New Student Weekend to expand for fall 2005

Last year, approximately 850 students attended the weekend.

Liala Helal

A University program that has been around for 85 years will be growing again in 2005.

Organizers of New Student Weekend, an orientation program for first-year students that is held during the last weekend before fall classes, said it will have more attendees, more student leaders and will add a fifth site this year.

Jenny Rachmaciej, an assistant director of the program, said it is also merging with the Student Leadership Institute to teach leadership skills to participants this year.

“By merging the programs, we are able to meet a larger population of first-year students and better meet their needs and prepare them for their first year of college,” Rachmaciej said.

Approximately 850 students attended last year, she said. With the extra site this year, officials said, they are anticipating 1,000 students.

Rachmaciej said New Student Weekend tries to help new students have a seamless transition into their first year of college. It’s successful, because students meet new people and learn about college life, she said.

Planning for the weekend is a yearlong process and is organized mostly by students. Two program coordinators, 14 co-chairmen and co-chairwomen, and approximately 150 leaders plan and orchestrate the event annually.

Rachmaciej said 151 students applied to be New Student Weekend leaders this year, and training starts next week.

The two coordinators for this year, University students David Leonard and Jeni Dill, said they met at New Student Weekend in 2002. They still keep in touch with the first people they met in the program, they said, which is one reason they wanted to stay involved in the program.

“I was looking for something to get involved in where I can not only help myself out but help other people as well,” Leonard said.

He said he can help new students by sharing his experiences.

“I remember when I was a freshman, I was freaked out, and I didn’t have a clue, so what I liked most about being a leader is being able to relate my experience and try to help new students along the way and get them started on the right foot,” Leonard said.

Dill said there are many leadership aspects in the program. The two coordinators trained this year’s 14 co-chairmen and co-chairwomen, who will later train approximately 150 volunteer leaders.

New Student Weekend camps for the upcoming year will be at five Minnesota campgrounds: Camp Friendship, Camp Courage, Camp St. Croix, Camp Induhapi and Camp Pepin.