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College Council Sophomore Orientation Proposal
In the Winter Study of 2009, College Council created a subcommittee to look at the possibility of having a program that would address gaps in the Sophomore experience at Williams. That committee was chaired by Emanuel Yekutiel '11 and the product of the committee was the proposal below.
After constructing this proposal and brainstorming for ideas about the programs, the subcommittee approached various administrators and community members to gather support for the programs. In the early Spring, the Dean of the College and the Dean's Office decided to formally support the program for the Class of 2012.
The subcommittee then expand to double its original size to include more diverse perspectives and to prevent the students from getting overwhelmed by the logistical aspects of organizing the program. It was sectioned into smaller groups that focused of specific aspects of the program such as Dining and Advertising.
The program was announced to the Class of 2012 on Tuesday, April 14th and the committee is working hard to iron out the details of the program. Registration forms will be available soon.
Here is the original proposal:
Proposal for a Sophomore (Re)Orientation Program
Sophomore year is difficult. Upon returning to campus, many second-year students sense they are suddenly on their own without the structure of the entry or the crutch of Junior Advisors. Academics stresses increase, and students are faced with hard decisions about declaring a major and what to do with their junior year. Recognizing that there is an urgent need for programming to bridge those gaps in the sophomore experience, we suggest a two to three days of “orientation” events before the start of school to assure that students start on even footing.
There are two specific needs that the orientation event will address: academic and social/psychological. Sophomores must choose a major at the end of the year, which in an addition to a great deal of soul searching, necessitates developing better ties with professors and potential advisors. Sophomores must also start organizing for their junior year. After the difficult decisions between becoming a Junior Advisor, studying away or taking on new leadership positions on campus, students must then make sure they have met necessary requirements and deadlines. The existing programs at Williams are not sufficient in preparing sophomores for these decisions. Sophomores should arrive on campus prepared and aware of what lies ahead.
Sophomore year also marks an uneasy transition from the familial entry experience to the larger neighborhood housing system. The unity and structure of entry housing, an experience that allows freshman to meet and engage with a diverse group of peers, is lost to sophomores. Upperclassmen dorms often include many closed doors and unfamiliar faces. Furthermore, there are fewer opportunities to interact with other sophomores. This living situation forces sophomores to make the group friends they made during freshman year more insular. This hinders the creation of a larger stronger Williams community and leaves its sophomores floundering for support.
Our idea for a Sophomore Orientation program would be a two or three day event prior to the start of the academic year. For 2009-2010, that would mean programming on the Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday prior to the start of classes on Thursday September 10th 2009. The goal would be to address the social and academic gaps that we see exist for incoming sophomores.
To address the academic gap, we plan to have a fair with senior majors with whom sophomores can discuss potential major tracks. This will provide a space in which students can ask important questions about classes to take, professors to know, and what the major involves. In addition to this fair, there will be an introductory address which will address the decisions that will need to be made as a sophomore.
In order to pursue programs such as study abroad, all sophomores are required to attend an information session during the year. We plan to include these required sessions during the program. This will not be the only opportunity to attend these meetings, but will be offered now for the students’ convenience and awareness. These sessions will discuss the general idea and format of the special programs offered to junior year students. Afterwards, there will be a fair with tables representing the study abroad programs, the Williams-Mystic program, the Williams-Oxford program, and junior advising. At each table will be student alumni of the programs who will answer any questions that sophomores may have about their associated program.
To address the social needs of incoming sophomores we will provide programming that will encourage social interaction within the class. We will use meals and events to achieve this end. The dining halls will not be open for use to sophomores at this time and so we plan to use large class meals to stimulate interaction. We are planning to include two continental breakfasts, two sophomore barbeques, a neighborhood dinner, and one faculty or formal tent dinner for the class. We are also planning on creating a tunnel city tab where sophomores can enjoy coffee with peers. These meals will allow sophomores to strengthen ties with their neighborhood, their friends, and their class as a whole.
Possible additional programming may include a sophomore hike up Stone-Hill, dance party, Sophomore Voices, a bon-fire, and a musical event or comedian. At the end of the program, the sophomore handbook that was created by the Sophomore Council will be distributed. It will include all of the information distributed during the program for future use.
Sample itinerary: Day 1 Monday September 7, 2009
10:30am- 11am Opening Ceremony Chapin Hall 11am- 12pm Academic Fair in Paresky Student Center 12pm- 2pm Sophomore Barbeque 6pm-8pm Sophomore Dinner
Day 2 Tuesday September 8, 2009
9am-12pm Hike to Stone Hill 12pm- 2pm Sophomore Barbeque 4pm-6 pm Various Talks for JA/Abroad coupled with Junior Year Fair 6pm- 8pm Neighborhood Dinner 10pm- 2am Dance Party
Day 3 Wednesday September 9, 2008 9am-12pm Tunnel City Tab
Day 4 Thursday September 10, 2008
Start of Classes
We believe that this sophomore orientation program is both viable and necessary, but we also acknowledge the challenges associated with setting up a new program. These concerns include its cost, security, interference with other programming, and student participation. Meals will present the greatest cost associated with the program. Additional costs will include extra personnel, facilities rentals, and many other program related costs such as booking fees. We acknowledge that the added presence of the sophomore class on campus poses more work for security personnel in terms of making sure the campus is safe. We also plan to work very closely with those existent programming for varsity athletes and the Ephventures leaders. As of now, the (re)orientation does conflict with these other programs and we hope to mend this in the future. Another concern will be securing student participation for the event, both from advising seniors and the sophomore class itself. We feel strongly that once the program is institutionalized, students will participate in great numbers. Like First days, this program presents an attractive option for those students who want to be prepared for what is to come.
College Council Sophomore Orientation Committee: