Each January, upperclassmen return for the spring semester to find that a hundred new students, the midyear class, have arrived on campus. These bright-eyed, newly convocated Brandeis students move in a few days before the semester begins to take part in Midyear Orientation. Midyear Orientation, like the Orientation at the beginning of the academic year, involves social events and information sessions, and is intended to help new students bond and integrate into the Brandeis community. Realizing that few non-midyear students know what makes midyear orientation unique, the Justice spoke with members of Midyear Orientation CORE for some insight. Their responses, sent via email, are shared below. 

What were some highlights of Midyear Orientation for you?

ELI WASSERMAN, ’20: Some of the highlights included the original programs from me and Miranda Lassar [’20], my fellow CORE committee member, where midyears had a chance to reflect on the experiences they’ve had prior to coming to Brandeis, and now as a mid-year student. Some of my favorite and most successful social programs included a battle of the centuries party complete with a chocolate fountain, karaoke, and nitrogen ice cream. Volunteer Fest is another incredible program that allows mid-years to engage with the greater Waltham community on a more personal level.

MIRANDA LASSAR: For me, the highlight of midyear orientation was just seeing all of the new students begin to form new connections through the programming Eli and I had planned. We had been working on these events for the past four months, and seeing them come to fruition was pretty surreal. Because no matter how much you plan or prep for every minute detail of a social event or presentation, you never know what is going to happen when the students show up!

What mindset did you go into planning with? What were your priorities? What message did you want to send?

EW: I personally wanted to instill in the midyear class of 2023 that coming in as a midyear student doesn’t put you behind your fellow classmates. In fact, midyears have an incredible and unique advantage coming in as more independent, mature, and determined members of the Brandeis Community, as a result of having gone through a midyear semester. In terms of planning orientation, it was important to plan meaningful events that would engage students socially, while also providing them with the necessary information to start their time at Brandeis. No matter how much you plan for events though, they always end up a little different than expected, so it was important to stay optimistic and flexible throughout the process of planning orientation.

ML: I think January orientation is unique in the sense that it is much smaller than August orientation, which allows for programming to be more reflective purely because of size constraints. Eli and I both incorporated identity building and reflective thinking into our programs because we wanted the students to start forming meaningful relationships. Although it is easy to stay surface level during orientation, our goal was to push the new students to go beyond “where are you from?” and begin exploring what it really means to be a Brandeis student.

Tell me a little about the planning process.

EW: I mentioned a little bit about the planning process above, but generally, each student CORE member gets five/six events they are in charge of for the weekend, at least one social event, an original program, and some of the staple events like volunteer fest and the candle lighting ceremony. We are expected and encouraged to put a spin on events and come up with creative new ways to present these programs to new students. With the help of Jenny Abdou and Scott Berozi, integral members of the orientation team, orientation is planned throughout the fall semester, and then OL’s and CORE come early in January to begin setting up the campus for a weekend of events and activities.

ML: The planning process started this past September. Eli and I were each assigned a certain set of programs to plan and execute, and we worked alongside our amazing supervisors Jenny Abdou and Scott Berozi. Planning orientation is a lot more work than it looks, but at the end of the day it was all worth it when watching students gain something meaningful and enjoy the program you have put together!

In what ways did you draw on your own midyear experience? What were some highlights (or lowlights!) of your own orientation?

EW: As a midyear who went on the London program, it was super special to see how much the program has grown since I was midyear. My London class was 27, and this London class was 56. It shows how much the midyear program has grown to be respected and desired by incoming Brandeis students. Being a midyear is super special, and midyear orientation has allowed me to once again reflect on my own midyear identity.

In what ways, positive and negative, do you think the midyear experience is unique?

EW: Positive, being a midyear means you are coming to Brandeis with a built in community of people who have had a diverse range of experiences.

— Editor’s Note: Justice Editor Andrew Baxter was a midyear Orientation Leader this year and did not participate in the writing or editing of this article.