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.