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Back to School

August 21, 2009

Though retailers have been advertising back-to-school sales since June, the start of school has finally arrived. Students are filing onto campus, already jumping headfirst into extracurricular activities in preparation for the new school year and the arrival of DePauw’s newest class.

moving_2.jpgWhen first-year students arrive Aug. 22, they will receive a Tiger Pride 2013 t-shirt and information about DePauw – information ranging from scheduling and dining tips to service opportunities and sustainability efforts. While mentors and advisers will address many of these issues, DePauw’s Student Life Office relies on the efforts of the Hartman House and organizations such as DePauw Environmental Club to deliver information regarding service and sustainability.

Melissa D. Orr ’09 is serving as a fifth-year sustainability intern and has been working on Start Green, a student-led initiative to incorporate sustainability and intellectual discussion about environmental issues into first-year orientation.

“This introduction is crucial as sustainability has become a community value through student initiatives as well as institutional commitment,” she says. “President Casey signed the American Colleges and Universities Presidents Climate Commitment, which pledges that DePauw will eventually become carbon neutral. By introducing students to sustainable living practices and environmental awareness as soon as they come to campus, we can cultivate more responsible habits, such as recycling and composting in addition to water conservation and energy reduction.”

To bring about such awareness, Start Green, with the support of DePauw’s Office of Student Life, the DePauw Environmental Club, DePauw's Sustainability Coordinator, Residence Life & Housing, and Dining Services will provide first-year students with BPA-free Nalgene water bottles and serve a dinner made with sustainable products during orientation that will feature local produce and meats as well as compostable plates and utensils.

“We’re attempting to reduce the waste associated with bottled water and to encourage awareness and discussion of water issues. We will stuff Nalgene bottles with an informational brochure about green living practices, initiatives and resources and contacts,” she says. “In this manner, students will have the resources to become more aware and get involved immediately.”

In addition to providing the free bottles and unique meal, Start Green will encourage cardboard recycling during move-in days and host three 45-minute panel discussions on Aug. 24 featuring members of the DePauw Environmental Policy Project and DePauw Environmental Club.

“Campus sustainability is not limited to these efforts, but it can be seen in our daily actions and interactions,” Orr added. “Riding a community bike is a form of sustainable transportation. Recycling your drink container and composting your food scraps help reduce waste and emissions. The discussion will be interdisciplinary from eco-feminism and environmental justice to environmental science and the economics of natural resources.”

Community service will be incorporated into first-year orientation through the Service Plunge, an annual event organized by the Hartman House. The Hartman House acts as the center of DePauw’s volunteer and civic education programs and its staff oversee programs ranging from Winter Term in Service (WTIS) and DePauw Community Service (DCS) to the Civic Fellow and Bonner Scholar programs to name a few. Service Plunge is scheduled Aug. 25 and will serve as an opportunity for first-year students to volunteer in the Greencastle community for one afternoon. Jessica R. Weasner serves as assistant director of the Hartman House and considers the Service Plunge a great way to inform new students about the programs offered by the Hartman House.

“Service plunge is a great program for first-year students who are new to the community,” she says. “It gets them out in Greencastle and doing something positive without requiring them to make a huge commitment.”

Weasner reported that more than 100 first-year students have registered online for the Plunge, aquarry view nature park.jpg record for registration at this point in the summer. Plunge groups, led by one or two group leaders, will volunteer around Greencastle at many different locations, including Asbury Towers Retirement Community, Putnam County Humane Society, Big Walnut Sports Park and the DePauw Nature Park. In addition to the Service Plunge, the Hartman House coordinates the annual DePauw Community Service Fair that will take place Sept. 1. Interested first-year and returning students can visit information tables, talk with representatives and view displays about the many service opportunities offered on campus. Weasner has been instrumental in organizing this year’s fair and believes it will be one of the largest in the event’s history.

“We will have all of our DCS organizations represented, along with many other service organizations on campus, including APO, Circle K and Habitat for Humanity,” she says. “This year we’re working with the local Chamber of Commerce in hopes of including local service organizations that we’ve not worked with before to also come and set up a table at the fair. This may be the biggest fair that we’ve had in awhile. I’m really excited to be able to offer a wide variety of options for students so that we can get a more diverse group of students involved in DCS.”

Although first-year orientation typically dominates back-to-school time on campus, returning students have a major change to look forward to this year. DePauw administrators and dining services management staff have been mulling over the idea of an out-in-town dining option for students for many years. The program, tentatively titled Out in Town, will allow students to pay for meals at select local restaurants with funds allocated on their Tiger Cards. The funds will specifically be drawn from students’ Tiger Plus accounts, a fraction of the meal plan typically used for laundry and vending machine use. Students will also be offered the opportunity to add additional funds to their cards, called Tiger Express funds, to be used for off-campus dining. Steve Santo, general manager of dining services, has been spearheading the Out in Town efforts with assistance from a committee of administrators and campus officials, and he is very excited to unveil this new program.

“Right now we have nine local restaurants signed up,” he says. “They are all very excited, and I am excited to see how things go. It will be a good opportunity for students to go out and take part in the community, and it will also provide more dining options for the students.”

The restaurants currently on board for the Out in Town program include Marvin’s, Dominoes, Cavern Club, Almost Home, Los Martinez, Treasures on the Square, Chiefs, Mama Nunz and Pizza King. Santo says he hopes to have the program in place by Aug. 26, soon after students return to campus. He also said that literature regarding the program will be available Aug. 22 during first-year move-in festivities.

With all of these exciting orientation events and the launch of the Out in Town dining program to look forward to, DePauw students – old and new – will be excited to move in or return to campus, regardless of how little they’re looking forward to homework.

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