Planning for Feb Orientation Underway

By Joe Flaherty

With the end of winter term approaching, the campus is preparing for the arrival of the class of 2016.5.

“There are a lot of things about [February orientation] that are really magical,” said Associate Dean of Students for Student Activities and Orientation JJ Boggs. “I think if I had to break it down I’d say it’s a smaller group, so 100 students is really pretty manageable. It’ll be two Feb leaders to eight Febs.”

All of the orientation leaders are sophomore Febs, with senior co-chairs Sam Peisch ’13.5 and Alexandra Kennedy ’13.5. Two of the sophomore Febs are sophomore co-chairs, who return their senior year to head up that year’s February orientation.

“It’s a very peer-led model, which is harder for us to achieve in September,” said Boggs.

Several new events and changes to the February orientation program have been implemented, including having the incoming Febs register for classes online instead of an arena-style registration.

“We’re hoping it will really benefit and change the experience for Febs but we’re also using it as an opportunity to discover the strengths and challenges for that model as it relates to September Orientation,” said Boggs.

Boggs explained there are pros and cons to arena-style registration but they are hoping to make the experience less stressful and more efficient by taking the process online.

“It’s a whole different story when you try to do arena-style registration with 600 people, and that’s what we’ve been doing for a long time, but we’re going to try piloting an online registration with Febs and see if we can actually replicate that model for the September students.”

According to Boggs, the Feb leaders’ contributions in organizing Feb orientation are also what makes the experience so special.

“While we have very traditional events  -— there’s a talent show, there’s typically a trivia night, there are optional activities — the current batch of Feb leaders actually gets to decide what that looks like and how it operates,” said Boggs.

“It’s neat because small groups of Feb leaders take on the planning and orchestration of those activities, so I’m never quite sure, even at this moment in time, what exactly they will look like,” added Boggs.

This year, along with the Class of 2016.5, there are five transfer students and three exchange students arriving with the Febs.

The transfer and exchange students will have special sessions on topics such as transfer credits that that do not necessarily apply to the Febs.

One of the challenges to February orientation is allowing for the variety of experiences the incoming Febs have had during their “Febmester.”

“It’s probably hard for people because the expectation is to go abroad and do something exciting and kind of flashy because that is the Feb stereotype,” said Peish, “but a lot of Febs stay home, they work or volunteer. So one thing we try to instill in the Feb leaders is people come from a variety of experiences and none is more valuable than another.”

Boggs emphasized that the question the Feb leaders should be asking is not, “What did you do during your Febmester?” but “What did you learn about yourself?”

Peisch said of the Febmester, “It’s really what you make of it and what you got out of it, so we challenge Feb leaders not to glorify some experiences over another and to try to create an accepting and open environment for people to talk about what they did on their Febmester.”