In an effort to both help first year students at BC feel welcome and connect them to various college resources, the Office of the Dean of Students launched a Freshman Outreach Program -- “House Calls” -- at the beginning of the month.
The program, which had volunteers performing meet-and-greets in the Freshman residential halls, was designed to “build a community amongst students and help students navigate answers to questions they may have, as well as connect them to resources they may want,” stated Thomas Mogan, Associate Vice President and Dean of Students.
The main goal from the Office of the Dean of Students was to “put a human face on [the] office,” Mogan explained. “We are not just the place to go for students who have an issue with conduct; we provide a lot more services and we want students to feel like they are cared for.”
In order to promote a greater sense of community, the program picked specific volunteers from various organizations to be involved in House Calls -- volunteers from the athletics department, mission and ministry, student and student affairs (of which the Residents Office of Student Involvement is a part) and the alumni association.
Volunteers were split into two groups -- one interacting with students on Upper Campus and the other with students on Newton Campus. Volunteers asked students to identify the highs and lows of their university experiences so far.
Some of the more commonly stated high points from students were “the friends they’ve made so far, the sense of community on campus, liking their RAs and developing a relationship with them and attending football games,” Mogan answered.
The program has “definitely been successful,” Mogan began. After reaching out to 50% of the freshman class, “it was a success for the first year, but we hope to increase the number of students we reach for the next year.”
Among other factors, the program took place the same weekend as Parents Weekend, which hindered the ability to obtain more information from students.
“We know now to change it for next time” said Mogan. “Those are the kind of things that will improve the program and help make it even more successful next year.”
The effort behind this initiative has been an important step forward in solidifying the relationship between the administrative departments of the university and the student body, helping first-year students connect to different resources on campus and understand the level of care the administration has for all students.