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Frosh-O changes planned

| Thursday, April 24, 2014

At Wednesday night’s student Senate meeting, junior Deirdre Harrington, chair of the Student Campus Orientation Committee (SCOC), led a discussion on upcoming changes to the first-year orientation program, or “Frosh-O.” 

Harrington said Frosh-O weekend begins the Friday that freshmen move into their dorms and continues through Sunday evening. SCOC and dorm Frosh-O committees and commissioners, as well as the University administration, plan activities and information sessions within allocated times throughout the weekend, 

“In SCOC, we train all the staff for Frosh-O and go over programming and work on inclusion and having a fair and welcoming Frosh-O experience for everyone,” Harrington said.

Harrington said this year, SCOC hopes to “change the culture that surrounds Frosh-O to make it a more welcoming and inclusive experience. …  A lot of people don’t have positive experiences with Frosh-O weekend, and that’s not a good welcome to Notre Dame.”

Part of making Frosh-O a positive experience involves training dorm commissioners, Harrington said. 

“We’re training them to identify micro and macro aggressions,” she said. “The idea is that these commissioners become active bystanders within their Frosh-O committees and … make sure every person feels welcome.”

Harrington said several changes to the Class of 2018’s Frosh-O weekend are not actually new developments, but rather technicalities that have been largely ignored in recent years. For example, serenading dorms with songs and dances will not be allowed before Sunday. 

“We’re also looking into changing the name of ‘serenades’ to something that doesn’t have such a romantic connotation,” Harrinton said. “We want to change it so it isn’t heteronormative and doesn’t make people feel uncomfortable. The point of serenades is not to seduce people; it’s dorm spirit.”

Additionally, dorms will walk to Domerfest on their own instead of being paired with another dorm. 

“We want to ensure there’s no [forced] dates … it’s not conducive to forming friendships, and it’s awkward,” Harrington said.

“It’s also a logistical problem,” student government chief of staff and sophomore Shannon Montague said. “There’s going to be a lot of construction by Stepan [Center], and we’re really not sure what it’s going to look like and how easy it will be to get people through.”

Another initiative SCOC will put forth this August is to encourage more programming between same-sex halls “because it’s important to have friends of your gender from outside your dorm,” Harrington said.

Several senators expressed concern that this change would alter the dynamic of Frosh-O. Alumni Hall senator and freshman Scott Moore said opposite-gender dorm programming encourages freshmen to make friends with people of the opposite gender — an important experience within the University’s single-sex residence hall system. 

Montague said the ultimate goal for Frosh-O is to promote a balance of events.

“I know it’s a huge part of Frosh-O, but we’ve heard a lot of comments on the other side, where people feel like they only have same-sex friends that live in their dorm,” Montague said. “This year, we’re trying to split the time. We just want to make sure all those complaints are addressed.”

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About Margaret Hynds

Margaret is a senior Political Science major and the former Editor-in-Chief of The Observer. She hails from Washington, D.C., and is a former Phox of Pangborn Hall. Follow Margaret on Twitter @MargaretHynds

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