First-Years Adjust to an Unprecedented First Semester



First-year students have not had the college experience that they had hoped for, and some felt left in the dark with vital orientation information.


First-years have officially begun their first semester at Fordham, greeted by a myriad of changes and protocols related to the novel coronavirus, but they’re still trying to have as normal a semester as possible.

“The adjustment to freshman year has been much less difficult than I expected,” Lily Carlisle, Fordham College at Lincoln Center (FCLC) ’24, said. “When it comes to academics, I think Fordham … is doing the best it can to accommodate everyone.”

Dean Conor O’Kane, assistant dean of first-year students, has been in contact with first-years since the summer, noting how adaptive the Class of 2024 has been.

Nate Dallimore, FCLC ’24, feels similarly to Carlisle, noting that “overall I’m happy with the way things are going, taking COVID into account.” However, he has found that there are a few challenges associated with hybrid instruction at Fordham. Dallimore expressed his frustration with the technical difficulties associated with Zoom classes, issues with using the new electronic ID cards and the structure of orientation. 

“I just didn’t really have time or energy … mostly, I can’t picture any events that could be held in both a fun and socially distant way.” Eva Gelman, FCLC ’24

Several members of the Class of 2024 have expressed complaints about orientation. Carlisle felt that the experience “was a little disappointing. I didn’t really feel like there was a lot of information I gained from the orientation activities.” 

She elaborated that she and her roommate, Eva Gelman, FCLC ’24, were left in the dark on where to pick up mail, how to navigate the dining hall and where to find important locations such as the bookstore, IT offices and health services. Although they both had toured previously, Gelman and Carlisle thought that orientation would be the best way for them to get their bearings at Fordham.

However, opportunities for first-years to integrate with their community members have abounded, both online and in-person. With clubs and other events running mostly online, some first-years are taking advantage of these social distanced social options. A variety of events have been put on, from Zoom game nights to sunset dinners on the new greenspace behind McMahon Hall.

Dan Patterson, associate director for first-year experience, acknowledged that Zoom events can be exhausting when the majority of students are already spending class time on their computers. The turnout for these digital events has been small, but as Patterson said, “We’re getting at least a few, and for those few the impact is significant.”

Gelman has not been attending school sponsored events: “I just didn’t really have time or energy … mostly, I can’t picture any events that could be held in both a fun and socially distant way.” Instead, she has chosen to socialize with a small group of friends she met on her floor and through social media in a safe, COVID-19-conscious manner.

The Office for Student Involvement also hosted a virtual Club Week, which Patterson said was a success. “It was a great way to make it equitable for students that were on campus and remote,” Patterson said, as clubs hosted themed Zoom meetings each day.

Gelman explained she joined clubs during club week and that it “was really nice to have a chance to get introduced to clubs without being committed right away, and now that I’m in the Comma, I love it!”

As first-years continue to integrate into Fordham and navigate their first semester, Patterson acknowledged, “You’ve been cooped up in your house for the last five months, but we’re still wrestling with how to establish and maintain a safe community. It’s certainly a challenge.”