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The Carletonian

The Carletonian

The Carletonian

One student’s criticism of the Pre-Frosh decision

<eshman experience at Carleton is unquestionably an important aspect of the climate on our campus. Every summer, Carleton upperclassmen and staff invest countless hours of energy and planning in programming for the first couple weeks after the freshmen arrive. Those precious weeks may be the most important in the entire four years a student spends here.

Having a strong foundation at Carleton during the first few weeks actually has more impact on emotional and psychological well being than any other time during the year. If you think about it, there is such a wealth of interaction in this period that the bonds made between students before classes start influence the trust relationships and consequently even the physical safety here on our campus.

As students, we know this. We live in the dorms, we eat in the dining halls and we walk around this campus completely hammered off our asses at 2 o’clock in the morning. If there was a problem with trust at Carleton our entire social house of cards would completely collapse onto itself leaving us sitting in our rooms (doors locked) drooling and chewing on our pens. Seriously, try going outside pissed on a college campus at a huge university. It is not safe. Why? Because people don’t know each other.

The kinds of relationships that sustain the social habits at Carleton are the kinds of relationships that are made with real social interaction. For freshman, that kind of interaction is extremely hard to facilitate. New Student Week leaders work incredibly hard but the relationships made during New Student Week are undeniably superficial compared to those made on a PreFrosh Trip. What kind of icebreaker could stand up to sleeping nine across in a six-person tent during a freak thunderstorm in the Boundary Waters? No, I can’t think of any either.

Last week it was made public that the administration made a decision to cut the PreFrosh Trips out of the programming for first year students. There was no student involvement in this decision. Had there been, I am willing to bet that there would have been an uproar from students who had amazing experiences on their trips and would want to see them kept. I put myself in this boat when I read the Carletonian last week. When I was asked to respond I wrote a defensive article blaming the administration for secret sabotage. Sure, I was angry—I was caught off-guard. Where did this decision come from? Why didn’t I know this was being discussed?

There has been some explanation this week about the rationale behind the decisions made. There is still cause to be angry because the trips are going to change and we have no choice about that. However, I have realized that rather than reminisce about my last three fabulous years in the PreFrosh Trip program I would rather take action. We can either look at this as a loss (which it is) or we can look at it as an opportunity for students to become involved to make the program even better.

At this point there is not an established plan for what to do next. The decision to cut PreFrosh Trips has been made but the decision about what will take its place should be prepared by the students who will actually be involved and affected by the inevitable transformation in campus climate with this resolution. Who knows, maybe next year everybody will go on a Frosh Trip (no “pre”). Maybe we can come up with a way to include other trips, like photography and drama. No matter what though, this will be a student decision. We will see that the issue of small group orientations does not get dropped because it is the students, in the end, who will be directly affected by this decision, not the administration.

– is a third-year student.

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