August 27, 2013

For First Time, Cornell Orientation Week Features Consent Ed Programming

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In between attending ice-breaker activities, information sessions and evening fairs, freshmen at Orientation Week this year did something recent classes did not their first week at Cornell: attend a mandatory event about consent and healthy relationships.

“Speak About It,” a troupe of actors who travel raising awareness of sexual violence, performed skits for first-year and transfer students.

“Probably most of the students there might not have been taking it as seriously as they should because they haven’t been in [a consent-related] situation like that before,” said Grant Mulitz ’17, one student who attended Speak About It’s presentation. “But there were definitely some people who had been in that situation, and it probably meant a lot to actually know that Cornell is looking out for and educating people with respect to those issues.”

“Speak About It” was announced in May, and according to E.E. Hou ’14, creative director of the Every1 Campaign — a student organization that addresses issues of sexual assault and consensual sex — the workshop conveyed the imporatance of consent in relationships, The Sun previously reported.

Aside from Speak About It, the Orientation Steering Committee welcomed the Class of 2017 and transfer students to Cornell with five days of academic and social events. These events will continue through the start of classes into Welcome Weekend, which consists of events such as picnics, movies and ClubFest, which will be held Sept. 7.

This year’s orientation centered on international and travel themes, titled “Where will Cornell take you?”, according to Sarah Jones, assistant dean for new student programs.

According to David Rosenwasser ’18, the orientation groups provided a good environment for meeting other new students.

Like previous years, “the way the orientation groups were set up with everyone in my group being from my college was a great opportunity to meet more students in a smaller setting,” Rosenwasser said.

The orientation groups also provided students with an orientation leader, who students say were helpful easing the transition to Cornell.

“My Orientation Leader led icebreaker activities that were a lot of fun and also made us a food map of places to eat around campus, which is really useful,” Samir Sherali ’17 said.

In addition to orientation group activities, both required and non-mandatory events had high rates of attendance, Jones said.

According to Cornell University Police estimates, Convocation had approximately 9,500 people in attendance, while 3,400 attended Cornell Essentials — where students could hear from upper-class students and alumni about transitioning to Cornell. Two thousand eight hundred of the 3,282 students in the Class of 2017 attended First Night activities on the Court-Kay-Bauer quad.

OSC members also focused on improving the experience for transfer students, according to Jones. These programs included paintball, trivia night, ice skating and a casino night, among other events.

In addition to activities with his orientation group, Sherali said he enjoyed magician Tim Gabrielson’s Saturday performance after the Great Migration — an annual tradition where new students walk from North Campus to Barton Hall for a performance.

“He got the crowd involved, and the entire performance was fun. He called people up and would do tricks with them while making jokes,” Sherali said.

The performance had a large turnout and provided freshman with an option other than going to parties, according to Sherali.

“Barton Hall was pretty full. It seemed like everyone who didn’t go to Collegetown was there,” Sherali said.

According to Jones, both the performance by Black Violins and the Silent Disco on the Arts Quad were well-attended and well-received.

Another goal of Orientation Week programming is to introduce students to Cornell’s academic community and community in general.

Rosenwasser said the programming was “much better executed” than expected.

“It was nicely done, not obnoxious, and less cliché than it could have been,” Rosenwasser said. “No one seemed to mind spending an hour there, even though it was mandatory.”

Dara Levy contributed reporting.

Rachel Weber is a news writer for The Sun. You can email her at rweber@cornellsun.com.

Original Author: Rachel Weber