The beginning of the fall semester is usually a time when new students arrive early to campus for orientation, where they are introduced to their residence hall and join in on an array of activities to prepare them for college life. However, with new guidelines for on campus activities due to COVID-19, orientation looks a bit different this year.
First time orientation leader (OL) Michael Kleine shares some ways in which orientation changed this school year and his own process of becoming an OL.
Kleine, who will be graduating Spring 2022, is a music industry major with a concentration in management and production and hails from Newville, Pennsylvania. He applied to become an OL after being recommended by several of his friends who had previously been a part of the program. “I wanted to gain leadership experience and also have an amazing bonding experience with the other OLs that I had heard so much about,” he shares.
OLs submit an application then go through two sessions of interviews, the first being a typical job interview and the second being a group interview where applicants participate in shared activities to show their ability to work together.
The orientation leaders then usually spend the summer preparing for an in-person orientation weekend where students move into dorms and get their first real experience on campus. This year COVID-19 has impacted the usual presentations and celebrations, but it failed to stop them.
“Because we weren’t sure early on whether we would be able to do orientation in person or not, we have been engaging with our students through weekly zoom meetings since the first week of July,” Kleine explains, “In the weeks leading up to our first engagement with our students in July, OLs attended weekly training sessions that featured guest speakers and training in the areas of diversity/inclusion, Clifton strengths, working as a team, and how to make zoom meetings engaging and educational.”
Instead, the show will go on virtually, Kleine shares, “New students will participate in a Marauder Pride celebration, various presentations about diversity and goal-setting, and a selection of virtual interest sessions.” The virtual orientation will take place from August 21 to 23.
For Kleine, he is glad to still be able to connect with his students and peers, even virtually, “My favorite part has been seeing my students open up and become closer with one another as the weeks go on. It has been my goal to help them build relationships and I love seeing that goal be achieved!”
As an OL Kleine hopes incoming students can take something positive from the virtual orientation, “I hope incoming students can take away the resilient spirit of Millersville and feel a sense of security despite everything being shaken up by the pandemic.”