Shorter week could boost freshman programs

A shorter New Student Week might translate into a larger turnout for two pre-orientation freshman programs.

Freshman Urban Program and Project Wildcat will no longer conflict with Labor Day and Rosh Hashanah because of the changes to New Student Week. But the cut might hinder events during the five-day orientation because of over-programming.

Administrators decided to shorten the orientation period from 12 days to five days for Fall Quarter 2000 because of complaints that New Student Week was too long.

Organizers of FUP, a one-week service program for incoming freshmen, said the later start will benefit their program.

“It’s going to help out because we no longer have to worry about the holidays falling at the end of the week,” said Matt Haugen, a former co-chairman and past participant of FUP.

During the week before orientation, participants in the program work at community service sites, including AIDS advocacy groups and community-development organizations in the Chicago area.

Co-chairman Evan Ransom said he anticipates having 70 spots for freshmen this year. Last year about 150 students applied for 60 available spots.

He said the outing will give freshmen time to meet other students — time they won’t have during the shorter New Student Week.

“It might have an effect on the transition for students who aren’t a part of the program,” said Ransom, a Weinberg junior. “But that extra week for participants will give them an advantage.”

Organizers of Project Wildcat, another week-long activity for freshmen, said they also expect to benefit from the schedule change.

For the past two years, students have gone camping in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula with Project Wildcat. The group’s organizers plan to take next year’s participants to the Smoky Mountains.

Last year, about 100 freshmen took the camping trip, and Project Wildcat co-Chairman Ben Pabst said the shorter New Student Week could help boost that number to 150 freshmen next year.

He said starting the trip seven days later will cut less into students’ summer vacations and encourage more to enroll.

“In years past, in addition to coming 12 days earlier, we were asking them to come a week before that,” said Pabst, a Weinberg junior. “Now it’s easier for them to work around their summer job schedules and anything else.”

Although the change helps pre-orientation events, it could hinder events that occur during New Student Week.

Community Action Day, an all-day community-service trip to Chicago for freshmen, might take a cut in participation next year. Freshmen might not find time for the service day with placement tests and other mandatory events squeezed into five days.

“I worry that because there’s so much over-programming, fewer people will participate,” said Kate Pietsch, an organizer of the event.

Events planned by individual dorms also could take a hit because of the shortened week.

McCormick freshman Pi Roshandel, co-social chairman of Willard Residential College, said Willard will have to cut traditional New Student Week events.

Last year, the residential college planned activities for most days of New Student Week, including a photo scavenger hunt and a barbecue.

“We won’t have time to do half the cool things we did (this) year,” Roshandel said.