As if heading to college in the midst of a pandemic was not challenging enough, Hurricane Henri further complicated plans for first-year move-in and orientation. As the old saying goes, rain on a celebratory occasion is a sign of good luck, so fingers crossed that a great year lies ahead. 

Sunday, Aug. 22, was the designated time for first-years to arrive on campus, but due to the weather, students were urged to delay their arrival. Instead, students began moving in on Aug. 23. 

The multiple day move-in disrupted the intricately planned-out schedule for orientation events. According to Brandeis orientation leader Matthew Kolk ’22, “Sunday’s move-in being canceled caused us to shuffle all sorts of events around and made the already tight schedule even more logistically challenging.” The changes made posed a challenge to many first-years who found themselves having to travel and move in while simultaneously attending orientation sessions on Zoom. “It seemed like new students moving in would have loved another hour or so to get settled before orientation events began,” Kolk said. 

After the initial confusion of move-in, students engaged in a variety of orientation programming such as Deiswood — a red carpet-themed event with mocktails, games and food — as well as Light the Night, mini-golf, drag bingo and a movie night. These lively events were attended by many first-years and helped get the year off to a spirited start. Although students were grateful to attend an array of fun-filled, in-person activities, some students also thought more structure could have helped to foster connection. “I expected to do more in the orientation groups and less of just being thrown into crowds without a whole lot of direction,” Nancy Wright ’25 said in an interview with the Justice.

The rest of orientation was dedicated to attending seminars and presentations from organizations such as the Prevention, Advocacy and Resource Center, Brandeis Emergency Medical Corps, the Hiatt Career Center and the Office of Equal Opportunity. While many of the seminars were a necessary introduction to student resources, “I thought [the seminars] were not enlightening at all, and the time could have been used to get to know our peers,” Wright added. 

The University also hosted an academic fair and an involvement fair to give students the chance to ask questions, explore different departments and learn more about the plethora of clubs and organizations at Brandeis. Wright felt that “the highlight of orientation was probably the academic fair just because it was the most useful and guiding.”

While first-years did spend time getting to know their orientation groups, they did not get to interact with many other orientation groups, so their ability to foster relationships with others were somewhat limited. “At times, I felt a bit isolated from friends that I had already made, simply because they weren’t in my orientation group,” Anthony Ruiz ’25 said.

Despite the initial obstacles the storm brought to move-in and the few improvements some students would recommend for future years, first-years were grateful to be able to have a mostly in-person and somewhat normal orientation to kick off the year. As Kolk put it, “everyone was so ready to go.” Neither Hurricane Henri nor COVID-19 could rain on the spirit and excitement of the new Brandeisians.