Student center demolition brings orientation changes

Where the Brown-Lupton Student Center goes, orientation shall not follow.

The Student Center is scheduled to be demolished at the beginning of June, said Harold Leeman, associate director of major projects at the Physical Plant, but Carrie Zimmerman, director of first year experience, said the demolition will not slow down the upcoming freshman orientation sessions.

Because orientation will not be held in its usual location this summer, the program has adapted a series of changes to accommodate the incoming freshmen.

The number of students per session has been reduced, but more sessions have been added. She said enrollment will be 125 students a session for 10 sessions, as opposed to 225 a session for six sessions.

Zimmmerman said students are being housed in Foster Hall, instead of Colby Hall and the orientation banquet will be in the Kelly Alumni Center, instead of the Student Center ballroom.

“In some ways these smaller numbers are actually better,” Zimmerman said. “The staff to student ratio is a lot better, which will give the new students more personal attention.”

Zimmerman said the smaller number of students also helps her staff solve spacial dilemmas.

“With those smaller numbers, we’re able to use the smaller rooms that we haven’t been able to before,” Zimmerman said.

She said the program will use the Palko Building, PepsiCo Recital Hall, Winton-Scott Hall, Beasley Hall, the Moudy Building, Dan Rodgers Hall, the Tucker Technology Center, the Sid Richardson Building, the University Recreation Center, Carter Hall and Reed Hall.

But simply because orientation will not stop does not mean the staff didn’t face challenges.

“Finding a way to feed people was a tremendous challenge because we are losing almost all of the locations to eat on campus,” Zimmerman said.

Zimmerman said to help combat the dining problem, the orientation staff is going to encourage campers to walk to nearby restaurants instead of eating on campus.

Heather Denton, a junior math major and member of the orientation board of directors, said one of the other challenges orientation staff members face this year will be working three sessions a week instead of two for past orientations.

However, Denton said, the board figured out a few ways to help ease the stress placed on its staff.

She said check-in time will be moved from 9 a.m. to noon, and the staff members will be paired together for small groups instead of one member per group.

“These changes are great because they will give our staff more time to rest and be ready for each session,” Denton said.

Kelsie Johnson, a member of the orientation board of directors, said university staff members were helpful with the orientation changes.

“We’ve had a really good team of advisers and working with the administration has been really easy,” said Johnson, a sophomore advertising/public relations and political science major.

Johnson said the administration’s support of orientation is encouraging.

“The flexibility of the administration shows that everyone is committed to the overall vision of the university,” Johnson said.

Zimmerman said the bottom line is orientation will be as successful as it has always been.

“Even with all the obstacles on our end, it really won’t impact the experience for the new students,” Zimmerman said.