The Class of 2025 only just arrived on campus and already they are making history. The 411 members of the new first-year class make it the largest ever at Haverford. A few other notable numbers about the new class: 19 are Questbridge Match students. 9.2% are foreign nationals. 31% speak a language other than English at home. And 49.1% identify themselves as people of color.
Though they hail from across the country and the globe—27 countries and 36 states, to be precise—their journey together on campus as Fords began August 25, 2021 with the official start of Customs, Haverford’s new-student orientation program (though some athletes, international students, and Chesick Scholars arrived earlier).
Customs Week is a busy five days of campus tours, advising meetings, introductions to different campus resources and offices, academic teas, panel discussions, and open houses designed to introduce the newest students to everything Haverford has to offer, as well as chances to make friends and have fun. Some of those diverting annual traditions include the SupaFun dance, a performance by a hypnotist, and Dorm Olympics.
But this year’s programming also included some changes to intentionally create more equitable experiences and to help foster class-wide community building. Customs Groups, now known as Orientation Cohorts, for example, were made up of first-year students from several residence halls on campus instead of being grouped together by dorm and floor. Additionally, Dorm Olympics—a longstanding tradition in which students compete against each other, “Color War” style—wasn’t a competition between the different first-year dorms, but instead, between teams made up of several Orientation Cohorts from across residence halls.
This year’s competitors in Dorm Olympics—the Blue Duck Ponds, the Black Squirrels, the Red Fords, and the Green Arboretums—were designated by Customs Co-Heads Hikaru Jitsukawa ‘23 and Ryan Totaro ’22. After squaring off in a tug-of-war, a golf-ball-carrying relay, a drawing competition, and other lighthearted games at different stations around campus, competitors were faced with a first ever tie in Dorm Olympics history between the Blue Duck Ponds and the Red Fords. A tie-breaker, determined by presidential pup Peanut, found the Duck Ponds victorious.
Customs was a busy five days for Class of 2025, as they got to know Haverford and their fellow Fords, but it was also busy for the many sophomores, juniors, and seniors who worked as Orientation Leaders to help acclimate and guide the first-years in their first days on campus.
“The Orientation Leaders were a magnificent team of upperclass students,” said Totaro, “and I think they made this week a special one for first-year students.”
Now that Customs is over, new student peer support becomes the purview of Residential Student Leaders (RSL), who live in first-year dorms, providing resources, planning events, and helping new Fords adjust to college life all year long.
“Orientation Leaders for Customs did a wonderful job of welcoming new students to campus, getting to know them, and sharing information,” said Associate Director of Residential Education Kristin Vitacco. “And now the RSLs are there to build on that, to help first-years learn resources on campus, to help them acclimate to living in a community, to enjoy fun and educational events with them, to help first-years be successful, self-sufficient, well-rounded individuals. The RSLs are very excited about working with the first-year students, and I am looking forward to watching the RSLs build community within their residence halls and watching first-years grow from their residential experience.”
Photos by Holden Blanco ’17, Dan Z. Johnson, and Patrick Montero.