Office of Public Affairs
(315) 341-2265
July 25, 2001
CONTACT: Robin McAleese, 312-3676
OSWEGO -- A play presentation, a picnic and a full plate of speakers were among the orientation activities as SUNY Oswego welcomed many of the 1,375 freshmen in the college's class of 2005.
At the beginning of a recent two-day session, Robin McAleese, assistant dean of students and orientation coordinator, greeted a full house of incoming students and parents at a welcome session in Lanigan Hall. Several such sessions were slated during the summer.
"The theme of orientation is 'Center Yourself at Oswego' because this is a learner-centered campus," McAleese told the future freshmen. "It means that all learning revolves around you. … You are in charge of your own learning." She added that, as part of the college experience, learning would not just take place in classrooms, but also in dining halls, residence halls and athletic fields.
The two-day orientation events featured a variety of breakout sessions -- some just for incoming students, some just for parents -- to prepare attendees for the changes college life will bring.
"We have rules here, and we expect that students are going to live within them," Cathy Santos, associate dean for judicial affairs, said at one student session. "You all have rights here, but with those rights come responsibilities."
At another session for students, Harry Shock, assistant dean of students, discussed the college's commitment to valuing diversity. "I want you to know … that there is an expectation on our part that every one of you will be treated with respect," Shock said. He urged the class of 2005 to take advantage of the diversity on the campus.
As an example to highlight how many different ways people can view themselves, Shock asked participants to stand up if they identified with different descriptions -- such as born outside of the United States, in different parts of the country, or parts of New York state; raised in surroundings that were urban, suburban, small-town or rural; or having different ethnic backgrounds. "If you are seated while another group is standing, I want you to cheer them on," Shock told the students, who readily complied in cheering those who stood.
At a parents' session titled "Letting Go," McAleese reminded parents that they have been gradually allowing their children to gain more independence, from the first day of kindergarten through letting them learn to drive. A pair of student orientation leaders, Leigh Wyshosky and Rebecca Sutter, acted out phone conversations that parents can expect to hear from their children at college.
There also were academic-preparation activities for incoming freshmen, including registering for fall classes, meeting with advisers and taking placement exams. Attendees also received words of welcome from speakers including SUNY Oswego President Deborah F. Stanley and the college's associate deans.
There were many lighter moments throughout the orientation activities. Student orientation leaders, posing as an a cappella group called the Bridge Street Boys, serenaded attendees with "Hi Hi Hi" (to the tune of the Backstreet Boys' "Bye Bye Bye"), "Join a Club" (set to TLC's "No Scrubs") and an uptempo rendition of SUNY Oswego's alma mater.
A peer theatre production by The Melodramatics used mostly comedic sketches and TV parodies to give serious advice on decision-making and coping with the potential pitfalls that can come with the increased independence of college life.
McAleese offered much credit to her team of 14 volunteer student orientation leaders. She said the process of becoming a leader begins in February and is "very competitive … Many people vie for the position. Since it is a very competitive process, I have the luxury of choosing the best of the best."
The preparation showed, according to parent Richard Majka. "The whole thing was well put together and very self-explanatory. I really enjoyed it," Majka said. "This is my third child, my second who is going … to Oswego."
Incoming freshman Maureen Murray said her favorite activities during orientation were "the social activities at night. … It was just a totally different way to get to know each other."
Fall classes at SUNY Oswego begin on Monday, Aug. 27.
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