Frosh find their way

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Photo supplied by RIT Archives

Tug-of-war team-building event during the first orientation on the new Henrietta campus, fall 1968.

College life begins anew with each class of freshman. Freshly minted from high school and family life, and embarking on a new chapter in their lives, students arrive excited, apprehensive, eager to start and wishing to return home and to what is known. To ease the transition, administration, faculty and fellow students have devised various schemes to “orient” the new students to life at school.

RIT has not been remiss in its duty to the freshman, and a little archival research has unearthed photographs, articles and memorabilia—old and new—that explore this theme. 

In 1916, freshman had to wear bright green caps with chinstraps and were forced to mend clothing, do the laundry and shine the shoes of the upperclassman. “Freshman Daze” events in 1962 outlined a six-day orientation program that included teas, a talent show and the third annual “Skits-o-froshia” event where freshman competed against each other with quickly drawn up skits. 

An article in Reporter entitled “What the brochures didn’t say,” pointed out the “bummers” of life at RIT, among them the remoteness of campus and lack of student engagement with political and social issues. Thick with advice, the piece ends with a list of what to leave home: anything written by Jerry Rubin or Abbie Hoffman, your mod clothes, your water pipe, The Whole Earth Catalog, your “Woodstock” soundtrack album, and your Agnew wristwatch. To bring: a car and a gasoline credit card and a mind prepared for anything. 

With or without the assistance of the many activities, RIT freshman have transitioned to college life one way or another, finding comfort in the crowd, meeting new friends and realizing that they have truly commenced a new and exciting chapter in their lives.