Archive for the ‘FP Scene’ Category

To friend or not to friend?

Monday, August 27th, 2007 | Andrew Cortopassi

Freshman Stephanie Mensah already has 488 Facebook friends-and classes haven’t even begun yet.

Gone are the days when the average freshman moves into his dorm knowing only a handful of other students. Since its inception five years ago, Facebook has revolutionized the college social experience. Its ability to dramatically shape the freshman experience increased when Facebook creators extended the social networking site to include high schools two years ago. The network extension meant that high school students could fraternize with future classmates even sooner.

But this new social dynamic begs the question: does Facebook ease the transition into college or does it set the precedent for uncomfortable encounters?

The answer depends a lot on how individual students choose to monitor their Facebook accounts.

For Mensah, it is important to make sure she has established some sort of contact with each of the people she adds as a friend. Many of them she has met in person, be it during an overnight campus visit or an ArtSci weekend. Others she has simply communicated with through the Internet. Regardless of how she “meets” them, Mensah establishes communication in order to ensure comfortable meetings on campus. In doing so, Mensah is able to get a head start on campus social life.

“If I haven’t seen then [in person yet], I have talked to them a lot on Facebook,” said Mensah. “I think it depends on your conversation before meeting. If you have a discussion, it’s fine. It’s like, ‘Oh! I know you. I’ve talked to you before.'”

Junior Dave Shapiro also had a lot of friends before setting foot on campus for his freshman year. A summer job in information technology services at NYU provided him plenty of time to instigate contact with his future classmates. Throughout the summer, Shapiro friended every single person who joined the Class of 2009 Facebook group. His enthusiasm even earned him a nickname on campus.

“I was known as ‘that kid who friended everyone,'” said Shapiro.

Though he admits he may have acted a little extremely and has since de-friended any person he does not personally know, he doesn’t necessarily regret his initial eagerness. Facebook provided him a way to transition to a new community with brand new people.

“It was kind of a loser move, but kind of smart because people knew me ahead of time,” said Shapiro.

Freshman Todd Palmer agrees. Having been unconnected to Facebook until last week when he arrived on campus for football, Palmer wishes he had joined the network much earlier. To Palmer, Facebook provides the opportunity for freshmen to establish a foundation for social success on campus, not to mention that it’s a great icebreaker for meeting new people.

“If I could’ve, I would’ve started during the summer, but I didn’t know how to use it,” said Palmer. “You always [want to] come in knowing someone or having a support system.”

While veteran and newbie Facebook users generally agree that Facebook eases the transition into college, a complication lies in how students handle their Facebook friendships. Facebook has the power to either smooth the transition into campus life or to make it pretty awkward. The outcome depends largely upon the user and his Facebook choices.

Sophomore Michelle Beasley’s first couple of months at Wash. U. changed how she used her Facebook account. Beasley found it exciting and relieving to connect with some of her classmates in advance, especially when it came to meeting roommates and suitemates. Yet, she found that this ability also left her vulnerable to some strange situations on campus. As Beasley stood in line at Ursa’s one night, someone she didn’t recognize turned to her and exclaimed, “Facebook?!” Since then, her friend list only includes people she has actually met in real life.

“It was more awkward than it had to be,” said Beasley. “Facebook isn’t a popularity contest for me. It’s more about keeping in touch with my good friends.”

Throughout the first weeks of school, members of the Class of 2011 are likely to see their friend counts continue to climb. And hopefully, as Wash. U.’s newest students learn their way around, those Facebook pals will evolve from boxes on a screen into real-life, meaningful friendships.

What can RA’s and OA’s do for you?

Monday, August 27th, 2007 | Karin Underwood

After all the goodbyes, all the excitement and all the packing, college life has officially begun. Here you are, in a new home, with new people and a life that will be very different than the one you’ve just left behind. So now what?

Lucky for you, there are plenty of people around to help make your transition a little easier. You’ve hopefully seen your OA’s around campus in the past few days lending a helping hand, because they are here just for you. They are the most visible representation of what the Office of Orientation has been planning for freshmen in the past months. Behind the scenes there are many orientation staff members taking care of all the details to make sure you enjoy your move in to college.

“We’re trying to get [freshmen] to feel comfortable here at Wash. U., [step] out of their comfort zone and live with a diverse group of people,” said Orientation Program Coordinator Dave Brodell, a Wash. U. sophomore. “As a freshman, I realized the importance of freshman orientation and how your first few days as a freshman really mean so much.”

While the Orientation executives have been busy planning events like Club 40, the OA’s have been training to be extra eyes and ears on their floors. OA’s are volunteers who want to pass on their advice and show students what college life at Wash. U. is all about.

“The biggest thing will be to show that we want to be with you guys,” said OA Lauren Brilli, a junior. “We have gone through the same things.”

Sophomore OA Andrew Parker-Klimpel agreed.

“The nature of the beast at large four-year universities is that the people are always changing,” said Parker-Klimpel. “OA’s help keep traditions going and keep [consistency] between years.”

One aspect of Orientation that is changing is the OA program itself. A new goal for this year’s program is to continue OA involvement on freshman floors past the actual Orientation program. Coordinators hope for OA’s to remain connected to their assigned freshmen floors for the duration of the first semester. To help accomplish this goal, the Orientation Office is coordinating efforts with Residential Life.

“It’s important to emphasize that orientation and residential life are a lot closer this year,” said Brodell. “There is much more interaction between RA’s and OA’s.”

Residential Life handles everything regarding the residential colleges, from rooming assignments to the RA’s (Residential Advisors) on every floor. RA’s have similar goals as OA’s, but will be more a part of the long-term transition. Since they actually live on the freshman floors, they will always be around to plan events and answer questions.

“RA’s are trained to be experts of the campus,” said Associate Director of Residential Life Tim Lempfert. “Come to them for anything and everything.”

This includes questions about academics, getting around campus, roommate issues, Wash. U. policies and anything else imaginable. If they can’t answer your question, RA’s are trained to refer you to someone who can.

They are also there to help you interact with your floor.

“One of the number one goals with RA’s is to help build community and form interactions between students,” said Cheryl Stephens, another Residential Life associate director.

The RA’s themselves are eager to help. RA’s are juniors and seniors that are carefully chosen and trained to work with other students. Though their reasons for being RA’s differ slightly, all of them want to help new students to adapt.

Returning RA Taryn Quattrocchi, a senior, wants her freshmen residents to have a first year as great as her own.

“I had a strong positive experience in having a community to rely on,” said Quattrocchi. “I want my freshmen to feel safe and be themselves.”

In contrast, senior Ann Ng wants to use her role as an RA to provide freshman with a better first-year experience than she had.

“I did have a different transition freshman year,” said Ng. “Outside sources helped me, but [this year] I want to create the community that I thought was lacking in my first year.”

If there is ever something an RA can’t handle, they too have a support structure. RA’s are supervised by Residential College Directors, commonly referred to as RCD’s. RCD’s are full time staff members assigned to specific residential colleges. Each RCD lives in his or her residential college and manages everything for the college’s buildings.

Also be aware of faculty resources in each building. Some colleges have faculty fellows, a faculty family that lives in the dorms. All colleges now have faculty associates and you should definitely get to know the one for your floor.

“Faculty associates tie in the academic component of the transition,” said Stephens. “They are a really great way [for] freshmen to connect with faculty.”

It may seem like there are too many acronyms and positions to handle, but don’t be afraid to meet all the people who are here to help you.

“I want freshmen to feel comfortable asking us questions, because we’re not scary upperclassmen,” said RA Shannon Petry, a senior.

If you want an even closer connection to your Res College, Lempfert encourages students to join the Residential College Councils. Just submit a petition for a position and you can have a say in what goes on in your building. Become a floor or assembly representative to let your council know about the issues affecting you and your new floormates.

No matter what your role is in your residential college, make sure you appreciate this unique environment. Don’t be afraid to get out there, ask questions and take advantage of those people who are here to make your experience great.

School advisors available to help, counsel students

Monday, August 27th, 2007 | Erin Rosenbaum

After eight years working on Orientation, Dean Melanie Osborn began thinking of switching departments. She deliberated for months, trying to decide whether to redirect her focus or to introduce herself to a new office and new surroundings.

One factor in particular finally convinced her to join the engineering school as the assistant dean for student advising: the opportunity for a close connection with students.

“I enjoy working with students on a more personal level than Orientation,” said Osborn.

Many faculty members have that desire to connect with students, and Washington University has a whole system designed to foster exactly that kind unique relationship. The advisory program is responsible for building relationships in every department, for every student.

Academic advisories, which began to meet for the first time last Friday, often provide freshmen with their first chance to meet faculty members and ask questions about academics. Advisors come from across campus and all areas of study. While the advising system differs in some aspects between schools, all advisors have students’ best interests at heart.

“The basic fundamentals of advising are the same in every school: knowing the resources, having a true interest in student success and a willingness to be accessible,” said Osborn.

Because its topics usually fit together sequentially, the School of Engineering’s advising program requires a high level of organization. During the summer, engineering advisors send a registration book to all advisees. Each advisory is made of six to 10 students, large enough to create a community but small enough to manage the complex schedule of engineering majors.

Arts & Sciences advisories span a much greater range. Advisors and advisory sizes vary widely, although deans usually take the heaviest load with up 200 students per year, including about 40 freshmen.

In the business school, approximately 750 students are divided into only four groups. Yet, each advisor contacts the students about two or three times during the summer.

“We think that there’s some comfort already,” said Steven Malter, asssociate director of undergraduate advising in the business school. “Now it’s just a matter of putting a name and a face together.”

But no amount of advisor planning or organization can make up for a student who does not participate in the team effort.

“[Students should be] eager and interested,” said Kristin Kerth, assistant dean and academic coordinator in the College of Arts & Sciences. “If they’re not, something’s clearly wrong. If they haven’t looked through the course listings yet, they’re missing the main point of college.”

Students are often nervous at first, but they loosen up as the year moves forward. According to Osborn, the evolution and growth of that relationship is natural.

“A good advisor-student relationship will become one in which a student can come to an advisor for academic advice,” said Osborn. “Then, as the relationship develops, a student might even come to an advisor for a more personal kind of advice.”

Of course, after the advisor leaves the meeting and the students are sitting with a peer advisor of their own age group, the whole dynamic changes.

Arts & Sciences peer advisors are chosen based on an interview process designed by Dean Mary Laurita, who manages the program. The interview is designed not to find someone who interviews well, but someone who cares about his or her work.

“They don’t get paid, they don’t get credit,” said Laurita. “They do this because they want to do it. A peer advisor is someone who wants to work with freshmen and help them transition successfully.”

Senior Molly Fee, a veteran peer advisor and current peer advising intern, thinks that the peer advisor has a role that is separate from that of the advisor. While peer advisors are predominantly academic resources, as opposed to RA’s or professional counselors on campus, they sometimes extend their relationships by taking advisees to dinner or baseball games.

“After the initial meeting things become more relaxed because really the peer advisor is just an older friend,” said Fee.

With the components of advisory in place, students can get help for almost any issue during their four years of college. The team can be so close that the advisor can sympathize with the successes and failures of the students.

Dean Delores Kennedy, who started the peer advising program and is now responsible for academic advising in the College of Arts & Sciences, knows the feeling well.

“When you get phone calls two years out, 10 years out, 20 years out, you know they’re thinking of you,” said Kennedy.

Mailroom 101

Monday, August 27th, 2007 | Karin Underwood
Scott Bressler

Already wondering when that first care package from mom and dad will arrive? Curious where that Campus Box address you’ve been giving your friends is actually located? At some point or another every freshman will need to know how the Wash. U. mail services work, so here is your down-and-dirty guide.

On the bottom floor of the Wohl Center, past Bear Necessities, you will find rows and rows of tiny boxes. One of these belongs to you and will serve as your mailbox for the year. You can find the number and combination with your Housing Assignment on WebSTAC. All of your letters will be delivered to this box each day and you can come here any time to check your mail. The lock can be tricky, though, and most spin left-right-left to open. You can always ask at the desk if yours isn’t working.

If you’re waiting for a package to arrive, make sure you check your e-mail. Mail services will contact you when you receive a package and tell you what kind of package you received. You can then pick it up right away with your Student ID and a description of the package. But if mom wants to send you her homemade banana bread, make sure she marks the box as “Perishable” and mail services will also make a courtesy call to your room to let you know the box arrived.

To send packages, just stop by the mailroom during its regular business hours. The post office doesn’t sell boxes, but you can head next door to Bear Necessities to find what you need. You can also drop envelopes in the mail slots at any time.

So what are you waiting for? Get out there and find that box you can call your own.

Important Tips:

Don’t forget your photo ID to pick up packages
To avoid long lines, come to the post office well before closing
Always spin and lock your mailbox when you’re finished
Program your combo into your phone in case you forget it
The last mail pick-up each day is at 3:30 p.m.

Post Office Hours:

Monday 10 a.m. – 7 p.m.
Tuesday – Friday 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Saturday 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.
Sunday/holidays Closed

Make your space

Monday, August 27th, 2007 | Katrina Jongman-Sereno

You probably spent a good chunk of your summer shopping for dorm room necessities and now that you’ve moved in, your room is looking pretty awesome. But now you have to think about keeping it that way. With a roommate and a dorm full of new people, it can be hard to establish the vibe of your room.

It’s important to feel comfortable in your dorm, regardless of whether you want it to be a study room or a social hot spot. To make herself feel more at home, freshman Jennifer Varriano brought decorations that have special meanings for her. She hopes to show others what her interests and values are by what she puts in her room.

Be careful not to bring anything too valuable or irreplaceable, just in case things get a little too wild on the weekend. Keeping your room clean can be a challenge in college. Senior Laszlo Korsos says many of his belongings have been broken or ruined by spills.

“I keep my room neat [and] my bed is made every day,” said Korsos. “If your room looks neat and tidy, people are less likely to mess it up.”

Living with a roommate can be one of the biggest challenges in the transition from high school to college. You should always be upfront with your roommate about your ideal dorm culture. Blending your ideas with your roommate’s requires compromise and communication, two key elements that will help you survive sharing your space. Often, problems arise when roommates try to avoid confrontation.

“I think a lot of the time there’s no communication because there are concerns about hurting each other’s feelings and [roommates] don’t want to seem unreasonable,” said RA Janalyn Guo, a senior. “Ask yourself, ‘Do I feel comfortable right now?’ Because [if not], you can fix it.”

So far, Varriano has had a positive experience with her new roommate.

“You have to compromise,” said Varriano. “She [got] the good dresser and I think her closet is a little bigger, but I liked [a particular] bed so I took it.”

These sorts of compromises are important for maintaining healthy roommate relationships. Since many freshmen are sharing a room for the first time in their life, it’s a good idea to set guidelines right away.

“Establish from the beginning what you want,” advised senior Jenna Marx. “You have to make roommate contracts, so be really honest because if you do have a problem, it’s better to have a rule about it. But also be flexible about the rules.”

Roommate contracts cover anything roommates decide to discuss. Topics can range from cleaning duties and visitors to what time you want to go to sleep. If a problem arises during the school year, try to work out a solution with your roommate before reverting to the “rules” set by the contract.

“A lot of the time your roommate will have [a similar issue] but they just don’t know how to kick friends out [of the room], for example,” said Guo.

Dealing with friends can in fact prove to be a bit of a challenge. Though it’s occasionally fun to crowd your room with friends, there are times when you or your roommate won’t want your room to act as a social hub. It can be tricky, though, to ask your friends to leave without sounding rude. Marx recommended meeting in common rooms to avoid the situation entirely. If an accumulation of people in your room or outside your door is making it impossible for you to get to bed, politely ask that they find somewhere else to socialize.

“I always take the honest approach,” said Marx. “Everyone understands that people have to get sleep.”

A guide to your first day of class

Monday, August 27th, 2007 | Katrina Jongman-Sereno

How long will it take to get there?

You don’t want to be late to your first day of school. It’s always a good idea to visit your classrooms the day before school begins to make sure you know where you’re going. The morning classes start, allow plenty of time to grab breakfast and make the trek across campus. Check the following list to gauge approximately how much time you’ll need to get from the South 40 Clocktower to some important campus landmarks.

Wohl Student Center:
1 minute

Graham Chapel:
9 minutes

Mallinckrodt:
9 minutes

Olin Library:
10 minutes

Holmes Lounge:
11 minutes

The Athletic Complex:
12 minutes

The Village:
12 minutes

Brookings Hall:
14 minutes

What should I wear?

There are so many things to worry about on the first day of classes that wardrobe planning might be put on the back burner. Here are a few hints to help you dress for class with class:

Rock jeans and a T-shirt or a casual top
Wear a polo with khaki shorts
Don’t wear clothes to class that you wouldn’t wear other places
Don’t roll out of bed and stroll into class in your PJs
Don’t wear what you wore the night before

Decoding the conversation: Your slang dictionary

Monday, August 27th, 2007 | Andrew Cortopassi

As you mix and mingle with people from all over the country, you might run into some unfamiliar words. Read on to prepare yourself for some of the more popular terms you might hear.

Bubbler: water fountain (East Coast)
“The bubbler outside of the girls’ bathroom is broken.”

Coke: a general name to refer to all soft drinks (South)
A: “I’d like a Coke with my meal.”
B: “What exactly do you want?”
A: “Err… I’ll have a Diet Mountain Dew.”

Chill: cool or tight (West Coast)
“Yeah, I met my roommate. He’s real chill.”

Coupon: a certificate exchangeable monetary value (East Coast)
“I lost my Saks coupon!”

Coupon, pronounced “q-pon”: a certificate exchangeable for monetary value (South)
“I lost my Cracker Barrel coupon!”

Dicey: uncertain or dodgy (East Coast)
“His chances with that girl are dicey.”

Fixin’ to: to prepare to do something (South)
“I’m fixin’ to go out and milk the cows in the barn.”

Hella: very (West Coast)
“That movie is hella cool.”

The Hill: an area in St. Louis with many Italian restaurants (Midwest)
“Let’s go to the Hill and get some pizza.”

Jimmies: sprinkles
“Mom, put some jimmies on my birthday cupcakes!!”

Po Po: the police (East Coast)
“The neighbors just called the Po Po on this party!”

Pop: soft drink (Midwest)
“I got some pop for the fridge!”

Sick: awesome (West Coast)
“He has sick surfing skills.”

Sketchy: shady (widespread)
“Your boyfriend is so sketchy. He just disappears all the time.”

SLU: St. Louis University (Midwest)
“SLU’s right around the corner from WashU.”

Taxed: robbed or mugged (Pacific)
“Be careful downtown. It’s easy to get taxed.”

Wicked: extremely (East Coast)
“That movie was wicked awesome.”

Y’all: second person plural (South)
“OMG, y’all, come here!”