Currently viewing the tag: "Dis-O"

I was out of the office yesterday, having made a quick trip to New York on the weekend, which mostly entailed driving both ways in a drenching rainstorm.  When I returned to campus today, the sun was back and everything was in full spring bloom.  And not just the trees and flowers — the graduation tents are springing up, too.  As of this morning, the Fletcher tents are yet to emerge, but others are in place all over campus.  The early forecast is for a beautiful spring Commencement day on Sunday.

Between now and the weekend’s Commencement ceremonies, both graduating and continuing students are participating in the time-honored student-organized tradition of Dis-Orientation, the natural counter-balance to August’s official Orientation week.  Frankly, Dis-O is a lot more fun.  Yesterday alone, activities included paintballing, a FIFA (video game) tournament, a walking tour of Medford (which has a surprisingly rich history), a cricket match (first-year students vs. second years), a trivia competition, karaoke, and (my favorite of all the options) dinner at a Cambodian restaurant and visit to Revere Beach.  (My love of Revere and that particular restaurant has been well chronicled in the blog over the years.)

Naturally, with everyone off doing such fun stuff, it’s pretty quiet around here.  We’ll appreciate the quiet for a few weeks — it’s great for completing projects.  As the summer runs on, though, we’ll begin to look forward to the start of a new semester.  But that’s way in the future.  Now we’re enjoying the occasional encounter with a graduating student and I’m planning to catch up with more of them at graduation.

Since the Fletcher tents aren’t up yet, I thought I’d share a photo from this morning of the Tufts University president’s house — right across the street from here.  There are two tents directly behind it, and blue skies and flowering trees around it.

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What do bubble soccer, a brewery tour, a “Bechdel Test” party, and “Acro-yoga” have in common?  They’re all among the student-led activities scheduled for this week during Dis-Orientation, the natural unofficial counterpoint to August’s official Orientation program.  Like thesis haikus, Dis-O is one of those traditions that popped up one year and has been retained ever since.  And there’s a very full schedule!  Nearly every time block from 9:00 a.m. to midnight is booked with outings, parties, or opportunities to hang out with friends playing video or board games.  Sometimes two activities in the same block (Red Sox or Davis Square bar night — how to choose?).  The week’s activities will wrap up on Thursday night, after which graduating students can turn their attention to graduation rehearsals, visiting relatives, and packing their stuff.  Commencement is nearly here!

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Yesterday’s post may have been my last word on Commencement for 2015, but it isn’t the last word on the lead-up to the event.  That will come from Alex who, as a continuing student, would nonetheless have been welcomed for the Dis-Orientation activities organized by the graduating class.  Dis-Orientation originated several years ago as the counter-point to the academic-year-starting Orientation program.

Shortly after the year’s last class was attended, the last final exam taken, and the last term paper handed in, it was time for “Dis-O.”  As any end of term should be celebrated, Fletcher’s time-honored Dis-Orientation is a week of fun activities, great parties, and even some light “vandalism.”

In an impressive feat of organization, students planned dozens of events spread over the week following the end of the semester; this year there were 45 activities over seven days.  These events ranged from movie screenings in Fletcher’s main auditorium, to daylong trips to the beach on Martha’s Vineyard and the battlefields of Lexington and Concord.  Athletic activities were also included, such as a softball game and a MALD vs. MIB cricket match, both of which were guaranteed to be a cultural experience for many of the players.  Of course, a couple of parties were also in order, ranging from traditional celebrations in one of Fletcher’s “color houses” (e.g., the green house, yellow house, or “Casablanca,” that several students share) to a Hawaiian luau (complete with a dunk tank, of course).  Finally, following the Tufts tradition of painting the cannon located in the center of campus, students sneakily painted it a blazing Fletcher-orange in the dark of night.  They were disappointed, however, to find it painted over by other “vandals” within hours.

Not only is Dis-O a great way to celebrate the culmination of a successful year with our friends and classmates, I find it to be a fitting representation of what exactly is special about Fletcher’s culture.  First, due to The Fletcher School’s long history, traditions like Dis-O (and even individual events within it) have turned into institutions, serving to connect Fletcher students across generations.  Second, events like these do not plan themselves, but instead are a product of a student body with impressive leadership capabilities and a tremendous commitment to their fellow classmates.  Additionally, the wide range of events demonstrates the diversity of interests across the student body, which has been a wonderful source of mind-opening experiences throughout the year.  Finally, Dis-O evinces Fletcher students’ ability to balance work and fun: I bet you would have been just as likely to find people at the cricket match discussing India’s clean energy policy as you would to find them asking what exactly a “wicket” is.

Whether traditions such as Dis-O are the cause or the result of the strong community here, I do not know.  Probably a little bit of both.  What I do know, however, is that few other schools are as tightly knit as Fletcher, and that I cannot wait to come back next semester.

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It’s a transitional week — no longer the spring semester, but not yet the summer break.  Students are either gone (off to interesting internships) or invisible.  Among the invisible, many are participating in the Fletcher tradition known as Dis-Orientation.  A fitting balance to the Orientation program that starts each academic year, Dis-Orientation is less preparatory and more celebratory.  Here’s part of the Dis-O line-up, each event coordinated by a different student or team of students:

  • Tours:  Boston Duck Tour, Freedom Trail Tour
  • Downtown outings, including a picnic in the Boston Public Garden, and a trip to the Museum of Fine Arts
  • Parties, including a “Stoplight Party” (a party of multiple parties at the Fletcher-student-occupied Green House, Yellow House, and Red House)
  • Movies, including (appropriately) The Graduate
  • Sports, including a Red Sox Game against the Minnesota Twins
  • Exercise, including a bike trip
  • Farther-flung outings, including an amusement park
  • And many activities ending with -ing:  whale watching, clubbing, poker playing, storytelling (organized by our own student blogger, Roxanne), trampolining, and pub crawling.

The week wraps up with a class photo on Friday, after which graduating students will turn their attention to the weekend’s Commencement activities.  More on that tomorrow.

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Dis-Orientation is in full swing for soon-to-graduate students.  For several years now, the completion of classes has been followed directly by a pre-Commencement week-or-so of communal fun, just as the first semester of classes is preceded by a week of Orientation.  Today’s activities are a daytime duck tour, followed by evening karaoke.  Other activities have been more cultural (touring Newport mansions) or less (many themes of party), but surely no one could complain that there’s not enough to do.  And because even nearly two weeks of togetherness may not be enough, some students have already offered to host a farewell brunch for their fellows on Monday.

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