Art by Samantha Miller
The Pepperdine Year 2 Welcome was meant to be a fun social experience for both sophomores and transfer students, but the University overcharging for a New Student Orientation experience wasn’t worth it.
With a price tag of $1,500, participants attending this six-day program beginning Aug. 20, experienced opportunities to develop friendships and become familiar with available resources on campus. Parents and family members who wanted to attend were charged an additional $75 per person. This is the first time first-year students were charged for a New Student Orientation event.
The program took place partly on-campus and the latter portion at Forest Home, a summer camp in Forest Falls, Calif.
Though it was optional for students to attend — according to a Student Activities email from President Jim Gash — they were given the chance to fill out the Financial Support Application if program costs posed an obstacle to their attendance. Yet, for many students, their $1,500 investment resulted in no available WiFi, nearly inedible food options and rat infestations.
Established in 1938, Forest Home offers exhilarating amenities, like a 30-foot giant swing, 100-foot waterslides and zip lines.
It promises an “unforgettable camp retreat experience,” according to Forest Home’s Yelp. With raving reviews on the retreat center’s Facebook page, one can only wonder how such a seemingly exciting place could give students such bad experiences overall.
With few options for those with dietary restrictions, the food options, in general, were nearly inedible, leading some students to resort to consuming limited options. Reports from students confirmed this.
“I ended up just eating salads the whole time. Just salads and fruit,” sophomore Sabrina Musharbash said.
Moreover, the University encouraged investments into the Year 2 experience, specifically for students who couldn’t afford to attend the Year 2 Welcome. The campaign goal was ambitiously set for $60,000, but with 27 donors, the University only managed to raise $5,660 — an amount to cover full attendance for a mere four students.
Similarly to Forest Home, the University promised a “joyous, fulfilling, and utterly unforgettable Pepperdine welcome” to those attending the Year 2 Welcome. Considering some students had to share a room with rats, it’s easy to imagine how “unforgettable” of an ordeal it was.
“I walked into our cabin, and there was a dead rat on the floor,” Musharbash said. “I know my friend, her and her dormmates, they had a rat walk over this girl’s foot.”
Other students who attended the trip also reported issues of rats and cockroaches in their cabins.
The University did not respond for comment about these concerns.
The Year 2 Welcome for the sophomore class could have been more thought out and significantly cheaper. It should not have cost over $1,000 — or any amount, for that matter — to provide students with community-building experiences in preparation for the school year.
Though these poor experiences are not indicative of every student’s time on the Year 2 retreat, the University should not only issue an apology for the distress some students underwent but additionally offer a full refund to those whose experiences were tarnished.
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