The Scarlet & Black

The Independent Student News Site of Grinnell College

The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

Feven Getachew
Feven Getachew
May 6, 2024
Michael Lozada
Michael Lozada
May 6, 2024
Nathan Hoffman
Nathan Hoffman
May 6, 2024
Harvey Wilhelm `24.
Harvey Wilhelm
May 6, 2024

New Student Orientation morphs

New Student Orientation (NSO) is one of those Grinnell experiences that all students go through and only some remember. Over the past three years, Student Affairs, in cooperation with Grinnell students, has been working to make NSO more memorable by improving the programs and increasing participation.
On Monday Assistant Dean of Students and Director of Residence Life & Orientation Andrea Connor met with the NSO interns and interested students to talk about this past year’s orientation, and plan for next year
The NSO interns worked half time this summer to pull together and finalize multiple NSO programs. The interns, along with other volunteers are in part responsible for deciding what programs are instituted for NSO and how they are designed.
Two students showed up to the NSO open forum on Monday. None of the students present were first years, but interns Alex Peitz ’10 and Hugh Redford ’10 don’t see the low attendance as a problem.
“I wasn’t so worried because I think that when people are angry about something, they let you know,” Peitz said. “A couple more people would have been nice, but overall I’m not that concerned.”
Jo Megas ’13 agreed with Peitz, and had no complaints for her NSO experience. “I think NSO was fine…If I had felt really strongly about it, I probably would have gone [to the forum],” Megas said.
Survey results further support this, as only two to four students had seriously negative responses about NSO out of more than 100 respondents.
The lack of student involvement is a change from the past couple of years, when many students complained about orientation.
“My [2007] NSO experience was very forgettable. I feel like that shouldn’t happen. You should remember your first week of college,” said Chelsea Pestana ’11. Connor explained that after 2007, the program went through a two-year transition
“NSO [in 2007] had not been as good as it was before, so last year we did a lot of things to change it—trying to gear it more towards what we wanted,” Connor said. We knew from the beginning that it was going to be a two-year process and it wasn’t quite there the first year. There were a couple things that turned out really poorly and people were very upset.”
Unlike previous years, Grinnell made no outside contracts in 2008 to help run the first few days of school—presentations such as the sex education program “Sex Signals”— were exchanged for home-grown programs designed and executed by students and Student Affairs.
“We had gotten a lot of feedback that the evening programs weren’t Grinnell-specific enough, so we completely ended all of the contracts that we had previously and didn’t bring anyone back,” Connor said.
We made brand-new programs and a lot of them ended up a little preachy…They were made at Grinnell for Grinnellians, but they weren’t exciting, they weren’t interesting and they weren’t presenting the information that we hoped.”
Orientation in 2009 benefitted from Conner, Peitz and Redford’s experience last year. According to Peitz, they worked to make the offerings this year more interactive and less patronizing and dull.
“[2008’s orientation] ended up being boring and it ended up being preachy,” Peitz said.
“So our goal this year was to take a lot of those key things and find another way to present the information that we wanted to present and make it a lot more interactive.”
It seems they succeeded. Corbin Eule ’12 found the Diversity in a Self-Governing Community meeting this year to be much more engaging than the one offered when he was a first year.
“The diversity one improved so much,” Eule said. “They had the SAs facilitating the discussion instead of just going to hear people talk.”
Almost all of the first years who filled out the survey reported positive feelings about this year’s orientation. Now, Connor and the interns are looking for ways to get new students to more of the activities that are offered, and get upperclassmen involved.
““The classes wanted to mingle… So we should make more of the activities open to all of the students,” said Connor.
Grinnellians can also look forward to a New Student Orientation in 2010 that is designed for more than just new students. Connor emphasized that they tried to attract non-first years to the activities this year, and will try again next year. In 2009, Student Affairs published a schedule of events for upperclassmen already on campus, as well as first-years and their families. Orientation may also have staggered evening activities, so that students can participate in more than one each night.
“The program will continue to evolve,” Redford said “Last year was a transition year, but so was this year.”

Leave a Comment
More to Discover
Donate to The Scarlet & Black
Our Goal

Comments (0)

All The Scarlet & Black Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *