New Student Orientation provides WUSTL welcome

Members of the Class of 2014 and new transfer and exchange students are arriving on campus this week and will be welcomed with a variety of activities during New Student Orientation beginning Thursday, Aug. 26, through Monday, Aug. 30.

New students will have the opportunity to try the new South 40 dining facility, attend open houses, see the football team in action and connect with other new students and with members of the university community.

New Student Orientation officially kicks off Thursday, Aug. 26, with “move-in,” a transfer/exchange student welcome and residence hall floor meetings.

Convocation, Chancellor Mark S. Wrighton’s opportunity to welcome all new students and parents to the university, will take place at 7:30 p.m. in the Athletic Complex. It is followed by a celebration in Brookings Quad at 10 p.m.

An array of departmental open houses is scheduled for Friday, Aug. 27. The open houses give students an opportunity to meet with representatives from the faculty and staff to learn more about academic and university departments. The football team’s Red/Green scrimmage and tailgate party will be at 4:30 p.m. at Francis Field.

The day’s closing event is the Club 40 Dance at 10 p.m. in the South 40 Clock Tower Plaza.

Saturday, Aug. 28, will begin with several “spotlight” lectures throughout the day by faculty members nominated by current students to talk about their areas of interest. Also, a student-led panel discussion “Perspectives on Academic Success: If I Knew Then What I Know Now” will be at 10 a.m. in Rebstock Hall.

Highlighting the evening will be two presentations for freshmen by upper-class students. At 8 p.m. in Edison Theatre, one half of the class will attend a program called “Choices,” which features different vignettes about college life. A discussion will follow led by resident advisors and student associates.

Also at 8 p.m. in Graham Chapel, the other half of the class will attend “The Date,” an interactive theatrical presentation that examines the issues of sexual assault and alcohol on college campuses. A discussion will follow. The presentations will be repeated Sunday, Aug. 29.

Saturday evening ends with “Sup All Night,” a popular Student Union orientation event at 10 p.m. in the Danforth University Center featuring food, dancing, video games and more.

Sunday, Aug. 29, consists of a full schedule of adviser meetings for incoming students as well as more faculty spotlight lectures. Students also will be able to “Explore the Loop.” A trolley will take students to the Delmar Loop, where many businesses have special discounts all day.

After another round of “Choices” in Edison and “The Date” in Graham Chapel at 8 p.m., the evening ends at 10:30 p.m. in the Athletic Complex with “WUFC: The Ultimate Floor Challenge.” Students will participate in several fun and interactive competitions as well as an intramural and sports club fair.

Monday, Aug. 30, features several meetings and socials for the individual schools. Student associates will present “Classes Are Tomorrow, Are You Ready?” at 7:45 p.m. in the freshman residence halls. An outdoor movie will be shown at 9 p.m. in the South 40 Swamp.

Once again this year, a highlight of orientation will be the Freshman Reading Program, which will be held Monday, Aug. 30.

The annual program is designed to reach freshmen before they arrive on campus to help them focus on skills they will continue to cultivate throughout the year and their entire college careers. It also encourages interaction with members of the WUSTL faculty in informal discussions outside the classroom setting.

The Freshman Reading Program Steering Committee selected The Reluctant Fundamentalist by Mohsin Hamid. In this suspenseful novel, a young Pakistani man tells his story to an American over a meal in a Lahore marketplace. The book explores complex themes of culture, identity, racial profiling, coming of age and the immigrant experience.

Whitney Curtis

Students discuss the 2009-10 Freshman Reading Program book When the Emperor Was Divine during last year’s New Student Orientation.

“The steering group considered many books that had been recommended to us by students and faculty,” says Karen Coburn, senior consultant in residence and a member of the reading program’s steering committee. “Those of us who read The Reluctant Fundamentalist found it engaging, accessible and provocative ⎯ a book that we thought would stimulate discussion among faculty and new students.”

Coburn joined Ian MacMullen, PhD, assistant professor of political science in Arts & Sciences, and a group of students for a discussion of the book in January.

“In addition to themes about the immigrant experience and what it means to be an American in a post-9/11 world, students talked about themes close to their own experience as freshmen ⎯ about coming to a new environment and deciding how you present yourself to others, what assumptions you make about others, what values you choose for yourself and whom you choose to trust,” Coburn says.

As part of orientation, students will attend small discussions on the book led by nearly 90 faculty members at various locations Monday, Aug. 30.

Freshmen also will encounter themes from The Reluctant Fundamentalist during the semester in classes, discussions and on-campus programming and exhibits.

For more information on the book and the Freshman Reading Program, go to

Also scheduled during the week are a variety of events designed especially for international, transfer and exchange students. For a full schedule of all orientation events, visit