The Orientation 2000 executive staff has a real sense these days of what it's like trying to hit a moving target. In its endeavor to plan and organize activities for the more than 990 incoming freshmen, this nine-person student group has faced the added challenge of scheduling, and rescheduling, events on a campus caught in the throes of a major make-over.
So what does all this uncertainty mean for the level of fun for the class of 2004 when it arrives at Homewood? According to Jackie Garonzik, Orientation 2000 executive co-chair, "Hopefully nothing."
"We are having to do plenty of shifting around and are forced to make a lot of contingency plans," said Garonzik, a junior in the Krieger School of Arts and Sciences. "But things are beginning to settle down now and fall into place. [The construction work] shouldn't be a problem. When all this comes off really well--and we know it will--we'll just have a bigger sense of accomplishment."
Stretches of campus the group hoped would be available will likely be off limits due to the delays in excavation and construction work caused by frequent summer rainstorms. The end result of the delays could translate into the relocation of the freshman check-in point, outdoor movies being moved indoors to Shriver Hall and Playfair pushed to Homewood Field. The university already has had to schedule two move-in days, Sept. 1 and 2, rather than the usual one, due to the limitation of having only one entrance into the main part of campus.
The theme for Orientation 2000 is derived from the movie Friday, the box-office hit starring rapper/actor Ice Cube. Playing upon lines in the movie, the staff has adopted two catch phrases to represent the spirit of the event: "A lot can go down between Friday and Wednesday," referring to the days of orientation, Sept. 1 to 6, and "We are going to have some fun today 'cause it's orientation, you ain't got no class, and you ain't got nothin' to do."
"We are presenting a theme of just having fun," said Daniel Wang, the event's other executive co-chair and a senior in the School of Arts and Sciences. "We're shooting for a festival type of atmosphere."
Activities planned for the week include a luau in the Decker Gardens, an a cappella concert, a poolside viewing of Jaws as part of an Athletic Center "lock-in" (which also will include games in the main gym, use of the climbing wall and music by a deejay) and club night at the Have a Nice Day Cafe, a downtown Baltimore club recently dubbed the city's "hottest night spot" by Baltimore magazine.
In addition to orientation standards such as Playfair, which generally brings out the entire freshman class, and movie night, this year's version will feature a sports day to include lacrosse clinics, aerobics classes and interdorm matches of Ultimate Frisbee and capture the flag.
"We are trying to cover the bases and offer activities that cater to everyone's needs," Garonzik said.
Orientation also aims to foster responsible behavior by including programs on sex issues, study techniques, healthy eating and alcohol awareness.
The staff has met since May to plan and organize the event. Wang said that despite having to work around the likelihood of not using the quads, the group has thankfully not had to scale back its plans.
What has helped, Wang said, has been the effort of the university to keep the group updated on the construction progress, as well as its willingness to provide extra funds to move events elsewhere on campus.
"The school has been very good in ensuring we have a full program for the freshmen," Wang said.
Fellow students also have rallied to support the group's efforts. To provide the manpower for the two move-in days, more than 500 undergraduates volunteered to direct traffic, unload cars and pick up students at BWI airport and Penn Station. In an effort to make the move-in more festive, the freshmen and their families and friends arriving on campus this year will be greeted with refreshments, a performing magician and tunes provided by the JHU band.
Garonzik said the staff has taken their charge as event organizers very seriously because they understand the significance of orientation days.
"I personally think it's very important when freshmen come in to overwhelm them with the university and the student body," Garonzik said. "Orientation is guaranteed to be an amazing time and a lot of fun. It not only prepares everyone for classes, but freshmen come away from it saying, 'I am really proud to go to Hopkins.' "
To learn more about orientation and the committee members, go to www.jhu.edu/~orientat/freshmen.html.