While first-year counselors — seniors who are tasked with living among first-year students and offering guidance and support — spent last semester in residence with their first-year students playing bonding games over Zoom and socially distanced dodgeball, first years this semester will mostly be enrolled remotely. In response, FroCos have reimagined their roles, and, for some of them, altered their location of residence as well.
The News talked to six FroCos who indicated confusion over the expectations regarding their learning locations now that the majority of the first years will be studying remotely, a result of Yale not inviting the first-year class to live in residence this spring as a means of de-densifying campus in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Ultimately, many of these FroCos chose to stay in the residential colleges, although some ultimately moved elsewhere. FroCos also transitioned to an all-remote role which, for many of them, involves forming more individual relationships with each of their first years, rather than hosting consistent all-group events.
“We tell the FroCos during their training that their ultimate goal is to help the first-years transition to being self-sufficient sophomores by the end of the year,” Associate Dean and Director of Student Affairs Hannah Peck wrote to the News. “Even though most of the first-years are studying remotely this semester, the FroCos will still be working with them to make sure they stay connected to the Yale community and are ready to begin their sophomore year with confidence.”
Although none of the FroCos interviewed by the News could recall receiving any explicit correspondence after their initial contract regarding whether or not they could live off campus during this spring semester, there is a line in a supplemental document obtained by the News, titled “FroCo Duties, Supplemental Description 2020-21,” indicating that they could live off campus.
The document, which FroCos received in tandem with their updated contract over the summer that contained provisions surrounding the pandemic, took into account that the majority of first years would be remote in the spring.
“FroCos will largely focus on the core duties above, while still supporting the first-years who have permission to remain on campus,” the document read regarding the spring semester. “At this point, FroCos who wish to move off campus may do so.”
For example, in Berkeley College, four out of the five FroCos are living off campus, while in Ezra Stiles College, all of the FroCos remain on campus.
Peck told the News that she sent an email to all FroCos with information regarding their duties and responsibilities for the spring semester at the end of last term. That email did not include details on housing.
Even though most of the FroCo responsibilities last semester were remote — as a means of complying with public health standards and including first-year students who opted to enroll remotely — FroCos still told the News that they are adding new programming and other changes to account for the completely remote nature of the semester for first years.
“While the texture of the role has changed, the substance hasn’t; we are still here as a resource for our first years regardless of whether they are on campus or off,” Saul Roselaar ’21, a Saybrook College FroCo, wrote to the News. “We are continuing to hold duties, though these too look different, of course.”
Spencer Johnson ’21, a FroCo in Timothy Dwight College, also mentioned that duty nights will continue, but he said that they are also planning to emphasize individual check-ins with each first year.
“If you’ve had four hours of Zoom and emails and like this and that, your first reaction isn’t always to go onto Zoom, so it definitely makes it tougher for programmers,” Johnson said. “So basically what we’re trying to do is just check in one on one with folks. Make sure … that everybody is doing okay and has a safe space to be living, a comfortable space to get their work done, the resources they need.”
Johnson added that they are also planning for weekend events, such as playing Among Us together and learning origami as a group. Similarly, Roselaar mentioned that the Saybrook FroCos are planning to run a remote scavenger hunt competition for first-year students to engage in during duty this weekend.
Traditionally, duty nights are held on Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays.
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