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Penn's Undergraduate Assembly seeks to promote Returning Student Orientation, a program that aims to welcome students back from a leave of absence. 

Credit: Julio Sosa

Penn's Undergraduate Assembly is working to promote Returning Student Orientation, an event for students returning from a leave of absence, to counter its low student attendance in previous semesters.

In order to boost attendance, the UA has assisted with promoting the orientation this semester through Facebook and various social media posts. The orientation, which is held at the beginning of each semester, is designed to inform students about resources to help them transition back to Penn following a leave of absence. The orientation was held on Jan. 25 in Houston Hall at 4 p.m.

Since the orientation’s establishment in fall 2017, attendance has typically been low, College sophomore and UA representative Jude Dartey said. Dartey added that there is a lack of resources available for students who have taken a leave of absence, such as the lack of a specific email listserv.

In a recent report, Penn received a D+ for its leave of absence policies, ranking the highest out of the Ivy League universities. The report criticized Penn and other Ivies for sometimes forcing students to take involuntary leaves of absences. Penn students have also raised concerns related to leave of absence policies in recent years.

“There might be a stronger turnout, and I hope that continues to be the trend, just as this keeps happening consistently and keeps being a positive experience,” UA Vice President and College junior Jordan Andrews said.

The orientation event will also be hosted by Counseling and Psychological Services, Penn Wellness, the Weingarten Center, and Student Intervention Services. 

Associate Vice Provost for University Life Sharon Smith, Chief Wellness Officer Benoit Dubé, representatives from CAPS and the Weingarten Center, and advisors from each undergraduate school will be speaking. University Chaplain Rev. Charles Howard will also deliver a keynote speech.

“It’s just a chance to learn about some of the resources at Penn that you never knew existed,” Andrews said. “Hopefully the experience can be finding a community.”

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