April 16, 2007

Event Brings Minority Pre-Frosh to Cornell

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April 12 through 14 marked this year’s Diversity Hosting Weekend, a part of Cornell Days that encourages minority students accepted into the Class of 2011 to visit the University. Aside from a $40 registration fee, Diversity Hosting Weekend is free — students do not need to pay for meals, transportation or housing.
The prospective students stay with current Cornellians on campus so that they can get the chance to “actually be like a college student for a weekend,” said Nzingha Ford ’10, a host during the event.
The hosts are student volunteers interested in minority or multi-cultural affairs on campus. Ford said they are supposed to give the prospective students a “feel for what [Cornell is] like from a minority perspective.”
Marcus Mitchell ’10 said the hosts are trained, instructed and encouraged to keep prospective students on campus and away from fraternities.
Thursday evening, the prospective students arrived and checked in at a welcoming ceremony in Robert Purcell Community Center. Later on, they were split up according to the Colleges they were considering for dinner. At night, the students could attend a dance party.
Friday morning, each college had its own breakfast where the prospective students heard from administrators about the academic side of Cornell before getting the chance to attend classes based on their future majors.
Benjamin Piñon was accepted into the International Agriculture and Rural Development major in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. After attending an upper level class, he was able to meet with the head of the department, which he said was “pretty cool.”
Friday night, many of the prospective students chose to attend the MILRSO fashion show. Saturday morning the students could attend a farewell luncheon at Appel Commons with some members of the administration before departing.
When they were not attending official programs, the prospective students had time off to go on tours of campus or housing and to attend informational sessions. Ford made sure to give the student she hosted plenty of time to meet up with other prospective students because she said, “I liked the freedom I had to do my own thing” when she visited Cornell last year.
While the prospective students got the chance to experience Cornell from a student’s perspective, many of the parents who came along were able to attend programs geared specifically to them, including meetings with members of the administration and financial aid and residential services. Dr. Ethel Drayton-Craig, mother of prospective student Asa Craig, said, “I was so impressed with this weekend — the execution and logistics of it.”
Craig said that diversity was “very much” a determining factor in deciding where to attend college. As a black male, he said, “I didn’t want to feel alone.” He said that in high school, “I was one of the only African-American students in my class. At Cornell, there are lots of students like me who are interested in their education and willing to become part of the Cornell community.”
Prospective students were impressed to see minority members of the faculty and administration and to learn about the support available to minority students. Piñon was impressed by Cornell’s willingness to “cater to” minority students such as himself by making it so easy for the students to visit. He said that the weekend “shows how important diversity is to Cornell.”
For some students this weekend is the deciding factor in making their college decision. Craig and his mother are no longer visiting the other university Craig had been considering.
“I’m getting ready to send in my deposit,” Craig said, “and I’ve already bought my Cornell sweatshirt.”
Drayton-Craig said that after visiting many other colleges, she and her son were impressed that the people on campus were “smiling, making eye contact and saying hello. It is a very helpful and warm and welcoming campus. You don’t get that on other campuses.”