Reflections on “First Year Matters” from the Peer Advisors

The “First Year Matters” (FYM) program has always been one of my favorite parts of New Student Orientation. FYM gives incoming students the opportunity to have a shared experience and introduction to the intellectual life at Wesleyan. This year’s FYM viewing is “This Changes Everything,” a powerful documentary that explores the intersection of capitalism and the global climate crisis, as well as the role individuals play in fighting for change. One aspect of Wesleyan that I love is the spirit of activism among students, and this documentary speaks to the importance of advocacy and everyone’s responsibility in demanding the changes that they want to see from people in power.

As you prepare to start your Wesleyan journey under extraordinary circumstances, FYM becomes increasingly important. Many of you in the class of 2024 will already share more common experiences than most students entering Wesleyan under typical circumstances, by virtue of the fact that the entire world shut down and with that came the loss of proms, high school graduations and so much more. You can use your experience viewing the documentary to further find common ground with your peers, to make connections and establish relationships during a time in which doing so has become so hard. While there are typically structured small group discussions during orientation devoted to the FYM reading or viewing, don’t let the conversations stop there. The more you discuss what you’ve seen, the more you’ll learn about your classmates, and their past experiences and viewpoints. We all bring vastly different perspectives with us to college, and FYM is the first time, and one of the only, your entire class will get to fully engage in the same conversation and you will get to see all the different ways people may interpret and understand the same thing.

In your WesPortal, there is a link to submit a brief response to the documentary. This is due on August 21st – your first assignment of college! You can use this response as an opportunity to engage critically with the documentary and be prepared to discuss it with your peers. I am excited to hopefully discuss the documentary with some of you and hear your thoughts!

If you have any questions about FYM, please don’t hesitate to reach out – my email is! Additionally, please feel free to reach out to me or any other peer advisor with any questions or concerns you may have about the semester ahead or beyond. You can email us at, or find an individual peer advisor’s email here. If you are interested, you can learn more about groups on campus that address climate change and sustainability and ways to get involved here. I hope you enjoy “This Changes Everything,” and that it helps instill a sense of activism that is very much alive on the Wesleyan campus!