by Thomas Edwards ’20
Orientation at Providence College is memorable for everyone. Some memories are fond, some not so fond, but every PC student shares this experience. Orientation provides students with the information they will need to navigate their journey here at PC.
Orientation Leaders (OLs) are at the head of the whole operation, providing their wealth of information and expertise as PC students to their groups of roughly 30 freshmen per 2-3 OLs.
These OLs are responsible for attending planned activities with their groups such as casino night. OLs share their expertise with new students through an activity called “Tough Questions,” in which new students ask questions anonymously to their OLs. “It’s the stuff that, you know, of course they don’t want to say out loud or even want people knowing is their question, but it’s questions they really want answered. After doing that session I left and I really felt I helped people today,” said Steven Sawan ’20.
Amanda Piechota ’19 added, “To speak and watch a group of disinterested kids stop and intently register with the words that you’re throwing at them, to become engaged with you. This was very humbling for me.”
Among the staff are Orientation Coordinators, a group of five students who do not lead groups, but instead lead orientation as a whole. They develop the orientation programs and activities, as well as oversee the events during orientation week. This year they included a new workshop regarding mental health called Pause and Be Present at PC. “It was a mindfulness-based exercise workshop,” stated Orientation Coordinator Ariana Tomasi ’19. “As students we’re always go, go, go, and stress but social life with academic life and organizations, clubs. [The speaker] gave students techniques and exercises to be mindful and to breathe and to come back to a space of peace and quiet that you can practice throughout your time at college,” Tomasi continued.
Some universities have their freshmen come a week before classes begin to have a week-long orientation, instead of breaking it up into two weekends as is done here at PC. “It is nice to have a break between the two,” said Caprial Harris ’19. “The first four days can be pretty overwhelming for students, so having a break is definitely needed.”
Michael Oross ’22 stated that, “Knowing what I think this weekend entails, if they were to try and put that all in the days we had, I think that would be way too much and we would all be absolutely exhausted.”
When questioned about the overall effectiveness of orientation, freshmen and OLs agreed once again.
Harris said, “I didn’t really make an effort with my orientation or let my OLs help me. Now being on the other side of it, I understand where students are coming from, but we are here as a resource and we want students to ask us for advice and ask us questions.”
Oross added, “I went from my first day being incredibly nervous and anxious, and everyday it’s gotten much, much easier. So, I do think it did a lot of good.”
When asked about how they might want to see orientation change in the years to come, many felt that it was in a good place. One suggestion came from Piechota. “I wish that the administrators were around to speak to the kids a little bit more,” said Piechota as she recollected her freshman year orientation in which Dean of Students Steven Sears and Father Cuddy, O.P., gave a talk on student life. “They were two administrators who showed that they really understood student life. They didn’t skip around anything, and the way they painted Eaton Street and your first couple of nights freshman year was pretty funny, and it was just down to earth.”
The biggest criticism, however, came from Harris, “As an OL, I wish orientation was even longer than it is, because I wish I could spend more time with my group!”