The Office of Residential Life and the First Year Office are working collaboratively to improve the first-year student experience for students housed in the River Cluster and the Choates (and, for a smaller group of students, in the East Wheelock Cluster.) The planned Maynard Street residences will also be a part of this program. The First-Year Residential Experience (FYRE) provides students with leadership opportunities through a variety of residential options including cluster councils, a First Year Student Residential Advisory Board and intramural programs. Further discussion regarding the development of this program continues, in an effort to refine those programs begun in 2001.
Two defining programmatic elements of FYRE are "First Choices" and "First Nights." "First Choices" is an informational series that fosters engagement in the academic environment and explores student health and wellness topics, decision making and other life skills. First-year students participate in frank, open discussion about topics such as alcohol and other drugs, sexual decision making, dating, financial management and social justice issues.
"First Nights" introduces students to cultural and social events at Dartmouth and in the local community. In combination, these programs students to campus resources and opportunities, and they facilitate student interaction and involvement in their cluster and in the larger Dartmouth community.
The First Year Students Office has reintroduced the common summer reading program, which serves as the topic for a faculty lecture to the incoming class. The Dean of the College also increased the number of sponsored social, cultural and recreational programs during orientation week from 10 to well over 50 programs to provide an array of alternatives to students.