September 3, 2003

Welcome Weekend: 'Amazing'

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Gambling, dancing and live entertainment greeted Cornell students this weekend as part of a newly initiated campus program, Welcome Weekend.

Open to both newcomers and returning students, the Weekend began officially with Cornell Night, a yearly tradition combining performances by several a capella, comedy and dance groups. Other events included Casino Night last Friday and a free outdoor concert by Soulive on the Arts Quad, sponsored by the Cornell Concert Commission (CCC) Saturday night.

This year’s freshmen orientation was reduced from ten to six days to allow the addition of Welcome Weekend, designed particularly to provide alcohol-free alternatives to the Collegetown party scene.

Elaborating on the changes made to the Orientation program, Cornell assistant dean of students Lisa K’Bedford said, “In the recent past upperclassmen have started to come back earlier, but it’s been so massive that freshmen are also heading down to Collegetown to get in on the action. It’s become a bit of a problem.”

K’Bedford began planning Welcome Weekend last November, when it became apparent to her that there was an “expectation of responsibility for doing something about the drug and alcohol-related activities” going on.

“I wouldn’t say we were totally successful, but we definitely took a step in the right direction,” said Brandon Otto ’04, co-chair of the committee.

“Attendance and representation from all classes was good, but not everybody knew about it. I’m looking forward to the formation of a new committee that will work exclusively on planning and advertising for Welcome Weekend,” Otto added, explaining that the committee was pressed for time in getting the word out to upperclassmen, which may have affected the attendance at the events going on this past weekend.

K’Bedford, however, has a different explanation for the ebbing in participation this year. “Last year’s class was very enthusiastic about the orientation events going on. This year’s class seems more relaxed and less eager about participating, which is odd because there are more people who wanted to be here. You just wouldn’t expect such a vast drop-off.”

Greg Huang ’07 reflected that the pull to Collegetown was largely a result of the “open doors” policy adopted by most College Ave. and Eddy St. apartments and houses this last weekend.

“If you’re offering free kegs, people are going to head down. Coming from high school, that’s what people associate with entertainment. Not, ‘let’s go see Mars,'” he said. Although, Huang, who attended Cornell Night, also added that “Bhangra was amazing.”

Archived article by Evelyn Ngeow