September 2003 (v6 i1)
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Orientation Advisors entertain incoming freshmen
Repertoire includes songs, hand puppets, jingly car keys
by Ryan Martinez, Staff Writer

Orientation Advisor Terry Radcliffe teaches
his freshmen to embrace and trust their
Course Schedules.
CAMPUS — The 6,800 UT freshmen who began the rough transition to college life this fall did not face the change alone. Their questions and concerns were dealt with this summer, when a staff of 25 Orientation Advisors helped ease their initiation into adulthood with the use of song, hand puppets, and jingly car keys.

“I felt like I was completely in over my head when I got here,” said Government Freshman Tyler Soderstrom. “I didn’t even know which classes satisfied my degree requirements. But the advisors’ acoustic sing-along version of ‘Hug the Course Schedule and the Course Schedule Hugs Back’ really brought home the fact that the course schedule is a freshman’s best friend.”

The Orientation Advisors, also called OAs, assisted throngs of students in several week-long sessions throughout the summer. Each OA was assigned a group of about 30 freshmen, whom they zestfully prepped about issues such as University services, registration protocol, and the high points of Sailor Moon.

Leading their nose-picking freshmen to seminars by elastic ropes to prevent any of them from getting lost, OAs also educated students about the campus by providing an outsider’s look at student life.

“My OA, Sabrina, was such a cool chick,” said Tiffany Renada, a Health Education major. “I was planning on visiting Sixth Street and Barton Springs to sample a little bit of Austin, but she completely opened my eyes to the raging awesomeness of The Texas Union Underground. Who needs to ever leave campus when you’ve got a wholesome social wonderland like that right in your own backyard?”

But orientation was not all fun and games. During a mandated meeting, the committee played You’re Going to Love Everybody Whether You Like it or Not, a video about the evils of intolerance on a diverse campus. The presentation featured minority student testimonials, badly acted skits performed by OAs, and a soundtrack loop of Michael Jackson’s “Black and White.” One of the video’s biggest crowd-pleasers was a recurring joke in which a character would assert the need to respect all people and then, placing his hands on his hips, blurt out, “Even Aggies!” For all the video’s frivolity, its grave social message was heard.

“Before I saw that vid, I didn’t know that Asian people had feelings,” said Cassandra Wu, a Communications major. “I just thought we were a bunch of ninja robots, like in X2. But ‘Love Everybody’ taught me that we’re just like ‘normal’ white people. I want to thank the orientation committee for requiring me to sit through that video presentation and introducing me to an idea that had never occurred to me in my 18 years of existence.”

Wu added: “Thanks, OAs, for clearing up my dumb ass misconceptions.”

On the last day of every week-long session, the OAs offered special seminars for students interested in joining the ranks of their rabid pep squad. Among them were information sessions entitled, “How to be an Over-enthusiastic Social Pariah,” “How to Swoop through Three Octaves in One Sentence,” “Life: the Eternal Kindergarten,” and “Fisting 101.”

Much to the astonishment of the OAs, “OA-Day” was the least popular series of seminars during the entire orientation period. Others were not so surprised.

“Are you kidding me? Orientation was bad enough the first time around,” said undeclared Freshman William Drake. “I wasted an entire week listening to hand puppets named Venereal Vern tell me about the dangers of unprotected sex. It was like Sesame Street meets Castro Street.”

Shuddering, Drake concluded: “That’s one intersection I never, ever want to cross again.”
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