Pioneer Success Institute
By: Cameron Crowell /// Staff Writer
The Fall semester marks the beginning of a required six-week workshop for first-year students called Pioneer Success Institute. The program is aimed to be a continuation of New Student Orientation in order to help students easily transition into college.
The PSI idea was spearheaded by Dean of Students Anna Gonzalez; former Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences Tuajuanda Jordan; and former Assistant Dean of Students Angelica Garcia.
“I do not know why Lewis & Clark is only now getting a first year program,” Gonzalez said. “One of my main focuses is on building community and I think [PSI] does that, which aids in student retention.”
The program is broken down into six 90 minute workshops, each with a different theme and discussion, with facilitators ranging from faculty to alumni to the Dean of Students.
“(Facilitators) really are a collection of people from all departments across campus, with a common goal of creating a positive experience for students,” Director of Student Rights and Responsibilities Charlie Ahlquist said.
Students are put into groups of 20, with first-year students and transfer students separated to better accommodate their unique experiences.
“Research has shown that if a student makes a connection with a faculty member within the first six weeks they are far more likely to succeed and continue with the school,” Ahlquist said. “Not only are we attempting to get students connected with the resources they have available on campus, but we are trying to get students better connected with each other.”
Each session has a different focus, from transitioning into a new school to developing a future through one’s major. The final session, Consent and Sexual Misconduct, will be hosted by peer educators from the Office of Health and Wellness. Federal law now requires that college students learn about Title IX and sexual misconduct through their school.
“Any of the clearest statistics would show, we, like any other college, have sexual misconduct,” Ahlquist said. “One in four women may be the target of sexual misconduct and part of the way to combat these issues is presenting students with information and encouraging dialogue about how to act when these things happen.”
Student opinion has been mixed, as some enjoy the opportunity to meet other students in their class, while others may not want the extra time commitment.
“Some people are making the transition to college very easily and others are having more trouble, so for them to have an opportunity to meet others in a ‘safe environment’ can be very helpful,” Luiz Machado (’18) said.
Although each session is required for degree seeking first-year students, the workshops are emphasized as discussions between students rather than a graded, lecture based class and do not count as credit. If a student cannot attend his or her session, he or she can meet at a Friday make-up session or risk not being able to sign up for classes the following semester.