Pomona College’s orientation committee is shortening first-year Orientation Adventure trips by one and a half days and adding campus-based options not involving wilderness travel, returning OA leaders learned in an email from Director of Outdoor Education Martin Crawford on Monday.
Formerly, OA trips took students away from the college for three nights, but under the new schedule, student groups will leave for their respective destinations Tuesday morning and return by lunch on Thursday of orientation week.
The school is also adding two Los Angeles-based trips — one to museums and cultural attractions and another to major LA sights including the Hollywood Walk of Fame. These trips, as well as the pre-existing “Community Engagement” trip, will be housed on campus, a change from usual OA practice, Crawford said.
Crawford added that Josh Eisenberg, dean of campus life and orientation committee chair, requested this change.
First-year class president and committee member John West PO ’23 said the changes were to accommodate students who may feel out of their element on an extended wilderness excursion.
“Before we started the planning discussions, I sat in a meeting with Josh Eisenberg myself so he could talk to me,” West said. “We’ve talked about … how some students come from urban backgrounds, and aren’t actually comfortable going into the wilderness and shouldn’t be forced into the wilderness.”
According to the Pomona website, the school’s goal for OA is to have students participate in “fun and challenging activities” and “discover California’s rich recreational landscape.”
In fall 2018, Pomona moved Orientation Adventure to students’ second year in an attempt to shorten orientation, prompting massive student backlash that ultimately led the school to reverse its decision.
This latest decision comes amid a rush of other alterations to OA, notably the exclusion of trip destinations further than four hours’ driving distance from campus.
This cuts out past destinations like Yosemite National Park, as well as “possibly Sequoia or Morro Bay,” according to the email sent by Crawford to past OA leaders. Channel Islands, which was cut last year, will remain excluded from the fall’s list as well.
The shortening of OA is just one piece of the committee’s revamping of overall orientation programming. New information sessions for incoming first-years will be introduced, and address topics like wellness, technology and ethical reasoning, according to West.
“We’re building a lot of concurrent sessions that come at the same time. That way students can choose,” West said. “So we’ll have a lot of options [so] that they can choose how to maximize their time during orientation.”
This is a developing story, and will be updated further as more information becomes available.