Changes to Customs

With training for Customs team members coming to a close, and the first-year class solidifying, the Customs program for the Class of 2021 is really taking shape. But this year’s Customs Co-Heads, Rachel Romens ‘18 and Saumya Varma ’18, said that that the program may look different in the near future. Although there are tweaks to the program every year, the Customs Co-Heads said that more substantial changes – such as reducing the number of members on Customs teams – are in the works.

“What we’re trying to do in terms of direction is identify opportunities where all of the different programs have common threads and begin to build in opportunities for collaboration in their work and also around their training, and also honor the specific personalities and missions of the respective programs,” said Michael Martinez, Dean of First Year Students.

The Customs Co-Heads and administrators involved in the process said that, on a revamped Customs team, Peer Awareness Facilitators (PAFs) and Honor Code Orienteers (HCOs) could each become one-person positions, along with the Ambassador for Multicultural Affairs (AMA).  The on-the-hall members may remain intact – one Upperclass Advisor (UCA), and two Customs People (CPs) – although these plans are all subject to change. (Martinez did indicate, however, that he “kind of like[s] the symmetry of three off-the-hall and three on-the-hall” members).

Currently, Customs teams consist of two Customs People (CPs) and an Upper Classman Advisor (UCA), who all live on the first-year hall, as well as two Peer Awareness Facilitators (PAFs), two Honor Code Orienteers (HCOs), and an Ambassador of Multicultural Affairs (AMA), who live off the hall.

The Customs Co-Heads said that any changes would probably not happen for at least a couple years. They said that they still have to work out the logistical details of this plan, including, as Varma said, “whether [PAFs, HCOs, and AMAs] would apply together, [or] whether they would apply individually and then we would pair them.”

Romens and Varma said that they hope a few other changes would follow naturally, such as being more selective in the application process, and providing more thorough training to those who make it on a Customs team.

“Being able to train the people that we have better will give us a way to be more intentional about the way that we’re orienting the first years to the campus culture,” said Varma.

Martinez agreed that these changes could go a long way.

“Particularly in this historical moment, having Customs be the best that it can be, as an introduction to Haverford and its community values, is incredibly important,” said Martinez. “Looking for opportunities to be more efficient, opportunities to work together more closely, that’s really the main goal of this thing.”

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