Campus launches all-new Golden Bear Orientation

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Alice Langford/File

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6,500 new first-year and 3,000 new transfer students will participate in the new Golden Bear Orientation, or GBO, beginning Tuesday morning as a part of the Golden Bear Experience, a four-part program created for all incoming undergraduate students.

GBO will feature meals, group discussions and various activities, including entertainment. Sample events include campus tours, ice breakers, a first-ever all-class photo and “Late Night Programming” such as “comedy shows, dance performances, hypnotists, silent disco, Target trips and mini golf.”

The orientation — a weeklong, mandatory program — is designed to help students settling in make new connections, learn about campus resources and traditions, form an understanding of the community and connect with their orientation groups, according to the campus’s New Student Services.

“On our campus, it is very rare for all students in a class to come together and share an experience,” said campus spokesperson Adam Ratliff in an email. “GBO will provide many opportunities for the incoming class to come together, see each other, and experience their new campus together.”

GBO will also replace the previous orientation model, Cal Student Orientation, or CalSO. Ratliff said in an email the former orientation model — which had groups of students visiting campus throughout summer — caused difficulties for some students.

“This additional trip to Berkeley was a financial hardship for many families that live outside of the Bay Area,” Ratliff said in an email. “Because it will be more accessible, it will expand the number of diverse perspectives in attendance.”

Campus Associate Vice Chancellor and Dean of Students Joseph Greenwell said in an email he is “very excited” for GBO and commended the New Student Services team for their efforts in creating the experience.

Greenwell said in an email in addition to campus networking opportunities, incoming students will get a chance to familiarize themselves not only with Berkeley, but also with the larger Bay Area, all which will serve as their “new homes in the Bay.”

Incoming freshman Kaushal Balagurusamy said in a Facebook message that GBO will allow the new class to interact with a large crowd of people and provide opportunities for students to form friendships early on in the year. Balagurusamy, however, expressed concern in regards to the large population of students attending orientation simultaneously.

“This might make people more cliquey because they’re overwhelmed by the sheer size of the class which might cause us to gravitate towards familiarity instead of exploring what people different from us are like,” Balagurusamy said in a Facebook message.

Due to the orientation schedule, all incoming students this year will have just one day on Monday — a 12-hour time frame — designated for move-in, according to a campus press release.

The campus expects high levels of traffic and limited parking on campus Monday and has advised campus community members working on site to find alternate methods of transportation or factor in additional commuting time.

Christine Lee is an assistant news editor. Contact Christine Lee at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @christinejlee17.

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