Yale’s oldest pre-orientation program is going on hiatus.
The University Chaplain’s Office informed Freshperson Conference coordinators about a week ago that the program will be suspended for a year while administrators review it. The current FPC site (Connecticut’s Camp Awosting) is inadequate for the program’s needs, University Chaplain Sharon Kugler said, adding that she hopes to have a more developed training program for student leaders. But students who attended FPC said they think canceling the program, even for a year, would be detrimental to the class of 2014.
“We hope to offer an experience which draws on the best of what was and includes some new components that complement the original intent of the program,” Kugler said in an e-mail to the News. “All of this takes considerable time, and to do it right, we need to take a year hiatus.”
Elle Ramel ’11, who said she liked FPC because it was inclusive and “carefree,” said she thinks canceling FPC for one year would hurt the program and deprive incoming freshmen of the experience, which is marketed on the FPC Web site as “a summer camp for big kids.” Run by the Yale Chaplain’s Office, the program includes performances by student groups, panels on Yale life led by upperclassmen, and various camp activities.
Ramel helped to start a Facebook group called “Yalies for FPC 2010” and sent out e-mails Thursday and Sunday urging students who attended FPC to send in testimonials and sign a petition to support the program.
“There has been a huge outpouring of support,” Ramel said. “We already have 25 to 30 testimonials, and I’ve even had alumni contact me about their memories of FPC.”
In an e-mail to former FPC attendees, Ramel said she and other leaders had met with administrators, but that further discussions seemed unlikely.
Ramel said while she agrees that FPC may need to undergo structural changes, such as finding a new location, she thinks these changes could be made without canceling the program for a year. Ramel declined to provide other examples of possible changes.
Ten of 12 FPC participants interviewed said they enjoyed the program and do not think administrators should cancel FPC for a year.
Michael Solotke ’13 said he learned a lot about Yale and made some of his closest friends at FPC. Incoming freshmen will miss out on a good transition into college life, he said.
FPC is particularly well-suited for freshmen who are not “outdoorsy” or do not want to move into dorms early, Lindsey Williams ’11 added.
“I came into Yale with an instant, diverse group of friends,” Williams said. “And I felt more confident and knowledgeable about residential college life, deans and masters, fro-cos, shopping period, extracurriculars, the Mory’s cup song, the fight song and, of course, Camp Yale.”
But two students interviewed said they were not upset at the decision because they did not enjoy their FPC experiences.
Celina Kirchner ’10 said she supports the restructuring of the program because she thinks FPC should have more diverse leaders and activities.
“When I went on FPC, it made me feel very nervous about the party scene at Yale,” Kirchner said. “I don’t think they need to take a whole year, but if they think they do, I wouldn’t fight to keep it.”
Lake McManus ’12 said he does not think FPC offers many opportunities to get to know incoming freshmen, adding that he found the activities they did have, such as square dancing, to be awkward.
Will O’Shaughnessy ’11 — co-coordinator of FOOT, a pre-orientation program that takes incoming freshmen on a backpacking trip — said he expects the cancelation of FPC to increase the number of applications to FOOT. Still, he said, FOOT will not turn applicants away and may increase the number of trips offered if necessary.
FPC coordinators will meet with administrators Feb. 5 to discuss the restructuring of the program.