Orientation offers peer-led guidance, welcomes families
By Daniel Aloi
Cornell welcomes more than 4,000 first-year and transfer students to campus Aug. 17-22 with a slate of peer-led Orientation programs introducing them to university resources, student organizations, academic opportunities and campus culture.
An army of student volunteers helps to make the transition easier, from assisting parents and new students arriving on Move-In Day to serving as orientation group leaders, ensuring that each new student has a guide to all things Cornell.
Parents are invited to learn how students and their families are welcomed and supported as part of the Cornell community, at a panel discussion and audience Q-and-A with Vijay Pendakur, the Robert W. and Elizabeth C. Staley Dean of Students, and staff members, Aug. 17 from 7:30-8:30 p.m. in Call Auditorium, Kennedy Hall.
“As we welcome a new group of students to Cornell this fall, I am equally excited to welcome a new cohort of parents and family members to the Cornell community,” Pendakur said. “Over the years that I have worked with college students, I have seen how critical family support is for student success and well-being.”
President Martha E. Pollack joins university administrators and student leaders in extending an official welcome to students and families at the New Student Convocation, Aug. 18 at 8:45 a.m. in Schoellkopf Stadium.
The Orientation Welcome Picnic, Aug. 20, 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. in Court-Kay-Bauer Quad on North Campus, features food from Cornell Catering and music by members of the Cornell Jazz Band.
“In what we hope will be an annual event, we’re inviting staff from several campus units to mingle with students,” said Peggy Arcadi, director of New Student Programs, which co-hosts the picnic with the student-run Orientation Steering Committee. “We hope this will help new students get to know staff from departments they’ve learned about during Orientation and some behind-the-scenes staff who support our programs. It’s part of our effort to help new students feel welcomed and at home here, and to perhaps shrink the campus a bit.”
A new initiative during Orientation offers incoming students skills to communicate and collaborate across differences. The Intergroup Dialogue Project (IDP) for first-year students and the Identity and Belonging Project for transfer and exchange students seek to foster an inclusive and supportive campus community. There will be 169 three-hour IDP sessions over four days, with 75 facilitators including 22 IDP alumni.
“Every single college provided us with time slots and gave us as many degrees of freedom as possible. Where there was some free time, they were re-arranging entire schedules so we would be more efficient,” said Lisa Nishii, vice provost for undergraduate education, who oversees academic student success and academic diversity programs including IDP.
Reinforcing the required training from Orientation, follow-up sessions with facilitators and resident advisers will be held this fall in first-year students’ residence halls.
Required programs also include Speak About It, performance-based presentations with messages about healthy relationships, sexual assault prevention and bystander intervention, and relevant Cornell resources.
Post-Orientation events scheduled for Aug. 24-29 include a variety of open houses and receptions, a free concert on the Arts Quad, free films, a student panel on “Life on the Hill” and an International Fair.
Cornell Connects, a free app launched this month, can help new students organize required and optional events during Orientation, learn about Cornell resources, connect with others and find their way around campus, Arcadi said. Online guides with key information for first-year, new transfer and graduate and professional students, and a web version of the orientation app, are also available.