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With Soar and Week Of Welcome (WOW) now mandatory for all incoming and transfer students, Orientation for United Raza (OUR) and other orientation program alternatives are in the process of being evaluated, according to Andrene Kaiwi-Lenting, director of New Student and Transition Programs.
Other orientation programming available for incoming students includes, but is not limited to, the Mustang Band, Cal Poly Athletes and a fairly new program, Quarter plus, offered to students who want to jumpstart their college experience.
The evaluation criteria is not yet fully determined, Kaiwi-Lenting said. However, OUR will need to be run at a reasonable orientation fee.
“I have to make sure that a student is able to participate and there isn’t a financial hindrance,” she said.
OUR is a weeklong orientation program for students of multicultural backgrounds, first-generation and transfer students. It has historically been a less expensive alternative to WOW and incorporates off-campus activities throughout the week, according to coordinator and computer engineering junior Alexis Carranza.
“It’s easier for people from the same background to come together and have a little family,” Carranza said. “We try to give them that opportunity of what else is there to do in SLO other than staying on campus.”
The program was created by Movimento Estudiantil Xicano de Aztlan (MEXA), an ethnic club on campus, and is supervised through New Student and Transition Programs. However, OUR creates its own agenda, which this past year was managed by Carranza, environmental engineering junior Denise Man and graphic communication sophomore Mayra Mejia.
Prospective OUR leaders must complete the spring training required of Soar and WOW leaders prior to summer and fall orientation. OUR coordinators provide additional meetings and workshops to educate their leaders on various ethnicities and backgrounds.
“There’s a lot more that you have to be aware of,” Carranza said. “We go in more depth with what’s going on with people from different cultures.”
Student Academic Services offers a similar summer orientation program called Summer Institute (SI). Over a three-week period, students live on campus and complete six units by taking a general education psychology class and two workshops, as well as attending certain presentations provided by the Soar staff.
“It gives them the actual college experience in just three weeks,” Mejia said. “(We help them) understand what they need to do these next four years to prepare.”
One benefit OUR values is its low-cost orientation fee. History freshman Christopher Hernandez said he appreciates the less expensive option OUR provides in comparison to WOW.
“For me (the driving factor) was money,” he said. “I come from a low-income family and it was a really good option.”
Kaiwi-Lenting assures financial assistance is a priority when it comes to orientation programming.
“It’s really important to me that we don’t hike up a fee for the sake of a fee,” she said.
OUR orientation will not be replaced, according to Kaiwi-Lenting. She emphasizes that is not the conversation at hand.
“We are looking to make sure that every student gets an orientation experience before we start saying somebody’s not offering it enough,” she said. “We are not looking to replace anything.”
Correction: A previous version of this article identified Summer Institute as a program provided by OUR. Summer Institute is offered by Student Academic Services. In addition, Denise Man’s name was previously spelled “Denise Mann” and MEXA was not capitalized.