Some 250 soon-to-be Rams and their families are flooding campus this summer to participate in their first step toward graduation — orientation.
The Orientation and Transition Program puts on 20 sessions throughout the six-week period, where impending freshman spend the one and a half day program touring the campus with their orientation leaders, registering for classes and discovering what it means to be a Ram.
Zach Mercurio, the assistant director of OTP, has been involved the program for the past seven years and cannot get enough.
“My favorite part is the welcome,” Mercurio said. “We ask them, ‘How many of you are here to graduate?’ Seeing them raise their hands and commit to that with each other is cool.”
On the first day, students can explore different ways to get involved at CSU at the Discovery Fair, featuring 33 booths representing student organizations and clubs.
Trevor Ivan, orientation leader and history senior at CSU, said this year was the most booths the fair has ever had.
“Most organizations want to get their name out,” Ivan said.
Lance LiPuma, vice president of ASCSU, was at the Discovery Fair to present the perks that ASCSU brings to the student — like RamRide and the Ram Leadership Team.
“We always have a presence,” LiPuma said. “There’s a whole bunch of people that are just so excited to be here. I’ll be like ‘Welcome to CSU,’ and everyone always says, ‘Dude, I’m so happy to be here. I was trying to remember what I was going through at this point.”
During orientation, impending freshman spend the night at Braiden Hall and eat in the dining halls to get a taste of residence life.
Along with the historical Green and Gold tour around campus, where Abe Lincoln and an owl make an appearance, students also take in Ram Life through discussions on academics, Residence Life, alcohol education and a consent presentation from the Women and Gender Advocacy Center.
Casey Malsam, a victim advocate at WGAC, said this presentation is important to educate students about what it means to consent. The presentation includes two questions where students answer if they identify as a survivor of assault, or if they know someone that would identify as a survivor. Each year, Malsam said, the answer “yes” to both is increasing.
“I know that that’s the first time a lot of students are hearing about what it means to consent,” Malsam said.
According to Malsam, this is the first year that the presentation is 45 min. long, noting the University’s efforts to make sexual assault awareness a topic of conversation.
Along with learning about the resources that CSU has to offer, each year, OTP puts on a satirical skit about Ram life. This year, the skit was called “Ramflix,” a spinoff of Netflix shows.
Impending freshman equine science student Kristen Chism originally hailing from Illinois said the biggest adjustment was the amount of new faces.
“I’m not used to this many people walking up to me at home,” Chism said. “I think I like meeting so many people.”
After a full day of making new friends and learning, orientation leaders guide the young Rams in some dancing. Nicole Barton, senior journalism major and student coordinator for OTP, loves ‘the Wobble’ because it gets everyone on the dance floor.
“It’s one of those songs everyone can dance to,” Barton said.
All of the orientation leaders agree that getting to know the students is their favorite part, along with sharing their personal stories.
Mo Wells, junior social work major, who represented a student club for diversity at the Discovery Fair noted the effort the OTP office made to find a diverse set of students to help with the transition into CSU. Wells was recently appointed to the newly brought-back position of director of diversity for ASCSU.
“At least in one way, every student has an orientation leader that they can relate to in one of their identities,” Wells said.
Mercurio is also excited about the direction CSU is going with their newly enrolled students.
“I think that CSU is in a really good place. There’s a ton of excitement about just the amount of CSU pride I’ve been seeing,” Mercurio said. “Students are really identifying with what it means to be a Ram.”
Collegian News Editor Hannah Hemperly can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.