Rolling with the punches: midyear orientation
Due to the surge of Omicron cases, midyear orientation was moved almost entirely online just days before new students arrived.
On Jan. 13, around 100 midyear students trickled into a frigid Waltham to begin their college careers at Brandeis. Although the surge of Omicron cases significantly altered orientation plans by forcing programming to take place virtually, students were able to move into their dorms at the originally scheduled time.
Similar to the fall 2021 orientation, students attended many information sessions hosted by several organizations, including: Prevention Advocacy and Resource Center, Health and Wellness Promotion, Bridge To Wellness, Brandeis Emergency Medical Corps, and Student Sexuality Information Service. Students also participated in virtual social events — such as trivia, bingo, and movie nights — and engaged with their orientation groups via Zoom.
Midyear Harrison Madnick ’25 spent the fall semester in London with fellow Brandeis midyears. For him, “the highlight [of orientation] was getting to see people I met on the London program again as well as meet new people,” he wrote in a Jan.19 email to the Justice. However, holding orientation on Zoom poses difficulties, especially in getting acquainted with others, which Madnick expressed as an area that was somewhat lacking: “I would have liked there to be more opportunities to talk with peers and upperclassmen to get to know each other and possibly give advice to each other,” he wrote.
The University announced classes would be held virtually for the first two weeks of the semester on Jan. 7, with midyears moving in just six days later. Especially given the quick turnaround time, the Orientation Leaders “were able to pull off a good orientation program,” Madnick said. In addition to leading activities and helping midyear students adapt to life as a Brandeisian, “the energy that our OLs had was very friendly which helped the [midyears] feel not as nervous,” he added.
OL Zoe Lazar ’23 was attracted to the position because she wanted “to welcome new students with the same level of compassion and joy I was welcomed to our campus with,” she wrote in a Jan. 19 email to the Justice. Lazar expressed comfort in discovering during her own orientation that many other first-years were dealing with the same struggles she was facing. She “tried to replicate that with [her] orientation group, who we call our grouplets, by creating spaces where they saw from each other that their concerns and excitements alike were shared,” she wrote.
The OLs’ impressiveness of rolling with the punches and making a successful orientation despite the challenges, highlighted by Madnick, was also recognized by the OLs themselves. For Lazar, “the highlight of orientation was seeing the OLs, in a span of a week, put our heads together to create virtual social spaces to replace what would have been fabulous evening social events. We worked with what we had and planned some really special events and fostered many new friendships,” she said.