is not supposed to be the basis of new students social networks. AIDE groups aren't made to create instant best friendsthough it's been known to happenbut to make sure that everyone gets a chance to know someone new, she said.

Overall, Maira Braga 10 felt that Orientation lived up to her expectations. It wasnt bad at all, she said, and I did both the International Orientation and the regular one, so I know what Im talking about.

Dan Miodovnik 10 disagrees. I was not impressed at all by Orientation, he said. I read in all these college guides that Brandeis has one of the most extensive Orientations, but I found it really disappointing.

Levine stressed the importance of possibly adding a major bonding activity to improve Orientation, saying, As Brandeis' endowment grows, the Administration and the Orientation Committee should start thinking about creating a tradition of going on a First Year retreat at a local camp, or organizing a hike in the White Mountains for AIDE groups.

Braga concurred, but expressed some reservations over the nature of this activity. If they did something big like that, it could be really fun, she said. But I wouldnt want my introduction to these people who I have to spend the next four years with to be living in a tent in the woods with them.