Amid ringing phones, piles of paper and a wallpaper of post-it notes, Abby Evans ’14 and Wes Traub ’14 can be found on any given summer day busily scribbling notes on a white board and purposefully leafing through three-ring binders. This is Orientation 2013 Headquarters, and Orientation Coordinators Evans and Traub are its adept generals.
“This year, we want to give incoming students more options, providing them with chances to explore what they are interested in and what brought them to Hobart and William Smith,” says Traub. “We also want to help them find support systems, so that they know who and what is available to them from the moment they start classes.”
That means more face-time with many of the campus’ offices, as well as a greater number of open-ended tasks throughout the weekend, allowing students to seek the answers that are pertinent to their own concerns and needs.
Evans has seen the inner-workings of Orientation, having served as both an Orientation Mentor and Orientation Leader. “For me, it was an easy transition to think in terms of Orientation and welcoming new students,” says Evans. “Though at the same time, it’s completely different when you’re in the everyday thralls of planning.”
Traub was able to pick up a few pointers by shadowing past Orientation Coordinator Caroline Dosky ’11, MAT ’12 and getting advice from last year’s coordinators Nelle Crossan ’13 and Sean Peer ’13.
A record number of applications poured into the Orientation offices this year, resulting in the most selective process ever. “It was incredibly exciting,” says Evans, who is enthusiastic about the arrival of the Mentors and Leaders next week. “Instead of assembling the masses, we are ready to build a team. Wes and I get to plan what happens, but the Orientation Mentors and Leaders get to control what the weekend actually is.”
Orientation 2013 will also serve as a primer to the importance of sustainable and active engagement on campus. Following the annual Day of Service project in the Geneva community, the first-years will share a picnic by the lake. The “Going Green in Geneva” lunch will be held at Seneca Lake State Park and serve as a time to introduce the Geneva 2020 initiative and outline the impact the Colleges have on Geneva and the Finger Lakes as a whole.
“We really want new students to see that this is our way of life here,” explains Evans, pointing to campus-wide composting, recycling and energy efforts. “This is not something you just choose to do, but something that you are an integral part of; it is what we do as a community.”
In addition to the traditional icebreaker games and meetings with First-Year Seminar classes and advisers, students will be invited to take part in wellness hours. From yoga to morning exercise opportunities, the incoming classes will get a firsthand introduction to the wide variety of facilities and programs available at the Bristol Field House.
The Classes of 2017 should prepare for a Friday night spent around the world – theme houses from around campus will share international dishes, and live music, movies, laser tag and a slew of carnival games will transform the Quad into a World’s Fair, brimming with opportunities for the newest members of campus to unwind, have fun and connect with their classmates.
This year also marks the growth of programs specifically geared toward transfer and international students. For both coordinators, Orientation is not simply a time for first-year students, but a time for all who are coming to the Colleges for the first time.
“All incoming students will be ready for classes,” says Traub. “They shouldn’t worry because we are working to make sure they are prepared for the first day.”
With Orientation fast approaching, headquarters are buzzing with anticipation, and the pair have been flooded with the eager questions from students who can’t wait to set foot on campus. “Take a step back and relax,” he says. “All the details floating around in your mind will be resolved,” Traub advises.
“There is so much to be involved in, so much work to be done in the community, sports to be played, clubs to join,” adds Evans. “This is a place where you can find a fit. If you don’t find the perfect group of friends on Facebook, that doesn’t mean your perfect place isn’t already somewhere at HWS.”
Orientation 2014 will be held from Friday, Aug. 23- Sunday, Aug. 25.