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Stanford Report, September 23, 1998

Rousing welcome for class of 2002: 9/23/98

Frosh bid parents farewell as university welcomes them with advice, antics


On a day jam-packed with events and emotional moments, incoming members of the Class of 2002 received a rousing welcome to Stanford last Friday as they moved into their dorms and bade farewell to their parents.

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As early as 6:30 a.m., a few eager students were trying to get into Florence Moore Hall. But the official welcome mat wasn't set out until 8 a.m., when orientation volunteers, resident assistants and others began shaking to R&B music and shouting out greetings to arriving students as they passed under an arch of red and white balloons.

Resident assistants had studied the photographs of freshmen in an effort to keep a time-honored tradition of addressing arriving students by name, just as they pull up to the dorms with parents and boxes in tow. Casey Alt, an RA at Florence Moore's Faisan House, admitted they weren't always successful ­ especially when the 17- and 18-year ­ olds do things like change their hair color from brown to blond over the summer.

"The music and the fact everybody knew your name, that was really unexpected," Tai-Li Chiang, a freshman from Lake Charles, Texas, said as he moved his belongings into Mirlo House. "I really thought this would be different from Texas," he said, betraying some understandable arrival anxiety. "But so far it seems OK."

Outside, the fathers of two freshmen roommates were getting acquainted. "This is very emotional. I feel I'm on the verge of tears," said Ted Ball, father of Brian Ball of San Diego. Dan Doty said of his son, Nathan, "He's our oldest kid, and it's a long way from Pensacola."

Over at Branner Hall, where Madonna was blaring, Jeanette Lochbaum recalled bringing her son Milo to Stanford for a tour when he was only 13. "We went to the top of the Hoover Tower and he said, 'This is where I'm coming to school,' " she remembered. "We didn't want to discourage him, of course ."

"I was a B-student then," Milo explained.

But that quickly changed and Milo ended up with the highest GPA in his senior class, his mother added. Milo now plans a pre-med course track. "I just want to go for it," he said.

At a luncheon with Provost Condoleezza Rice and later in question-and-answer sessions with a variety of administrators and faculty, parents were encouraged to help their children, as Rice put it, find the passion of their life through their academic pursuits.

At one of the Q-and-A sessions, Margaret Brandeau, professor of industrial engineering, told parents that while their children were going to have a lot of new things to adjust to, "it's also a time of adjustment for you. You have to let go, and trust your son and daughter to handle their academic life." She said 45 percent of incoming students typically think they're pre-med versus 15 percent of the class who wind up with a pre-med major. "Too much parental pressure is not a good thing," she said.

During the brief time they had the attention of parents, administrators and faculty wanted to emphasize that big changes were likely in the works for their children ­ perhaps in their physical appearance but more importantly in their future career outlooks. The panel discussion featured several student skits, including one in which a student calls home to announce he's getting a variety of body piercings and tattoos. It's a joke, actually; all he's doing is changing his major.

After their parents left Stanford, freshmen still had many other orientation activities before beginning classes. There was a dinner with advisers, a workshop on academic planning, a first dorm meeting, a theater and video performance on health and safety issues, and a wide variety of open houses at which students could learn more about special interest activity groups. SR