Welcome Week helps new students feel at home

Students pass through the pillars at EWU. They moved slowly as the pillars squeezed them together.

By Erik Rötness, A&F Editor

Lights strobe, music blares and people stand in a tight group as someone yells incoherently into a microphone. Then you’re moving. Just a little bit at first, but enough to know that in a short time you’ll pass through those pillars and give enough high fives to consider eating a protein bar. This is Welcome Week.

It’s more than just some traditions and speeches. Welcome Week at EWU is intentionally designed to help students make connections and friendships as they get situated on campus. The week, which began Friday, Sept. 14, is filled with movies, games, food and events.

“One of my main goals is to create community,” Victor Rodriguez, EWU’s manager for New Student Transitions, and Parent Programs said. “To give [students] all the tools they need to be successful in their first year.”

Rodriguez said that as students participate in events throughout the week, they begin building an academic identity and a social identity. They start feeling comfortable at EWU and with their class.

EWU takes Welcome Week seriously. Orientation Adviser and EWU senior Nathanael Elongo said that he started gearing up for the week back in June.

“It’s a lot of planning,” Elongo said.  A lot of working with students and parents, just like, getting them ready to transition into college life.”

All the events have to align with the school’s four Eagle attributes, strength, intelligence, vision and flight. All the events aren’t put on solely by the New Student Transitions and Parent Programs department. Different groups across campus come together to make the magic happen. Eagle Entertainment and Eagle Sound Productions put on a dance party. The Veteran Resources center held a reception and orientation for student veterans, military and family members. Dining Services, the athletics department and other teams around EWU help introduce students to the campus and each other.

“It takes a village to do welcome week,” Rodriguez said.

New students, like freshman Kayle McClain, enjoyed activities like the movie night and free bowling at Rosa’s Pizza. Freshman Jordan Collins liked the annual Pass Through the Pillars. Both McClain and Collins disliked the three-hour sex education talk listed as a mandatory event saying it was just too long.  

At the end of the week, students will have started their academic quarter and work will be finished for all of the orientation advisers who spent months planning these seven days.

“My personal goal for this week was just to connect with students,” Elongo said. “I wanted them to feel like they’re not alone and that we’re here for them. I wanted them to feel welcome and cared for.”

After it’s over Rodriguez says it’s hard to definitively say that everything was a success.

“I don’t think I can do that,” Rodriguez said.  I don’t think I ever do that. “When I see students walking together because they met at welcome week and know they’re now friends and could be friends for life. That’s it.”