This year’s New Student Orientation, with its Olympics-inspired “Light Your Torch” theme, welcomed the approximately 1,600 freshmen members of the Class of 2020 and over 200 transfer students to life at Georgetown from Aug. 27 to Aug. 30.
This year’s schedule retained cornerstone NSO events, including the Marino Workshop and mandatory sexual assault awareness session “I Am Ready.”
For the first time, move in took place on one day for all new students Friday, Aug. 26 from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. This year was also the first to lack an International Student Pre-Orientation.
According to Emma Barnitt (MSB ’17), one of five NSO coordinators, the new move-in system was a success.
“It flowed really well,” Barnitt said. “I’m really happy about it and can’t wait to see how it works next year.”
This year also included the first Jesuit Values Panel, which took place Sunday night alongside Hoya Real Talk and “I Am Ready,” to introduce the new students to Campus Ministry and draw out the influences of the university’s Jesuit tradition on daily campus life.
Barnitt said these changes reflect a desire on the part of the coordinators to make the purpose of NSO more clear.
“We were hoping to make things more intentional in the programming to truly introduce our new students into Georgetown, academically, spiritually and communally,” Barnitt said. “I think we achieved that in the programming as well as in the training for our staff.”
Despite the changes, certain programs seen as fixtures of the NSO experience remained. The Marino Workshop, funded by the family of Frederick Marino (SLL ’68), aims to introduce new students to the intellectual rigor of Georgetown through a book discussion.
This year the workshop, which has been a requirement for incoming Georgetown students since 1995, focused on “The Hired Man,” a novel about the impact of war by Lannan Center Chair of Poetics Aminatta Forna.
Communications and Marketing Coordinator for Georgetown University Libraries Katherine Thomas said that, while the selection process was intense, Forna emerged eventually as the right fit.
“We try to make sure that the topic will be challenging but still engaging because we don’t want it to be a slog to read. [Forna] was particularly nice for us because she is the Lannan visiting chair of poetics this year at Georgetown,” Thomas said. “Usually, the author is a one-off experience. But this time, they get to have more face time with the author and they get to follow up on the Marino experience either in class or in a session with her.”
The Marino Workshop is one of the signature programs that also takes place at the School of Foreign Service Qatar campus in Doha during orientation, along with Pluralism in Action. These events help bring together the freshmen class as a whole, according to Thomas.
“We think Marino is a wonderful way to bring everyone together, no matter if you’re pre-med or in the SFS,” Thomas said. “You get to come in and have this shared academic experience with all your fellow students.”
Thomas said the intended outcomes of the Marino Workshop dovetail with those of NSO overall.
“It provokes a lot of interesting discussion and helps develop the mentality that students should be willing and comfortable to challenge one another,” Thomas said. “All of college is a dialogue so it’s helping you develop those tools.”
Mark Camilli (COL ’19), who is an Orientation Adviser for the first time this year, said he has found the experience to be tough but rewarding.
“My experience as an OA has been both up and down,” Camilli said. “It’s been really long days but NSO has given me a new look at Georgetown and has made me realize how much I love it here. It’s reminded me how much this place is a home to me and I really love sharing that with new students.”