The Student Assembly Health and Wellness Committee successfully expanded its Wind-Down Zones initiatives during orientation weekend, helping students enjoy the night safely and welcoming first-years and transfer students to Cornell.
More than 1300 students visited the two booths located on the Balch Green on North Campus and in front of the Schwartz Performing Arts Center in Collegetown. The 15 volunteers passed out food, water and medical supplies as well as conversation.
“We were there to talk to anyone who came by,” explained Hailey Sokoloff ’20, chair of the Health and Wellness Committee. “We had ring toss games, pizza, and posters for students to give their feedback on how their night is going. We also had bandages and makeup wipes for those who came by.”
In addition to supplying such goodies, the volunteers recounted positive interactions with students.
“I was very impressed by how well we were able to engage with people,” said Ru Ekanayake ’20, a member of the committee. “A lot of the first-years stayed and talked to our volunteers, asking them about Cornell, what the Health and Wellness Committee does and how to get involved.”
The committee specifically chose the first weekend after school started for the wind-down zone to “focus on the first years and transfer students,” member Andrew Rosenblatt ’20 told The Sun.
“This is a weekend where a lot of new students might be going out and they might appreciate knowing that the Cornell community is looking out for them,” Rosenblatt added.
The Health and Wellness Committee hosted its first Wind-Down Zones event last year during the Halloween weekend, setting up tents at Collegetown and on West Campus. Last year, they focused on sexual assault prevention, hoping to echoe the role of sober monitors or the work of Cayuga’s Watchers, Ekanayake said.
“We shifted the focus from sexual assault prevention to creating a sense of community on campus this year based off the feedback we got last year where people enjoyed the sense that their peers cared for them,” Ekanayake said.
The committee moved the West Campus location to North Campus to cater more to first-year students. They amount of people that visited them doubled, building on the success of the previous year, Rosenblatt said.
The Health and Wellness Committee hopes to make the initiative a recurring event by establishing a SAFC-funded club. Currently, it relies on Student Assembly funding and special activities funding.
“I think the Wind-Down Zones initiative is applicable to almost any weekend,” Rosenblatt said. “It doesn’t need to be high risk for someone to be impacted by this so hopefully we can expand to include more people, have a more concrete governing structure, and receive more funding.”