The fashions and rituals of the First Day of School at UP have repeatedly changed through the years since 1901 when Fr. Edward Murphy, our first president, uttered the auspicious and memorable phrase, ‘I guess we should start. Ring the bell.’ (https://sites.up.edu/upbeat/from-our-past-first-first-day-of-school-sept-2-1901/); see James Covert, A Point of Pride: The University of Portland Story: p. 34 for the story of the very first day of classes).
The 2018 Orientation weekend concludes Sunday evening with a double-bill of Women’s and Men’s soccer games at Merlo Field. Before that there are meetings with Deans and Advisors, Residence Hall leaders, Health and Wellness coordinators, Financial Aid counselors, and a Meet & Greet with Rev. Mark L. Poorman, C.S.C., the 20th President of the University. Also social mixers, the Orientation and Welcoming Mass, and the Bell Tower Ceremony.
As the 1983 invitation explains, the goal of Orientation is to welcome the new and guide their transition in order to bring students from diverse and different formations and background home together as members (and not just residents) participating in the University community. In 1983 when we were building the Chiles Center, did Casino Night help ease fears that college might be a gamble?
The emphases hit different notes in different decades. The 1965 Orientation Brochure highlights college as a period of forming new bonds, as in the post-lunch Friday afternoon Frosh-Soph Tug-O-War (followed by sports & games) and Saturday night Hootenanny, a poorly remembered 60s activity involving bon-fire, guitars, and rapturous sing-along). Also note in passing, a subtle underlining of the residence hall decorum of curfews and locked front-doors; declining from 1 a.m., to midnight, to 11 p.m. as the weekend progresses because classes start early on Monday morning.
In the 1990s the program programmed a moment for separation-anxiety, with Parent Departures fixed for Saturday afternoon. But seemingly not exactly an over-indulgent pause when The Long Goodbye and the first meeting of Freshmen Seminar are scheduled for the same hour. That first Seminar meeting was a weekend feature from 1991-2000, so that freshmen actually started classes at Orientation. An echo of Fr. Murphy’s ethic, that we all might as well get right down to work to make a good beginning.
Previous Orientation posts from the Museum & Archives:
Pilots Choose their Own Course