SIU Welcome Weeks are back with festivals, food, games and more to welcome new students to campus. This year is an especially special year for freshmen and sophomores, as last year most Weeks of Welcome events were canceled or moved online, and opportunities for social connections were limited.
Kirstin Altom, a junior mortuary science student, was a resident assistant to Mae Smith during the 2020-2021 school year. She said that although she tried to involve students in online and in-person events, most of her residents were either afraid to get together due to COVID-19 or simply felt they weren’t. couldn’t build real relationships online.
“It was very difficult to get the students to participate online, in person, in anything. They just felt disconnected, and it didn’t really matter what you were streaming, ”Altom said. “It was like pulling teeth out to get them to do things, but I feel like there is now a desire to get them out.”
Emily Spann, director of programs for new students, said it was a priority for all event coordinators that students stay safe but can still interact.
“The event organizers decide the best modality for their event. There are several events that are in person, but there are also several events that are online / virtual, ”said Spann.
Tiffany Young, a sophomore student, said she wants to participate in Weeks of Welcome events, but feels there is not enough communication to educate students. She said she believes the university may intentionally not do much publicity about the events in order to prevent large groups of students from congregating during the pandemic.
“I still want to go to these activities, but I don’t know them until halfway there,” Young said. “I always hear different things from different people, and it’s confusing.”
Spann said she disagreed, as it is part of the SIU’s mission to make all students feel welcome, and she encourages all students to participate in the Weeks. Home. In addition, events are organized for non-traditional students, international students and students of different cultures.
“Non-traditional Student Services has a family carnival and the Multicultural Student Resource Center hosts various events,” said Spann. “It is important to note that all events are open to all students. Students are looking for a connection, a community at SIU. We hope that through the Weeks of Welcome events, students will be able to make these connections.
The school organizes events during the first six weeks of the fall semester. On Thursday August 12, Weeks of Welcome kicked off with Light up the Lake, an event at the Becker Pavilion that included s’mores, a climbing wall, a DJ and dancing.
On Saturday August 14, the festivities continued with Dawgs Night Out, one of the most popular events of the year. The queue at the student center continued to the door and wrapped around the student center building as new and old students mingled, snapping goofy photos in a photo booth, riding a bull mechanics, singing karaoke, playing laser tag and more.
Altom said she believes the first few weeks are essential for students to feel safe and comfortable at SIU, and she hopes that by hosting in-person events, everyone will feel more connected. and at home.
“I think all the events we do at the start of the year are important because they can make or break some people’s college experiences,” Altom said. “The start of the year sets the tone for the whole year, so if nothing happens at the start of the year, why would anyone want to go later? If we have things now and present everything to everyone from the start, they see all we have to offer.
Welcome weeks will run through September 26 and include events such as the College of the Liberal Arts’ Bagel Wednesday’s in Faner, Morris Library game nights and the Saluki Sprint in the first game of football.
Spann encourages everyone to log on to wow.siu.edu and find activities where they can have fun with their old friends or make new friends.