In an effort to foster a volunteer culture, Golden Bear Orientation, or GBO, leaders will no longer receive priority registration. GBO will also be shortened by one day in response to feedback that it was a large time commitment, according to campus spokesperson Adam Ratliff.
Orientation mentors — students who served as orientation leaders, or OLs, in the fall, led January’s GBO and will be responsible for training and supervising next semester’s OLs — will receive $2500 stipends for their nine-month job.
Additionally, Educational Opportunity Program grants will be available to 100 low-income eligible OLs in order to ensure they can afford basic need expenses during the GBO volunteer period, according to Ratliff.
Ratliff said initial incentives were necessary in order to recruit OLs for the first installment of GBO in August 2017 because the program was new and difficult to imagine in detail. But in review, Ratliff said many OLs did not see any benefit from priority registration while some OLs only participated in GBO because of the “transactional incentive.”
Kelly Chang, a campus junior and orientation mentor, said she didn’t qualify for the EOP grant, but that being an OL was a financial sacrifice. She said the lack of funding to financially compensate OLs is part of a systemic campus issue about fewer good quality resources being distributed to students.
“I don’t think I was compensated fairly at all, but something can be both exploitative and rewarding at the same time,” Chang said. “I knew I was being exploited, but I also think I grew a lot in the process.”
Last year, recruitment for GBO fell short. New Student Services initially aimed to hire about 1,000 students to be OLs, but as the summer passed, the number dwindled down to 526.
Ratliff said there are many factors that will draw students to be OLs next year, including gaining facilitation, public-speaking, team-building and professional skills. He added that 96 percent of OLs reported they had an overall positive experience in a survey after GBO.
Campus senior Karen Huang, who was an OL last August, described her experience as “overwhelming” and a “labor of love.” As an OL, the days started with a meeting at 7 a.m., ended late into the night and were chaotic, according to Huang. She added that she is worried about how the program will recruit members without the incentive of priority registration next year.
“I represent a lot of the GBO leaders when I say that if they had not offered the priority registration, I think a lot of people would not have stuck with it,” Huang said.