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SGA plans new shadow program

5 December 2012 By Allison Brickell, Staff Writer No Comments

A mentor program that would help new Towson freshman acclimate to campus could be implemented as early as next semester.
The program would allow a high school student who has been admitted to Towson, but hasn’t decided to attend, to experience campus through the lens of an upperclassman. The student would follow the upperclassman around for the day, attend classes, eat lunch, dinner and sleep in a residence hall overnight to gain the full Towson experience.
Student Government Association Vice President Charlotte Ridgeway and SGA senator Michael Thompkins are spearheading the initiative.
“When I was in high school I was looking to come to Towson, but I wanted a better experience … before I actually accepted my admission,” Ridgeway said.  “My mom called the school and tried to get something set up, to spend the night, but they just didn’t have anything like that implemented. The idea is that we want them to come because we want them to see how great Towson is and get that experience.”
Ridgeway said she and a collection of administrators from the Office of Admissions, Marketing, New Student Programs and Housing and Residence Life met last week to discuss the program.
Ridgeway said the group is targeting students from the Honors College applicant pool in forming an interest group.
“It would be for the people who want to spend the night with a host student in the dorms, get to experience classes, student orientation, different events and eat on campus,” she said.
Ridgeway said administration thinks the program has potential, but there are a few foreseeable difficulties to overcome. She said she is concerned that visiting freshmen would be tempted to drink, and that responsible volunteers are needed. Ridgeway said they’ve considered various options for hosts, including using Student Ambassadors.
“Most of them would be under 18 so it would cause even more problems,” she said. “And there’s the cost of feeding them and getting volunteers to actually house them for the night.”
Freshman Cassandra Messegee said she would have liked a program like the one in development when she made her decision to enroll.
“The one thing I wished all the schools I visited had was a program to stay the night,” she said. “The idea of seeing what life was like firsthand seemed really appealing to me and could help me make a better informed decision about where to invest the next four years of my life and the money that comes with it.”
Senior Alex Eggleton said he didn’t know if he personally would have taken advantage of such a program, but it could be valuable for those attending the University.
“I can definitely see where that would be a benefit to students who have no real idea what to expect from school,” he said.
The program would help students see what Towson has to offer on the weekends, Ridgeway said.
“Thursday nights and Friday nights there’s always trivia, and Friday Night Live and Saturday events as well,” she said. “If they were here on a weekend they could see the majority of people are [actually] still on campus. If they came to Towson and just got a random roommate, they might not ever experience these kinds of activities.”
Ridgeway said the housing would be free for the freshmen. Food would be the biggest cost, but during Destination Towson, breakfast and lunch would be covered.
The meals that wouldn’t be covered would be funded by different University departments, such as New Student Programs.
Ridgeway said they plan to implement the program by the dates of Destination Towson in mid-April next semester. She is encouraged by administrators’ interest in the program.
“A lot of the time with administrators, you have meetings and you have these ideas and they get shot down because of cost issues and stuff,” she said. “But I think this is something that so many other schools do and do well that they definitely think it’s a possibility.”

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