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University makes changes to ‘too awkward ‘ Frosh-O

Madeline Buckley | Thursday, August 28, 2008

It’s a tradition, even if it is always a little awkward, and it’s part of the Notre Dame experience. But for this year’s freshman class, Freshman Orientation Weekend, or “Frosh-O,” was different than the program experienced by previous incoming classes.

Last year, the Campus Life Council, a governing body of the Notre Dame Student Government, decided there needed to be some revisions in the activities planned for Frosh-O, student body vice president emeritus Maris Braun said.

“We felt that Freshman Orientation was not conducive to establishing good gender relations from the start,” Braun said. The Campus Life Council decided there should be a focus on in-dorm activities, she said.

The activities planned for Frosh-O should help students “build a solid foundation within their dorm, and be comfortable in their home first,” Braun said. To achieve this objective, the Student Activities Office (SAO) took over the Frosh-O planning and increased the mandatory requirements for in-dorm activities, she said.

The SAO has a branch called Student Campus Orientation Committee (SCOC), which leads the planning for freshman orientation, freshman orientation co-commissioner Carolyn Rumer said.

“The school has received complaints in the past,” she said.

Students and parents felt that some of the activities had gotten out of control, she said, specifically referencing activities in which residence of female dorms are paired with residents of male dorms in physical events.

“These activities were just too awkward and traumatic for freshman just getting to school,” she said.

So in an effort to make the orientation process more comfortable for new students, the Frosh-O leaders decided to hold more activities that involved only the residents of the dorm, freshman orientation co-commissioner Ellen Mrowka said.

“This year we emphasized getting to know your roommate, then section mates, then everyone in the dorm and then finally students in other dorms,” Mrowka said.

Breen-Phillips Hall rector Rachel Kellogg said she has also heard complaints about the multi-dorm activities.

“In the past students have complained to me that the only person they got to know during Frosh-O was their roommate,” Kellogg said. They cut the number of multi-dorm activities in order to have the freshmen get to know the other students in their dorm, she said.

“I think the whole process ran really smoothly,” Kellogg said.

In addition to increasing dorm activities, SCOC made several other changes as well, Rumer said.

“This year there was time built into the schedule for the students to have free time to be with their family and run to Target,” she said. The committee decided the students needed more down time, so they didn’t plan activities extremely early or extremely late like they have in the past, she said.

Kellogg said she has heard complaints about students being too tired after Frosh-O.

“This year they toned it down a little so that freshman would have time to unpack and see their families,” she said.

SCOC also tried to plan activities that involved less athletic skill than in the past, Mrowka said.

“This was for the students who aren’t particularly athletic,” she said.

Breen-Phillips Hall freshman Ashley Ulrich said Frosh-O went really well for her.

“I met a lot of people and we had a lot of phone number transfers going on,” she said. Ulrich also said she enjoyed the amount of free time given to the freshman.

“I heard that last year everyone went from thing to thing to thing,” she said. “This year we had breaks to set up the room and unpack.”

Freshman Caroline Walsh of Howard Hall also said she enjoyed Frosh-O, but she would have liked to socialize more with other dorms.

“It seemed like we did a lot of stuff with our dorms which was fun, but I wish we could have branched out a little and met with other dorms,” she said.

Breen-Phillips Hall freshman Victoria Hadlock also wished she could have socialized with other dorms.

“At times it was a little boring because we didn’t do anything with the guy’s dorms until after our parents left,” she said.

SCOC saw this orientation as a test year, co-commissioners Rumer and Mrowka said.

“[The changes] worked well, but it’s a matter of personal preference which style you prefer,” Rumer said.