To the Editor:
The recent heated debate over the administration's "attack" on Orientation Week has thus far been characterized by amusing adolescent melodrama ("my heart warms whenever a first-year asks me how one goes about becoming a Soph...") and self-righteous attacks on O-week opponents (Erin Schroeder has been maligned for being an (gasp!) undeclared second-year student who "ignorantly whines" from her "soapbox").
What I gather from these impassioned letters is that O-week supporters have two substantive claims. First, O-week is not about mindless drunkenness and sex and second, that O-week is necessary in order for students to adjust (in every respect) to university life.
I won't comment on that first claim, except to note that, in my limited experience, alcohol appears to be a vital part of O-week. Nevertheless, it could be that my experience simply misrepresents the actual case. The claim that O-week helps students adjust to university seems both plausible and compelling motivation to protest if it were true.
We might pause here to wonder precisely what students are becoming adjusted to (what is "university life?") and whether O-week fulfills this purpose adequately.
The central purposes of a university is the development of human character and the quest for knowledge. Of course, these goals are importantly social in nature and friendships are ingredients of this good. However, the relationships appropriate to truth-seeking and character building may not be best served by the various activities of O-week (e.g. cheering, drinking, wearing ugly T-shirts, etc.).
It's not that most relationships forged during O-week are impoverished or meaningless or superficial or anything like that, but rather that O-week does not specifically encourage the kind of relationships that best serve the end goals of a university education.
Thus, in the absence of substantial alterations to the character of O-week, I support the decision to shorten it.