The First Year Resident Experience is a new program on campus that aims to help first year students integrate into campus life.
“About a year ago, we were looking at the programs we offered in housing and residence halls, and a need to offer something more to first year residents was apparent,” Jacob Stanley, the assistant director for residential education and development, said.
FYRE integrates students through a schedule of social and academic programs, such as a dinner with the program director or a mentoring session with someone from the Center for Student Progress.
“A lot of the programs they have planned for us to do are great ways to get involved … one of the things we are doing is a scavenger hunt, but we’re also going to try to go to Cedar Point’s Halloweekend,” Ariana Mostella, a freshman English major, said. “Fun things we can do together to become closer and make more friends rather than just being friends with the people in your suite or your roommate, or people you already knew from school.”
When a student attends one of these programs, they are awarded a number of points, which may be cashed in twice during the semester for prizes. The larger the number of accumulated points, the better the prize. This year accumulating at least 13 points will net you a free ticket to Cedar Point’s Halloweekend.
“Nothing is mandatory … it’s all optional. But they do a point system, so however many events you attend gets you a certain number of points. This helps draw us in and keep us attending,” Megan Factor, a freshman double majoring in public relations and advertising, said.
The program may be new, but there is a clear short- and long-term vision for FYRE.
“For the short term, we want to make an impact this year on the students that are coming in. We want to help them to get acclimated to campus, get to know people on campus and get familiar with the resources that we have on campus,” Stanley said.
The long-term goals for the program are tied to retention.
“We just want to build an environment and program that helps aid students’ success,” Stanley said. “I think student retention — whether it’s in our residence halls or at the university — is very important.”
Thus far, FYRE has had no issue attracting students to the program. For its inaugural year, the program allowed up to 50 students to register. By the beginning of the fall semester, 47 of the 50 available spots were occupied.
“We looked at a bunch of different programs, looked at the student demographics that we have here and we just pulled the things we liked. We came up with the things that we thought would work, and we’re willing to look at things at the end of the year — see what did work and what didn’t work, what we need to change and we’ll make those adjustments when we need to,” Stanley said.
As of this publication, FYRE has hosted only one event — Dinner with the Director — that served as a way to introduce students to the new director, program and fellow involved students.
“It was great — the dinner was a lot of fun and I got to meet a lot of people. I liked meeting the different people and the officers that we will be meeting with throughout the year. I think this will be a good opportunity to use the resources on campus and get to know people, ” Factor said. “I think once this class completes the program, and we give our feedback, I think [the FYRE leaders] will be able to promote it better so that other freshmen will want to join.”