CI leaders work long hours to prepare for new class

Colonial Cabinet members have fond memories of their own experiences at Colonial Inauguration.

I had such a great time at CI, sophomore Tracy Wei said. I wanted to do it so (incoming) freshmen could have the same experience I had.

The intimidating experience of coming to GW is one of the reasons sophomore Shari Cooperman decided to apply for CI.

Many people are leaving the comfortable environment (of high school), and we’re here to make students more comfortable and enthusiastic about the University, Cooperman said.

All freshman and transfer students are required to attend one of the five CIs held throughout the summer. The first CI begins Tuesday.

The process to choose the Cabinet begins early and is vigorous; applications for the Colonial Cabinet were due in October. Out of about 300 applicants who participated in group interviews, 75 were chosen for individual interviews. The 30 Colonial Cabinet members were then selected.

The Cabinet currently has 29 members; one person was asked to leave shortly after selection.

CI members began training in January, with two-hour meetings each Sunday. But full-time training started immediately after Commencement in May, when Cabinet members went camping at Camp Letts to participate in leadership training.

After they returned, members moved into the 8th floor of Fulbright Hall, to begin intense training for the three-day orientations. A typical day for a Cabinet member begins at 8 a.m. and lasts well into the night.

Cabinet members refer to their living quarters as The Bubble because they spend practically all of their days and nights together.

Officially training is 14 hours per day, but everyone is doing work until at least one in the morning, Cooperman said. We wake up early and go to training together. By the time we get home, it’s too late to do anything else, so we hang out at night together, too.

Members said spending so much time together can cause conflicts, but it is all part of the experience.

There have been points where we have been so frustrated, but that’s totally natural, sophomore Ben Stetler said. What’s great is that everyone has the ability to recognize the low points and work from there.

While Cabinet members mention the long hours they work to prepare for upcoming orientations, there are few complaints.

I’ve learned a lot about the University, Stetler said. It shows how much (students) take for granted and how much actually goes into this University.

During training, representatives from departments throughout the University speak to Cabinet members. This information about the campus will be used to answer questions they encounter during the orientation.

I think I know everything about the University there is to know, Wei said.

We need to be able to answer any question, Cooperman said.

Cabinet members usually spend two to four hours a day rehearsing their skits. Members said the skits help freshmen deal with issues that may arise during their first year.

We deal with some tough issues, said Cooperman, who listed homophobia, safe sex and sexual assault as some of the issues the groups discuss.

Situations are set and the members act out their roles, purposefully ending the skit without a resolution.

We hit some really powerful points, not only as a University, but as a society, Stetler said. It shows that GW is prepared and willing to deal with these issues.

Members said the skits were helpful because many of the situations do not have clear-cut solutions.

We’re (looking at) the University policies and combining them with personal ways of handling situations, Wei said.

Cabinet members also work office hours at night. Cabinet members call their small group participants to introduce themselves and answer any questions.

(Incoming students) get the impression that we really care and it makes them more relaxed when they get here, Wei said.

When the freshmen arrive Tuesday, Cabinet members said they believe they will be prepared for any situation.

Freshmen will stay in Thurston Hall, and two Colonial Cabinet members will be on duty each night. Community Facilitators also reside in the freshman residence hall.

Cabinet members come from a variety of backgrounds. Members said part of the selection process is to find a wide range of students and experiences. The 29 members represent a cross-section of organizations on campus, including Greek-letter organizations, athletic teams, community service programs, the Honors Program, student publications and religious organizations.

CI members are so different, anyone can find something (about one) of us to identify with, sophomore Radha Rajan said.

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