Stanford Review - Archive - Volume XXVII - Issue 1 - News
Freshman Orientation Teaches Stanford Values
by Justin Diener
The five fun-filled days of Freshman Orientation 2001 included three major assemblies in which incoming students learned the "accepted" Stanford perspectives on such controversial topics as alcohol, sex, and diversity. The programs had themes ranging from "Discover Stanford," an introduction to the University, "Real World," an introduction to the potential perils of the Stanford social scene, to "Faces of Community," an introduction to the diversity of campus.
"Discover Stanford" featured several speakers and presentations including an in-depth look at the Honor Code and the Fundamental Standard.
"Real World" introduced students to the difficulties of life as a freshman. Issues such as meeting friends to alcohol and sex were addressed. Freshman Katy Hart recalled after hearing others' reactions how much the Real World hit home with her fellow freshman.
"Faces of Community" is a student run performance that has generally tended to be the most controversial of the Freshman Orientation Activities. This year it featured members of the Stanford community ranging from ASSU President Matthew Brewer, '03, to Stanford janitor Angeles Figueroa. Besides speakers, "Faces" included performance groups such as Mariachi Cardenal and Talisman.
Mr. Brewer rapped a poem in which he spoke about this experiences in high school as one of only a few minorities. He described the way in which one of his fellow high school classmates reacted when he was accepted at several colleges, "I wish I could paint my face black to get accepted." Overall, the theme of "Faces of Community" was one of acceptance.
Ms. Figueroa dealt directly with the issue of respect in dorms for service employees. She spoke in Spanish about her life and about the problems that students inadvertently produce for her and her colleagues.
Bill Bowen, '03, appeared on stage to talk about his religious experiences: he told the audience about his time as a Mormon Missionary overseas in Italy and how much he loved his religion and life. He then went on to explain to the audience that he is gay, and shared with them the troubles that he has had in dealing with the fact that many no longer consider him a "good" Mormon.
One of the best-received speeches at "Faces" came from Kareem Ghanem, '03, and Ben Lilien, '03, who are Islamic and Jewish, respectively. They spoke about the difficulties that they faced in attempting to get people to overcome deeply founded prejudices. As roommates and as best friends since freshman year they recounted how they have come to understand each other's perspectives on a highly personal level. They had hoped that if they could bring others of the Islamic and Jewish faiths together, then the problems facing Israel and the Palestinians could be discussed in a more positive and productive manner. However, their attempt to create this sort of discussion came full circle when they discovered that the conference they were planning was going to be a failure precisely because of the deeply rooted prejudices that they were trying to overcome.
Katherine Hart, a freshman reacted to the Faces Program by saying, "They did a good job about trying to get a diverse group together." She also liked the fact that Faces included people other than just students: "It was nice to bring up the other part of Stanford besides the students."
Marie Hollenhorst, said of the orientation activities that the "performances were pretty cool." She also enjoyed the dorm discussions "because we were able to find out other people's reactions to the different orientation activities."
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