This year, UW Tacoma has introduced a new peer advising support system for students known as Pack Advisors. The goal of having pack advisors is to better foster a sense of community and make it easier for students to adjust to campus life and feel less isolated.
Instead of being assigned to a single peer advisor based on a student’s intended major, incoming freshmen and transfer students are randomly assigned during orientation week and Jumpstart to four “packs:” gray, black, gold and purple. Each pack has three leaders — two for incoming freshmen and one for transfer students.
During orientation week, advisors from the four packs lead incoming students from workshop to workshop, including a special pack-led workshop where members of each pack bond over games such as “The Struggle is Wheel,” in which students get to ask their new peers questions about life on campus.
The primary difference between the new Pack Advisor system and the old Peer Advisor system is that pack advisors are meant to be a resource for students for their entire first year at UWT.
“Our job is to make sure that students are getting the help they need, and that they’re comfortable enough to email us and say, ‘I have a problem, can you help me,’” Hanan Gumale, a Gray Pack transfer advisor and politics, philosophy & economics major, said. “We’ll be more than willing to help and go out of our way for them.”
Gumale explained that prior to the formation of Pack Advisors, students would normally only interact with their peer advisors during orientation week.
“Their [peer advisor’s] job was basically to help out during orientation week and then we didn’t see much of them during the rest of the year,” Gumale said. “They had office hours, but nobody really knew.”
Students will have the opportunity to further bond with their packs during the many events hosted by Pack Advisors throughout the year. In September, the All Pack Social gave freshmen and transfer students the opportunity to play video games and capture the flag, and to explore the UWT campus. This year they will be holding a bonfire event on the Prairie Line Trail Nov. 16 where students can come to mingle.
Gumale and Gina Choi, Gold Pack leader and psychology major, hope that incoming students will meet regularly with their pack advisors, just as students are encouraged to meet regularly with their academic advisors for help selecting classes and making satisfactory academic progress.
“What I’d want the whole campus to know is that we are a link to resources on campus, but also the student life on campus,” Choi said. “We’re very friendly.”
If you didn’t attend orientation or don’t know which pack you are in, contact Michael Pham, the online orientation and communications specialist at Student Transition Services, in MAT 106
Steven LeBeau is a writing studies major at UW Tacoma.