This fall, the Michigan Student Assembly launched the “Get Involved Campaign” to encourage students to join different organizations on campus. Campaign events like Pre-Class Bash and Service Diag Day aim to promote freshmen involvement outside the classroom. While this programming was extremely effective in informing students about the diversity of opportunities on campus, the process of determining interests and passions begins prior to a student’s arrival in the fall. Once on campus, students often feel smothered by invitations to attend mass meetings or overwhelmed by their adjustment to college life. Even events like Festifall, which aim to expose students to the abundance of groups and activities on campus, can be cumbersome and difficult to navigate.

Each year, a new pool of motivated and hardworking men and women attend New Student Orientation in order to become better prepared for life at the University. This program is very successful in informing students about most of the challenges they will face and the experiences they will have once on campus in September. However, campus involvement is understandably marginalized during this program to make room for necessary information regarding academics, campus safety, etc. Office of Student Activities and Leadership staff members are only allotted a short, 10 minutes to discuss the resources they provide for students in finding the right niche outside the classroom.

This is unfortunate because the work done outside of a student’s academic program can offer as much value as the work done within it and can account for a student’s most memorable experiences at college. If incoming students heard about the importance of joining a student organization during their orientation session, they would find it easier to navigate the wealth of student organizations prior to their campus arrival in September.

MSA is seeking to remedy this problem by crafting a program that grants a platform to current student leaders in the form of a panel discussion during new student orientation. A forum led by current students, rather than staff, and one which allows for incoming students to engage with current ones about their extra-curricular involvement, would send a powerful message to freshman that community involvement is a crucial part of the University experience. By introducing freshman to current student leaders, who can explain why and how to get involved, students can begin thinking about how they want to make their mark on campus. The program could even provide students the opportunity to look through Maize Pages, discover options that they didn’t even know existed, get the contact information for that organization’s leader and quickly reach out to that group. Student organizations benefit from this as well, since many groups begin their work prior to the start of the school year, and would welcome the opportunity to include freshmen in the planning process.

One goal of this program is to present incoming freshman with student leaders from a diverse group of campus communities and organizations. While these panelists won’t aim to recruit students to their specific organizations, having representation from service organizations, cultural and advocacy groups, Greek Life and student government will provide freshmen with numerous perspectives that can inspire them to find their own passions.

New Student Orientation, which is run by the Office of New Student Programs, would benefit from the program because freshmen are not otherwise exposed to current college students during orientation, except orientation leaders. This exposure helps accomplish the goal of student orientation. The opportunity to speak, not only with students but with those who lead our campus, would be a great catalyst in instilling energy and enthusiasm in incoming freshmen, as well as calm the nerves of those unsure of what lies ahead.

In the coming weeks, members of MSA will be meeting with ONSP to present their plan in the hopes of implementing a pilot program for this summer’s orientation sessions. While those most invested in the initiative believe that their model for the event is strong, they are fully committed to accommodating the needs and desires of ONSP in order to make these efforts a reality.

Brendan Friedman
LSA senior

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