It may not have been the best week ever for everyone on campus, but this year’s Welcome Week did offer quality entertainment and good times to new students and upperclassmen alike.
The annual 10-day event aimed at offering students everything from free club dancing in the Smith Center to a student organization open house in the Marvin Center. The week was capped off by a concert featuring Robert Randolph and the Family Band at Sunday’s Fall Fest in University Yard.
“It’s to kick off the year on a good note,” said senior Christine Caggiano, who sat on this year’s Welcome Week planning board.
“This year we really tried to focus the events on student life, about getting students re-acclimated with the campus and getting people to interact with each other,” Caggiano added.
At Sunday’s Fall Fest, free food and amusements encouraged students to mingle as they enjoyed music from a number of guitar jam bands. Unlike last year’s performance by the lackluster Pat McGhee Band, Randolph got the crowd jumping and dancing Sunday.
“This was the first Fall Fest, at least that I can remember, where everything went right,” said senior Tyler Coffey, executive chair of Program Board, which sponsored Fall Fest. Coffey attributed the problem free event to, “excellent planning.”
Coffey said that 5,500 students showed up for the Sunday event, an increase of more than 1,000 from Fall Fest 2004. Coffey said that figure includes students who left the yard, then re-entered more than once.
“Usually people come in waves,” Coffey said. “It was constantly full, and when people are hanging around it means it was worthwhile.”
Loryn Cozzi said she was so excited to attend the event that she arrived a half-hour before the 3 p.m. start time to be the first to enter the event.
“We wanted a T-shirt and there are a limited number of smalls,” said Cozzi, a senior, who added the food was an attraction as well. “The food line is also ridiculously long.”
“Basically everyone just comes for the free food,” freshman Amanda Brown said. “The rest is just a bonus.”
On Thursday night, the Smith Center was transformed into Club G22 – a mock dance club complete with spotlights, a red carpet and velvet ropes. Stretch limousines also transported students in style to the alcohol-free event, which was co-sponsored by the Student Association and the Student Activities Center. MTV’s DJ Skribble mixed music for three hours, getting students to pack the wooden dance floor set up by Smith Center staff.
“We really wanted to do something new this year and provide students with a safe, on-campus and free opportunity to dance and kick of the year in a positive way,” said Deb Berger, the Student Activities Center coordinator for student involvement.
Berger said 1,300 people attended the event, and half were upperclassmen.
“This is not your senior prom,” said Tim Miller, associate director of student and campus activities. “We tried to create a real club atmosphere – hiring a club-quality DJ, and including both dance and lounge areas.”
Once a graffiti artist, Skribble said he enjoys playing college events because everyone can enjoy his music.
“It’s just about having and open mind and letting yourself loose,” Skribble said in an interview before he took the stage for two hours at 11 p.m.
“He played good music,” freshman Aaron Gipsman said. “He repeated some songs, but mixed it well.”
“It’s even better than a regular club because it’s free,” he added
Free admission and stretch limousines attracted many students to come, and the first riders in the Cadillac Escalade limo were the winners from the “Where’s George?” scavenger competition sponsored by Student and Academic Support Services.
Kate Streletz, a Clark Hall community facilitator and one of the “Where’s George” winners, described the beach theme of the excursion limousine she arrived in as “outfitted with lights, a fish tank with (fake) fish, bubbles, champagne glasses, laser lights and mirrors.”
In all 56 people were also granted access to the VIP section inside club G22, a roped-off area featuring love seats and dramatic dry ice fog.