Commerce Frosh Week: from probation to commendation

Business school’s frosh week has successfully remedied concerns from 2014

Credit: 
Journal File Photo

Following two year’s worth of changes made to their week’s events, training and culture, Commerce’s faculty orientation week has been cleared of their probationary status. 

This probation period came after the Senate Orientation Activities Review Board (SOARB) voiced hazing concerns in a memo sent to the Commerce Office in October 2014. These problems included “verbally abusive and profane taunts” and “relentless pressure to run.” 

As a result, Commerce Orientation Week was placed on probation that year by SOARB, with the Commerce Executive on Orientation (CEO) given two years to make changes in accordance with their Terms of Probation. 

According to incoming Commerce Society President and former 2016 CEO member Emlyn Folkes, Comm ‘18, SOARB notified the 2016 CEO of their completion of these terms midway through the 2016 fall semster.

In an email to The Journal, SOARB co-chair Brandon Jamieson, ArtSci ‘17, said during the two-year probation period, “members of SOARB witnessed the ‘culture shift’ that was requested.” 

Chair of the 2016 CEO Bruce Meilikhan, Comm ’18, spoke to The Journal about the changes made by the 2015 CEO in the year following the probation notice.

During Meilikhan’s time on the 2015 CEO as a first year representative, he said various tactical changes were made to improve the accessibility of the week. Physical exertion was limited to remain inclusive to all students and leadership modules were improved to ensure Bosses — Commerce’s Orientation Week leaders — were better equipped to support first year students. 

On top of this, Bosses were told not to single out individual students and to prioritize the comfortability of the first years. “We were ready to take a step in the right direction and knew that things needed to be changed,” Meilikhan stated. 

Folkes explained that while most of the logistical changes were made in 2015, the 2016 CEO focused on further improving the week’s culture and maintaining improvements made the previous year.

He also emphasized the importance for all subsequent CEOs to keep up this positive momentum, explaining “the key goal of orientation week is to help people feel like they’re part of a community, while also getting them acquainted with campus.” 

“If you’re not including everyone, then you’re not doing the best possible job at building a community.”  

To further improve the week’s culture, the CEOs balanced high energy events with others that were more personal and relaxed. 

A boat cruise and ‘Commapalooza’ — a low intensity event featuring live music and a beach theme — were introduced in 2015 and 2016 respectively. Meilikhan said the Commapalooza event “created a very easygoing and simple atmosphere for people to interact and get to know each other.”

Another addition was a mobile application created by 2016 CEO member Julia Di Spirito, Comm ’18. Not only did the app communicate their schedule for the week, but it also allowed for students to give feedback to the CEO about their orientation experience.  

The efforts of the CEO over the past two years proved to be successful — Jamieson said via email that feedback to changes made over the past two years has been “overwhelmingly positive.”

Former AMS Campus Activities Commissioner Greg Kurcin, ArtSci ‘17, said that during his term served on SOARB, the board was confident Commerce’s orientation week will continue to improve hereon in. 

“I was nothing short of impressed by the CEO’s commitment to improve their Orientation Week activities and culture,” he said. “They went above and beyond the terms of their probation.” 

Now off probation, current Chair of the CEO Anthony Lisi, Comm ’19 maintains the CEO will continue to strive to better the week. 

“My big message to the CEO and the Boss group this year is not to plateau,” he said. “We’re constantly looking for ways that we can improve.” 

 

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