After reading last week’s articles from other Orientation Week 2015 coordinators, we hope to share another perspective of coordinating in order to provide the student body with an alternate opinion of the experience. Ultimately, we think this article will help provide a more comprehensive and multi-faceted understanding of coordinating. As the 2015 McMurtry O-Week coordinators, we had an overwhelmingly positive experience and learned a lot from the position.
We understood our role not as a voice for current students but as an advocate for the interests of the incoming class. The most obvious controversial instance of this was the removal of Cheer Battle. Despite our varying personal views, we knew the event made a significant number of students uncomfortable each year, and that it did not make or break anyone’s O-Week experience. Several Murts who applied to advise this year made it clear in their applications and interviews that Cheer Battle was, in fact, their least favorite part of O-Week. We acknowledge the removal was an administrative decision not to be left unchallenged, but for us, the pros of removing the event greatly outweighed the cons. Once we had developed our vision for McMurtry’s O-Week — one of support and inclusion — we realized Cheer Battle did not fit our vision anyway.
Our vision for supporting new students also played a key role in how we conceptualized, planned and executed our O-Week events. We had complete control over 16 events for 160 people over the course of six days, and that was plenty. We carefully considered the meaning behind each event and how it would contribute to new students’ success at Rice. We understood we didn’t have the power to change large campus-wide events (e.g., matriculation and Rice Rally), nor did we want such an immense responsibility. Still, in the case of RICE Groups, we enacted sweeping structural changes: The number of colleges in a RICE Group was decreased, and we decided to include more structured activities (e.g., trivia, “Minute to Win It” games) during the first RICE Group event. In this instance, our influence as coordinators was undeniable. We had the power to create events that both fit our vision for O-Week and addressed the needs of new students. Yes, we planned events, but we weren’t just event planners.
O-Week wasn’t — and can’t be — perfect. This job is hard. It won’t pad your resume or make you rich, and that’s how it should be. The people you want as your college’s O-Week coordinators are the people who would volunteer to do it. Still, we wouldn’t have turned down a full meal plan in addition to our free housing. To enjoy this job, we had to find self-satisfaction and small gestures of appreciation, and that led us to fall in love with McMurtry all over again. Demonstrations of support were not always obvious, but when we looked hard enough, they were there. Being coordinators was one of the hardest things each of us has ever done, but it was also one of the greatest.
Makenzie Drukker, Seth Berggren, and Leah Topper are McMurtry College upperclassmen.