Every year since 1963, SLU Fall Welcome has had a prevailing color—orange. This color has been, and always will be, the color of that crazy, wild group of student leaders known as Oriflamme [OR-uh-flam]. This group, as many on campus probably know and have experienced, is the group of students that are chosen to welcome any new students to the SLU community and give them their first taste of what being a true Billiken is like.
As they do every year, the ‘flammers spend a week with little-to-no sleep in the same two identical shirts, leading the newest members of the SLU community to the events that make up Fall Welcome. While Fall Welcome has changed greatly since its inception, the orange army that makes it all possible hasn’t. The group has always been student based, led, and oriented around the new students. As the group has grown over the years, the structure has changed with it, from the small group of 16 that made up the first ‘Flamme, to the group of over 170 students this year, each bringing unique experiences to their respective roles to make up Oriflamme together.
The ‘Flamme is broken up into 3 basic positions: leaders, team leaders (TLs), and coordinators (coords), each with their own vital role in making Fall Welcome as memorable for the students as possible. Every person that comes into Oriflamme starts as a leader and is eventually given the opportunity to take on more responsibility. The foundation of ‘Flamme is the leaders who make up the majority of the organization. The leaders do most of the legwork during the first two chaotic days known as move in. They spend the first few days carrying futons, fridges, shelves, chairs, TVs and everything in between up the stairs of the residence halls to the rooms that first-year students will call home.
These leaders are assigned a specific floor to lead during the Fall Welcome events. This floor becomes their family for the next six days and they care about each member of their floors and about making real connections and relationships through the whirlwind of the week. From trying to understand the steps at the hoedown to getting jiggy with it at CU @ the rec, to bleeding floor pride during the spirit competition, none of the real enthusiasm or passion is faked. It’s the students and the floors that make the Oriflamme experience what it is for every leader, not the other way around.
TLs have a slightly different role; They are in charge of a group of leaders throughout training and Fall Welcome. TLs focus on preparing their leaders for anything that could happen throughout Fall Welcome and take a more hands-off role in the interaction with the first year students. In this role, it’s not only the infusion of new life on campus that makes the TLs’ week, but in “seeing your group come together through training, and then making real connections on the first day of move in” as explained by Matt Gannon, a TL this year.
There are four coordinators, and they have the most stressful and time intensive job of anyone involved in ‘Flamme. They actually spend weeks planning all the events—from the Oriflamme training that occurs three days before that fateful first day of move in. They plan all the Fall Welcome events and handle all issues and problems that arise as early as a year before the start of Fall Welcome. They are in charge of TL training in the spring semester, organizing “Flammilies,” distributing shirts, move in logistics, and much more.
This organization started 53 years ago with the idea that the transition to college is more than simply a new school. It’s an introduction into the next phase of a person’s life and their development personally, emotionally, and professionally; It’s a transition that shouldn’t be done alone.
This group isn’t something that was created for the personal enjoyment of the leaders, for another mark on the resume, or for any personal accord. The whole purpose to help the new students enter the campus family and make it something everyone can believe in.