Open Student Forums provide feedback for Director of New Student Programs

The Search Committee for the new Director of New Student Programs held Open Student Forums for the position’s final four candidates over the past two weeks. The position is supervised under the Dean of Academic Planning and Advising and is responsible for preparing the college’s orientation program, directing students to resources on campus and planning activities with other departments.

Many students who attended these forums served as Orientation Advisors or will serve as Student Orientation Coordinators, according to search committee member senior Andrew Arcese.

The first student forum was held on Oct. 26 for candidate Andrew Fulton. Fulton spoke about his experiences as the Associate Director for the Office of Student Activities at Manhattanville College, including his “work with commuter students, planning opportunities for students to explore the surrounding area and supporting activities that encourage student growth outside of the classroom.”

Students also asked Fulton questions at the forum. One student asked specifically about his ideal office environment.

“I want to help make a friendly environment. But a lot of it is me asking student employees for their point of view, because you all know what your peers are going to like much more than what I will, as much as I like thinking I’m that young,” he said.

At the second student forum on Oct. 27, candidate Karen Violanti asked questions to student attendees to get to know the Geneseo campus climate. She asked attendees what first year students do in order to effectively adjust to the college environment. Arcese commented that first year students often struggle with homesickness and suggested that staying longer at Geneseo can help overcome this condition.

“I’m an RA and a lot of my students have dealt with [homesickness] and my advice usually is to actually stay here more, instead of going home for a weekend or for fall break,” he said. “I didn’t go home, I just stayed and tried to force myself to acclimate, and it worked for me. I just always think of that and tell students that—if you’re struggling—you have to stop thinking about home.”

“You can also think of a place where you have two homes. That’s kind of a cool place to get to,” Violanti added.

The third student forum was held on Tuesday Nov. 1 for candidate Katie Buckley. Buckley spoke about her experience as a Residence Coordinator at the Center for Residence Life at Rochester Institute of Technology as well as her experience in providing academic support as the First-year Experience Coordinator at the Office of Student Retention at SUNY Brockport.

“When students start to freak out and the midterm grades come in, they don’t know what to do and they don’t want to talk to faculty,” Buckley said. “Typically, [my office will] be a safe space where they can come and talk about their grades. And we’ll have the tough conversations—like this major may not be the major for you—and so on and so forth.”

Orientation Advisor sophomore Emilios Papas asked Buckley about her thoughts on having the Office of New Student Programs become involved in other areas of the campus besides orientation. Buckley responded by suggesting Orientation Advisors become more involved in residence halls and talk to students in order to prepare them for midterms.

The final student forum was held on Wednesday Nov. 2 for candidate Hannah Ramsey. Prior to applying for the job at Geneseo, Ramsey worked in various orientation positions for various schools in the area. Ramsey was involved in the NODA organization, which focuses on orientation and transition of new students into colleges and universities.

At the forum, Student Orientation Coordinator junior Mary Panzetta asked Ramsey what she would do to assist transfer students. Ramsey suggested to not force social interactions with new students in new environments.

“I think the trick that I’ve learned is to be a little bit more relaxed and not forcing social interactions. A ‘coffee house vibe’ has been really successful,” Ramsey said.

The Search Committee for the new Director of New Student Programs will decide who will be elected to this position as soon as possible. They are looking for someone willing to engage with Geneseo students, according to Arcese.

“We are looking for a candidate who has done orientation before and understands what it’s about,” Arcese said. “Obviously, if they’re not from Geneseo, they don’t exactly know the Geneseo student body, but we’re looking for a candidate who would be able to get to know the student body and tailor to our needs.”u

Associate News Editor Malachy Dempsey, Assistant News Editor Mike Powers and Assistant News Editor Zainab Tahir contributed reporting to this article.