Following the loss of University sponsorship, the Yale freshman preorientation program “FreshPerson Conference” will likely fold this fall, coordinators said.
FreshPerson Conference, or FPC, traditionally brings 80 to 200 freshmen together at a local camp in the days before freshmen orientation. In a September 2002 letter addressed to Yale College Dean Richard Brodhead and residential college masters, Dwight Hall announced that it will no longer support the program, which is the oldest of Yale’s preoreientation programs. Dwight Hall, in conjunction with the Yale Chaplain’s Office, has sponsored FPC since 1961, providing it with both essential funding and staff supervision.
Two years ago, Dwight Hall’s student Executive Committee voted to end support for FPC after summer 2002, Dwight Hall Program Director Johnny Scafidi said. Scafidi said that the Executive Committee believed FPC “no longer coalesced with the mission of Dwight Hall” because it lacks a public service focus.
Dwight Hall and FPC leaders said they are looking for a new sponsor. But because they have not yet found a backer, organizers will probably not be able to hold the program this summer, FPC co-coordinator Aleksandra Kopec ’04 said.
FPC’s uncertain future comes as other preorientation programs, especially Cultural Connections, face review by the Freshman Class Council.
The Executive Committee’s decision to end support for FPC was also based on financial concerns, Scafidi said.
“At its best, FPC was breaking even,” he said.
Although the program charged $220 per participant last summer, Kopec said Dwight Hall still had to fund a large portion of the program.
“[Dwight Hall] doesn’t really have the funds to cover FPC,” she said.
FPC also suffered from diminishing attendance in recent years, Kopec said. The September letter reported that 87 freshman attended the program last summer. Kopec blamed the low number of students on the fact that other orientation programs are organized through the Office of Student Affairs, which sent information to freshman about FOOT and other programs earlier in the summer than Dwight Hall.
“Less people sign up because they get the brochures afterward,” Kopec said.
While orientation programs FOOT and Harvest offer freshmen a longer, more physically strenuous introduction to the Yale community, FPC provided a more laid-back alternative. The program gave freshman participants the chance to get to know one another, talk with older students, and hear presentations from Yale representatives during a three-day retreat to a local summer camp — most recently, Camp Jewel in Colebrook.
“I think it offers a different choice,” said Ned Young ’05, a member of FPC’s executive committee. “It has its own special niche.”
Past participants said they appreciated FPC’s “niche.”
“I wanted to do an orientation program, but I wasn’t up for seven days in the mountains,” said Nicholas Minichino ’06, who chose to participate in FPC last summer. “I figured FPC would be a lazy person’s FOOT.”
In the September letter, Dwight Hall General Secretary Kathrine A. Burdick sought a new sponsor for FPC.
“My staff and I have enjoyed working with this particular organization and hope that the program may continue through sponsorship by Yale University,” the letter read. “We are willing to meet with all interested individuals and are happy to share our records with any new sponsor.”
Scafidi said Dwight Hall has yet to receive a reply to the letter. Kopec said she still maintains hope that FPC will find a sponsor.
“It would just be a matter of putting faith into it and putting money on the line,” Kopec said.
Scafidi emphasized that Dwight Hall had hoped to find a new sponsor for the program.
“Our intention wasn’t to leave them stranded,” he said.