Freshman orientation is not just about learning how to register for classes or navigating the campus.

The John William Pope Center reports.

Freshman Orientation: Conform or Be Cast Out

I am about to begin my freshman year at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and I recently attended college orientation. As an Eagle Scout, I learned orienteering, the skill set used to navigate in new or unfamiliar territory. I noticed the shared root word and expected orientation to show me how to navigate my way through my freshman year.

At first, my expectations were met. My classmates and I learned how to register for classes, a few of the Carolina fight songs (“I’m a Tar Heel born and bred!”), all the different extracurricular activities at UNC, and the opportunities we will have to study abroad. We walked around campus for two days learning about all that Carolina has to offer and the Carolina community.

But then things took a new direction: we were treated to an interactive theater experience focused on diversity and inclusiveness. The actors performed four skits, each addressing a cardinal sin of the liberal perspective—racism, sexism, heterosexism, and class politics. For each skit, the overarching theme was avoiding offense. But they also displayed an ironic cluelessness: the skits were themselves narrow-mindedly offensive for their clumsy portrayal of people conducting these supposedly daily interactions.

Furthermore, the skits forced me to ask: “to what end is UNC orienting her students?”