Real World, a small sliver of orientation performed by POD leaders, was such a pivotal part of my orientation process (and to others I’ve spoken with) and I’m saddened to see the tradition lose its spark and importance with new censorship. In a sea of new people and faces who seemed to be making friends much faster than I could have hoped for, I finally felt a sense of belonging. While all aspects of freshman orientation, from PODS to the clean ups and volunteering with the community, even moving in with someone you only know via Facebook photos and status updates, are important, that night I truly felt like I was a Boxer. I knew that even though it could take some time, I’d find my place and people, and have pride in what I’d accomplished.
PODs are a great tool in introducing freshmen to new and exciting individuals as well as a couple fine, sexy Boxers who know their stuff, but being opened up, without any sort of censor (or censure) on what the veteran students had to say to incoming freshmen stood by what I understood Pacific to be–a place for its students. It really was a “We know this is hard, we’ve been there. We can help.” The POD time and introduction to Forest Grove was great, but being in touch with those new faces in a deeper connection than “what’s your favorite color?” was truly remarkable and set Pacific apart for me. While I understand that pieces regarding topics such as rape, STIs, homophobia, religion, etc. can be uncomfortable, it’s important to share those things. What better place to do it than a welcoming, helpful and friendly community like Pacific’s? It’s important for orientation to be fun, but letting students know through their fellow classmates that an incredibly strong and willing support system is at their fingertips (in dorm rooms, in the U.C., in the library, in the classroom and any where else one can imagine) in a world full of sudden surprises, good and bad is extremely important.
Why are we censuring something that could help in the long run? If we leave these things hush-hush, I feel there would be a number of students who won’t look for help. Why not have people there to help you through it and vice versa? I’ve been on both sides of the stage for this part of orientation, and I have to say that having freshmen look at me like I was crazy when I asked “Is everybody doing okay?” during intermission last year, when after my freshman year a number of students stayed late afterward to talk with new friends, POD leaders and staff on the site, was frustrating and worrisome. Pacific is such an accepting campus and I’d like to see that still when I come back after graduation.
My POD leader presented a true testimonial about her family life and it really hit home for me. She and I were able to talk,and I wasn’t as afraid anymore going to a university I didn’t even want to be at to begin with. I didn’t feel like an outsider. I didn’t feel like the only kid who came from a not-so-well-off, little-too-rough-around-the-edges family. The POD leaders’ testimonials and skits that are presented to freshmen, and made by POD leaders are just as important as every other part of orientation and should be maintained and encouraged to grow along side Pacific in coming years.