Letter from the Orientation Mentors

Editor’s Note: The following letter was written on September 11, 2019 and addressed to David Todd, Adviser for New Students Programs, and Shanté Brown, the Dean of First Year Students. It reflects the opinions and viewpoints of the signees below. 

September 11, 2019

Dear David and Shanté,

Thank you for all of your work over the summer and for coordinating an incredible Orientation. As Orientation Mentors (OMs), we have enjoyed our time welcoming the Class of 2023, and we look forward to an exciting semester as part of the O-team. We have put in an immense amount of work to ensure that Orientation and this upcoming semester run smoothly for the first-years. As much as we appreciate your gratitude for giving our time and effort, the fact remains that we are not being financially compensated in any way.

We all care deeply about the Wellesley College community and want it to thrive, as exemplified by our willingness to accept this position and the enthusiasm we’ve shown throughout Orientation. Therefore, we feel it is our duty to make this community fair for all, including ourselves. We fully acknowledge this is a “volunteer” position as stated in the Student Leader Agreement Document; however, it is unjust that we are not compensated. Other student leaders, such as RAs, HPs and ASCs, receive compensation for the weeks of student leader training, orientation and their continuing work throughout the semester. We also work during these times, particularly during orientation week, and have put in an amount of energy and effort that you assure us is invaluable. But by the very definition of uncompensated, the value of our work is not being properly recognized. Additionally, the lack of compensation excludes students who need to earn money during these weeks from being able to take on the role of an OM.

The OM position was described as a combination of the First-Year Mentor (FYM) and Ask-Me positions. While we understand that the FYM position had traditionally been uncompensated, Ask-Me was a paid one. Why are we not receiving compensation for the work that we are picking up by doing a combined position? It feels as though we have been consistently asked to stretch our efforts far beyond what a volunteer position calls for; we are being told that events are mandatory and asked to pick up additional shifts. On move-in day, we worked 16 hours straight through. We have dealt with last-minute changes, administrative errors and scheduling conflicts, all while continuing to fill our role as representatives of this institution. We want to work with you to give first-years a wonderful experience. There is a difference between being a volunteer and being an employee, and that line has been crossed on multiple occasions — including the manual labor required on move-in day and the constant emotional availability.

Furthermore, in past years, the FYMs have received the help and oversight of the FYM supervisors, returning FYMs who were compensated for their extra work in leading the FYMs and giving advice. This year, we have been relying informally on OMs who have been FYMs in the past, which is unfair because they are not being compensated or recognized at all for their additional input and leadership. As much as we appreciate the hard work and invaluable guidance of the Orientation Coordinators (OCs), they do not have a background as former OMs and cannot fill in all the gaps. We feel that the Orientation team would benefit from formally or informally restoring the compensated position of OM supervisor.

Student leader training and orientation week are time- and energy-consuming. All student leaders are giving up time that they could have spent with family or at their summer jobs, earning money necessary for the school year. By asking OMs to give their time with no compensation, you limit the position to only those who can afford to forego the last few weeks of their summer jobs. We have a wonderfully diverse group, but we feel that the O-team would greatly benefit from being more inclusive by offering compensation, rather than closing that door for many students. As we learned during training, diversity does not imply inclusion.

We care deeply about this community. We are continuing to work this year because we love the first years and we know we can contribute to the growth and excellence of Wellesley. We are also a part of this community and want to help improve this role for future OMs and orientation staff by making ourselves heard.

Thank you for your consideration.

Phoebe Amory ’20

Karina Alvarado ’20

Dominiki Kurz ’20

Maya Weber ’20

Sarah Chu ’20 

Izzy Labbe ’20

Paula DeAnda ’21

Giselle Mota ’22

Nicole Li ’21

Karen Alvarez ’21

Larissa Walker ’22

Dani Pergola ’21

Paige Feyock ’22

Avery Lumeng ’21

Vanmey Ma ’20

Maya Nunez ’20

Faye Washburn ’20

Alex Shook ’20

Jada Allison ’22

Sarai Hertz-Velazquez ’22

Sarah Landau ’21

Isha Gupta ’21

Louisa Oppenheim ’20

Alice Choe ’20

Olivia Holbrook ’20

Funing Yang ’22

Silvie Coheleach ’20

Aviv Shimoni ’21 

Zoë Cheng ’21 

Zoë Wiles ’20

Mary Patton ’20

Sarah Young ’22

Dominique Mickiewicz ’22

Grace Jackson ’22

Paige Befeler ’22

Carolina Jiménez ’21

Beatrice Grauman-Boss ’21

Melanie Graves ’21

Marina Hostrop ’20

Jessica Wu ’21

Soren Kernan ’21

Loogee Claude ’20

Alexandra Bullen-Smith ’22

House President’s Council 2019-2020

Katie Dretler ’22

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