The task of transitioning into freshman year is one filled with new experiences as well as obstacles to overcome.
Several students and staff members decided that they wanted to find a way to help freshmen with this undertaking by holding events once a week with both entertaining and educational purposes.“The New Devils Project” is a group that does just that.
Danushi Fernando, the Campus Life Coordinator at FDU, pitched the idea to RA Chris Trautman, who agreed with the proposal.
Trautman and another student, Emily Moratti, worked together to make Fernando’s idea come to life. For example, Moratti created a Facebook page to get the information out about the group. Additionally, the pair collaborated over the summer to come up with topics for discussion and find panelists to participate in the events.
Each event is discussion-based with seating in a circle formation, as the intent is to be interactive rather than intimidating or like a classroom.
Panelists who lead the discussions may be teachers and faculty members, but are usually students. Trautman said the reason for the student panelists is because “students learn from students.”
They felt upperclassmen would be able to give insight into the freshmen experience, having recently been through it themselves. Many different subjects, relating to freshman year and college life in general, will be addressed at each event.
Some of the themes include roommate conflict, alcohol awareness, how to cook “devilishly good” food in the cafeteria, and what exactly constitutes sexual consent vs. sexual harassment.
However, as the semester continues, topics may turn to more national and global is- sues, such as the events of Sept. 11, that will “impact (students) on a deeper level.” The desire is for students to become more aware of college life, FDU and, more importantly, themselves.
As Trautman explained, when he and Moratti came up with topics, they kept in mind “what we wish we were told as freshmen.” Each event will have different activities and conversations, and may sometimes include humorous skits that demonstrate specific situations.
The first event was on the subject of happiness. Lona Whitmarsh of the Psychology Department and Sarah B. Azavedo, the Student Life Coordinator, were the speakers.
They spoke about how to be happy, to try to get students “in the right mindset” for the beginning of the year.
Trautman and Fernando said the group is unlike any other at FDU and even many other colleges.
It is unique in that it is almost entirely student-run (with support from Campus Life) and it is geared towards freshmen. The events are free and have mainly student speakers helping out their fellow pupils with a wide variety of issues, some being FDU-specific.
They also said the group is important because the more involved students are, the happier and more productive they will be.
The group was explained to freshmen in their Freshman Seminar classes, and counts toward their outside credit required for the class, where they must attend a certain number of school events and write a little about the experience.
However, although the events are geared towards freshmen, all students are welcome to attend.
If the project is successful, they hope to continue it in future semesters and get more students to be involved (whether attending, speaking as panelists or helping in some other way).
For this first semester, events will take place every Wednesday from 8 to 9 p.m. in the Twombly Lounge.