On Feb. 3, Wellesley Orientation announced that they were seeking six students to fill the orientation coordinator (OC) role. Student leaders are expected to work throughout the spring, summer and fall, with commitments ranging from three to 40 hours per week, with the possibility of night and weekend commitments, for two weeks during Student Leader Training and New Student Orientation. Through this role, OCs are responsible for recruiting and supervising orientation mentors, planning events, marketing them through email, the official campus website and social media, as well as communicating with administration in different offices and departments. OCs are compensated for their time with campus housing during the summer and a $3,000 stipend paid in installments.
Along with OCs, there are also over 60 orientation mentors (OMs) expected to communicate with new students and OCs throughout the summer and host OM group meetings during orientation. They must be accessible to new students, other student leaders and staff. The role of orientation mentor is a volunteer student leadership position for which students are not compensated.
Students have been skeptical of whether the compensation, or lack thereof, is appropriate for the wide-ranging responsibilities and long time commitments demanded of orientation coordinators and orientation mentors.
Soon after the email from Wellesley Orientation on Feb. 3, Ahona Mukherjee ’25 sought advice from their Instagram followers who had previously worked in Orientation Leadership by posting on their story. Specifically, they asked if the students felt the “compensation was worth the experience”.
“I definitely considered [applying to be an orientation coordinator]. I was intrigued by the possibility of it since I was a Link coordinator for the incoming freshmen in high school, and I’d worked as a camp counselor,” Mukherjee said. “I wanted to make sure it was worth the effort.”
After deliberating and reading through the responses they received on Instagram, Mukherjee is still considering applying to be an OM, although they decided not to apply to be an OC.
“The experience is communication-heavy,” they said. “I tend to characterize myself as a social person, [but I] felt like the experience would be isolating and the stipend for food and groceries just doesn’t feel worth it. It’s not a bad thing to apply to be an OC, but it should be called into question why admin is not paying students enough. Outside the [scope] of OM/OC compensation, where is that money going? I think that’s a question a lot of people are asking.”
When asked about their time as an OM, Abigail Martinage ’24 recalled enjoying their experience.
“I had a really positive experience. I would consider doing it again, even when just one of my first-years showed up, it felt very worth it,” they said. “I think it was fulfilling for me because I wasn’t thinking about losing out on time, which is a privileged experience.”
Although they enjoyed their experience, Martinage did comment on the inequity that results from the lack of compensation.
“I think the lack of compensation is obviously really big in terms of having a more diverse, and thus able to support mentees, group of OMs,” they said. “It’s very time-intensive if you’re a student who needs to make money for tuition. It would definitely be nice if there was payment associated with it, so that we would have more experiences represented.”
Martinage supplements their outlook on OM compensation with their experiences working with administration.
“I’ve also personally talked to Dean Brown, and I know that she has been trying to get OMs paid since she entered the position. She’s pitched stipends and gift cards. It gets shut down by those above her,” they said. “I get the impression that the people directly above them — Dean Horton, Helen Wang, [etc.] — want [OMs] to get paid. It gets stopped by people higher above them. They want to pay us but don’t have a pot of money. Lower level admin gets the flack since they’re the one to tell us that bad news.”
2021 orientation coordinators could not be reached for comment.