New students will soon be “UCClings” no more. When the class of 2021 arrives in August, they will be greeted by Orientation Leaders (OLs) rather than Upperclass Counselors (UCCs).
The name adjustment is due in part to Title IX considerations.
“This is in line with best practices with our peer institutions and clearly delineates that OLs do not have confidentiality when it comes to Title IX reports,” Associate Director of New Student Programs Lacey Filkins wrote in an email to 2016 UCCs. “The word ‘counselor’ can be very misleading for new students.”
This shift signals major changes to the position, including significantly longer training sessions, larger groups of first years with two OLs attached to each group and daily meetings between OL groups and OLs.
The Office of Housing and Residential Life decided to revamp the UCC program based on recommendations from the First-Year Experience Committee, which included faculty, staff and students and met for the majority of the 2015-16 academic year.
Changes were also prompted by the results of the 2016 Quality o
of Life survey conducted by the Kenyon Office of Institutional Research, in which 34 percent of respondents said UCCs were “not at all important” or “unimportant” in assisting their transition to Kenyon. The average rating for the importance of UCCs in facilitating the adjustment to Kenyon was 3 out of 5, lower than the rating for advisors (3.5), and older Kenyon students other than a UCC (4.2).
Filkins said the restructured OL position aims to give students better training and clearer responsibilities.
“As opposed to just being there to make sure students get from one place to the other, or just being part of the advising meetings, we’re giving them much more in-depth training, but also things that they’re going to be doing, conversations they’re going to be having with their group,” Filkins said.
Previously, each UCC worked with a group of three to four first years or transfer students. Under the restructured system, groups of 16 to 22 new students will be paired with two OLs in one group. OLs will meet daily with their groups during orientation and track attendance of their first years at orientation events.
Filkins expressed her hope that assigning two OLs to each group will give first years a better chance of finding common interests with one of their OLs and forming a strong personal connection.
Bella Blofeld ’19, a UCC during 2016 Orientation, expressed skepticism that larger groups of new students paired with two OLs will allow OLs to build close personal relationships with their first year.
“I think it can be nice, as an incoming student, to feel that you have this one-on-one, or four-on-one, fairly intimate relationship with someone who knows what they’re doing on campus,” Blofeld said.
OLs will no longer be responsible to one faculty advisor, but will have students in their group from 2-3 advisors, Filkins wrote in the email to this year’s UCCs.
UCCs previously arrived on the Wednesday before orientation, and received 8-10 hours of training before orientation began on Saturday. OLs will now receive about three times as many training hours, including eight hours in the spring semester. They will arrive on the Tuesday before orientation to complete 16 more hours of training before new student arrival begins on Saturday.
Community Advisors, Beer & Sex Advisors, Sexual Misconduct Advisors, Discrimination Advisors, Peer Counselors and students who arrive early for fall pre-season athletics will not be allowed to become Orientation Leaders to ensure OLs can focus on their assigned new students, according to Filkins.
The Office of Housing and Residential Life will hire 50 to 60 OLs, roughly half of the 130 UCCs hired in previous years. The new application process will be more selective, according to Filkins. The selection process will include a written application, a GPA/conduct check and an in-person interview.
Applications will be accepted until midnight on Sunday, Feb. 19.