Boston University held its first in-person orientation since 2019, one month after former Director of Orientation Shiney James’s resignation in May following a six month long investigation into her conduct with student workers.
The Daily Free Press previously reported in October 2021 that several former student workers accused James of creating a culture of fear and toxicity during her 15 years running orientation.
The orientation team had one month to plan after Hannah Pereira, a 2017 alum, took over as director of orientation. She said planning for the next summer typically begins months in advance.
“So the time crunch was one of the hardest things,” Pereira said. “To get everything going and make sure it was something that students enjoyed and that they felt valued and heard. It was a whirlwind.”
Pereira said another challenge centered around this being the first orientation back in-person since 2019.
“We want to be mindful of people’s comfort levels,” Pereira said. “We had both virtual and in person, which are two entirely different subsets of preparation.”
Alexa Quintero, a junior in the Questrom School of Business and orientation worker, said she overcame her concerns about the job when she met the new leaders Pereira and Assistant Director Olivia Bury and called them “the sweetest people in the world.”
“I can’t say enough good things about them,” Quintero said. “I’m truly lucky that I joined orientation when I did so that I was able to have them as my first experience with the staff because it was incredible.”
Kaitlyn Snyder, a junior in the College of Arts and Sciences who worked at orientation, said the leadership listened to student leaders.
“They had very extensive meetings where they listened to us and actually took into consideration what we were telling them, which was really nice,” Snyder said.
Pereira said a lot of time was put into creating a schedule that worked for both the incoming students and the workers.
“We’d set it up minute by minute essentially, to make sure that breaks were included in the appropriate places and that there was time to eat lunch,” Pereira said. “We tried to make it very clear that when you’re on your break, you’re on your break. You don’t have to worry about your students.”
Pereira said it took the leadership, staff and campus partners some time to get acclimated to being back in-person.
“We had to do a lot of refreshing of everyone’s memories on how things used to work and also keeping in mind we want to make sure everybody knows that this is a new year and it’s a new program,” Pereira said.
Snyder said the experience was unique because the facilitators did not have an in-person orientation of their own.
“It was like we were also trying to have our own orientation at the same time,” Snyder said. “I definitely think I would have liked my orientation a lot more if it was in person.”
Quintero said she enjoyed the connection she was able to make with students.
“Mostly I’ve had a few students reach out over text or Instagram or something to ask me clarifying questions about classes, especially a lot of the students who have the same major as me,” Quintero said. “They’ve been using me as a resource for classes and stuff, which has been nice.”
Snyder said student workers should have the opportunity to bond with the students at orientation in their groups more.
“A lot of the time as the student facilitators we just walked them from place to place and the only time we really got to spend with them was meals and the campus tour part,” Snyder said.
Pereira said that she is open to feedback from students.
“There’s a lot of room for creativity and if there’s a time to do something a little bit different, now is probably a good time to do it,” she said. “So at this point, we’re very open to ideas on what things should look like, because why not think outside the box?”