Workshops still need revamping, some say

Michelle Ma

Freshmen and transfer students have been the first to experience the newly designed mandatory New Student Week workshops. But some incoming students say the sessions still need a little revamping before they’ll be useful.

For Medill freshman Emmet Sullivan, listening to each session just reinforced the obvious. The redesign and new name, Essential NU, hasn’t helped increase the programs’ relevancy, he said.

“A lot of the information I already knew,” said Sullivan. “I don’t know that (these lectures) will change anything. There are probably more ways to get the message across.”

After years of complaints, coordinators of the required sessions said they tried to find ways to present the material differently for this year’s freshmen.

Student Transitions Coordinator Jen Meyers said that “Sex Signals,” produced by Chicago-based Catharsis Productions, takes the material from last year’s “Sexual Positioning” workshop and uses interactive comedy to explain dating and sex issues in college.

Along with “Sex Signals,” new students must complete “AlcoholEdu,” “411 on 911 — Campus Safety,” “Borrow You Roommate’s CD, Not Her/His Homework” and a “Diversity on Campus” requirement. Students then must complete one of three self-selected workshops to finish Essential NU. Another change is that incoming students must take six workshops instead of the five required in past years.

Some of the changes to this year’s workshops include combining topics into one session, Meyers said. One optional session, “But I Didn’t Mean It That Way!” is a compilation of two of last year’s workshops and discusses discrimination and harassment.

But some students said they still noticed repetition of some information.

“They should just shorten it up and let us use common sense,” said Michael Sutanto, a McCormick freshman. “You should just take care of yourself. That’s what they’re not stressing and they should.”

“411 on 911 — Campus Safety” presenter Ronald Godby, detective sergeant for University Police, said he wanted to make new students aware of robberies and how to be safe in light of last year’s frequent muggings.

Weinberg freshman Blake Walker said Godby’s session was helpful because he learned where police and safety outlets were on campus, but still thought the session was too long.

“They did a pretty good job,” Walker said. “But I feel like we’ve heard some of the information four or five times. It should be a required session if they sorted out the relevant, non-repeated information and focused on that instead.”

“Minding the Body” tried to expand upon last year’s “Need a Lifeline?” workshop that focused mainly on suicide prevention. This year’s workshop included information about common health concerns and outlined the services of Counseling and Psychological Services, said Kenneth Papineau, director of health education at Searle Student Health Service.

“The primary reason to change the workshop was because student evaluations from last year were not as positive as we hoped,” Papineau said. “We wanted to broaden the discussion so students would know where to go (throughout the school year) and who to contact.”

New students have until Nov. 15 to complete “Diversity on Campus” and can attend various campus events that fulfill this requirement. A change is that this fall students can contact the Orientation and Student Transitions office if they know of an event on campus that might fit the parameters of Essential NU, said Meyers, the coordinator.

After New Student Week, student organizations and academic departments can fill out a form requesting that attending their event fulfill the Essential NU requirement.

Reach Michelle Ma at [email protected]