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Spring orientation acclimates new students

Program includes Van Wickle Gates entrance, Apple Pie Social and book discussion

On the morning of Jan. 21, the Van Wickle Gates opened but not to welcome incoming first-years or bid farewell to departing seniors. Instead, those who assembled in front of the Quiet Green to mark their debut on College Hill were spring transfer, visiting and Resumed Undergraduate Education students, who are now headlong into their first semester at Brown.

Opening Procession is part of a broader transfer, visiting and RUE orientation program held during the beginning of both the fall and spring semesters. The program welcomes students to the University and tries to acclimate them to their new academic and extracurricular environment, said Maitrayee Bhattacharyya ’91, associate dean of the College for diversity programs, transfer, visiting and RUE students.

Bhattacharyya and Carol Cohen ’83, associate dean for first-year and sophomore studies and transfer, visiting and RUE students, as well as Transfer Coordinators Aneesha Mehta ’14 and Camille Briskin ’14, organize and run transfer student orientation, Briskin wrote in an email to The Herald. Coordinators make sure orientations go smoothly and work to improve events as well as occasionally introduce new ones, Briskin wrote.

This spring, the transfer coordinators worked with International Mentoring Program leaders to expand orientation activities. Together, they opened the Apple Pie Social, a traditionally IMP-only event, to all new students this semester, Briskin wrote.

“Many students came despite the blizzard that night, so we think that we’ll continue to do this in upcoming spring orientations,” she added.

Visiting students usually study at Brown for up to two semesters, and hail from a range of domestic and international institutions, Cohen said.

Some of these institutions, such as the historically black Tougaloo College in Jackson, Miss., have partnered over the years with the University to facilitate student exchanges, Bhattacharyya added.

Unlike the longer fall orientation, where transfer and RUE students are invited to their own version of Unit Wars and mingle with first-year students at the ice cream social, spring orientation spans only two days.

Larger events such as the president’s convocation speech, which occurs on the first day of classes in the fall semester, are intended for a broader audience and cannot be replicated in the spring, Cohen said.

This year’s spring orientation began in Salomon Center with speeches given by Bhattacharyya and Cohen, said Emily Schwartz ’16, a transfer student. Students were then split into groups of five or six, with each group led by a student who had previously transferred to Brown. “Everyone seemed very excited and nervous,” she said.

The orientation program also featured a pizza dinner and a seminar to discuss Eyal Press’ novel “Beautiful Souls,” which all incoming students were required to read, Schwartz said.

Schwartz, who transferred this spring from Mount Holyoke College in Massachusetts, said Brown is “really the college experience that I’m looking for — I think there’s a unique kind of student that goes here that’s really rare, and everyone’s been really kind and welcoming.”.

Kevin Chen ’15, who transferred last fall from New York University, said adjusting to life on College Hill takes time, but added that transfers have access to several resources along the way.

“By nature it was easier to meet transfers at first, and some of my best friends now are transfers, but I am slowly building up relationships in other areas on campus,” Chen said. “The deans and transfer advisors did a great job in helping us acclimate.”

Chen said some of his old friends on NYU’s urban, decentralized campus have joked that he has “traded down” to a quieter city, but he expressed confidence that he “made the right choice” in coming to Brown.

“There’s definitely a more tight-knit community here,” Chen said. “Being on a campus has really enhanced my college experience.”



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