Courtesy of Cove Geary

For first-year students, the transition into college can be difficult, especially given this year’s unusual circumstances. With most in-person extracurricular activities canceled, there is little for first years to do on campus. 

To fill this void, first-year counselors, or FroCos — seniors tasked with helping first years through their transition to college — have been hosting virtual events and socially distanced in-person events for first-year students on campus.

“FroCos are there as an auxiliary mechanism instead of being the focal point of a lot of first years’ lives,” said Jason Contino ’21, a FroCo in Benjamin Franklin College. “There has been so much responsibility devolved down to the first-year class.”

In a typical year, FroCos host many activities — such as ice cream socials and duty nights — at which they interact with first-year students in person. It is at these in-person events that FroCos and their first-year students get to know each other better. But this year, given public health restrictions, most of the usual events have been canceled. Contino noted that the two-week quarantine period made easing the transition to college particularly difficult for FroCos.

Instead, FroCos have been planning small socially distanced events within their respective residential colleges. For example, FroCos traditionally host duty nights on Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays and allow first years to visit their rooms to socialize. While they are continuing to host FroCo duty nights on Fridays and Saturdays, they have had to adapt duty to adhere to public health guidelines.

“Duty is very transient this year,” Contino said. “You come and pick something up and go.”

The specifics of FroCo duty events vary by residential college. One first-year in Pauli Murray College, Dylan Carlson-Sirvent ’24, noted that his FroCos have done “quirky, fun stuff” such as requiring first-years to show a baby picture to get snacks like donuts. 

“We have Fiesta Fridays,” said Rhiannon Pailet ’24, from Ezra Stiles College. “Our FroCos will have different little things for us like cornhole and ping-pong. Each week is a little different. We had fuzzy socks this Friday. Last weekend we made succulents. The week before that we had s’mores.”

Other FroCos have been hosting similar events. Mariela Barrales ’24, in Saybrook College, told the News that her FroCos hosted an event called “Quiplash,” which she described as “a combination of Cards Against Humanity and Kahoot.” In addition, Barrales said that the Saybrook FroCos have been hosting events with music, dancing and even watercoloring.

These events have given first-years the opportunity to get to know their FroCos better while also interacting with new people in their class.

“I think having the FroCos hosting duty night gives me a little social break, especially when I am studying or I am just inside,” Carlson-Sirvent said. “It is really nice to have that social space. I have gotten to know the people that I already know better through duty night and I have also gotten to meet new people.” 

Although duty nights look different this year, given the limited amount of people allowed, Contino said that they have positively influenced interactions between first-years.

In addition to duty nights, some FroCos are hosting other small events catered to their individual FroCo groups. For example, Contino noted that he likes to host “family dinners” with his group.

“Personally, having family dinners is a really good way to talk to [my first years] and get that weekly check-in on how [they] are feeling, and seeing the dynamics of the group,” Contino said.

Pailet noted that her FroCos have hosted ice cream runs, one-on-ones with her as well as morning East Rock hikes with the group.

Each FroCo is assigned 12 to 16 first-years to advise. 

Nicole Rodriguez |

Nicole Rodriguez is a staff reporter for the SciTech and Sports desks covering astronomy, intramural and general news. Originally from the New York Metropolitan Area, she is a first-year in Benjamin Franklin College.