A fresh perspective on online orientation

Grace Williams, Staff Writer

Noting the time, she apprehensively picked up the phone. Even as she prepared herself for the worst, she tried to stay optimistic: even if she had to stay home for the first few weeks at school, at least she’d have her own space. Finally, as she dialed onto the call with Dr. Beebe on Aug. 11, 2020, her worst fears came true. Freshman Aliyah Brown cried as she heard the news that the Westmont College campus would not be permitted to re-open on Aug. 28th.

Though Westmont’s Orientation team originally planned to conduct orientation events on campus on a smaller scale, the news of campus closure meant that many of these events were shifted to an online format.

That really encapsulated college as best as anything could, because so much of college is about laughing together, and we could do that even over Zoom.”

— Megan Bowman

Though Brown said the call left her heartbroken, she tried to find the good in not going to campus when originally planned.

“Before they moved the date, I was extremely excited. While I was listening to the call, though, I started bursting into tears,” Brown said. “I just had to keep telling myself this was all part of God’s plan. I tried to motivate myself through that reassurance that we wouldn’t risk getting anyone else sick.”

Coming into the new year, freshman Megan Bowman said she was excited to commit to Westmont in February because of its tight-knit community and study abroad opportunities. “Even just thinking about Westmont, there was peace in it. It felt calm, and it just clicked one day that the place I’m going for four years should be a place that feels like home,” Bowman said. “Westmont is that place that’s always felt like home.”

Though Bowman said she was looking forward to the traditional orientation events, she said it was nice to find community and humor in the technical errors that happened during the Residential Life Zoom.

“I’m in the Clark Hall, and on that call we had trouble getting onto Kahoot. It was a little funny moment in the midst of everything else around us being sad,” Bowman said. “That really encapsulated college as best as anything could, because so much of college is about laughing together, and we could do that even over Zoom.”

Brown also said she found some moments of happiness amongst the events, noting that the coffee mixer was an especially good way to connect with fellow first-year students. “I really enjoyed the coffee mixer, it was nice to be able to talk to people one-on-one,” Brown said. “I think that’s what orientation is all about, not only meeting the faculty, not only meeting the upperclassmen, but meeting our fellow freshmen.”