A big hello and congratulations to you all, Class of 2023! I’m Arshiya Bhayana, and I’m so thrilled to be working with the rest of the First Year’s Dean Council to make your transition to Haverford a lot more comfortable and exciting. One of the aspects that sets Haverford apart from other colleges is its unique Customs, which is a year-long, thoroughly engaging program for all first-years. Its designed and redesigned each year so as to make your transition to the personal, academic, social, and many other aspects of college life a lot smoother. ☺
Haverford is a residential college, with over 98% of students residing on campus, making it an even more inclusive and cohesive community. Unlike a few other colleges, Haverford does not let you pick a roommate your first year. However, don’t be bummed!! You will fill out a detailed housing questionnaire to help the Office of Residential Life put you in one of the four first-year residence halls, the one that you fit in best with. When your housing is assigned to you, you will be placed on a hall with 12-22 other first-years, who will be your Customs group for the rest of the year.
Your Customs group will be comprised of first years and 6 upper-class Customs team members. Some of these upperclassmen will be living with you on your hall, whereas some would having housing someplace else on campus.
Customs Person (CP) :
Each hall gets assigned two CP’s, either sophomores or juniors, who live on the hall with you and work to foster a sense of community. Since CPs live on the hall, you might get to interact with them the most and share lots of fun hall memories with them!!
Peer Awareness Facilitator (PAF) :
Your PAF will not live on the hall, but will conduct a variety of sessions to help discuss some serious yet interesting topics like gender, sexuality, class, race, and diversity at Haverford. Although your groups may not seem to be in unanimous agreement about these topics a lot of the times, the PAF is there to provide a comfortable, safe space where you can voice your opinions and learn from each other.
Honor Code Orienteer (HCO) :
I’m certain most of you would have come across Haverford’s Honor Code while applying to this college, and would have gotten a gist of how important it really is to the Haverford community. However, there will be an HCO who will, again, not be living on the hall, but will be guiding you to understand the standards and procedures of the Honor Code. There will be discussions on Plenary, consequences of violation of the Code, and some important historic trials. Here too, a lot of you may have different opinions about the topics brought forth by the HCO, I know my Customs group did, but it’s always helpful to talk it out and learn from each other. The HCOs are there to help you understand in great detail just how important the Honor Code is to Haverford, and how it brings the community together to act with trust, understanding, concern, and respect.
Ambassador of Multicultural Affairs (AMA) :
Each Customs group has an AMA who does not live on the hall. You AMA informs you of events on and off campus that celebrate the diversity of cultures at Haverford. AMA also hosts many discussions on the diversity here on campus, and ways to ensure the first-years are respectful and welcoming to one another. One of my favorite group activity hosted by my AMA was when we traced our palm, and on each of the fingers we wrote where or what we identity with. When we shared this with our group, it was so interesting to see and listen to how different yet similar we were!!
Upperclassman Advisor (UCA):
Each hall has a UCA, who is a junior or senior. Some UCAs live on the hall, alongside an additional friend of theirs (the pull-in), while others will live elsewhere on campus. UCAs are there to help you plan your schedule wisely, and to help you navigate your way through academics throughout the year. Additionally, not only are they more experienced because they are juniors or seniors, they also get formal training from the deans and other academic support centers here at Haverford. As much as I wanted to avoid taking a natural science class in college, my UCA gave me great tips on super interesting yet manageable class options to pick from since I was not comfortable with that stream of subjects!! So, in ways like these, UCAs try making your academic switch from school to college a lot smoother.
So that’s a wrap for all the Customs positions! I know that must be a lot to take in, but we as part of the first years council are just giving you a heads-up to all the terms and happenings you will anyway be introduced to once you get to campus. Having been part of this experience, it’s safe to say that Customs really is what you make of it, so come with an open mind to this orientation and you’ll understand why it’s such a unique aspect of Haverford’s community!
Good luck and feel free to reach out with absolutely any questions whatsoever! ☺