NU welcome cut by 7 days

New Student Week will last seven days less than last year’s, administrators said Thursday, leaving next fall’s freshman class with only five days to move in, make friends and take placement exams.

After receiving complaints that the orientation was too long, administrators have tried to shorten the welcoming period without cutting down on activities, said Kelly Carter, New Student Week Coordinator.

“For a long time, the most consistent feedback we were getting was that it was just too long,” said Carter, a member of the General Faculty Committee, which decided to shorten the period. “And that’s why we’re condensing it. We’ve found that we can do it, so we are. It’s going to be tighter, but there will be a good mix of activities.”

Freshmen will move in Sept. 15 and classes will start Sept. 20. Last year students had from Sept. 10 to Sept. 21 to prepare for classes.

One major consideration for the committee was the timing of Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur. Many Jewish students and their families complained last year when the President’s Convocation and meetings with peer advisers conflicted with the holidays.

“It’s definitely something we’re cognizant of,” she said. “The goal of New Student Week is to welcome students and that’s definitely not a good way to welcome them.”

But during the 2000-01 school year, the holidays are celebrated after classes start and do not conflict with orientation activities.

Students will take all placement tests on Sept. 16; responsibilities classes will be taught on Sept. 18 and freshmen will register on Sept. 19. Several events — including the work-study job fair, the activities fair and trips to Chicago — will be held in the evenings after classes have started.

But some students said the bonding activities would be more convenient and appealing if freshmen don’t have to worry about classes at the same time.

“I don’t think as many people will go,” said Rebecca Matthews, a Speech junior. “(During orientation) there’s not this pressure of being in classes and doing homework. Especially for freshmen, that’s a good time to have.”

Carter said the committee had decided that the shorter period would not compromise the time freshmen need for making friends.

“This is the make-or-break period,” she said. “But we just don’t have those problems here. One of the big reasons is because we have such a good orientation period.”

But some students said they are worried freshmen won’t have enough time to get to know their classmates.

“New Student Week was an important time, especially for freshmen in the dorms to create a family with themselves,” said Patrick Brophy, a Speech sophomore. “It’s as broad as it is long.”

Eliminating the extra free time also could cut down on the number of alcohol violations during New Student Week, a problem in the past. But Carter said the committee did not shorten the period to curb those problems.

“That’s not really the drive for changing it this year,” she said.

Many students agreed that the 12-day orientation gave them too much free time.

“It’s probably a good idea,” said Morgan Murphy, a Medill junior. “I remember New Student Week seeming kind of long when I was a freshman. Those extra days won’t make or break your social life at Northwestern.”

Other students said the longer orientations made the transition to NU easier.

“I thought it was ample time to adapt to the campus and to college life,” said Dave Wiemer, a Weinberg freshman. “But I think if it’s shortened, students might go straight into classes without meeting very many friends.”