September 17, 2007

Freshmen Kick Off Big Red Football

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The Class of 2011 took center stage Saturday when over 200 freshmen stormed Schoelkopf Field before the first football game of the season.
Even though the start of the fall sport also marked the beginning of markedly colder weather, over 10,000 students, faculty and fans still packed the stadium to cheer the Big Red on to a 38-14 win. The annual tradition of freshman-on-the-field, coupled with Cornell’s sound victory, served as an extra welcome to this year’s freshman class.
“Even if Cornell is not so good, I came to support the team” said Theo Leenman ’11. “At least we got the experience.”
Despite Cornell football’s reputation for mediocrity among Leenman and some of his freshman classmates, attendance was high, with a sea of red and white supporting not just athletics but also charity. Jonathan Feldman ’08, who has served as undergraduate representative on the Cornell United Way Executive Cabinet since last year, is responsible for partnering Cornell football with the United Way of Tompkins County, mirroring a similar alliance between the NFL and the United Way of America over the last 24 years.
Stephen Golding, chair of the Executive Cabinet, said, “The United Way’s campaign theme this year, ‘Strong People, Strong Family, Strong Community’ starts with individuals at Cornell as a way of recognizing how United Way’s agencies provide support as a whole.”
With 30,000 people on this campus, Cornell is the single biggest donator to the Tompkins’ County United Way chapter and also makes the most of the organization’s services, including child care, women’s health and therapy facilities.
Feldman and Greg Schvey ’09, have planned seven events as part of this year’s United Way campaign, starting with the football game. With the sponsorship of two anonymous donators and Perfect Screen Printers of Ithaca, $1.50 was donated for up to 6,000 students in attendance. Papa John’s, Pita Pit and Wingz sponsored the Super Fan competition, where the fan with most school spirit won $200 in cash and the fan’s classmates at the game received discounts from the eateries. Through this effort, $250 was donated to the United Way.
“This is the first time a student has put together this type of comprehensive initiative,” Golding said. “Students should take the opportunity to give something back locally, even if they are only part of this community for four years.”
Campus Life, the Class Councils, Cornell Dining and Cornell Athletics collaborated to organize sports, charity, food and the traditional freshman event at this year’s opening game. With the call of charity and dining — RPCC and Northstar were both closed on North Campus in honor of the occasion — freshmen found the event difficult to avoid.
“That’s so coercive,” said Rion Wight ’11 of closing the dining halls and forcing students to attend.
“The meal feels forced, but the charity is a good idea,” added Candy Wu ’11.
When asked if they had known the United Way was involved in the event, many freshmen said they had not seen much adverti sing.
Amber James ’11 said she saw some quarter cards for the game and the tailgate but that “[they] should have advertised the charity aspect more. If they’d have known, I think more people would have shown.”
Feldman said that advertising for the fundraising aspect of the event was accomplished through extensive postering and word of mouth through the Greek system and the Interfraternity Council, and was also dependent on list-serves, emails and Facebook.
“Cornell’s students have always been involved in community service,” Feldman remarked, “but for the most part they work on national and international groups and causes.”
“I hope this will be the first step of a very symbiotic relationship between athletics, Cornell University and charities, and that this partnership spans decades,” Feldman continued.