August 24, 2006

Frosh Give Orientation Mixed Reviews

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Orientation Week has finally come to a close for the Class of 2010. Closely resembling past orientations, the week included campus tours, dances, concerts, movies and academic meetings. The Orientation Steering Committee and over 800 student volunteers who organized the week sought to welcome and teach new students about the University, help them meet fellow students and provide entertainment.

So what did the students think?

Nick Paolini ’10, referred to the week as “fun, helpful and insightful,” while Chris LaBerge ’10, thought it was “in between pretty good and a waste of time.”

The late-night activities, such as hypnotist Michael Anthony and the 8 O’Clock Dance Series received mostly positive reviews, with the exception of Opening Night. According to Jeff Soffen ’10, the event consisted of “students grouped together like cattle,” attempting to reach the ice cream table and dance along with the screen-projected music videos.

Orientation Leader meetings, however, received largely negative reviews. Many freshmen admitted going to only two or fewer of the four meetings. Kristin Ceniccola ’10 reported that there were only two students present at the last meeting.

Soffen referred to the meetings as “pointless,” mentioning it was easier to make friends through pick up football games than to have an Orientation Leader attempt to make friends for him through ice-breaker games like “mafia” or “huggy bear.”

As for the New Student Reading Project, students seemed to be disappointed with the book choice, F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby. All freshmen interviewed reported having already read the book in high school and complained about the time length of the panel discussions.

However, despite some negative reviews, many agreed that Orientation Week was helpful in welcoming and acclimating the class into the Cornell community.

As for the transfer students, their Orientation Week experience was less involved. James Du ’09, a transfer student from Carnegie Mellon, said he did not find orientation interesting or helpful. Du said that he did not feel like he knew any more about Cornell after the week than he did when he arrived.

Similarly, Alice Lin ’10, a transfer student from the University of Houston, said she did not participate in most Orientation Week events. However, she did speak positively of the week, saying, “Orientation was pretty good because it tried to get students to interact and you got to see the diversity of the entire school. It also gave me a better idea of what the school is like.”

Recommendations for next year’s Orientation Week consisted of including more night activities for students and choosing a book outside of the average high school curriculum.