First-years break the mold at Orientation Week 2008

While Orientation 2008 may be over, shouts of “I want a standing ovation!” and first-years mumbling “D-O-N-N-E-R DONNER!” will linger throughout the first week of classes.

Though Orientation itself only started a week ago, preparation began long before that.

Anne Witchner, Director of Orientation and Assistant Dean of Student Affairs, explained that planning for next year’s Orientation begins immediately after this year’s is over, with debriefing and follow-up meetings scheduled with the Head Orientation Counselors (HOCs).

According to Witchner, the goal is to have all six HOCs selected before the end of fall semester, so they can help in selection of Orientation Leaders (OLs) and Orientation Counselors (OCs) at the beginning of the spring semester.

The early planning is there for a reason: Orientation is jam-packed with a variety of events, including a comedian, an illusionist, house-based activities, and of course, the bigger events such as Playfair and House Wars.

“A lot of planning goes into Orientation. Our program is like no other in the entire country,” said Adam Richardson, a senior music major and one of the six HOCs.

Among their many responsibilities, the HOCs are responsible for selecting the Orientation theme. This year’s theme was “Breakin’ the Mold.”
“‘Breakin’ the Mold’ is the perfect theme, in my opinion, because it opens the freshmen class to a wide variety of opportunities to explore and get out of their comfort zone. Everything about the theme from the title to the design is edgy, pushing boundaries, ‘breaking’ out of the normal,” Richardson said.

In accord with their theme, the staff this year decided to “break the mold” and add something new to the Orientation schedule – a book reading of [ITAL]The Last Lecture[ITAL], which all new students were sent a copy of and asked to read prior to Orientation.

“During Orientation, 113 faculty and staff met with small groups of students to talk about the messages of the book and what relevance it might have for them. In addition, the co-author of the book, Jeff Zaslow, gave an inspirational talk at the formal Convocation,” Witchner said.

In addition to the new Orientation programs, first-years enjoyed many of the traditional events.

“I really enjoyed Playfair. It was so fun to meet so many people at one time,” said first-year design major Lauren Beckwith.

Orientation at Carnegie Mellon, however, is more than just showing the first-years around campus and helping them meet new people. HOCs, OLs, OCs, and resident assistants (RAs) spend the week sharing and spreading their passion for Carnegie Mellon.

“I have a lot of CMU pride, and I want nothing more than to share that pride with the freshmen,” said senior Electrical and Computer Engineering major and OC Charisse Magsipok.

The spirit and energy of the Orientation staff did not go unnoticed by the first-years.

“I love that the OCs and RAs have lots of energy and positivity; you can tell that it’s real and they’re not just faking it,” said first-year musical theater major Lucia Roderique.

Hopefully, the first-years and upperclassmen will be able to hold on to some of that energy and spirit now that classes have begun.