University cuts CI budget

Administrators said the University significantly reduced its spending for this year’s Colonial Inauguration in response to budget cuts in departments across the University.

Associate Vice President for Student and Academic Support Services Michael Gargano said GW mostly cut spending from give-aways, food and printed materials.

GWopoly, the board game traditionally given out to all CI attendees, will not be distributed this year, Gargano said. He said cutting the game is saving the University $30,000 alone. But he said GW-engraved chocolates will still be distributed and placed on students’ beds upon arriving to Thurston Hall for CI.

Gargano said the University renegotiated its contract with food service provider Aramark and will also be more “prudent” in providing meals during the CI sessions.

“While everyone will be fed and everyone will be happy, we don’t need to start them on the freshmen 15 at CI,” he said.

Gargano also noted that the University reduced the amount of printed materials mailed to incoming freshmen and their parents by posting the information on the Internet.

CI will also undergo other changes based on student response surveys filled out after last year’s CI.

The survey reported that although 94 percent of CI attendees were pleased with the overall program, but several said the information sessions were confusing and contained too much information. This year’s CI will address the complaints by focusing on issues related to campus and city life, academics and safety in one general information session called “The Campus.”

“These sessions will incorporate many different departments so that parents and students can get their questions answered at one time in one location,” said Laura Taddeucci Downs, director of the Student Activities Center.

The CI staff is also changing some of the usual social events, including Casino Night and the Late Night Social. The Colonial Cabinet and Greek-letter organizations that organize Casino Night will offer bowling and dancing to accommodate non-gamblers. The social will take on a luau theme, instead of the usual karaoke night. It will be complete with grass skirts and a Tiki bar, and organizers will serve mock-tails throughout the evening.

“The Cabinet and the sponsoring organizations decide what they like and don’t like about the events in previous years, and we try to improve on them as much as we can,” said Renee Clement, assistant director of CI.

This is Clement’s first year acting as assistant director of CI. She said CI’s reputation reached her while working with the University of Delaware’s orientation program. She said orientation is a minor event at Delaware, but “Colonial Inauguration is one of the most respected orientations nationally.”

The National Orientation Directors Association awarded CI 2001 first place for the Outstanding Orientation Professional Award. Clement said she plans to make sure that CI continues along a path of excellence.

The Colonial Inauguration planning staff, comprised of 65 faculty and staff members from all major academic and social fields at GW, was behind the wheels of change in this year’s CI, organizers said. Committee members are appointed by their respective departments to plan all aspects of CI, such as security, food, logistics and registration.

Gargano said the planning staff added new skit items and presentation changes geared toward “real-life, practical issues.” He said one new skit will include a video about safety as a pedestrian around campus.

This year’s cabinet is a group of 34 students representing 18 states, 24 majors and a variety of campus organizations including the College Republicans, Program Board and the Black Student Union.

“I want to be sure that anyone coming will be able to relate to them,” said Clement, who helped choose the Cabinet.

Cabinet members began training as soon as they were selected in November. Cabinet members spend a significant number of hours per week, most heavily towards the end of the academic year, learning about the University and preparing skits, among other training activities.

“The CI program is unique in that it never stops,” Gargano said. “It is kind of like the energizer bunny – it just keeps on ticking”

The Cabinet spends time preparing, but Clement said the chemistry of the group ultimately makes CI a success. She said this type of chemistry is evident in this year’s cabinet.

Despite the efforts of all the CI staff and cabinet members, Gargano said the true test for the new changes will be at the CI sessions, which will run from June 15 to July 9.

“It is kind of like a basketball team that has pre-season practice for two months and they anxiously await the first official game of the season,” Gargano said. “In CI, we are in the same mode – we are practicing and preparing for our first game on June 15th.”

-Andrea Nurko contributed to this report.

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