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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

New orientation events engage students

Published: September 6, 2013
Section: News, Top Stories

Led by Core Committee members Joe Babeu ’15, Bethany Adam ’15, Jason Haberman ’15, Rachel Starr ’15 and Adrianne Wurzl ’14, Orientation 2013 implemented new programs for incoming students despite some logistical difficulties. New programs included a candle lighting ceremony, the dance party B.rave, a mud party and a night at the Museum of Science in Boston.

Returning Orientation Leader (OL) Lindsay Fitzpatrick ’15 remarked upon how the change in programs combined with a smaller number of OLs this year left some confusion about plans. Set-up for the mud party was particularly disorganized, noting that she received numerous different directions on where she was supposed to be.

“There were definitely fewer third-year OLs, [ … ]which makes a huge difference because during training, we’re broken up into captains’ groups, where the first- and second-year OLs are like first-years, and they are our OLs.” Fitzpatrick explained that with fewer third-year OLs to be captains, the groups were much less intimate and comfortable with each other than she had experienced last year.

“There were definitely huge disconnects,” she said.

A Target trip was planned for international students, yet there weren’t enough buses, forcing some students to be turned away two nights in a row. “One OL had to go with a list of things that the students needed to purchase,” Fitzpatrick said.

Discomfort also lingered in some parts of the new programming. First-time OL Ray Trott ’16 explained how students in his group felt uncomfortable with so much scheduled time devoted to sex presentations. “We had some group members who were uncomfortable, and they didn’t think that abstinence was emphasized enough,” Trott said. Students experienced three events that involved sex, including an improv show called “Sex Signals,” a presentation by SSIS, and a talk from Harlan Cohen, author of “The Naked Roommate and Everything Else You May Run Into in College.”

“Because there were so many sex presentations […] certain kids felt that sex was a huge part of Brandeis culture,” first-time OL Sarah Yun ’16 said. One first-year asked her whether or not it was common for students to be “hooking up” all the time.

While there were some struggles with organization, the Orientation Core Committee had huge success with many of the new programs throughout the week.

“B.rave was awesome,” Trott said about the dance that was open to all Brandeis students.

“This is Our House,” a recurring Orientation program, was also greatly appreciated. The event was hosted by new Dean of Students Jamele Adams and featured a slam poetry performance by Osaze Akerejah’14. The favorite, however, seemed to be a new event related to the theme “Let Curiosity Take Hold” for the Class of 2017.

One notable event was “Light Your Curiosity.” Students were all given plastic “candles” on which they wrote one thing that they wanted to achieve this year. They then put their own candles down and picked up someone else’s so as to keep that person’s goals in mind throughout the year. Students and OLs reported feeling inspired by the event.

Fitzpatrick was also touched by the event. “I have a candle, and it says, ‘Live without limits,’ and I thought that was beautiful.”

“The idea of bringing more than 100 Orientation Leaders and almost 900 students to silence to appreciate the moment you think would be really difficult. But it happened,” Haberman commented with a smile.