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Orientation '95 features Casper 'On Playing Hamlet'

STANFORD -- President Gerhard Casper will welcome new students and their families to Stanford with the keynote address at the opening convocation of the New Student Orientation program at 11 a.m. Friday, Sept. 22, in the Inner Quad.

In his address, "On Playing Hamlet," Casper explores the concept of role models. The model is not so important as the role, he says, and in the role of student, each person must learn to be an autonomous individual and to accept each other person as such.

"Each of us has so many different roles to play, each with changing demands, that most of the time, it seems beside the point to search for a particular model for one specific role that itself can be played in various ways -- just like Hamlet," Casper says. "To become a person -- the word derives from the Latin word for the mask worn by an actor to indicate the character that is being portrayed -- involves after all, the challenge to become oneself in the roles one must play."

In other portions of the address, the president examines the notion of "golden ages" and suggests how Stanford and its students can join to make this a golden age of education.

Also speaking will be Mary Edmonds, vice provost and dean of student affairs, and Rich Stolz, a senior in earth systems and one of four students who spent the summer organizing the orientation program.

The convocation is open to the community and will, for the first time, involve members of the Stanford Board of Trustees. It will be taped for later broadcast on Stanford's new cable television outlet, Channel 51.

Orientation events, which traditionally have started on the Thursday before Fall Quarter begins, this year will start Friday, Sept. 22, and continue through Tuesday, Sept. 26. Classes begin Wednesday, Sept. 27.

"We're going to try to do something different this year, something that we hope will include the entire campus community," said Heather Dunn of student affairs, director of New Student Orientation.

Stolz explained that "this process is really for all of us [current student body] as much as it is for the new students. We're trying to make this into a real event, an inaugural event to kick off the academic year. We want to make it a true celebration of the academic year, one that stresses the whole 'feel' of Stanford for the new arrivals."

Student organizer Jennifer Brown, a junior in earth systems, said that "another thing we're hoping to build is more of a feeling of class identity. People identify to an extent with Stanford, but not usually with their class."

The four students -- the others are Jennifer Yu, a junior in linguistics and human biology, and Blake Naughton, a junior in industrial engineering -- and Dunn said university commitment to orientation is a key to making it a success.

"If commencement can be seen as that gateway through which Stanford's graduating classes leave Stanford, then orientation is that gateway through which students pass and become members of the Stanford community," they wrote in their mission statement.

"It is vital to the interests of the university to nurture the campus-wide community that is established by programs such as orientation," the statement continues. "For this reason, staff and faculty involvement is key to the success of the orientation experience."

'Ask me' buttons planned

The effort officially will be handled by about 160 orientation volunteers, and another 250 or so people connected with residences: resident fellows, resident assistants, residence deans and academic advisers. Also taking part will be the Associated Students of Stanford University, the Stanford Band, various athletic and volunteer organizations, the ethnic centers, and administrative areas including the Center for Teaching and Learning, Undergraduate Advising Center, and Career Planning and Placement Center.

What the organizers hope for from the rest of the community is a less structured but no less valuable contribution -- to be gracious hosts -- and, at the very least, to recognize that for several days in September the campus will be crawling with 1,580 freshmen, 160 transfer students and hundreds of their relatives, many of them hopelessly lost.

"We're getting buttons made that read, 'Welcome,' " Stolz said. "What we're saying is that, during orientation, it would be nice if people see others who are obviously lost to approach them and offer to help."

The buttons will be distributed, starting about Sept. 15, to all staff in student affairs. Other individuals and departments can obtain buttons as long as supplies last by calling New Student Orientation at 725-7914.

Even though the program has been shortened by one day, it remains packed with activities for new students and their parents. The breakneck pace is entirely intentional.

"It's good to overwhelm them at orientation," Brown said. "There is so much happening at Stanford, why not show them that right away? That is just the kind of place Stanford is."

Sessions on diversity, sex

Besides the opening convocation, several events are planned during New Student Orientation that may be of interest to people other than the new students and their families.

The "Faces of the Community" presentation and discussion on diversity, which starts at 7 p.m. Monday, Sept. 25, in Memorial Auditorium, is being coordinated by Tommy Lee Woon, the multicultural educator in student affairs.

Yu said that "the 'Faces' presentation is really a showcase of the Stanford population, which stresses all of the different backgrounds and different voices the new students will encounter here, and the different points of view. It's a great introduction to the amazing diversity of the community, and helps show how that diversity has shaped the people at Stanford."

On Saturday, Sept. 23, there will be what organizers are calling an "intellectual tone-setting" assembly at 3 p.m. in Memorial Auditorium. "Discover Stanford: Navigating the Winds of Freedom" explores options for undergraduates and urges new students to take an active role in designing their Stanford experience.

The presentation "Sex in the '90s" will take place from 7:15 to 9 p.m. Saturday, also in Memorial Auditorium. The program deals with issues ranging from abstinence and contraception to date rape and sexual harassment, and will be followed by smaller follow-up discussions in the residences.

In addition to encouraging members of the community to participate in orientation this year, Dunn said, "we'd also like to hear from people about ways in which we could improve."

Suggestions and comments, or to obtain a complete schedule of all orientation events, should be directed to the New Student Orientation office at 725-7914, or electronically to oc95@forsythe.



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