New leaders instill spirit

If you’ve ever been to a new student orientation or taken a walk around campus in the summer, chances are you’ve probably seen them sporadically walking backwards around campus, directing students through the orientation process.

Orientation Group Leaders are responsible for dealing with thousands of new students every year and teach incoming students what they need to know about OU, as well as helping incoming freshman make the transition from high school to college.

OGLs receive a $2,000 tuition stipend, free room and board in the residence halls and a meal plan. Though anyone can apply, students must have at least a 2.7 GPA, leadership experience and school pride. OGL’s cannot be incoming students and must have been a student at OU for at least one semester before applying.

“Becoming an OGL became a passion of mine almost immediately after my own orientation,” said Grace Webster, a sophomore majoring in anthropology. “Oakland University has become my home, and my only wish was to share that love of home with future students … Golden Grizzly pride definitely defines me. I bleed black and gold.”

OGLs are required to go through four weeks of leadership training before they begin work in May.

During leadership training, OGL’s take a trip to Camp Tamarack in Bloomfield Hills where they complete a high ropes course to help build team dynamics.

“You are learning everything there is to know about OU, you are learning about all of the resources on campus, you are learning how the campus functions and about the hierarchy and administration on campus,” said Christy van Solkema, the coordinator of orientation and new student programs. “They have to learn how to mingle and how to interact with students and get them excited.”

New OGLs are selected in February and training begins at the end of the winter semester.

OGLs work at freshman orientation, transfer orientation and parent orientation, as well as other events, and help students register for classes.

“They really are the face of Oakland for new students,” van Solkema said. “It’s their job to try and communicate on a student level what Oakland is like and how they can get the best out of their experience here.”

Applications for OGLs are accepted in January, and the selection process is complete in February. According to van Solkema, approximately 60 students apply each year.

The number of students accepted varies each year and depends on different factors. A new staff of 20 OGL’s was selected this winter.

“I love people and I love OU,” said Liz Grapentine, a vocal performance major. “This University really is the best place for me, and I relish the opportunity to show incoming students all the great things about it.”

When a student applies for the position, they are required to first attend an information session where they learn about the position and requirements and are then encouraged to send in a resume and cover letter.

Three interviews — two group and one individual — are conducted before the final group of students are selected. During the group interviews, students are observed for their leadership and team working skills.

“There are quite a few steps and we do it for a reason,” van Solkema said. “Being an OGL is not an easy job. It is one of the most visible leadership positions on campus … it takes a lot to be able to go through training and perform at the level that we need our OGLs to perform at.”

OGLs who liked their experience can apply for an Orientation Assistant  position. OAs are hired in to work throughout the entire year and help to train and mentor the OGLs.