A Golden Bear Orientation leader’s day started at 7 a.m. and ended 18 hours later, at 1 a.m. With only about half the leaders originally expected able to head the event, it was unfair of the campus to task students with this responsibility, especially without adequate compensation.
A transition to this weeklong orientation structure from the two-day mid-summer “CalSO” format was made to increase inclusivity and access for students who couldn’t afford to make the trip, and it was largely successful. But the campus set an unattainable goal of recruiting 1000 volunteers.
Considering the paltry compensation — priority class registration, some free meals and “leadership experience” — it was no surprise when only 526 student volunteers ultimately signed up.
Those who did sign up chose to commit their incredible school spirit and time to create an unforgettable week for incoming students. But the accomplishments of the program shouldn’t be determined only by students who can afford to take on a full week of unpaid labor.
And for the roughly 15 community and leadership assistants, or CLAs (who function as the bosses of resident assistants), becoming a GBO leader wasn’t a real choice. A change in their original contract required they participate in the program, even though most of them are seniors and won’t benefit from priority registration. The program schedule demanded too much of volunteers, let alone CLAs, who would have had to quit and lose their room and board to opt out of the program.
Next year’s orientation should do away with the early start time or the late night activities — or if they must be maintained, the campus should recruit and compensate enough leaders to establish reasonable shifts. The campus should also condense the daily hours and consider cutting the program to three or four days, rather than a full week. Both new students and volunteer staff would feel less exhausted. Being a student is exhausting enough.
Editorials represent the majority opinion of the Editorial Board as written by the opinion editor.