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Freshman Orientation in Furnald Hall
Maritza Jauregui, Alum
Columbia College 1992


Coming from an extremely conservative immigrant family, I was not allowed to live in the dorms my freshman year. My parents claimed that it was an unreasonable expense, given that we lived just across the river in NJ, but I knew better--especially when they gasped after hearing that I was going to have to spend a week on campus during freshman orientation.

A terribly shy person and a graduate from an all-girls high school, I was the one who gasped when, on the first morning of orientation, I found out that the showers were co-ed! I was further perplexed upon finding out that I was one of only two females on the floor of commuting students in Furnald Hall that week.

That first morning, I did something unconscionable. Terrified that someone would see me taking a shower, I locked the door to the entire shower room behind me. When I emerged, I found 20 other freshman lined up in front of the shower room, all of them with angry looks on their faces. The angry looks soon changed to looks of amusement when they realized that I had not only locked them out of the shower room, but had also managed to lock myself out of my dorm room!

There I was, dripping wet in only a bathrobe, staring down what I was sure was a lynch mob. The RA for the floor was gone, but somehow, as luck would have it, the other woman on the floor returned, and offered me her room until I could get a key. That was easier said than done.

We called Hartley Hall to get an extra key, and they said that I would have to go across campus and show up for it myself. Trying to preserve my privacy had somehow resulted in a feshman's nightmare--having to start off your first day in college by streaking across the college grounds where your new classmates and their advisors are having brunch on the lawn!

To top it all off, the elevator in Furnald wasn't working. We were on the top floor, so I couldn't even sneak past the rest of the building by taking the stairs. We somehow managed to convince the person in the key room to let the other first year student pick the key up for me. Well, after going down the stairs and across campus, she found out that she had to show them my ID, which, of course, I didn't have on me. She ended up having to walk across campus and up those stairs twice before we were able to convince the key people to let me back into the room.

I will forever be grateful to that other freshman, who recued me my first day and who, I hear, is still rescuing other people as a successful lawyer. As for my days at the college, those same angry students elected me commuter representative a month later and junior class president a couple years after that.

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