What is, or should be, the objective of student orientation?
With reference to the recent criticism of errant student activities, let me recount how one young man successfully resurrected a school tradition that was “allowed to go extinct” for good reasons.
This young man observed that to thrive in his school, it was critical that newcomers learned certain basic facts such as locations for various school activities, the names of the other school houses, trivia about the seniors (the best person to go to for specific types of advice), and so forth.
A previous tradition of testing newcomers on these facts had been banned as it had, due to ‘mission creep’, descended into bullying without checks and balances in place.
Having studied the history of this banned practice, he saw the benefits of a good orientation programme. He worked to revive this banned tradition, or at least the good bits of it.
He felt that old-timers and newcomers could enjoy a good orientation not just by having fun at the expense of the newcomers. He proposed modifications to this tradition which has at its core ‘fun at the expense of everyone’.
In translation, both old-timers (the mentors) and newcomers have rights and responsibilities, with the ultimate aim of helping newcomers settle and giving both new and old the opportunities to learn about one another.
After all, these students have to live in close proximity in surrogate sibling groups during term time.
‘Orientation’ is not about humiliation, nor is it bullying. It is about helping newcomers find their feet. It should be measured by how well it prepares them for a successful life in the organization (school, university, office, etc) they are joining.