D.C. Diary: Colonial Cabinet casting couch

October 4, 1999
Marvin Center, room 402
8:30 p.m.

“After May 22, your souls belong to us.”

Introducing the Colonial Inauguration information session to interested students, Laura Todd, the coordinator for new student programs, laughed and kicked off recruiting season for next summer’s Colonial Cabinet.

The intensive process of selecting members of the Colonial Cabinet, orientation guides for GW’s Colonial Inauguration, began this week with several meetings. Who would want to participate in the stress and responsibility of CI again? I looked around the overflowing room Monday night, and saw just how many students want to be chosen as a member of this elite group.

At this gathering, one of four meetings scheduled to explain the selection process, about 75 prospective applications showed up. The application is due Friday, and then applicants participate in a group interview. From there, about 60 or 70 individuals are chosen for individual interviews. From that group, the Cabinet is chosen. CI organizers are looking for 30 members on this year’s team.

What makes the perfect CI member?

One of last year’s CI members said being active in all of the organizations that you can is not necessary to be a perfect Cabinet member. It seemed to me, though, that every member filled a certain stereotypical role in the Cabinet. This thought was reinforced by my friend, who leaned over midway through the meeting and whispered that he felt like he was applying for a spot on MTV’s “The Real World.”

Most of the Cabinet members from this summer stood up in front of the crowd, bubbling with enthusiasm and school spirit. They struggled to sum up in one or two sentences why working for CI was the best experience in their lives. What they said was intriguing: The $2,500 stipend ends up coming out to be 67 cents an hour. Free room and board is enticing, but their rooms were often used to deal with freshman registration woes at 3 in the morning.

Meeting students, faculty and administration is a bonus, but being forced to answer anxious parents’ questions is always an obstacle to getting dinner. How they are still smiling is a miracle.

“The Cabinet brings together 28 people from all different walks of life, different experiences,” said Anthony Rizzuto, who was part of the Cabinet last summer. “You look around the room and think to yourself, these people are so amazing.”

Members of the Colonial Cabinet are only able to participate in the summer orientation programs once. Two of them go on to run the program as CI Headquarters Staff for the next summer. This year, Liz Jayanjura and Mike Smith will be the student leaders.

Curious about the info-session’s impact, I asked a few of the students at the meeting why they wanted to be CI members. Most of the responses were not inspiring in direct contrast to the exuberant statements of the past CI members. There were a number of weird looks, some nervous giggles and a few, “I don’t knows.” I think some students thought I was beginning the interview process early.

“I want to help bring people together,” said sophomore Jen Ford. “The freshmen really need someone who can solidify everything for them.”

“GW is a very diverse school,” sophomore Ervin Ha said. “There are a lot of international students and we need to address their specific needs at CI. I hope to be able to do that.”

And as I left the meeting, students were talking to past members, trying to get a foot in the door. Vying for the chance not to sleep all summer, the race began.

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