The FreshPerson Conference, Yale’s original preorientation program, received a new breath of life two weeks ago.
After FPC coordinators met with University Chaplain Frederick Streets and Associate Chaplain Cynthia Terry Feb 7., the Chaplain’s Office agreed to continue its sponsorship of the program. While this does not mean FPC will continue, it does increase its chances of survival. The program’s coordinators must still meet with Dean of Student Affairs Betty Trachtenberg this week to secure her support.
The Chaplain’s Office co-sponsored FPC with Dwight Hall since 1961, said Ted Wittenstein ’04, a member of an ad-hoc group trying to save FPC. When Dwight Hall retracted its sponsorship of FPC earlier this school year, the program’s coordinators doubted whether it would continue.
As part of an effort to save FPC, the group will hold an “extravaganza” in Battell Chapel this Friday to raise money for the program. The Chaplain’s Office aided the group by allowing them to use Battell Chapel — which normally costs $500 — for free, said Alyssa Greenwald ’03, another group member. “The Save FPC Extravaganza” will feature numerous Yale organizations, including Proof of the Pudding, the New Blue, Safety Mix, and Just Add Water, said group member Anna Pelczer ’05. The student bands Jigsaw and Grace on Fire also are booked to perform.
Wittenstein said he hopes to raise $1,000 at the event. The group will sell tickets, which will cost $5, this week during lunch at Commons. The group also plans to contact alumni who attended FPC to ask them for financial assistance, Wittenstein said.
“There are enough people at this school that want a FPC, so hopefully if they come out and bring their friends, it will be good,” Pelczer said.
Streets said the Chaplain’s Office’s sponsorship of FPC should not be construed as a criticism of the guidelines governing preorientation programs or of Dwight Hall.
FPC, which Streets described as “a very good transition and entryway into Yale College life,” brings incoming freshmen together immediately before they come to Yale. The program has a camp atmosphere, with freshmen bonding over group activities, performances by Yale groups and discussions with older students about campus life.
“What makes the FreshPerson Conference different is that it really is an opportunity for students whose interests at entry do not fit into the other programs,” Streets said.
Financial concerns were one of the main reasons behind Dwight Hall’s withdrawal of sponsorship. Wittenstein said while the FPC receives funding from its sponsors to pay for the costs of mailing its initial letters to students, the program is solvent as soon as it receives replies from the incoming freshmen.
“We were never in debt to Dwight Hall the last two years,” he said.
Wittenstein said the meeting with Trachtenberg will be the first in a series with both the Dean’s Office and the Chaplain’s Office.
“We’re looking forward to talking with Dean Trachtenberg and the Chaplain’s Office about what role the FPC would have in the future with the Yale College Dean’s Office and solicit any concerns or ideas they may have,” Wittenstein said.
The group is hoping they will be able to use this year to prove to the Dean’s Office that FPC is self-sustaining, Wittenstein said. They hope to continue using Camp Jewel as the location and do not plan to raise student fees.