30th anniversary of orientation brings new changes to program


Kassidy Berger

For Quinnipiac’s orientation program, July means the whistles and beach balls are put away until late August. 

This year marks the 30th anniversary of Quinnipiac’s first orientation session. Every Bobcat to enter the university since 1989 has participated in orientation, but the program looked significantly different when it began.

“Orientation has shifted a lot over the past ten years specifically,” Erin Provistalis, director of campus life for student involvement, said. “Ten years ago we had a weekend program with 120 Orientation Leaders on staff.”

The 2019 Orientation staff

This year, 60 Orientation Leaders (OLs), and three Orientation Interns were hired, with an additional 20 potential OLs being placed on the alternate list. 

When hiring the orientation staff, Provistalis noted that diversity is vital for creating the most accepting and positive atmosphere for orientation. 

“We want to bring in a staff that our incoming class can relate to,” Provistalis said. “We try to mirror that as much as possible. We look for an eclectic group.”

These 60 OLs not only leave a lasting impact on the incoming freshmen, but also on the overall structure of the program as well. Samantha Bashaw, an Orientation Intern and 3+1 journalism graduate student, knew she wanted to be an OL from the moment she came to her own orientation. Three summers later, she is fulfilling a different role as an intern.

“This year’s theme was Disney, so we wanted to make it more like a Disney experience. We took their bags to their room[s] for them, left mints on their pillows, and I left hand-written notes in the rooms,” Bashaw said, adding that she wanted to make move-in an easier process for everyone involved.

Bashaw, a “Quinnipiac advocate in every way,” said that the most important part of orientation is allowing yourself to come to college with an open mind.

“I want them to know they have so many possibilities here,” Bashaw said. 

Gender Identity & Orientation

A larger shift in this year’s orientation program was recognizing diversity in gender identity and gender expression. While personal pronouns were a part of introductions in past orientations, this year, gender identity was woven into discussion about diversity throughout orientation. 

Austin Calvo, an Orientation Intern and senior political science major, noted one tradition that saw major revamping this year.

All seniors can now be serenaded, which makes this Orientation tradition more gender-inclusive. Pictured: Austin Calvo during his senior serenade.

“Traditionally, serenades had been all of the men on staff serenading the senior women as a way to say thank you for the work that they’ve put into the program. But this always looked like it was something out of the 50s,” Calvo said. “This year we wanted to change it to be more gender inclusive, so that when we have someone on staff that is gender non-binary, genderfluid, gender non-conforming, or whatever, we wouldn’t have to say to them, ‘Are you a boy or a girl? Pick one’.”

Instead of just the women, all seniors on staff now get serenaded, unless they choose not to be. All seniors are now allowed to serenade each other.

Leah Lavin, an Orientation Leader and 3+1 interactive media grad student, added that gender inclusivity became a discussion point during the tradition “Celebrating You at QU.”

“Celebrating You at QU” is a tradition that encourages the incoming freshmen to recognize and celebrate their differences and relies heavily on the University Creed. Part of the Creed states, “I respect and value all members of this diverse community. I embrace the inclusion of all people.”

Impact of Orientation

One thing that will never change about orientation is the passion and energy brought to the program by the staff of Orientation Leaders, interns and administration. 

For two first-year OLs, this excitement was felt the second orientation began. 

As a first-time OL, Emma Morales, a sophomore physical therapy major, said that she was excited to show her incoming freshmen “what an awesome community” Quinnipiac is. She believes the small age gap between her and her incoming freshmen makes her “a little more relatable to them in terms of  the day-to-day things they’ll be dealing with next year.” 

Another first-time OL, Nick Ciampanelli, was greatly impacted by his own orientation and wanted to give back to the QU community. 

“I came to QU with the expectation I would transfer to another institution. However, my orientation experience with OLs, Jonathan Sweeney and Sarah Basset, changed everything,” Ciampanelli said. “They showed me what it truly meant to be a Bobcat and how astounding this school is. I can’t imagine how my life would be without them and my orientation experience.”

Orientation is not over yet. Session six will take place on August 21 and August 22 and the second transfer orientation session will be held on August 23. All first-year students will once again meet up with their OLs for welcome weekend events as well.