On April 8, Director of the First-Year Experience Don Miller announced in an all-student email that applications for the orientation leader (OL) position are open. For the first time, OLs, who have historically volunteered for the position, will now receive a $500 stipend for their work.
Since its inception in 2017, the OL program has never paid leaders. This issue was increasingly raised this past fall, as orientation was characterized by disorganization and unclear expectations with the first COVID-19 outbreak of the year developing on campus. Particularly frustrating for this year’s OLs was that, despite the high expectations and long hours, they were not compensated for their work.
Miller said pay for OLs has been something he has been working on since he arrived at Kenyon early in 2021, hoping to bring Kenyon in line with its peer institutions. According to Miller, the decision to pay OLs came earlier this year, after students who served in the role this past fall expressed that they felt the position was too much work not to receive compensation.
“I’m excited that we listened to our students who said ‘We think there’s some merit, with these responsibilities, [to] being compensated,’” Miller said. “I’m excited we listened to our students and are able to make that happen.”
Adam Bell ’22, who worked as an OL this past fall, said he’s glad that next year’s OLs will be compensated. “It shows that our work is valued at Kenyon and may encourage better use of our time as student leaders,” he wrote in a message to the Collegian.
Students are able to apply for two OL positions: one in the summer and one in the fall. Miller said the summer role, which is an extension of last year’s campus connector program, is an important step to formalize early outreach to incoming students. Miller elaborated that this role is separate from the fall OL role in order to allow more students to work as OLs. Currently, some students — including fall athletes and Community Advisors — are unable to work as OLs due to scheduling conflicts.
“This opens up opportunities for students who might want to be an orientation leader but because of their other responsibilities can’t during the fall,” Miller said. Students can apply for one or both positions on the same application.
Unlike fall OLs, OLs working over the summer will be paid an hourly wage at Grade Level II ($10.60/hr). According to Miller, this is to maintain the compensation method of the campus connectors, while the fall OL position is more suited to a stipend. “It’s a different opportunity than a straight hourly position,” he said.
The job posting also mentioned that fall OLs will receive additional compensation for training. Miller said this will likely come in the form of an hourly wage at the same Level II rate as summer OLs. “We do not have the exact number of hours we’ll be doing training yet, so that’s one of the reasons it was not in the position description.”
Jenny Jantzen ’23, who has served as an OL for the past two years, said that, despite the pay, she still has some concerns, including the lack of clarity about how OLs would be compensated for training hours and specific hourly expectations during orientation.
“I’m not entirely satisfied with the stipend,” Jantzen said. “It’s a much larger commitment than people seem to think it is. I remember it being a lot of work.”
Jantzen said she will not be reapplying to work as an OL in the fall. “I just did not have a pleasant experience,” she said. She recommended that those interested in the OL position talk to upperclass students who have served in the role in the past to get an accurate picture of its responsibilities.
The OL application is live on Handshake. As of Wednesday afternoon, Miller’s office has already received 23 applications.
Finally, Miller said he and the Office of the First-Year Experience are working to improve the orientation experience for transfer students. Miller said he will be conducting focus groups of transfer students in the coming months to discuss how transfer orientation could be improved.