Post Classifieds

Wider campus involvement headlines orientation changes

By Christine DiGangi
On August 22, 2009

No, the Ringling Bros. are not in town. But in an effort to organize the orientation for 750 new students and better connect the campus, a giant tent will stand in the middle of campus for two weeks.With the arrival of this exceptionally large group, changes - like the Tent on the Green - popped up in orientation and move-in.

"The tent, whatever you want to call it, is a symbol of what I hope is the beginning of a core revitalization of the center of the campus," said President Brian Casey.

To minimize the chaos of a packed orientation schedule and settling into residence halls, administrators decided to erect the tent as a visible hub of information and interaction for new students and their families. Administrators said the University hopes to emphasize DePauw's community atmosphere by bringing its members together as the new semester gains momentum.

And it's not all happening in the tent.

While mentors and resident assistants are helping with move-in as usual, they're not the only ones carrying boxes up stairs this year. For the first time, faculty and staff were invited to help at the dorms. About 80 volunteered.

"We know we have a big class this year," said Myrna Hernandez, director of first-year programs, "but we want to keep the small-school feel."

Once the freshmen find their rooms, they'll also see a note addressed to them. Their pen-pal? A staff member from the student life office.

"This is a way to ensure that we're still providing good services to our students and just giving them one more member of the administration with whom they're a little familiar," said Cindy Babington, vice president of student life and dean of students.

To keep with the community theme, the University is providing lunch for new students and families, an old tradition that's reappearing on the orientation schedule after several years of absence. At 6:30 p.m., there will be a pep rally at Blackstock Stadium.

That's just day one.

Monday's academic exploration sessions were shortened to 45 minutes and will run from 1 p.m. - 5 p.m. It is recommended that freshmen attend at least one.

Monday evening's traditional tour through Greencastle, Destination Downtown, is no longer catered by DePauw but by local restaurants Treasures on the Square, Chief's South by Southwest and Almost Home.

Party House, a mandatory event previously scheduled later in the fall, was moved to Tuesday, day four of orientation. The program takes place in Bloomington Street Hall and Delta Upsilon fraternity and is an interactive performance about party safety put on by RAs and mentors. Feedback indicated that it should be moved to orientation, Hernandez said.

The whole community comes together Wednesday evening for an all-campus convocation, another first in the fall semester's kickoff. Tom Wise will give a presentation entitled "Beyond Diversity: Examining Privilege in the Age of Obama" in the Green Center for the Performing Arts Kresge Auditorium at 7 p.m.

"We wanted first-year students to know that faculty, staff and students do get involved in intellectual gatherings in and out of the classroom," Hernandez said.

Though Babington said that this class' size is cause for much of the excitement, these changes are part of a big-picture improvement in community life at the University.

"I want to signify that you're entering into a special place," Casey said. "Ritual is a way in which you mark important transitions, so we're going to do that."

- Matt Welch contributed to this article.

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