Undergraduate orientation faces several major changes this year, according to Jason Rathman (LA’ 17), orientation coordinator for co-curricular programs and major events. The annual event, from Aug. 30 to Sept. 4 this year, seeks to introduce first-year students to the Tufts community.
First and foremost, the Office of Residential Life and Learning staff are replacing traditional orientation leaders, according to Joe Golia, director of campus life. Golia said that first-year assistants (FYAs), community development assistants (CDAs) and academic and community engagement (ACE) fellows will be the leaders during orientation.
“They will be taking students from location to location, event to event, being the main peer mentor during orientation,” Golia said. “These, obviously, are the same students that will be with the [new] students all year.”
According to Golia, CDAs will be replacing traditional resident assistants (RAs) in halls housing sophomores, juniors and seniors, whereas FYAs will be replacing RAs in first-year halls.
“The RAs really didn’t have a role in orientation [in the past] other than ‘being the RAs,’” he said. “With the changes in the role descriptions…I really feel like this is going to be a great start for the FYAs because they’re with the students right from the beginning.”
According to Rathman, there will also be some smaller changes to orientation this year. One new aspect of orientation is the use of advice cards that were filled out by current Tufts students, he said.
“All summer we’ve been hosting events to try to get current and former students to fill out these Jumbo advice cards for first-years. So, when [they] sit down for Matriculation, an… incoming student will look under their seat and see a tip or advice,” Rathman said. “I think it’s a really sweet way to say ‘welcome to Tufts,’ and that there are people here that will help you.”
Rathman also said that the O-Show, an orientation-week performance put on by multiple student groups, will begin this year with a more inclusive rendition of the Tufts fight song. The word “boys” will be replaced with “‘Bos.”
“It’s just a little change, but it’s the little changes, I think, that are important,” he added.
Also, unlike in years past, most students arriving to campus early for Orientation week programming are required to help move in first-years and transfer students, according to Rathman.
As in past years, O-show performers and leaders arrived on campus early to provide entertainment. Junior Emma Chu, a member of Tufts’ Jackson Jills a capella group, said that the group participates in performances during the week while meeting students who may be interested in joining a cappella groups through other events.
“Each of the groups performs three songs, so we basically learn the three songs during the week while we’re at school,” Chu said.
Rathman said that changes were made in order to continue making orientation a more meaningful experience that promotes building stronger connections.
“This is the first year that there are a lot of these changes… so this isn’t the ‘be-all, end-all’ for what orientation will look like at Tufts,” he said. “This is just the first wave in, hopefully, a series of changes that will make orientation a more welcoming, inclusive and meaningful experience.”