New Student Orientation: Hindsight is always “2020”

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Danielle Rothenberg, Contributing Writer

Your family is finally gone, you’re entirely on your own for the next 10 months, and you and your peers have free-reign of a nearly 500 acre campus. What better way to kick off college than getting doused in paint and “nay-naying” for your entire hall?

This is New Student Orientation, ladies and gentlemen, and every University student begins his or her college journey this way. While the traditions remain the same year after year, Orientation brings a unique experience to each individual who organizes and partakes in its range of festivities.

Maggie Carlson ’18, Orientation Leader (OL):  “I think that Orientation was successful this year because of how close our O-Staff was. From the Orientation Coordinator (OC) and Assistant Orientation Coordinator (AOC), to the OLs, and all the Orientation Assistants (OAs). As we really were a family. Once Orientation started, being so close allowed us to trust each other on a lot of split second decisions that had to be made, which in turn led to a unified front for Orientation 2016.”

Bill McCoy, Director of the Office of LGBT Awareness: “One of the biggest challenges facing Orientation programming on this campus is the intersection of weather and space. We have a limited number of venues that can seat an entire class, so all-class programming, whether meals, presentations, or events and activities, can be difficult to facilitate. Luckily, communication between all of the necessary parties was great this year.”

Color Games

Briannally Ortiz ’20: “Color Wars was my favorite of all of the events that we had during orientation. I loved how it brought the whole class together with activities that really made us work as teams to build bonds. I was not only able to work with my hall to win the challenges but also work with others on ideas to be better at the games.”

Diversity Talk

Alex Lord ’18, OA:  “I think the most successful event of Orientation was the Maura Cullen talk on diversity. I remembered how powerful it was for my class and as an OA, I felt that my hall did an amazing job talking about an often overlooked and sensitive topic. I think this was due in part to the culture of community that we as OAs try and foster here from move-in day to the end of Orientation.”

Ortiz: “This event was one that really brought my hall together as we were able to relate to it, being a very diverse hall. We have students from all over the world who sometimes feel neglected and can’t voice their opinions because of the fear of not being heard. My OAs, Lauren and Julia, really helped in making us all feel super comfortable in our safe space.”

Pep Rally

Lord:  “There were some difficulties because some first-years thought they were “too cool” to participate. The OAs tried their hardest to make sure everyone was participating and having a good time, but some things are out of our control.”

Ortiz: “Although I appreciate the existence of a pep-rally, the focus on the sports took away from that of the community and its students. As a first-year student who is not involved in any athletics, I was hoping to still feel welcomed. The pep-rally did not do a great job of including those who are not a part of the athletic divisions of the school. A way to improve this would be simply doing something to include all of the students and showing that no matter who you are or where you come from, Bucknell is happy to have you.”

Hannah Rosen ’18, OA:  “I didn’t find it challenging to get the first-years to participate and get excited about the pep rally—they always love it.”

Playfair

Rosen:  “I always think Playfair is a huge success of Orientation because of the environment it creates among the first-year class. It allows for them to meet as many as they possibly can in the allotted time.”

Ortiz:  “One of the most awkward situations I was in was during Playfair where the goal was to put us all in these positions where we had to talk to others we did not know. There will be certain circumstances where you may feel extremely awkward but it is up to you to break the ice and be open to meeting new people and creating those friendships that will help you get through college.”

Carlson: “It is never our intention to make any first-year uncomfortable, but to encourage them to be the most authentic versions of themselves in a safe and welcoming environment.”

Hall-Bonding Games

Lord: “My partner, Ridhi, and I had a question ball that we tossed to our first-years and some of the answers were pretty funny. One question had students in a debate as to whether they would rather wear an astronaut suit in the Sahara or be nude in the Arctic. The majority preferred the cold, [and] they got a rude awakening when I mentioned to them that I have never had air conditioning at Bucknell.”

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