ACCESS Orientation Program goes virtual for first time in Morgan history

The university waived its traditional $250 registration fee to aid families who’ve been financially affected by COVID-19


Courtesy of Instagram

A Morgan student utilizes an Earl S. Richardson Library computer while wearing a 2019 ACESS Orientation Program shirt.

Tariq Turner, Staff Writer

Morgan State is set to morph another program online to combat the spread of the coronavirus and this time it affects the incoming class of 2024. Morgan will host its ACCESS Orientation Program online for the first time in history and it’ll be free of charge for students who register before Friday.

Traditionally students are housed on campus and participate in placement testing, register for classes and are acclimated to the university. But this year, students will be encouraged to engage with one another using Flipgrid, a social learning platform that allows educators to ask questions and students to respond with a video.

“Everything is being transitioned online so ACCESS does not skip a beat,” said Zev Mahnke, this year’s newly appointed ACCESS Orientation coordinator in an over-the-phone interview with The MSUSpokesman.

For several years, Georgia Sawyer, the director of New Student Services at North Carolina Central University, has supervised Morgan’s freshman orientation program—but this year is different.

Mahnke, a Morgan graduate, said his days consist of connecting with university offices including the counseling center and The Office of the Bursar to ensure that students have an experience measurable to Morgan’s tradition.

Morgan students are traditionally selected as peer mentors for the program and throughout the week, they’re the freshman students’ go-to for advice and guidance. But with this year’s shift in the platform, Mahnke said he doesn’t plan to have the traditional number of mentors.

This summer students will be guided through the program by a series of emails from Mahnke. Each email will provide information on a required activity or component and students will be given weekly deadlines along the way.

Incoming freshman Trinase Johnson, a Connecticut native, said she was excited to travel to Baltimore for the summer until she was notified that the program shifted its platform online.

“I was looking forward to going to orientation to meet the professors and meet new people in class,” she said.

Immediately following the Friday deadline, registered students will receive an introductory email outlining the program’s agenda. Once students have completed the orientation in its entirety, they’ll receive an ACCESS Orientation Program Certificate of Completion.

“Even though freshman orientation is going to be online, I am looking forward to learning how Morgan is in a student perspective,” said Maryland native Taylor Merriweather.