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Saint Mary’s improves orientation

Kaitlyn Rabach | Sunday, August 25, 2013

Seniors Kat Sullivan and Maddy Martin, student body president and vice president, focused on facilitating personal interaction between the members of the Saint Mary’s Class of 2017 and the College’s student leaders during the first-year orientation.

 Sullivan said her administration wanted to help to improve first-year orientation by collaborating with Belles Beginnings, to plan first-year orientation.

“As [Student Government Association] SGA leaders, we are the biggest role models for the first years right now,” Sullivan said. “We want them to know of our presence on campus and we want them to feel comfortable enough to ask us questions.”

Both Sullivan and Martin said the changes made in the inaugural alcohol awareness program titled “Know the Facts” represented one of the most meaningful additions of peer-to-peer advising during first-year orientation.

“In the past, this program has typically been run by administrators,” Martin said. “We thought peer-to-peer contact would be more effective, so we had members of SGA trained to be able to run the program. This way, students talked to older Saint Mary’s women that have been through many of the experiences we discussed.”

Freshmen attended “Know the Facts” on Thursday night at eight different locations on Saint Mary’s campus, Sullivan said.

“We wanted this program to have an intimate feeling, so we split up the class and had 55 first years per location,” Sullivan said.

Three stations each covered a different theme: Saint Mary’s Alcohol Policies, Sexual Assault and Depression and Anxiety, Martin said.

“These were all areas we thought were important to touch on for first-year students,” Martin said. “We thought it was important that these students knew about policies related to alcohol on campus and we wanted them to know about the different resources that are available to them. We also invited a Notre Dame [Security Police] officer to come over and explain Notre Dame’s policies on alcohol because we know our students do spend a lot of time across the street.”
Martin said this year’s orientation included the inaugural sessions of “Depression and Anxiety.”

“Going to college is said to be one of the most stressful moments in one’s life and we want to make sure that our fellow Belles know the signs of depression and anxiety,” Martin said.

First-year Belles also attended a special session on civility training on Friday night, Sullivan said.

“This session was all about promoting awareness of our differences,” Sullivan said. “We went over how to talk about differences and the importance of respecting one another. Really, we touched on what is becoming of a Saint Mary’s woman.”

Before DomerFest on Saturday, SGA hosted a pre-jam party in the Angela Athletic Facility, Martin said. The party kicked off with a presentation of Green Dot, a national initiative focusing on violence prevention. The Office of the Belles Against Violence introduced the program before the Belles enjoyed icebreaker activities, a bar with free candy and performances by the Undertones.

“[The pre-jam party] is brand new this year and we really wanted to give Saint Mary’s students the opportunity to mix and mingle before going over to Notre Dame for DomerFest,” Martin said. “We also implemented the new escort process to Notre Dame, so students could leave straight from the mixer and not feel so isolated.”

Sullivan said she hoped the changes to orientation week helped first-year students to feel more welcomed into the Saint Mary’s sisterhood.

Contact Kaitlyn Rabach at krabac01@saintmarys.edu