This O-Week, first-years were presented with an alternative guide to campus that was not University-sanctioned: Disorientation Week.
Disorientation “week”—which in actuality encompassed O-Week and part of first week—featured alternative programming for incoming first-years relating to current events and activism on campus. The Dis-O Book, an alternative to the College’s O-Book, was distributed online on Sunday.
“[Disorientation is] an alternative to orientation. It’s a supplementary set of events and perspectives that aren’t encompassed by the very curated version that the University puts out. It’s a student-generated introduction to campus life,” said one of the book’s editors, second-year Baci Weiler, who is on a leave of absence but living in Hyde Park.
Disorientation Week and the Dis-O Book are not novel initiatives on campus, but they have been dormant for several years. The first Dis-O Book was published in 2010 and was updated in 2011 and 2013.
Disorientation was a product of the collaboration of many students who were interested in reviving the project. Weiler and fourth-year Kiran Misra compiled and edited the Dis-O Book. Fourth-year Juliet Eldred planned events for Disorientation Week. Many other students contributed articles or volunteered as “Dis-O Aides” for the week.
The Dis-O Book features articles on a range of topics, including gentrification and development, classism, graduate student unionization, being an ally, partying, and spiritual life.
“The book is a lot bigger this year, I would say twice as long,” Misra said. “The content in it has reflected the changing climate on campus, so there’s a lot of sections that have been added due to incidents on campus [and] events that have happened on campus.”
Another big change to this year’s Dis-O Book is the inclusion of author names. “A lot of the pieces [in the 2013 book] didn’t have names on them…but we thought it was very important to put everyone’s names on their pieces because it was just their perspective,” Misra said.
Weiler stressed that the Dis-O Book is not meant to be an objective guide to campus life. “Even I, as editor, don’t agree with everything in this book, we are just trying to give the writers a place to express their voice and expose others to those views as well. We encouraged collaborations because we thought they would allow for more balanced perspectives that are still useful to the reader.”
There was a larger set of programs than in years past.
“[I] figured that people will definitely find the book and share it online, but there are other ways to communicate information, and having events is a good way to do that,” Eldred said. “We wanted Dis-O Week to be a counterpart to O-Week, and since O-Week consists of a lot of different welcome events from our University we figured for our counterpart it would also make sense to have welcome events.”
Highlights of the past two weeks included an alternative sex education workshop, a Dis-O Disco party, an RSO and community activist meet-and-greet, and a walking tour of the peripheries of campus, with a focus on student activism initiatives.
The group’s leaders identified very strongly with the project. “2013 was my first year on campus so [the Dis-O Book] had just been revised…and I remember that all the alternative programming was very important to me for basically figuring out what type of campus I was on,” Misra said.
Misra, Weiler, and Eldred all pointed out that Disorientation is not only a criticism of the University. “What drives us to do what we do doesn’t come from a place of despair but it’s rather out of hope,” Eldred said. “We’re not just trying to complain. We do want to improve it and make it a better place going forward and share resources with people who would have a much harder time with finding them otherwise or just want to know about a lot of these things.”