Stevenson’s new student orientation makes necessary adjustments

The “New Student Orientation” program at Stevenson University made major adjustments due to the COVID-19 Pandemic to provide students the same experience in person or at home.

Jenna Womack, Stevenson University’s Director of Student Activities, is guiding students the same way during this virtual period. (Photo from Stevenson media library)

The 2020 “New Student Orientation” at Stevenson kicked off Aug. 27 and ended Aug. 31. Stevenson University’s Director of Student Activities, Jenna Womack, spoke to The Villager about how the weekend went down, especially given its hybrid format, with new students attending the orientation both in person and remotely from home.

Womack explained that this year’s orientation structure, while different in setting than before, still “followed the same format and stuck with similar content for the most part” as year’s past.

 Indeed, what has worked well for the New Student Orientation in the past worked well once again in 2020. That’s because the focus of the program was still on student support. “One of the most important and beneficial aspects of ‘New Student Orientation’ is the small group interaction led by an upper-class student. “All new students are grouped together based on their First Year Seminar course,” said Womack. Incoming transfer students are grouped together in this fashion as well, Womack added.

Within these assigned groups, new students were given the opportunity to engage in discussions pertinent to “life on campus.” Topics included “diversity and inclusing at Stevenson,” “alcohol and drug use,” “bystander intervention,” and “access to student resources,” among others. Womack added that these group talks gave incoming Mustangs “opportunities throughout New Student Orientation to come together as a group to ask questions, talk about different topics.”

Being a new student on campus isn’t always easy, but Stevenson is doing their best to keep students involved. (Photo from Canva.com)

Womack said that Stevenson’s “New Student Orientation” also featured larger group discussions outside of the smaller focused groups in order to provide new students “several opportunities to form connections with other students both inside and outside of their groups.”

One aspect of New Student Orientation this year that differed from years past was the Convocation Video, which welcomed new students to their first year as a Stevenson Mustang. This year’s video featured Stevenson University President Elliot Hirshman, Ph.D., who addressed the COVID-19 pandemic and the many challenges it has presented the college head-on.

As far as COVID-19’s impact on the orientation itself, Womack acknowledged that the hybrid format indeed presented challenges, and that student and staff health and safety was a top priority the whole time. In the end, however, the orientation was, as in years past, a success. To this, Womack expressed her gratitude for attendees’ and participants’ overall positive attitude throughout the five-day event.

For more information regarding New Student Orientation, email them at activities@stevenson.edu.

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