GS Deans and Orientation Leaders Welcome Fall 2017 Incoming Students

GS Deans and Orientation Leaders Welcome Fall 2017 Incoming Students

September 1, 2017

GS Students and Orientation Leaders at Low Library
GS Students at Welcome Ceremony in Low Plaza

This fall, the School of General Studies welcomes nearly 660 incoming students who began the week-long New Student Orientation Program (NSOP) on Monday with breakfast in Low Memorial Library. Inside, GS staff and Orientation Leaders greeted the new students and provided NSOP schedules for the week. New students were placed in small orientation groups and guided by Orientation Leaders, current students who introduced them to campus and facilitated socializing throughout the week.

Following breakfast, students heard from University President Lee C. Bollinger and Dean Peter J. Awn on Low Plaza, who gave their welcoming remarks to the new students. President Bollinger and Dean Awn stressed the spirit of intellectual discovery and free speech. “One has the duty to challenge ideas,” stated Dean Awn, encouraging incoming students to view their education as an opportunity to expose themselves to differing perspectives, and to sharpen their critical thinking abilities. President Bollinger reflected on the recent events in Charlottesville, Virginia and discussed the role Universities have to play in the current political and cultural climate.

Thomas Harford, Dean of Students, led a GS orientation tradition by asking members of the audience to rise as he described different categories, such as 96 incoming students having served in the U.S. military, 68 students being born abroad, 77 students belonging to the School’s innovative joint degree program with Sciences Po, 14 students belonging to the joint program with the City University of Hong Kong, and 32 students in the joint program with List College of the Jewish Theological Seminary, to being a parent, working full-time, or being a born-and-raised New Yorker.

Each of these identity traits—and several students belong to more than one—emphasize the broad definition of diversity at the School of General Studies. The multiplicity of experiences among GS students contributes priceless value to the undergraduate experience at Columbia University, as acknowledged by faculty, administrators, and students alike.

Incoming students also heard from current GS students, including Samantha Demezieux, the General Studies Student Council president, and Eytan Penn, the GS NSOP Student Chair. In their speeches, current students described the supportive community at GS, extending a warm welcome to new students. Andre Galis, Postbac Premed student and president of the Premedical Association addressed fellow students.

The School of General Studies convocation highlighted the diversity of students and their experiences, and celebrated the beginning of their journey as undergraduate students at Columbia University. Throughout the week, students will be invited to social mixers, workshops about campus resources and academic practices at Columbia, as well as outings throughout New York City. NSOP is instrumental to new students’ integration at Columbia, and provides numerous opportunities to meet new and returning students, as well as alumni, before classes begin on September 5.