Fall 2020 orientation will be shortened from one week to five days after students, staff and faculty reported Fall 2019 orientation was too many days, according to the Ithaca College Fall 2019 Orientation Assessment Report.
The report, released by the Office of New Student and Transition Programs (NSTP), combined student and parent feedback on Fall 2019 orientation. It also outlined how the college aims to improve next year’s orientation. Fall 2019 orientation took place over a single week before the first week of classes. Previously, orientation took place across eight two-day programs in the summer or a five-day fall welcome program.
There were 1,618 students in attendance, and 248 were first–generation college students and 85 were transfer students.
Kevin Perry, associate director of NSTP, said via email that Fall 2020 orientation will be shortened to five days, with move-in day occurring Aug. 18.
Junior Anna Sullivan, a first–time orientation leader, said orientation leaders also got feedback that orientation was too long for freshman students and that they did not feel like they had enough time before school started to get adjusted.
“By shortening it, I think there will be more participation in activities designed for the students, as the orientation process would probably be more consolidated in five days,” Sullivan said. “It’ll still give them a chance to acclimate to their new environment by adding a couple days for new students to be independent.”
According to the report, over 85% of students stated that orientation increased their understanding of campus culture and traditions, and over 80% indicated that orientation allowed them to have meaningful interactions with other new students. The data was collected from online surveys, family comment cards, orientation staff forms and individual stakeholder meetings.
The primary issue outlined in the report was confusion during the check-in process. According to students, the self-check-in scanning stations had technical issues, which led to a backup of lines. The feedback stated that orientation check-in was “unclear,” had “no obvious organization” and that the college should consider assigning check-in times.
Perry said via email that a new check-in process will split people between the upper and lower floors of the Athletic and Events Center to address the overcrowding.
“Instead of checking in to two separate processes, orientation and housing, it would be one streamlined process allowing folks to wait in one line and get everything they need,” Perry said via email.
Freshman Amanda Kielty said her experience with move-in day in August was very confusing because of all the lines and booths that seemed unnecessary. Moving into her dorm was also complicated because of the crowding and general confusion, she said.
“The people who were moving my stuff didn’t even know where my room was,” Kielty said. “So we walked around the dorm like 15 times, and there were barely any parking spots.”
Another concern expressed in the report was overcrowding in the dining halls and students having to skip meals. The report blamed this issue on long meal breaks, which led students to linger after eating, and the changing of Towers from a dining hall to a retail marketplace. To address this, the report states the college would like to expand the Campus Center dining hall seating to the Campus Center Quad, establish grab–and–go meals at Towers Marketplace and consider the use of the A&E Center. Perry said it is exploring options regarding where it can feed students, including retail and nonretail locations, but this has yet to be developed.
As stated in the report, “Midnight Madness,” a mandatory evening event, was created to promote large-scale team building and class cohort. According to the report, attendance was strong with an “incredible atmosphere,” and students received colored T-shirts corresponding to where they live on campus. However, feedback from students in the report showed that the event was confusing and “poorly executed.”
“Midnight Madness was a mess,” Kielty said. “I understood the point of it, but there was too many of us with an unorganized plan. If it was just [one dorm] against [another] or something, it would’ve been fine, but it was so stressful, and we just had people screaming at us to be quiet the whole time.”
To address this, the college will try not to host a required event in the evening, according to the report. All required orientation events will occur during the day between 10 a.m and 5 p.m for Fall 2020, the report states.