University welcomes Class of 2010

Weighed down with trunks, suitcases and a few uncertainties, hundreds of freshmen arrived for orientation Tuesday.

The 1,675 first-year students matriculating this fall-a class that chose the University during the throes of last spring's lacrosse scandal-are also guinea pigs for a newly modified orientation week.

The most notable changes are an additional day devoted almost entirely to moving in and extended parental involvement.

"The full day for move-in allowed students and families to feel more relaxed in terms of getting something accomplished," said Eddie Hull, dean of residence life and executive director of housing services. "It allows the first-years a chance to just be."

Many of the events that previously occurred on the opening day of orientation-such as Crazies on the Quad and the African and African-American Student Reception-were moved to the second day.

Hull said he saw immediate benefits from the changes.

"There's an energy and excitement that hasn't been there in the past," Hull explained.

Discussion of lacrosse, however, has not been part of that excitement.

Freshman James Zhang said he had not heard the subject broached until President Richard Brodhead's convocation speech. Several classmates agreed, adding that it was not of serious concern.

"I don't think it's going to influence us at all," said freshman Stephanie Li. "Stuff like that happens everywhere, but it was so big because of the name of Duke."

Sophomore Sneha Mehta, a first-year advisory counselor for Bassett dormitory, said that although the differences are minimal, orientation changes seem positive.

"[First-year students] have more options, and there is less of the 'awkward freshman meeting thing,'" she said. "If they have one more day to get to know each other, they don't wander around alone on the quad like we did."

The orientation schedule also includes additional faculty-led discussion sections on "My Sister's Keeper," this year's summer reading selection, and a second annual trip to the American Tobacco Historic District and a Durham Bulls baseball game.

Despite a large number of arrests by state Alcohol Law Enforcement officers during last year's orientation week, Associate Dean of Students Ryan Lombardi said the orientation team sought to create better events overall, rather than specifically trying to create alternatives to off-campus drinking.

Parents and students winded their way through clouds of mist and around tents showcasing a variety of clubs and organizations at the Departmental Resource Fair on the West Campus Plaza Wednesday.

Lombardi said the fair, a new addition this year, was intended to replace the many separate open houses held in past years. He said the geography of the campus and the travel time required of parents made the open houses an unwieldy and ineffective tool.

The student activities fair, usually held during orientation, has correspondingly been moved back to next week. Freshman Brittany Matheson attended the fair with her mother, Marcel Matheson.

"I kind of wish I had more time to organize my room, but it's good to have activities and not be bored," Brittany said.

As Brittany perused the literature from the Student Health Center, her mother spoke warmly about Tuesday's experience, from the heavy-lifting help given by First-Year Advisory Counselors to convocation ceremonies.

"I think parents are more at ease leaving their child here because they're aware of the resources here," said Kevin Harrell, a health education specialist at the Student Health Center, of the fair's benefits.

Lombardi added that there is a nationwide trend in parents taking greater interest in what happens on campuses. "Overall, I'd say it's so far, so good," he said Wednesday. "Yesterday, move-in went very smoothly and one of the things we added, 'A Taste of Duke,' drew four to five thousand people. Now we're just waiting to see how exhausted kids are by this weekend."

Adam Eaglin and Iza Wojciechowska contributed to this story.


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