A warmer welcome

Details of an enhanced orientation program for first-time students, including a mandatory overnight stay, have finally been hammered down, and the program is ready for this summer.

It was nearly a year ago when Provost Renu Khator formed a work group to enhance the orientation program. Now the new agenda is about to be implemented. Students will come in on the first day of orientation and spend the day in the program; then they will stay the night in Beta or Castor Hall. The next morning they will wake up and begin their second day.

“The implementation of a full two days’ worth of programming, services and interactive presentations is truly going to benefit the students,” Office of Orientation Acting Director Marnie Hauser said.

The overnight stay is not about keeping students in the residence halls; it’s about interaction between students, Assistant Dean of New Student Programs Keri Riegler said.

“You will be missing out on what campus life is about,” Riegler said. “Even though you’re a commuter student doesn’t mean that you’re not going to be on campus until midnight or 1 a.m. participating. So we look at it as an opportunity to really expose students to this community.”

The two main focuses of orientation are academics and student life. Student Affairs and Academic Affairs joined together in order to bring both perspectives to the program.

“(We) worked with a production team from various members of the community, Campus Recreation, Student Activities, a college representative and Student Government to kind of devise a new orientation program,” Riegler said.

According to Hauser, in addition to the general academic requirements and advising, technological factors will be discussed at orientation that students will need throughout their college careers.

“We are including discussions about academic resources, providing a technology component where the students will actually go onto OASIS and Blackboard, and tips and tools for being a successful student at USF,” Hauser said. SA also worked with USF organizations to present student life to the incoming freshmen.

The orientation will have more roundtable and student discussions. At the Sun Dome, the Sun Dolls, Rocky the Bull, athletes and student leaders will cheer and welcome the students to USF. Later, there will be an “icebreaker” segment where students will break up into teams with their leader to mingle.

The goal is to make orientation a first step in the success of students on a social and academic level. There will be an induction ceremony where students will officially be labeled USF Bulls and join in singing the fight song. Riegler said this will help the students gain pride in USF and feel connected to the school.

The residence halls are prepared as well. Beta and Castor were chosen to be available to the orientation students because other facilities will be in use by other summer programs. They are also closer to the Fresh Food Company, where students will dine.

The money to fund the program will come from orientation fees. Each student will be charged an additional $65 more than the usual fee of $35, totaling $100 a person.

“The Board of Governors mandates that you can only charge $35 for orientation,” Riegler said. However, additional fees for items like food and residence hall housing are permissible, and because of the lodging and more meals throughout the day, orientation costs have risen.

“There is absolutely no profit to orientation,” Riegler said.

She also said the money collected from orientation goes into orientation and programming. Some of the money is kept in order to keep the program running and is spent on services such as student-peer training.

The program is not completely permanent, however. The plans will be further developed and assessed over the next two years. Evaluations will ensure that the program fulfilled learning outcomes, created a lasting impression on students and contributed to the success of students.

In addition to the changes, there will be a program to help families encourage their student to be successful at USF. They will also be looking at revamping their week of welcome program.