Starting off the year: OLs & OCs reflect on orientation

Starting off the year: OLs & OCs reflect on orientation

Lucy Diaz and Justine Ballard

Aug. 31st might have marked the start of classes, but for many Macalester students, the school year started significantly earlier. A week and a half prior, around 70 student Orientation Leaders (OLs) arrived on campus to begin the training process that would teach them how to welcome Macalester’s newest class to life at Mac. 

OL training was an intensive, four day-long process that culminated in freshman move-in on the Friday of the same week. The process was created and organized almost entirely by this year’s three Orientation Coordinators (OCs), Andie Walker ’23, Rose Ruedisili ’23 and Masa Holocsi ’24. 

“I’m really proud of my training binder,” Ruedisili said of the document of resources OCs created to provide resources to OLs. “We had been doing all this work all summer and then you got to see all these documents together in all the binders, it brought me lots of joy.”

The OCs spent this summer working with the Office of Student Leadership & Engagement (OSLE) and coordinating with other departments that presented content to the first-years during the orientation process.

“One of the things that made this year’s orientation a little more difficult was that we had a lot of new staff members specifically in the offices that were going to be presenting to first-years,” Walker said.

OSLE also hired two new staff members involved in orientation at the start of the summer, Emi Menk and Fleury Clark Girimana. Menk is the Coordinator of Leadership and Transition and Girimana is the Coordinator of Student Orgs and Engagement. Menk and Girimana were both present for each day of OL training and orientation as support for the OLs and OCs, along with Director of Student Leadership and Engagement Laurie Adamson.

Despite the months spent planning for orientation and OL training, Walker and Ruedisili both expressed that they felt the time flew by.

“The beginning of the summer is definitely a little slower because it feels like you have all this time to do this stuff, but then it just gets busier and busier as you go, until the weekend of orientation,” Ruedisili said.

OL training lasted four subsequent days, with working hours from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Since OL training is such an extensive process and a significant portion of their role, the OCs spent a lot of time cultivating resources for the OLs to use.

“For OL training, I felt really good about how that went,” Walker said. “I think last year people came out of orientation a bit cynical, because they do put in a lot of unpaid labor on campus. One of the things we wanted to work on this year was reducing that burden slightly to the extent we were able to.”

According to returning OL Zoe Scheuerman ’24, the OCs were successful in achieving this goal. “I felt much less exhausted at the end of this year compared to how I felt at the end of last year’s orientation,” Scheuerman wrote in an email to The Mac Weekly. “I think that a big reason is that the hours were shorter this year. I think we also had less work to do outside of our training hours.”

First time OL Cade Keller ’25 found that the OL experience was actually scaled back when compared to the summer camp he worked at this summer.

“It was not as taxing as I had prepared for it to be because it was so much less high-key,” Keller said. “At the same time though, Macalester could definitely compensate the orientation leaders more.”

In February of this year, OLs petitioned the school for pay, where previously the only compensation they received was free meals for the duration of orientation and OL training. In April, OLs were granted $100 stipends for the work they put in, which amounted to around 40-50 hours over the course of the week and a half.

“I’m glad we got paid something this year, but $100 is still not enough,” Scheuerman wrote. “It bothers me a lot when I hear the admins constantly tell us about how much they appreciate us, and then they give us Mac-branded mugs or Jenga sets instead of just giving us more money.”

Still, despite the complaints of inadequate pay, both OLs and OCs said that they took on their positions because of the overall experience and the opportunity to network and meet other students on campus.

“My first year, I interacted with multiple OLs past orientation time and I really liked them all,” Keller said. “I figured [being an OL] would be a great place to meet people who had the same energy.”

“I thought that [being an OC] would be a fun way to dive into the community even deeper,” Ruedisili agreed. “I wanted to really lean into being involved at school as much as I could before I graduate.”

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