OLs welcome new students with enthusiasm

by Emily Murphy / Beacon Staff • September 6, 2012

Ols ryan
OLs hit the street to welcome new students.
OLs hit the street to welcome new students.

It was the last day of training. At lunchtime in the dining hall, a mass of orientation leaders sat down, pen and paper in hand while they wrote letters to the incoming students they would be in charge of  for a week — a task Orientation Core Staff had given them.

Some knew their OLs as teachers of all things Emerson. Other students might not even recall their leaders’ names or faces.

Remembered or not, the orientation leaders also have leaders of their own: the Core Staff. This group of eight students, the Core Staff train OLs and run events for Orientation Week. Each member is in charge of a specific task, like social media or the Org Fair.

Shanae Burch, a senior performing arts major responsible for parent orientation, said the Core Staff have been preparing all year for new students.

“We were hired in October, and we planned the January/Winter orientation, which is much smaller,” Burch said. “As soon as that’s over, we immediately began planning for the fall.”

The staff, who are required to have been an orientation leader in years prior, apply for their position in September and are interviewed and selected by Student Life a month in October.

Iggy Dwyer, a senior performing arts major in charge of OL questions and concerns and the Organization Fair, said the position is paid during the summer months. General Core Staff is a part-time position, while the Chair is considered full time. An exact salary was not disclosed.

“As far as the time commitment goes ... the orientation leaders are here for a week before orientation for their training,” Dwyer said. “We’ve been here all summer.”

Between May and August, there are meetings, training sessions, team building exercises, and projects for the Core Staff said Dwyer.

“We held a full day retreat and a full day of office training prior to starting our work over the summer,” Dwyer said. “This year, our retreat was held outdoors at a challenge course in Northern Mass., which included group objective activities and low ropes.”

As far as projects go, each Core Staff member has different responsibilites, both inside and outside of each student’s comfort zones. For example, the 2012 Core Staff video starring all members was produced and written by Jordan Stillman and Danielle Kushner.

Stillman, a writing, literature, and publishing major handling social media  for orientation, said working on the video challenged her and the rest of staff.

“I’ve never written a TV script, I’ve never tried to produce a video,” Stillman, a senior, said. “Most of us [hadn’t] been in a movie before.”

According to Burch, Core Staff also prepare the orientation leaders for their duties, such as mentoring incoming students.

“They have to understand how to excel in their position,” Burch said. “They also have to be a resource. New students have so many questions, and [orientation leaders] expected to have the answers.”

Additionally, Sharon Duffy, the Associate Dean of Students and the lead faculty advisor for Undergraduate Orientation, said the Core Staff meet with her and many departments in planning the events for Orientation.

“[Core Staff work] with all facets of the college — from facilities to property management, from OHRL to academic departments, from public safety to alumni relations,” Duffy said in an email. “Orientation really does take a village to facilitate.”

According to Duffy, if all aspects of Orientation Week ran smoothly, each tour, info session, show, and group activity would make new students understand and appreciate all Emerson has to offer.

Amy Russo, a freshman visual and media arts major, said there was never a dull moment for her in the past week. She also seemed appreciative of her orientation leaders.

“If anyone had a question, they’d be like: oh, I’ll go find that out for you,” she said.

Similarly, Caroline Cassard, a freshman writing, literature, and publishing major said her orientation leader was helpful.

“Our OL got to know each of us and what our specific interests are and encouraged us to check out this publication or this group,” Cassard said.

However, there were downsides, she said. Some of the tours or informational sessions were scheduled too closely together for her to attend all the ones she wanted, or some events were too crowded.

“I didn’t get into the open mic night,” Cassard said. “They didn’t have enough space for a lot of people. I know some people didn’t get to make it into the comedy night either.”