University gives Welcome Week a facelift

Changes to Welcome Week will monitor new students’ behavior patterns.

Hien Truong, a member of the Breakdancing student group, dances in front of freshman at Mariucci Arena during Welcome Week, Saturday. The Breakdancing group is one of many that performed on Welcome Week’s Involvement and Engagement Day.

Hien Truong, a member of the Breakdancing student group, dances in front of freshman at Mariucci Arena during Welcome Week, Saturday. The Breakdancing group is one of many that performed on Welcome Week’s Involvement and Engagement Day.

Laura Sievert

Some 5,000 first-year University of Minnesota students swiped their U Cards to enter Welcome Week events last week, leaving an electronic record administrators hope will show which events were most motivational.

Dispensing with the paper event tickets used at Welcome Week 2009, administrators are hoping to learn which events will correlate with success in school.

The Orientation and First-Year Programs department and the Office of Academic Affairs and Provost will oversee the tracking.

Welcome Week consists of five days, each with a different purpose. The main event is Convocation, which took place the morning of Sept. 2, dubbed “College Day”.

The main goal of Welcome Week, according to Beth Lingren Clark, director of Orientation and First-Year Programs, is to establish a Class of 2014 identity and to instill a sense of responsibility in the community at the University.

For this reason, first years spend time meeting staff and faculty members during the week along with upperclassmen and classmates.

“They are creating support networks for a successful experience both academically and personally,” Lingren Clark said.

She credited the success of this year’s Welcome Week to the 430 Welcome Week leaders, compared with 382 leaders in 2009. These sophomores, juniors and seniors each put in about 120 hours of work for this event.

Sophomore Welcome Week leader Dan Laschansky didn’t view the week with the same positive outlook, calling it “disorganized and hectic,” though it was an improvement over his experience as a first-year student during Welcome Week in 2009, he said.

Another change to the Welcome Week program offered students more free time with fewer scheduled activities, according to two-time Welcome Week leader, Sarah Lindholm. Yet, first years Bethany Stein and Brittany Madden said it still wasn’t enough.

“It was too structured,” they said. “We needed more social time to get to know people.”

Welcome Week was intended to give new students the chance to get to know the people who would be living around them, Lindholm said. “Everyone made at least a handful of friends.”

While Welcome Week is still in its trial stage, many students felt a positive connection with the program.

“Welcome Week could not have been more welcoming,” Stein said.