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Strong freshman community goal of TT changes

New student orientation for fall 2011 will operate a little differently than it has in years past.

Rather than having four members on the Orientation Council, more widely known as the OC, this year’s team is comprised of 10 student leaders.

Within that team are two student directors, Jenny Hamrick and James Greer, along with eight assistant directors. These members take the place of the section leaders, previously the liaisons for the Towering Traditions leaders and the Orientation Council.

Hamrick said the new setup allows TT leaders direct and stronger communication with the Orientation Council.

“Leadership responsibilities seem to be more manageable with 10 members as well,” she said.

“I can’t imagine how four people got done what we have to do,” said Kevin Deschler, one of the assistant directors for the 2011-2012 Orientation Council. “There are more Orientation Counselors to handle the responsibilities, and because there are more of us, we anticipate it will create more of a support system now for the TT leaders.”

Though everyone essentially has the same roles, the 2011 student directors do more of the “grunt work” than the other OC members. They do a lot of internal planning and spend more time in the office making parent phone calls, sending out emails, doing paperwork, coordinating and planning meetings for the OC and reserving meeting rooms.

“We try to make everything equal, work-wise. It’s just that the responsibilities look a little different,” Hamrick said.

Each member of the OC is also assigned to a committee such as the selection committee for TT leaders or the advertising committee. By splitting the work into committees, this allows the group as a whole to develop expertise in a specialized area as well a to lighten each individual load.

Among other changes taking place within the new orientation leadership system, the concept of TT partners may be evolving as well.

Formerly, two TT leaders led a group of approximately 20 students, but this year, one TT leader will serve a smaller group of 10 students.

In response to this news, Hamrick addressed the purpose in taking away partners.

“Sometimes in a bigger group, it is really easy for one or two people to go under the radar. We feel this system will help avoid that,” Hamrick said.

A big part of the decision came from Ben Lion, the director of New Student and Parent Programs. Hamrick and Deschler both agree Lion has a big heart for the program and wants smaller TT groups to allow for better community.

“[Ben’s] heart really goes out to the students who fall through the cracks and don’t get plugged in immediately,” Deschler said. “It’s a lot easier to get lost in a group of 20 than a group of 10.”

Deschler noted that Lion started working at Belmont in May 2010. “This was really the first time he had the opportunity to implement new ideas into the existing system.” Deschler.

As for TT leaders having partners, both Hamrick and Deschler said that’s really still up in the air.

“Each TT leader could still have a partner or at least someone they can go to when they need help or need someone to talk to,” Hamrick said. “It could even look like one TT group going to another group and doing events together. Nothing is really finalized yet.”

Both Hamrick and Deschler expressed the positive results they anticipate with the new setup, as well as the challenges they expect to face.

“We’re looking to maintain the same kind of community and support for the leaders, but we hope to see a more intimate community within the freshman groups,” Deschler said.

The OC will also require TT groups to meet once a month in order to create more of a community within their groups. Though in the past, leaders have been encouraged to host reunions, the orientation leaders feel making this mandatory is a necessary step to secure intentional community.

Remaining positive despite his hesitations, Deschler said, “It will definitely be a learning experience. The TT groups are really what worry me most, but I don’t view that as a negative. I think it’s still within our power to make it a positive.”

Hamrick anticipates the new system will equip the new OC to reach new heights and goals. “It will give us a greater grasp by which to reach the community and help others achieve a more intentional Belmont community”.

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