Free gifts for freshmen: UO gives first-year students a place to belong to

Every freshman student received a copy of “The A-Game” — a guide to excelling in class. (Andrew Field / Emerald)

Before the University of Oregon freshmen started school, they were given free gifts.

The university gave the class of 2020 pep rally t-shirts and lanyards, as well as two books: a novel and a guide to excelling in class.

Over the summer, the UO Division of Undergraduate Studies sent every freshman a copy of Ta-Nehisi Coates’s “Between the World and Me” — a novel written as a letter to his son about being black in America.

The university paid $37,000 ($7.75/book) for 4770 copies, costing more money than previous years because it is only available in hardcover. But the 25 member panel selected the book out of 36 others, believing that it was a vital read for all freshmen.

“We selected Coates because we felt the need to enable, on our campus, civil discourse around powerful topics of national and personal identity” said Dean of Undergraduate Studies Lisa Freinkel. “We believed that the conversations that this book would bring about on our campus were important and ultimately helpful ones, although by no means easy ones.”

The Student Orientation department added another book to the freshmen class’s summer reading: “The A-Game: Nine Steps to Better Grades,” which was written by a University of Mississippi psychology professor.

Even though first-year human physiology major Jolie Jitto came in with 48 credits to her name (making her a sophomore), that didn’t stop her from taking a few notes.

“During high school, I had never been in a room with that many people. So that was one thing I was a little bit apprehensive about,” Jitto said. “I [learned from “The A-Game”] about making yourself known to professors and being talkative within discussion groups, which in the long run, is going to help not only academically, but in being a more open-minded student.”

The Student Orientation department was behind sending the guidebook out to freshmen in the gap between the IntroDucktion summer orientation and the school year.

“We wanted to provide them with this useful tool to be successful from the get-go rather than having to have a bad term, and have to figure things out after,” said Director of Student Orientation Programs Cora Bennett.

When the freshmen returned to campus, student orientation gave those who went to Sept. 26 pep rally light green and yellow t-shirts.

Both “The A-Game” and the t-shirt’s mailing costs were $7.71 per student, however, the number of first-year students will not be publicly released until the fourth week of school.

The cost of lanyards, a utility that every freshmen receives to hold dorms keys, cost 46 cents apiece.

The Division of Student Life welcomed students by hosting a pep rally, along with the Flock Party, Duck N2 the Rec, and College Block.

Division of Student Life Communications Director Laura Miller feels that it is important to make freshmen feel that they belong at the UO.

“It sets the foundation for a healthy supportive community. Meeting people and finding connections to campus helps students perform better academically, adjust better to college, and fosters a healthy learning experience for all.”

Please consider donating to the Emerald. We are an independent non-profit dedicated to supporting and educating this generation's best journalists. Your donation helps pay equipment costs, travel, payroll, and more!