Pomona shortens orientation, but not Orientation Adventure

An office with lots of posters on the wall
Pomona College’s Orientation Adventure is operated out of the Pomona’s Outdoor Education Center, pictured above, in conjunction with other Pomona offices. (Chris Nardi • The Student Life)

Incoming Pomona College students will experience an orientation one day shorter than previous years, as the school seeks to address concerns about the length of its first-year orientation.

Pomona’s class of 2023 will arrive for orientation Sunday, August 25 and leave for their OA trips the next day. Move-in day was previously on a Saturday, with a day on campus before the trip.

In shortening orientation, Pomona also canceled one specific OA trip the kayaking trip to the Channel Islands because it requires an early morning ferry ride, according to outdoor education director Martin Crawford.

In essence, new students will have less time with on-campus orientation sessions,” Crawford said via email.However, no particular location is ever guaranteed anyway since there are many variables at play (available reservations, first-year signups, forest fires, etc.) So, it won’t be any more drastic than past years where trip locations changed one year to the next.”

Some other trips, like those to Yosemite and Sequoia, which previously left earlier in the day, will now leave in the afternoon Aug. 26, in line with other trips that have typically left at that time.

All trips will now return for dinner Aug. 29, which may require some long-distance trips to leave earlier.

This will free up time for on-campus sessions before OA trips leave Monday and after they return Thursday, Crawford said, although Pomona has not yet decided which sessions will take place during this time.

Pomona’s efforts to shorten orientation began last semester after Pomona Dean of Students Avis Hinkson moved OA to students’ second year but reversed her decision one week later, following backlash from the Pomona community.

The Monday before classes begin will also have no content sessions, and Pomona will move others online, for students to complete prior to orientation.

Some students felt the day between move-in and OA had been useful to incoming first-years.

“I kind of liked having a day to settle before leaving for OA,” Sammy Little PO ’20 said. “You come, unpack all of your stuff, and then you need some time to repack before you go on OA, so I think that might be a little overwhelming without [the extra day].”

But Dean of Campus Life Christopher Waugh, who also co-chairs the Orientation Implementation Committee, said students frequently say orientation is too long in surveys.

“What was also happening is that students were giving us feedback by not coming to sessions,” Waugh said. “There would be robust participation in the first few days, OA would happen, and participation would drop off steadily after OA. That’s another consequence, we believe, of having such a long [orientation].”

After Hinkson canceled her plan to move OA, Waugh said the OIC looked for a new way to shorten orientation and decided to shift move-in to Sunday.

“We want to be mindful of burnout, for everybody; students, staff and faculty,” Waugh said. “I think that’s something we’re definitely being mindful of; we need to make sure it’s more humane, and healthy and balanced.”

Classics professor Ken Wolf, who sits on the OIC, said that while he welcomed some content being put online, he is not sure orientation’s length is necessarily a problem.

“When I look at orientation, even if you compare it to other schools, it is, from day one to day whatever, pretty long. But that doesn’t really mean anything, if that’s how long it has to be,” Wolf said. “It’s kind of nice to have [students] come on Saturday and have Sunday as a take-a-breath day, before you take off. Arbitrarily deciding to shorten the whole thing, to me, doesn’t make any sense.”

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