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Orientation to Mix Online and In-Person Programming

Boston College announced on Friday that it will hold Orientation for the incoming Class of 2024 online over the course of the summer, with on-campus programming taking place the week prior to fall classes. 

The decision stemmed from the uncertainty surrounding the novel coronavirus pandemic and a desire to keep all those involved with the program safe, according to Michael Sacco, executive director of the Office of First Year Experience. 

“Each University Orientation session brings between 800-900 people together from all around the world,” Sacco said in an email to The Heights. “The decision to start with virtual phases of orientation, then follow-them up with on-campus experience keeps our entering students, their families, and our BC community safe.”

The leaders for this summer’s Orientation received an email on Friday morning notifying them of the change. The email stated that each student who was offered the position will be able to be a virtual Orientation Leader, but that the Office of First Year Experience understood if they needed to decline the position. The email also stated that BC would no longer be able to offer on-campus housing for them for the summer. 

Sacco and Ali Hammond, director of First Year Experience and Orientation, could not be reached for comment on whether Orientation Leaders who were relying on University housing to fulfill other commitments in the area would be accomodated.

This summer’s Orientation will be a “hybrid” of virtual content provided to incoming students over the summer and on-campus activities that will take place the week before classes begin, according to an update on the BC First Year Experience webpage

“This dual approach will provide entering students with multiple opportunities to connect with fellow members of the Class of 2024, junior and senior mentors, faculty, and administrators, all while preparing for the intellectual, social, and spiritual dimensions of life at Boston College,” the update said.

The announcement explained that Orientation for the Class of 2024 will be broken up into three phrases spread throughout the summer. 

Phase 1 will be entirely online in June. Students will access Orientation content online, videochat with their Orientation group led by their BC Orientation Leader, and meet virtually with a faculty adviser to begin to schedule academic classes for the fall. 

Phase 2 of Orientation will also take place virtually throughout July and August, during which students will be required to complete modules and watch webinars. Students will not continue to meet with their Orientation group during this phase, but they will continue to receive academic advising and will register for courses for the fall semester. 

Phase 3 will be the only in person and on campus component of Orientation, and it will be held the week before classes begin. During this time, students will meet with their Orientation groups on campus and will also participate in BC’s Weeks of Welcome programming, from Aug. 27 through Aug. 30. 

Transfer Student Orientation will also be held virtually in July and August, and more details will be communicated to transfer students in June, according to the announcement. 

Peter O’Brien, a member of the Class of 2024, said he was initially disappointed upon hearing that he would not be able to attend the kind of orientation he was expecting to, but he said that he understands that the situation is largely out of BC’s control. 

O’Brien also said that he hopes BC will make an additional effort during the first few weeks of the fall semester, since most freshmen will arrive on campus without knowing or having met each other.

“I think BC should hold as many all-freshmen events as possible to encourage us to meet more people and get to know each other,” he said. 

Ally Lardner, Lynch ’21, who was selected to be an Orientation Leader for this summer, said she was sad to hear of this change, although the news did not come as a total surprise for her. 

“I think I’ve been half-expecting this news with the way everything’s been going, but I’m still sad because I feel like we’ve all been working towards being OLs, and now it’s going to look so different,” Lardner said.

Lardner said she believes BC made the right decision to hold a virtual orientation, and said she understands that the University is trying its best to keep both current and incoming BC students safe. 

With this newly modified Orientation, the roles of virtual Orientation Leaders will now consist of virtually mentoring first-year students through Zoom calls and discussion boards, and reaching out to the incoming students through other various virtual content such as videos and panels. 

Featured Image by Celine Lim / Heights Editor

April 7, 2020