Yudof welcomes class of 2005, encourages focus on academics

Sam Kean

After only one day, the class of 2005 has already seen a mess of everything the University offers.

The New Student Convocation held Tuesday at Northrop Auditorium and the University Field House had administrators, professors, booths trumpeting diversity and athletics, long lines and for the first time, a multicultural evening of entertainment.

Pre-veterinary studies freshman Judith Cashman said the marching band’s performance strengthened her desire to join the group next year. Fellow Bailey Hall resident Jessie Flynn said she most enjoyed meeting the people scattered across the Field House.

Other new students had different priorities.

“We came for the free food,” said Lauren Woodward, a music education and performance major.

Woodward and architecture freshman Matt Gamache said with all the reminders and residence hall staff rounding up students, they felt they almost had to attend.

While Woodward, Gamache and approximately 2,000 other new students ate burgers and bratwursts, a stage at the east end of the Field House hosted activities including a black step show and an American Indian tribal dance.

Second-year American Indian studies major and tribal dancer Cheryl Goodman said she did not attend her convocation last year but thought this year’s inclusion of cultural events would have a positive impact.

“It raises awareness that there are minorities on campus,” Goodman said, especially among American Indian students.

The decision to present cultural entertainment, said Robert Jones, vice president for campus life, did not reflect any difficulty of keeping minority students on campus. Instead, the University included many short acts in an attempt to be inclusive to all students.

Oki’Daanakwut, an American Indian studies and mechanical engineering major who drummed and sang for the tribal dance, said he thought their presence might help recruit new members to his singing group.

University students and alumni preached the benefits of such campus involvement to students at Northrop Auditorium just before dinner at the field house. The marching band paraded the new students to the Field House in between the official welcoming speeches and dinner.

In his welcome to students, University President Mark Yudof called convocation the “highlight of the year” because meetings and budget decisions had ended and he could finally meet the new students for which administrators and
professors had prepared.

And though he told plenty of jokes, Yudof warned students against sacrificing academics for work. He said he understood the long tradition of students working while attending the University, but that ultimately, the incoming class should be “wearing (its) student hats most of the time.”

Jones supported the need for students to graduate in four years.

When starting college, Jones said he assumed he would graduate with his class but that students at the University don’t always have that ideal. He said he wanted to put the ideas in students’ heads that those entering the University in fall 2001 should graduate sometime in 2005.

Sam Kean encourages comments at [email protected]