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Despite crunch, first-years appreciate first days

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Greg Bergeron ’12 is one of a handful of freshmen who live in King House, placed there because more first-years enrolled than were expected this year.

Bergeron said he appreciates his huge room in the building, which houses a co-ed literary fraternity. But King House doesn’t afford many social opportunities for freshmen, he said. Despite the housing crunch, Bergeron and other first years seemed too involved with a packed Orientation to dwell long on their living situations.

Orientation activities bridge Brown’s week-long gap between summer and school, but also herd young freshmen together, which this year is no easy task: There are more freshmen this year than last, some of whom are housed on the outer reaches of campus.

This year’s orientation schedule was filled with parent-oriented lectures, mandatory lectures for freshmen about sex, alcohol and diversity and nighttime social activities. Adviser meetings, a discussion about required summer reading and Ruth Simmons’s welcome speech were also on the docket.

A healthy dose of parents could be spotted among the bright-eyed first-years, taking time in between box lifting and teary good byes to attend a few lectures themselves. On Sunday parents were invited to forums on financial planning and on “Saying Goodbye.”

Malachy Morris ’12 said he was especially pleased with the open feel of the Brown community. Citing the mandatory freshman lecture on diversity, Morris said he was “glad people got to talk about it, stay aware of it.” The Perkins resident said he, in part, owes his social life so far to the friendliness of “random people.”

“I come from the D.C. area, and you can’t just walk around and say hi to people,” Morris said. “It’s that Brown environment.”

Jennie Mazzucco ’12 said “The Real Buzz,” a lecture about campus drinking, was “funny, dynamic and engaging.”

Sara Faught ’12 said she was surprised that the programs weren’t repetitive and that the days had been “packed with a lot of activity.” She added that aside from Brown-organized social events, freshmen could be spotted at parties held at the houses of various athletic teams.

After their first taste of Brown, a prevailing sentiment among freshmen centered on a different kind of acceptance.

Bergeron said he was particularly impressed with the lack of “snobbery” and uniformity among his peers. “I almost went to Harvard, but here there’s a (wider) variety of people,” Bergeron said, adding that everybody seemed accepting and down to earth.

Morris, who said he grew up in a “very strict environment,” was still uncomfortable with the options Brown offers but thought the shopping period was a good introduction to the spirit of academics and of his new college in general.

“I’m a little afraid – it’s so open – but it’s a good way to start at Brown,” Morris said.

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