Reactions from student groups after their first concrete experiences with freshman housing are mixed. While some groups report higher numbers of freshmen, others report lower numbers and less active participation.
According to a recent informal survey of student leaders, the effect of freshman housing on student organizations has been generally negative. Nine of the 11 groups who responded said that they believe freshman housing has had a negative impact on their organization.
The survey, e-mailed out by the Student Activities Office for the Freshman Housing Implementation Committee to all Students’ Association groups, asked leaders to respond anonymously to a series of questions regarding freshman membership and involvement.
“It’s an informal survey which provides some very preliminary initial information that will help the Freshman Advisory Committee do its work,” said Dean of The College William Green, who is a co-chair of FHIC.
While ten of the 11 groups who responded said they do have freshman members, most respondents said they believe that the impact of freshman housing on their group has been negative.
Many respondents agreed that interaction with upperclassmen is key to keeping freshmen involved in their organizations. “The big difference this year is that a number of freshmen have only met people at the expo and do not interact on their halls with any of our members,” said one respondent. “It really makes a difference having other members live near new members and be able to explain and answer questions.”
For some groups, advertising
has changed because of freshman housing. Many groups have made special efforts to advertise heavily on the quad.
Sophomore and secretary of the Black Students Union Stephanie Fitz-patrick said she felt that this effort has not yet paid off.
“We try to focus all of our flyers out in the Quad, but I think the presence of upperclassmen talking up events that are going on may be more effective,” she said.
Other groups have made no changes in the way they advertise. Junior and administrative chairperson of the Campus Activities Board Jason Smith said he feels that special advertising is a waste of time. “I don’t foresee CAB doing special advertising for the freshmen ? they aren’t more special than the rest of campus,” he said. “Personally, I have better things to do with my time than going door-to-door to pamper kids.”
One survey respondent reported that a new position, freshman representative, will be added to his or her group. “This representative will be responsible for adding the freshman perspective to our meetings and to help advertise our events,” the response said.
The American Sign Language Club believes that the existing office positions will be filled later on by freshmen, said senior and club president Jamie Hollander.
While most groups say that there are some freshmen attending their meetings, most also reported a lack of active involvement. “There are no freshmen on our executive board and that may be one solution to getting them more involved and getting them to come to our events,” Fitzpatrick said.
Junior and chairperson of the College Democrats Candace Curran said that she thinks freshman housing has had an effect, but that freshmen will eventually get involved. “I think it takes time to get freshper-sons integrated into the community,” she said.
Groups that are based not strictly on interest but more on academics may have an easier time recruiting since they can use the community of the classroom as a basis. “Freshman housing hasn’t affected us much, because we’re academic based and we recruit through the class room,” said junior and vice president of ASL Karen Jones.
Off Broadway On Campus is one group that has a large group of freshman participants this year. “Freshmen outnumber old people two to one,” senior and OBOC President Rob Weinstein said. The large number of freshmen may have to do with freshman housing. “A lot of them come in groups from where they live,” Weinstein said.
In groups where freshmen are involved, there is hope that freshman housing will eventually help spread interest among younger students. Senior and co-president of Amnesty International Brooke Matschek said that Amnesty has expanded in general over the last few years and there is plenty of room for freshmen to be involved.
“The freshmen this year are energetic,” she said. “If freshman housing works the way it is supposed to, there is potential for a few freshmen to get involved at first and then spread the word among other members of their class.”
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