Orientation leaves first-years feeling over-welcomed

Austin Winslow, Staff Writer

After a long couple of weeks watching friends move into their dorms, I could not have been more excited to arrive on campus. Meeting hallmates, and experiencing campus as a student for the first time had been romanticized by everyone imaginable since I entered high school. But when the time finally came, orientation was merely a never-ending scavenger hunt of the parts of campus known since my very first visit to W&L.

It is easy to see the amount of work that went into our orientation week simply in how may events were planned. While many of these were informational and intentional, some could be cut down, or even taken out, to allow others to stand out.

One such event is the  first-year Olympics. After a long day of events, the Olympics were supposed to start at 8 p.m., but were delayed by a disorganized cohort of volunteers. From there, my hall and I proceeded to play the same group in rock, paper, scissors twice, before moving on to play the same team in two more games. For most freshmen, there was no need for more that 30 minutes of competition. After a long day of Orientation, it is difficult to stay and compete in small games that feel of little or no importance to a group.

 As we stood up to leave, we were told to wait, and pick a finals team to cheer for. But other halls started to run. We laughed at first, but once one person went, we all followed suit. The most fun part of the night was running in between cars in the parking lot trying not to get caught as we sprinted towards the dorms.

Similarly, tours that were designed to give us familiarity lasted for a significant chunk of our days, and left little time for experiencing campus as an individual. I spent more time trying to get boxes checked off for my Perspectives tour than I got to listen to each presenter. The unclear route also led to miles of extra aimless walking in-between each site, building up frustration as we went. 

Throughout the combined perspectives, campus, and academic buildings tours, there were so many important parts of our campus to know about that once we had seen them all, their individual importance had fallen through the cracks. In some ways, a video or website allowing us to click through as a hall and experience campus sites by category would have been less overwhelming. This provides a way to learn about unique cultural campus groups or even study spots, take note of them and even have information to refer back to later.

Many orientation week events are very important and necessary, such as conversations with your hall about proper behavior, how to keep spaces clean and safe and where to go when you need someone to turn to. However, this information can all be portrayed more efficiently and understandably. Through consolidating events and tours, it is possible to make the orientation process easier and more impactful for everyone involved.