As one might assume, I am becoming incredibly familiar with certain places on campus as a first-year student: my dorm, Val, the first-year quad. However, there is one place that I frequently occupy that most might not think to put on this list: the Quantitative Reasoning Center. Spending a lot of time in the Q-Center still doesn’t seem that odd, except for the fact that I am enrolled exclusively in humanities courses this semester. No, I am not seeking calculus help, but instead the half-dead printer in the center.

At Amherst and other similar elite institutions, there’s no question that money is a driving force. Wealthy alums have buildings named after them, the College spends thousands on coveted speakers and the AAS consistently touts its million dollar budget. The question of our endowment, and more importantly, its strong associations with powerful alumni have been brought to attention in a recent New York Times piece. The article features interviews with Amherst alums who have since retracted or reduced their gifts to the college in the wake of events such as Amherst Uprising.

Exactly one year ago, I found myself sitting on the sofa in the Multicultural Resource Center, sitting among other members of the Asian Students Association. I was unsettled by the natural discomfort of occupying a space filled with unfamiliar faces, yet struck by how comfortable I felt in a room with no one I knew.

Coming to Amherst as a first-year, I expected the awkwardness. I remembered those initial glances and weird handshakes well from my experience at a residential boarding school. The first few hellos and name exchanges are destined to be encounters that make both parties cringe, at least a little. Even with this level of discomfort in mind, I noticed a subtle difference between those beginning moments at my high school and the ones at Amherst.

Last year, upon my arrival to Amherst, I learned about a place called “The Socials.” Four upperclassmen dormitories Coolidge, Crossett, Stone and Pond were the centers of weekend social life for Amherst students. Sure, many Fridays and Saturdays would be occupied by formals taking place in common rooms, but after those parties teetered, one could always retreat to the Socials to find a party.

The tension surrounding engaging difficult subjects in higher education has recently become the topic of much discussion, with commentary on the subject being delivered ad nauseam. Opinions range from belittling liberal institutions for supposedly casting out conservative ideas to intensely supporting students’ right to seek safe spaces. The discussion is a noble one, and one that will undoubtedly continue to be addressed. However, amidst the passionately charged discussion, there rests a frightening lack of comprehensive solutions.

Orientation week brings a sense of excitement and anticipation to the Amherst campus. First-years descend upon the quad and face a flurry of programming designed to prepare them for the next four years. In the spirit of orientation week, the Editorial board hopes to supplement a week dedicated to advice by offering the candid advice we wish we had received as first-years. Here are seven tips from people who have been in your shoes and only want to see you succeed as you begin to navigate life at Amherst.

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