UNG revamps orientation, unifying staffs into one team

While in the past the University of North Georgia orientation leaders have been split into three separate teams for each orientation, UNG staff members overseeing the team redesigned the team model from the three separate campus teams to a multi-campus model.

Now, instead of separate teams on each campus, one team of 40 students will work each campus together. With this new model, each team member will have the opportunity to familiarize themselves with every campus.

Orientation leaders at the Southern Region Orientation Workshop (SROW) in Orlando. (Photo courtesy of Nathan Cheesman)

Coordinator of Orientation and Transition Programs Diana Barrett explained that each team member will have their own individualized schedule in order to know which campus they will work at a given time.

“Everybody is going to have responsibilities on the different campuses, so each leader is going to be trained to perform and respond to each orientation session on the various campuses,” said Barrett. “They’re going to be trained to have an understanding of each campus, the different structures and offices and departments.”

Some of these responsibilities include greeting new students, giving campus tours, helping students register for classes and simply answering any questions about campus life in general.

In previous semesters orientation leaders were only hired to work one campus for the entire year. This system caused various issues between the team members including lack of communication between different campuses and conflicting personalities.

“We didn’t communicate with each other very well,” said current orientation leader Edrea Douglas. “There wasn’t really as much interaction as there could have been in the beginning.”

Former orientation leader Andrea Zarate said, “Having so many leaders in one room can be overwhelming for people just because everyone has a very strong opinion or stands strong on the way that they would like to do things.”

Some orientation leaders from previous years chose not to return for this year, but decided to do so for various reasons.

“After doing it for three years, I think it was time for me to do something more towards my major in the summers … just opening a new opportunity for myself,” said Zarate.

With many of the orientations and orientation leader duties taking place during the summer, some members felt like they could not make the time commitment.

“Working three or four campuses, it’s a lot of work and it’s a lot of dedication,” said returning orientation leader Udis Calderon. “Being an orientation leader really limits what summer classes you can take and I could see how that could affect many other students.”

Barrett said she believed they got the number of returning orientation leaders they expected, but Coordinator of Orientation and Student Leadership Nathan Cheesman mentioned there were non-returners.

“A lot of the orientation leaders I talked to got out of the experience what they were looking for and they wanted to try other experiences,” said Cheesman.

Despite the changes many of the returning orientation leaders like the new setup and think it will be beneficial for the group as a whole.

“No one really knew that much about each campus,” said Douglas about the old model. “Now we’re doing things at each and every campus and we’re incorporating everyone.”

“Forty students can bond closer, can build a team up and that way it does not matter who you work with on what campus,” said Calderon.

Staff members are also looking forward to the year with this change.

“Ever since UNG became UNG versus the separate schools this was where we wanted to go and it just took some time,” said Cheesman.

Barrett said, “It was a slow progression into this, but we’re excited to finally have a team that’s going to be representing all campuses and present on all campuses.”

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