Customs may arguably be Haverford College’s oldest tradition. Since the mid-1800s, upperclass students have been welcoming the newest class of Fords to campus by teaching them the “customs” of the College. Though that no longer means being tossed in the Duck Pond, Haverford’s new-student orientation is still very much a student-led affair. It involves roughly 200 upperclass students who support the first-year class in many ways in their transition from high school to college life.
Though Customs, as a first-year experience, lasts all year long, it begins with a five-day orientation program, which is designed and run by students for students. Move-In Day isn’t technically every first-year’s first day on campus—athletes and international students arrive earlier—but it does mark the official beginning of the new class’ Haverford career.
This year, it kicked off on Aug. 30. Following International Student Orientation—which included the beginning of a new tradition, a Lantern Festival, with the international students from Swarthmore College—the Class of 2021 began their collective journey on campus together.
They were, before even arriving at Haverford, a remarkable group of scholars, athletes, activists, competitors, performers, and more, who represent the most selective and diverse class in the College’s history. They are former candidates for the New Hampshire State House of Representatives; nationally ranked chess players and equestrians; licensed private pilots; founders of nonprofits, schools, start-ups, and hackathons; clerks for “young friends” groups of different Yearly Meetings; stand-up comedians; baseball YouTubers; musicians in youth symphonic orchestras; international charitable fundraisers; published poets and writers; and much more.
It was inspiring to watch them come together as the Class of 2021 over Customs. In addition to the tours, resource fairs, academic teas, and discussions that were designed to acquaint the new students with the College’s policies and offerings, this year’s schedule featured fun bonding events such as a trust walk, a class tree planting (courtesy of the Haverford Arboretum), a scavenger hunt, an interactive hypnotist performance, dinners with their Bryn Mawr College Class of 2021 counterparts, a “SupaFun” dance, an outdoor a cappella concert, and more over a jam-packed five-day span. It also included the beloved annual tradition of Dorm Olympics, in which the blue Barclay residents, red South campus dwellers from HCA and Tritton, and green Gummere inhabitants compete against one another in demonstrations of unusual abilities and dorm pride.
Here’s just a brief look at how Haverford’s newest students spent their busy first few days on campus.
Photos by Victoria Merino ’20, Monique Byars ’19 and Lev Greenstein ’20.