Sophomores, juniors and seniors may have experienced deja vu over winter break when they were encouraged to complete a pre-orientation module similar to the one that they completed as freshmen.
Thrive at Penn is the name for the series of quizzes and videos that were rolled out last July for students to complete as part of New Student Orientation. According to an email that Provost Vincent Price and Vice Provost for Education Beth Winkelstein sent to upperclassmen on Dec. 21, the module was “designed to introduce entering students to the many resources available to them at Penn — and to help them understand what it means to be a member of the Penn community.”
The email wasn’t just to laud the program, though. It was to urge all upperclassmen to complete it again, incentivized by a drawing for $100 toward the book store for every 75 students who completed the module. The program covers four topics: thriving at a research university, wellness and health, the risks associated with alcohol and other drugs and healthy relationships and sexual violence prevention. One reason for the expansion of the program was to address the lack of awareness of sexual violence resources highlighted by September’s Association of American Universities survey.
Rob Nelson, executive director for education and academic planning, said that by the first day of classes 1,776 students had completed the module — 23 percent of the students who received the email.
“We’re pretty happy with that,” he said. “We didn’t expect all students to do it.”
For College junior Mariah Macias, the incentive wasn’t enough to watch the twelve videos and take the corresponding quizzes.
“I’ve already done this,” she said. “All the things that they’re cautioning you against, I’ve never put myself in situations like that — I don’t drink or go out and party all that often.” She said that the gift card was tempting, but lost its appeal when she saw how much she’d have to do.
College junior Ana Ang just didn’t think it looked all that important. “I saw the subject, knew it wasn’t something that I really had to do so I didn’t do it,” she said, but she added that she can see some value in the program. “It’s the right direction but [the administration] tries to give a general name to everything and no one wants to participate.”
College sophomore Alex Brown just lost track of the email. “I guess it was one of those casual emails,” he said. “I won’t open them unless the title says something important.”
But he appreciates the concept of TAP. “I’ve had friends who have those things at their college,” he said. “They’re pretty cool to get people thinking. At least it’s something.”
Brown didn’t complete the module when he arrived at Penn either. As a transfer student, he said it didn’t seem to be required or clearly available.
College senior Robin Russo did actually get around to doing the module but didn’t find it worthwhile.
“I just did the quiz questions and they seemed like things I should already know as a senior,” she said. “I think it would be useful for just freshmen.”
Nelson said that TAP will be run again during NSO for all incoming freshmen, but there are also more specialized versions in the works for both upperclassmen and graduate and professional students. He said these versions will “assume some of the basic knowledge about what Penn is and how it works” and instead focus on small refreshers on things like the medical amnesty policy and CAPS. These versions will be required in the future.
Undergraduate Assembly President and College senior Jane Meyer was involved with getting the word out to students about TAP over winter break. She said she sees it as essential for the upperclassmen experience as it is for freshmen.
“I think sometimes after freshman year people think they know everything there is to know and for most of your every day that might be true,” she said. “But when it comes to those times that push comes to shove and you’re faced with some kind of issue, I’m really happy that we’re putting it in the hands of students.”
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