Whether it’s the smell of Fantastic and Lysol, the feel of unmarred notebook pages or the sight of thousands of freshmen wandering the campus in stampede-size groups, the start of the school year means something different for everyone. To the members of the Cornell’s student-run Welcome Weekend Committee, however, it means tradition. Under the leadership of Stephen Flug ’08 and Lisa Zhang ’08, the committee has not only re-organized many of the highly successful past events like Clubfest and the Ho Plaza Street Fair but has embellished this year’s agenda by adding brand new activities such as C.U. on the Slope, a concert that features three student bands, and Lunch on the Quad, a university-wide picnic.
Welcome Weekend is a four-day, five night program which takes place today through Sunday and provides non-alcoholic entertainment to Cornell students arriving back to campus. While orientation is geared towards freshmen beginning their college experiences, Welcome Weekend is meant for students entering all years of Cornell.
“We want to make sure the events attract all of the students,” says Steven Flug, committee chair, “the University bends over backwards for freshmen. We are trying to create a tradition that all students will look forward to attending.”
And given the slew of events taking place the first week of classes, who wouldn’t look forward to coming back? Welcome Weekend kicks off tonight at 11:00 p.m. with the first-ever C.U. on the Slope Event, a concert with performances by three Greek bands: “Pants Velour,” “Whatever You Want” and “Won’t Lovers Revolt Now.” Students will be urged to relax on the slope, get free giveaways from Class Councils, decorate themselves with iridescent glowing jewelry and relax by one of many bonfires happening on the hill.
Tomorrow will be Lunch on the Quad, a picnic lasting from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. in honor of the first day of classes in which students, faculty and administration will be able to reunite and relax in a casual atmosphere. Cornell dining will be catering the event.
“We hope this picnic will help bridge the gap between students and staff. Having lunch with professors and being able to interact outside of a classroom is really important,” said Lisa Zhang, vice president of event management.
All weekend there will be dance performances, including Bhangra, Lyrical Jazz, Tango and Tap Dancing, and Arch Sings throughout campus.
Barry Drake, 80s expert and multiple-time winner of the National Association for Campus Activities Award for his establishing a strong career in the arts, will bring students an entertaining and interactive show on Rock and Roll in the 80s, taking place in at Statler Hall.
For students looking to blow off steam after the first week of classes, Friday night provides ample opportunity. Casino night will return once again for a evening of faux gambling, hors d’oeuvres and mocktails at 10:00 p.m. in Willard Straight Hall. Prizes include a digital camera, iPod, Jet Blue Ticket, DVD player and other exciting prizes. The event will also feature special guests such as Kent Hubbell, dean of students.
A Welcome Weekend favorite, the street fair on Ho Plaza, will begin at 10:00 and run until 2:00 a.m. There will be funnel cake, candy and popcorn, among other food items from local restaurants, as well as DJs, karaoke and great prizes. The street fair has been one of the most widely attended events of Welcome Weekend in the past, a huge crowd is expected this year.
“We want to create an atmosphere where it is easy to meet new friends — one that provides an alternate to the Collegetown scene,” Fung said. “The street fair and casino night provide options other than partying.”
Welcome Weekend will end Sunday at 4:00 p.m. after the three hour-long Clubfest Student Activities Fair in Barton Hall. Three hundred student groups are going to show what they do and what opportunities they offer to students.
“All of our events offer great ways to bond with people and make new friends. They are also great ways to advertise for all types of organizations and get exposure,” says George Wilson, vice president of public relations and marketing for Welcome Weekend.