University readies for CI, changes event locations due to renovations

Colonial Inauguration staffers said “a lot of things are being done differently” this year as they prepare to welcome what could be the largest freshman class in GW history.

The biggest change is the inability to use J Street due to renovations. No CI activities will be held in the Marvin Center food court, one of the most popular gathering areas on campus.

Renee Clement, assistant director for orientation, who is in her second year of overseeing CI, learned of the renovations in early May.

J Street has the largest seating capacity in the Marvin Center and was going to be used for dining and welcoming session space.

Other spaces in the Marvin Center, such as the Grand Ballroom and Hippodrome, will be utilized more to compensate for the loss of J Street.

In a situation similar to last year, University-wide budget cuts have forced planners to decrease freebees for students and parents and benefits for CI staffers. Students and parents will not be receiving free GWopoly board games, which had been given to all attendees until last year.

“I think we’re always trying to cut corners wherever we can, and we’re continuing to cut back on food and entertainment where we can,” Clement said.

While declining to comment on specific cuts for CI Cabinet members, Clement said, “I don’t think it’s anything they would miss.”

The Colonial Cabinet is a group of 30 GW students that go through a rigorous selection process to gain a coveted spot on the orientation team. In past years, cabinet members have received free on-campus housing, clothing and a salary of about $3,000. Erica Phipps, a former cabinet member who is now overseeing preparations for CI, said she does not think the cuts will impact orientation sessions.

The cabinet began daylong training seven days a week beginning soon after Commencement. They work with many University departments to learn how to answer students’ and parents’ questions. They also rehearse with a drama professor for four hours a day to prepare skits.

Each of the five CI sessions lasts two-and-a-half days and features more than 100 events geared toward students, parents and siblings. The first session, which begins June 13, is followed by sessions starting June 19, June 24, June 28 and July 7.

Clement said the CI staff is “totally” prepared to handle the incoming freshman class of between 2,550 and 2,600 that could surpass the 2,578-member freshman class of 2001 to be the largest in GW history.

“I think the more people there are,” Clement said, “the more energy it creates.”

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