The presence of red lanyards dangling from hundreds of necks can only mean one thing – New Student Orientation has begun.
Beginning on the morning of September 15, minivans, rental cars, and Super Shuttles alike lined the streets of Stanford’s campus, all filled to capacity with suitcases bordering their fifty-pound limit. As red shirted volunteers carried boxes from cars to rooms, dorm staff frantically scoped the crowd, hoping to spot a newly-arrived freshman that they could greet by name.
“I was shocked when I arrived to campus,” Catherine Tran ’13 explains. “People taking my bags to my room. More people yelling my name! It was overwhelming, but I couldn’t have asked for a better welcome.”
The morning only intensified as roommates met for the first time, considered the possibilities of lofting a bed, and unpacked their belongings into what would be their new home.
NSO activities officially began within the halls of the main quad, where President John Hennessy gave his convocation address, urging the class of 2013 to embrace the resources on the farm in order to answer one question: who are you becoming? After the ceremonious pomp of convocation, additional programming included interacting with the authors of the Three Books Program, lunch with the pre-major advisor, and many seminars revealing the latest research and newest insight from Stanford’s prominent faculty.
Even amidst much formal programming, perhaps the more entertaining side of NSO was what reaffirmed many students’ decision to come to the farm.
“Band Run was the highlight of my week,” freshman Brendan Weinstein claims. “After running from Wilbur to the other side of campus, I knew freshman year would be great.”
In addition to the Band’s traditional and infamous traverse of campus, more of NSO’s entertainment included “The Real World: Stanford,” a student performance that cleverly explores meaningful topics of social well-being on the farm, and “Faces of Community,” which revealed Stanford’s multicultural roots through dance, music, and narratives. Also, keeping up with NSO tradition, the NSO dance and BROC Party proved to be the more popular events of the week.
Although some students felt that the social atmosphere of parties was rather forced, many students from Soto claim that the dances were the best part of NSO. Embracing their dorm spirit, the all-freshman dorm made a grand entrance at the NSO party, dressing in outrageous costumes to fully celebrate the night.
After a week of parties and presentations, Tran felt that NSO 2009 left little room for improvement. “There were a few boring, long-winded speeches about academics and choosing courses,” Tran said, “but, of course, those are all necessary.”
Much of NSO’s success can be attributed to the team of one hundred volunteers who devoted their week to welcoming Stanford’s incoming class. With smiles on their faces, orientation volunteers helped freshmen unpack on move in day, set up thousands of chairs for convocation, managed technology during presentations, and performed countless other tasks to ensure that NSO ran smoothly for the class of 2013 to enjoy.
In spite of the many early mornings and countless hours of work during NSO, volunteers like Greg Gorraiz ’12, enjoyed being able to relive the first days of their freshman year. As Gorraiz puts it, “being a volunteer gave me a chance redo traditions, like band run, that I didn’t fully understand when I arrived on campus a year ago.”
All of the staff’s hard work did not go unnoticed. In an address to the orientation volunteers on September 23, Dean of Freshmen and Transfer Students Julie Lythcott-Haims ‘89 praised the group for their accomplishments despite having a significantly smaller number of volunteers than previous years. Never before, Dean Julie claimed, had she received so many unsolicited compliments for the support of the NSO staff.
Both volunteers and freshman alike benefitted from an exhausting week full of Stanford pride, community, and tradition. The new students may be trying to forget having ever put on a red lanyard, but the NSO experience will long live on in their memories.