This year's U of C 101 included an induction pledge, carefully chosen words and 5,000 frosh.
In surveys from previous years student responses indicated the program was too long. To accommodate this and other recommendations from the surveys, the program was cut back to two days instead of three days, removing extracurricular sessions.
The removal of the optional hour-long sessions that traditionally allowed campus groups the opportunity to thoroughly introduce themselves to incoming students caused concern both in the Aug. 9 Gauntlet article, where NUTV executive director Michelle Wong expressed her disappointment in the restructuring and in the Sep. 6 Gauntlet editorial which raised concerns from the Office of the Student Experience--the organization that planned U of C 101.
"The co-curricular experience was probably half, if not a little bit more than half of the orientation program this year," said OSE associate director Heather Cummings. "It was consistent through out the two days. So when we hear people saying that we weren't emphasizing that, that's completely the opposite, that's not true at all. In fact that was a major emphasis and I will be shocked if the student evaluations don't show that."
This year's U of C 101 included five main sessions: the campus tour; Sexxxy--an intro into life outside of class, an academic skills section called U of C CSI; a community engagement session--which included an SU and tri-media presentation; and the technology session.
Cummings explained the program's mandate was to provide a successful, transitional program for students that would help them in terms of their academic and social success.
"The student evaluation said that three days was too long, they didn't want any fluff," said Cummings. "They only wanted the particular information that they thought would be helpful and that focused consistently on the academics."
In past years the U of C EcoClub had hosted a session in everything but name. The session involved informing students about how the environment related to the university and how to save money by doing environmental things on campus. The session allowed the EcoClub personal face time with first-years, but was their name was left off the session so as not to be a recruitment for the club, which is just one of many on campus.
"We did recruit executive and members from U of C 101 so we're going to see if that affects it within the upcoming year," said former Eco-Club president Stephanie Ferguson. "It could hurt recruitment, which is not good because we need every opportunity we can get, especially those first-year students who are coming in and can have a long-term impact with e club. It can't help it."
Ferguson explained that in their session they were able to give detailed, pertinent information about sustainability and the environment from a student perspective, and is afraid the program has lost that this year.
"Involvement with campus community members through programs such as U of C 101 are crucial to success of the Students' Union," said Bogle.
Bogle explained that the SU is trying to increase communication and impact with students independently of outlets like U of C 101 through a branding campaign. Because of this, Bogle explained that upcoming survey results will be hard to gauge the impact the new structure will have on the SU's volunteer base.
"We still were involved, because we were still able to show our video which has been the biggest part of U of C 101 that we have gained a lot of feedback [from] in the past. Because that opportunity has still been given to us, we are still content with the way that U of C 101 is run."
U of C 101 orientation leaders were given guidelines to be wary of the type of language they used, including not using terms like "Hey guys," "Hey kids," or to use the word "retarded". Leaders were also told not to drink while wearing their U of C 101 t-shirts.
"We were told we were supposed to further the university and not recommend drinking while participating in U of C 101, especially while wearing our t-shirts," said U of C 101 orientation leader Naomi Rau. "It was prohibited that we [go] to the den while in our t-shirts in case our students saw us in them. It would give a bad name to the university."
Overall, Rau enjoyed U of C 101 and thought it was helpful to students to have them grouped within their own faculty, enabling leaders to answer specific questions.
"One of the sessions called Engagement gave an insight into a lot of the things that the university has to offer," said Rau. "I think Sexxxy definitely bumped it up this year with their knowledge of off-campus resources and ways to get involved."
The OSE is expecting to have results from their student survey in late October.
U of C president Harvey Weingarten explained that both feedback from students and a post-session debrief will prompt the university to continue to improve the program.
"There were a couple of changes to the program this year and we will do what we do every year," said Weingarten "We'll evaluate whether those were beneficial or if they detracted from the program."