Arriving to campus as a first-year is a daunting and overwhelming experience that current students are all too familiar with. Fall Orientation grants first-years an opportunity to familiarize themselves with many different aspects that comprise the life and culture of Bates College. The program teaches first-years how to establish healthy and safe habits in their daily lives, hopefully acting as a roadmap for their first year on campus and beyond.
This year however, the Orientation program continued to employ a series of changes that had been implemented last year, hoping to address some of the concerns that past first-years, now upperclassmen, have expressed regarding their Orientation experiences. Like last year, the events and seminars in the Orientation program continued to be student run through the First-Year Orientation program, coordinated by Thomas Graziano ‘16 and Gina Ciobanu ‘17. With a student-lead Orientation, first-years are provided with the opportunity to learn about Bates life and what to expect in a more relatable and palpable manner.
The mission of the First-Year Orientation program “is to make sure that the first-years know the resources available on campus, are introduced to the Lewiston-Auburn community at large, and meet members of their class while having fun!” Graziano expressed.
The biggest change in this year’s Orientation program was the installment of a collective date in which all first-years arrive on campus.
President Clayton Spencer announced the biggest change in this year’s Orientation Program in her annual autumn community letter, stating that “all first-year students arrived on the same day to be greeted as a class before heading off, later this week, to an expanded array of AESOP experiences and, for our fall varsity athletes, team practices.”
In doing this, the administration and the First-Year Orientation program members believe that this year’s Orientation was an even more inclusive and enriching experience for incoming students, removing any factors that would promote disparities in the inclusiveness of the Orientation program.
Dinos Lefkaritis, a first-year from Cyprus, reflected on his experience with this year’s Orientation, saying that many of the events provided social opportunities for first-years, and that “even the talks were a good way to meet people.” Dino revealed that this year’s Orientation placed a large importance on engaging students in discussions on sexual assault and harassment, an issue rampant on contemporary college campuses in the United States.
The most helpful talk on this subject was allegedly the “Green Dot Training” program, which describes a potential situation involving sexual misconduct as a “red dot” situation, while one in which safety and respect is maintained is called a “green dot.” This program educated first-year students on how to prevent a red dot situation from occurring, and perhaps more importantly, how to intervene in order to change a situation from a red dot to a green dot.
While Dinos was appreciative of the Orientation program (and the further efforts by Dean Reese to help international students adjust to life at Bates), he expressed that many events were packed into a day, leaving students overly tired. He suggested that having downtime to intermingle with other first-years in an un-prescribed setting could be of equal value.
The administration and student coordinators look to continue to improve Orientation with changes made to the program this year, and in the following years, to establish a program that equips first-years with all the necessary information to make Bates their home. Welcome Class of 2019!