Welcome to new student orientation!: a thought experiment on alternative models of student orientation(s)

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Anna L. Patton (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site: http://library.uncg.edu/
Glenn Hudak

Abstract: As a department that is ubiquitous within higher education, what does it signify to have a student ‘orientation’? By, toward, around, and from what are students oriented? Through a hermeneutic phenomenology of the ‘orientation’ of student orientation, I aim to conceptualize the ‘orientation’ in the standard model of student orientation as well as conceptualize possibilities for alternative student ‘orientation(s).’ The works of Sara Ahmed (2006, 2007, 2010, 2012, 2014) provide the guiding theoretical framework for this study—in both her style and subjects of inquiry. Weaving together questions about subjects like diversity, others, and institutions, Ahmed’s writings engage hermeneutic phenomenology to develop novel interpretations that draw from the theoretical, personal, and conceptual in order to craft new narratives about concepts that recede into the background of experiences. Mirroring Ahmed, what would happen if I were to follow student orientation around? Centering the role of interpretation, this study is a hermeneutic (interpretation) of student orientation. Drawing from my own experiences as well as relevant literature from the tradition, I enter into the hermeneutical circle exploring the ‘orientation’ in the standard model of student orientation. As this inquiry invites the potential to re-envision the ‘orientation’ of student orientation, I cannot help but question: what is the current model of student orientation? Further, I offer the following additional research questions: in line with Ahmed, what is the primary orientation of the standard model student orientation? What does it mean when we ‘orient’ students? From what are students turned away? Toward what? Around what does student ‘orientation’ cohere? What would constitute an alternative student orientation? What are the implications for student affairs as different student orientations are compared? In orienting students, what are the straightening devices reinforcing this orientation? What bodies are extended through the standard model of student ‘orientation’? What bodies are stopped? How does ‘student orientation’ connect with histories of orientation(s)? Ultimately, I move to offer an alternative interpretation of student ‘orientation(s)’ as a public orientation. Echoing Ahmed’s (2006) imagery, Masschelein and Simons (2010) speak of the world as a public table where both teacher and students can place “something on the table, as an act of deprivatization” (p. 545). At the table, the world is not simply a biological environment to be consumed by humans as zoological animals, but instead, the world provides the relational environments that supports life as biographical. Masschelein (1998) offers a directive to sustain this opening of the relational, human world, “do not forget the encounter, do not forget that life is always the life of someone” (p. 382). By placing something on the public table, the world unfolds itself through the human world of encounters, encounters that confront us with a responsibility to respond. Drawing from Masschelein and Simons alternative model of a public university, what might be made public regarding student orientation(s)? How does an alternative for student orientation(s) engage the world? What is the place of scholé, or the scholastic, in this alternative model? How does an alternative student orientation(s) incorporate e-ducere, or leading out?

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 2017
Hermeneutic phenomenology, Sara Ahmed, Student orientation
College student orientation
Ahmed, Sara, $d 1969-

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