Changes to 2018 New Student Orientation: Student Life meets the needs of incoming students

 

By: Cameron Lareva

Assistant News Editor

New Student Orientation is a pinnacle part to the beginning of student’s college career. Canisius College holds a four day New Student Orientation for freshman students right before the beginning of the fall semester. The program is vital to the retention rates, establishing a community among the freshman class, and the success of students.

The planning process for New Student Orientation is extensive and ongoing. The main coordinator of the program is currently Phillip Ciallela, assistant director of Student Life. He works to include the required material, such as sexual violence prevention, with sessions that advertise for opportunities like the Study Abroad program, as well as events that provide students with the time to build a sense of community. There is also a committee that consists of Ciallela, faculty members, administrative staff, graduate students, and more. The committee serves to communicate and organize ideas into the actual program. Ciallela said that though there is a committee, planning still relies on students and other members of the college because, “It’s a community. It’s a collaborative effort.”

Any program, club, on-campus initiative or department may request to host an event or session during orientation. The one condition is finding the time spot it can fit, between other scheduled events and personal schedules. Ciallela explained, “It’s like a giant puzzle.”

The source of funding for orientation mainly comes from the $275 New Student Orientation fee that all new students pay. The fee funds the t-shirts, information packets, speakers, and events in the program. Ciallela explains that the funding doesn’t come from Student Life, however, because it’s from the fees, the orientation budget varies from year to year.

New Student Orientation provides students with information that is essential to successful matriculation of new students into the campus community. There are multiple sessions that go over basics, such as using MyCanisius and Canisius Life. New sessions are also introduced when the need arises, as in the case of the technology session that was introduced two years ago. The informational sessions also cover the Griff Center, tutoring center, Public Safety, Student Health Center, and others, and the services they provide to students. Each year they reach out to departments and faculty to update or add any needed details for the informational sessions. The 2018 orientation will also provide students with information on using the Corq app, which provides students with a calendar of events that are happening on-campus. Ciallela said that getting students the information they need during orientation involves, “constantly checking and making sure that we’re not missing something.”

One goal of New Student Orientation is to incorporate the acceptance and appreciation of diversity among students. Various forms of diversity are discussed during orientation, from racial diversity, LGBTQ+ diversity, and even commuter and resident diversity. The 2017 New Student Orientation featured a session by Dialogues on Diversity, in which a speaker delivered a proactive discussion on diversity among students. Students of diversity are also encouraged to participate in orientation, so that there are role models of diverse backgrounds for new students to seek advice and support from. “We have to program better for diversity, not just at orientation, but across the year,” Ciallela stated.

New Student Orientation aims to establish a strong community among the classes and provide students with a supportive foundation from their peers. There are events and sessions that are specifically designed to bring students together. The ice-breaker events, despite the fact that some students were not completely comfortable doing them, create communication between students. The karaoke event was also revamped to lip syncing, which students seemed to enjoy more. These events and sessions are largely created by brainstorming between those planning the events. Feedback is received from current students, so that the events are more likely to be enjoyed by incoming students. “It’s not just doing things to do it, it’s doing things to bring people together,” Ciallela said.

One part of New Student Orientation is introducing new students to their major, which includes meeting advisors, faculty of the department, and the resources that the department offers. The 2018 New Student Orientation will allow individual departments to decide whether the major requires a large room, such as the biology major, or a setup table where students can go between the majors they need. Ciallela said that they’re trying to make the “Meet your Major” event best suited to the needs of the individual departments and students.

Another change that’s being implemented into the 2018 New Student Orientation is the movement of the club fair to Welcome Week. Ciallela explained that the upperclassmen that run the club fair felt it was too much stress to hold it on the same day as their move-in day. Moving the club fair to Welcome Week is intended to allow upperclassmen more time to prepare for the club fair and have greater success in recruitment.

The Commuter Student Association (CSA) has also gotten involved with the planning and improvement of orientation by advocating for new commuter students. Many commuter students felt as though they were not involved as much as resident students on the first day of orientation. Commuter student check in was scheduled for 6 p.m. in past orientations, however, for the 2018 New Student Orientation commuter students will now check in earlier in the day to be more involved during the first day of orientation. CSA is also working to have more presence during orientation, so new commuter students have more upperclassmen to identify with.

The organization of orientation groups has also been altered for the 2018 New Student Orientation. Resident Assistants will serve as the orientation leaders for their residents on their floor. Students who applied to be an orientation leader will serve as group leaders for commuter students. The goal is to allow residents to become closer to the other residents on their floor and their RAs, commuter students will have more time to form connections with other commuters.

Ciallela hopes these changes to New Student Orientation will help to establish a stronger community among the incoming class and better prepare students to have a successful college career.

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