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After a series of long discussions on revamping CMC’s new student orientation program, the Dean of Students Office has decided to combine the WOA! Leader and Orientation Sponsor positions into the new role of a First Year Guide. The administrators hope this change will benefit first-year students by offering them a year-long mentor and one set of orientation leaders instead of two.

Associate Dean of First and Second Year Students Kristin Weyman said that the decision to combine the WOA! leader and sponsor positions was “out of necessity.” She elaborated that since WOA! is now going to be in the middle of the week when new students arrive, having different leaders would feel disjointed, so it makes more sense to have one position.

The new position, starting this fall, requires a larger time commitment, and applicants are encouraged to stay on campus for the full academic year. Austin Gosch ’18, one of two First Year Program interns (similar to the previous WOA! Director and Head Sponsor positions), gave The Forum a tentative schedule of the new orientation program.

New students will arrive on campus on Saturday, Aug. 22 and will spend time with their “orientation groups.” These new orientation groups are a combination of previous WOA! and sponsor groups, and each will be led by three or four First Year Guides. Each group will comprise of about 15-20 new students. After meeting their orientation groups and dorm mates, students will enjoy a food truck dinner with their parents, an event that was introduced to the orientation schedule last year. Sunday, Aug. 23 will be a full day of orientation activities and information sessions, and parents will depart in the evening.

WOA! trips will depart at various times on Monday and return to campus by Thursday. Since all new students, including fall athletes, will be required to attend a WOA! trip, numerous additional trips are in the works. As explained by Dean Weyman, while the popular rafting, camping, backpacking, and multi-sport options are going to continue, new “LA exploration” trips are being added to the offerings. These trips will be based in Los Angeles and have students live in hostels in the city and visit museums and other famous attractions during the day. In addition, the recently added community service trips will also be an option for those who do not feel comfortable in the wilderness.

According to Gosch, the First Year Guides will undergo extensive training, since they will be the first point of contact for new students. This training begins with one day this spring and ten “jam-packed” days in the fall. Dean Weyman added that there are high expectations for the First Year Guides as role models and mentors throughout the year. As such, First Year Guides will have outdoor training for their WOA! trips as well as traditional sponsor training, Teal Dot training on sexual assault bystander intervention, LGBTQ ally training, and sessions on leadership with the Kravis Leadership Institute. Additionally, they will have sessions with the Consortium’s Health Education Outreach (HEO) and Monsour Counseling to be well-trained in caring for the new students.

The application process for the new combined position was difficult this year. Over 160 people applied for a total of 65 positions. The selection committee looked for a diverse mix of personalities, majors, backgrounds, campus activities, and class years, and decisions were released on Wednesday, April 15.