SophomOrientation returns for second year with tighter budget

SophomOrientation, a program started this academic year to help sophomores better acclimate to life as upperclassmen, will occur again next year after receiving support and funding from College administration. “Over the last couple years, the money available for sophomore programming has come out of the President’s discretionary funds, and we’re able to use that source of funding this year, too,” Dean Merrill said. “If we see that SophomOrientation is a successful program and meets student needs, we’d then need to figure out how the Dean’s Office can budget for it and therefore continue to support it.

The Sophmorientation Committee received approval to recommence after submitting a 30-page report to the Dean’s Office detailing where it succeeded this year and how it planned to implement the program for 2010-11. The committee was established during Winter Study in 2009 as a College Council (CC) subcommittee before separating from CC following the program’s approval. This year’s program will differ from previous orientation programs in that it will be overseen by Campus Life rather than by the Dean’s Office.

“Campus Life will now be the institutional home for any programming around sophomore ‘orientation,’” Merrill said. “This will be very helpful, as it’s an identifiable place where students can take their ideas and work with staff there on program development.”

The committee, which will this year be led by CC first-year class representative Krista Pickett ’13, decided to re-implement the program following the positive student response to the first SophomOrientation. “The main reason we thought the program was successful was the data we got from a survey following this year’s SophomOrientation,” said CC co-president Emanuel Yekutiel ’11, who led the committee last year. The committee surveyed 200 of the 375 sophomores that participated. “The results we got showed overwhelming support for the program to be continued,” Yekutiel said. “There was a definite sense, in the surveys, of this being an improvement on the sophomore experience. People generally felt that it was something they would want to happen for the next generation of sophomores.”

According to Yekutiel, next year’s incarnation of the program will be more lean and fiscally aware. Two meals will be cut from the schedule in order to cut costs and the “shared freaky experience and banner painting” on Paresky lawn of last year’s Sophomorientation will also be cut due to its $700 cost as well as lackluster participant responses noted in the survey. The program will still include three meals, an academic expo, a junior year forum, an event at the Log, a Goodrich dance party, a study abroad information session and a speech about the College’s history. Like last year, students will have to register if they are interested in the program.

The group will likely be adding more events depending on the input of first-years and new ideas that the committee comes up with. “We are unsure about what else we will be adding,” said Pickett. “We are going to be speaking to the class and finding out what they want through polling.” This year’s committee, which will be advised by Assistant Director of Campus Life Jess Gulley, met for the first time yesterday.
Yekutiel hopes that SophomOrientation will build on the success of the pilot. “The more students who participate in the program, the better,” he said. “There was a lot of residual positive energy from last year’s program, this year, and we are going to get the start getting the word out as soon as the final plans are pulled together.”

Merrill echoed Yekutiel’s hopes. “We’re pleased that the College can support a little of something this year,” she said. “Some of the successes of the trial run really came because of student enthusiasm. Continuing to have student involvement and also having an institutional home [in Campus Life] will help us see what we can do with it, even without a whole lot of money. I hope it’s the beginning of some kind of tradition or programming that sophomores will look forward to.”

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