Extended orientation decreases move-in weekend offenses

The St. Cloud Police Department reported that 137 people were cited during the extended move-in weekend, which is down from 223 people cited in 2014. Thirty-nine percent of the people cited this fall were SCSU students, the police department reported.

As move-in weekend was going on, the police department, SCSU, the city of St. Cloud and community members went on the traditional neighborhood prevention walk, making contact with 3,239 people, according to the police department.

The police department put out a final summary of offenses for the weekend that included:

  • Small amount marijuana – 2
  • Urinating in public – 6
  • Underage consumption – 70
  • Possession of alcohol – 4
  • Open container street/sidewalk – 45
  • Failure to stop at stop sign – 1
  • Disruptive intoxication – 3
  • Flee on foot – 5
  • Driving after revocation – 3
  • Unreasonable acceleration – 1
  • Possess drug paraphernalia – 1
  • False information to police – 1
  • Noise violation-loud party – 12
  • Social host – 11
  • Littering – 1
  • Noise violation-loud music – 3
  • Possess false ID – 1
  • Obstructing legal process – 1

But while there was activity off-campus, on-campus events saw “unbelievable attendance,” said Adam Klepetar, interim assistant provost of University College.

“I think it’s fantastic,” he said about the decrease in activity. “We were fearful because there was an assumption by some that extending orientation would lead to greater activity.”

Klepetar said he wasn’t “shocked” about the decrease, though, because of prior research done around extending the move-in day process.

Along with a group of SCSU faculty, staff and administrators, Klepetar began looking at the first year transition process about three and a half years ago.

He explained that the group looked at the process that was in place, then moved toward what an ideal process might look like.

He said they were focused on reframing the initial transition process and the new student experience.

While doing research for the process, the group looked at universities like SCSU, including some of the MnSCU institutions, to see what other orientation processes looked like. They found that SCSU had the shortest process out of all the institutions they reviewed, he said.

Part of their research came in from the MAP-Works survey SCSU sends out to students, he said. The survey asked an open-ended question that specifically looked for student feedback on improving the transition into college.

Going through student feedback, they found a trend. Students wanted a longer orientation process, he said.

The group found that institutions with a longer orientation process also saw a decline in criminal activity in some cases.

“What goes on in the neighborhoods during orientation is a reality we have to deal with,” he said, but it didn’t affect their decision making.

Klepetar explained that the main focus for extending orientation was the student experience. By giving students Thursday to move in provided more time for students to get their rooms situated, meet their neighbors and feel out their new home, he said.

Along with students having more time to acclimate, Klepetar said, “We wanted greater academic engagement.”

The most popular major for all students, he said, is “undecided.” Helping students find information on potential majors was a big part of the extended orientation process. Between Thursday and Friday, he said about 100 students came through the advising center.

Much of what the Huskies First Four aimed to achieve was building an early connection between the students and the university, Klepetar said.

He said they wanted to give students a time to appreciate their “sameness” as SCSU students during orientation. While at the same time, they wanted to give students time to celebrate campus diversity and personalize the orientation process, he said.

“Every student has a series of first fours,” he said. The first four seconds, minutes, days and weeks, ranging from a student’s initial “gut feeling” to whether they’re going to continue their education at SCSU, after spending four weeks on campus.

The plan is to stick with the four-day orientation process. For next year, he said they plan to expand on the community service activities and the academic engagement.

“It’s an entirely new system,” said Melissa Hettmann, the director of Mitchell Hall. “It works.”

Hettmann said that it was her first move-in weekend. She started her position as hall director in July, and knew about the new move-in system being implemented in fall.

“There were some bumps in the road,” she said, because of a lack of student volunteers being available to help residents move in.

Mitchell Hall has three stories and one elevator. With a steady flow of students coming in and out of the building, Hettmann said they had to divide up the floors to help organize and direct traffic.

Since Mitchell Hall is different than the other residential halls, she said that things became “complicated” toward the end.

Residents on the basement floor ended up waiting hours before moving in, said Jennifer Henningsen, a community adviser at Mitchell Hall. That was the most common complaint, she said.

“I heard it went well for other halls,” she continued. Some residents gave positive feedback, but “there are a few kinks to be worked out.”

“It’s a new idea,” she said. “It’s definitely has potential to be great.”

However, being that orientation stretched throughout the weekend, students were able to settle in and still have time to explore campus. Over the weekend, events were scheduled for students from 8 a.m. to midnight some days.

“I saw a lot of my students up and about,” Hettmann said. “Friday and Saturday students were going to different events.”

Around 1,600 people attended Atwood After Dark on Thursday night, and the high attendance was seen in a number of other events, Klepetar said.

Hettmann said that part of the reason crime was down for move-in weekend can be attributed to the new orientation process.

The Associate Director of Public Safety, Jennifer Furan Super, said that putting on events that were “relevant and appropriate” played an important in the decreased activity.

People respect their homes, she explained, and having those events and activities available helped generate that respect.

Public Safety focused their attention on the campus events. Their challenge over the weekend was facing the “unknown,” Furan Super said.

Having enough staff and coverage for the weekend, along with the responses of the neighborhoods and students created that unknown, she said.

“This was my 10th move-in day,” she continued, “as a whole, it was very successful.”

“Eighteen or 19 years ago was a performance,” she said about move-in day. “It was a spectacle. Not now.”

“Those types of things that could’ve developed didn’t,” she said. “I think a large part of that was because of the planning done by the university and the city.”

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