August 28, 2006

Welcome Weekend Brings Entertainment to Cornell

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Welcome Weekend, the series of events designed to inaugurate the new academic year at Cornell, took place last weekend across campus. The weekend was a joint effort among many student groups that involved coordinating time, effort, resources and money.

The central group in the annual project, which began in 2003 as an extension of orientation programming, is the student-run Welcome Weekend board. Stephen Flug ’08, current chair of the board, said that this year’s board faced a tough time pushing ahead with mostly new members lacking experience.

“This year’s [Welcome Weekend] was probably the most challenging one there’s been,” agreed Lisa Zhang ’08, vice president of event management for the Welcome Weekend board. “It was a new beginning; everyone had to learn their positions.”

Planning for the weekend began last January, Flug said. He explained that acting early made it easier for the board to nail down logistical details, like making building reservations and to get “better footholds” into sponsors’ budgets.

“Other groups start earlier [planning events],” he said. “We’re unique in that we start our planning much earlier.”

Welcome Weekend is also unique in terms of its scope, which is much larger than other campus events. According to Zhang, the board expected about ten percent of the University community to attend last Friday’s “Picnic on the Quad” — a number reaching into the thousands.

Funding for Welcome Weekend, which carried a price tag of over $30,000, according to Flug, came from several sources. Primary sources of funding included the Student Assembly and other sponsors including the Panhellenic Association, Class Councils of 2007 and 2008, the African, Latino, Asian and Native American (ALANA) programming board, and local radio station WVBR, according to Zhang and Flug.

Day Hall also contributed funding to Welcome Weekend events; Flug said that the Picnic on the Quad event was funded “almost entirely” by them. The committee made a push this year to get faculty and staff involved in the weekend’s events this year, and help from University officials was “huge” in achieving that goal.

“We were thinking how we could get faculty involved,” Flug said, pointing out that attracting faculty and staff is a “much different” process. The board worked closely with Tommy Bruce, vice president of university communications, to get the word out to University community members. In the end, about 300 faculty meal tickets were sold to the picnic event, according to Zhang.

Events also required close coordination with other University departments, including Cornell Dining, which arranged to close the dining facilities in the Straight during the picnic to encourage participation, and with Facilities, who arranged to have the Arts Quad and Libe Slope wired for both the picnic and the Thursday evening “CU on the Slope” concert event.
“Planning involved the amount of work for a four to six-credit class,” Flug said. “Our entire summer was devoted to this … [we wanted] really exciting, diverse entertainment for everyone.”