We as JAs are writing concerning Snacks, an entry tradition which is a distinct part of every first year’s experience here. Snacks is a private entry meeting, a casual Sunday night break devoted to issues directly concerning entry residents. It is often the only time which the entire entry gets to spend together, with discussion generally focusing on planning entry events and dealing with entry concerns. This time is instrumental for communication, and provides an opportunity to discuss serious issues as well as time to joke around and catch up with friends. As the year continues, JAs often incorporate themes or visitors to Snacks to spice things up. However, as the entry group dynamic is developing in the beginning of the year, it is imperative that this time be spent exclusively with the entry.
Unfortunately, Snacks this year has been bombarded with visitors from various campus groups. Although these sessions have been extremely informative, they have taken a significant chunk out of private entry time. Groups visiting have included Security, Greensense, Queer Student Union, Newman Catholic Association, Writing Workshop, Honor Committee, Peer Health and a cappella groups. Their presentations have taken anywhere from 10 minutes to an hour.
Certainly we have appreciated the time these groups have taken to raise awareness in the freshman class. However, we think that there are more efficient ways to do this which would also be less intrusive to the entries. Much of this information could be included in the First Days’ panels, which are required of all students. The more informal student groups also have a chance to present their information at the Purple Key Fair. The JA class is another excellent resource, with students active in many different facets of campus life. Additionally, groups can put information in JA SU boxes to be presented or posted in the entries. It is perhaps unfair to have only a few groups come to the entries when clearly so many could benefit from this free publicity.
We are concerned about Snacks’ new format due to the frustration of both first years and JAs. Sunday nights are academically busy, with students spending the hours from 8-12 visiting the Writing Workshop, finishing problem sets, and polishing off final pages of reading. When Snacks is seen as a time to be talked at, rather than a time tailored to their needs, students are discouraged from coming at all. Also, having to accommodate so many different groups’ schedules and time constraints has amounted to a lack of continuity with Snacks’ meeting time. A fluctuating schedule is another disincentive to attend.
Also, we as JAs have also lost an amount of respect and credibility over this issue. Every week we have promised our freshmen a time to relax and hang out, but instead have filled Snacks with visiting groups rather than the necessary time to debrief and catch up with friends.
We regret that this letter could be perceived as an ungrateful response to student organizations’ work. To the visiting campus groups: we appreciate your time and efforts, but ask for patterns to change for next years’ entries.
Katharine Burgess ’04
Corie McDermott ’04