Record freshman class attends CI

With a record number of students and parents on hand, Colonial Inauguration started off smoothly last month despite a decrease in available space. GW hosted four of its five freshman orientation sessions in June and will hold the last from July 7-9.

About 510 students and 380 parents attended each of four June CIs, an increase of about 30 students and 30 parents from 2003, reflecting what will be the largest freshman class in GW history.

Marvin Center renovations forced CI organizers to move several of the sessions’ 120 events from Columbian Square, the cafeteria-style dining area in J Street, to the outdoor terrace on the third floor of the building.

“We definitely had to do some maneuvering this year,” said Renee Clement, a Student Activities Center official who oversees CI preparations. “It’s been a little bit of a hurdle.”

Despite a decrease in usable space, Clement said the arrangements have not created a problem for students or parents, as CI organizers made sure visitors steered clear of the areas under construction.

“I don’t think they even realize that it’s there,” she said.

Robert Chernak, senior vice president of Student and Academic Support Services, said GW’s primary concern has been to finish the J Street renovations on time even though they may be inconvenient for CI planners. The newly designed and reconfigured J Street is set to open in late August.

Freshmen and their parents said they have not been affected by the ongoing renovations. “It’s really had no impact,” incoming freshman Katherine Walsh said.

CI attendees were briefly inconvenienced during the third CI session when a fire alarm forced the evacuation of the Marvin Center June 24. People returned to the building after firefighters determined that a small amount smoke from the building’s third floor kitchen set off the alarm, said Matt Lindsay, a GW Media Relations specialist.

Few changes were made to the CI program, which featured a laser show, student-performed skits, an organization fair and buffet dinners in the Smith Center.

The organization fair, which takes place on the Marvin Center’s third floor and allows students to get information about student clubs and activities, was held on the second day of CI rather than the first. Clement said the change allowed students to go through a full day at GW before attending the fair.

“People are more intentional when they go to the fair now,” Clement said. “They’re not just wandering around aimlessly.”

GW officials also seek to educate incoming students about the University’s alcohol and drug policies. Clement said no freshmen were disciplined for alcohol or drug use during the four June CI sessions.

-Michael Barnett contributed to this report.

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