Welcome Week: Does it deserve a standing ovation?

As Welcome Week 2006 comes to a close and many upperclassmen begin their last year at the College, it’s a time of looking ahead for some – and looking back on fond memories for others.

As most are aware, Welcome Week is an event sponsored by the College for incoming freshmen that encompasses five days of “getting-to-know-you” activities.

This year’s schedule offered a variety of sports tournaments, a barbecue, community service opportunities, a speech from Vice President of Student Life James Norfleet and the ever-popular PlayFair .

But just how successful was Welcome Week in unifying past freshman classes? Do its former participants look back on it as a great time or an irritating obligation?

“At the time, I thought it was a little corny and felt like I was at camp,” Amy Rabenda, senior elementary education/math, science and technology major, said. Being forced to wake up at the crack of dawn to attend lectures about choosing a major or the dangers of alcohol poisoning can put a damper on the first week of college; but in hindsight, Rabenda realizes that Welcome Week might have helped salvage her freshman year.

“Looking back, I realize that it was probably the best way to meet people and settle into a new and scary environment,” she said. “I didn’t bond with my roommate at all and if it weren’t for the friends I met at Welcome Week, there’s a chance I would have left (the College).”

Dave Greenblatt, senior political science major, agrees that Welcome Week was a great way to jump-start his college career, especially as one of the College’s few non-New Jersey residents. He feels that the “camp-like” atmosphere was what made it so enjoyable.

“I remember it was like camp, but when classes started it didn’t really end,” he said. “I made friends, had some fun and got to know (the College). I think it’s great because it gives freshmen a chance to acquaint themselves with campus without being intimidated.”

Greenblatt keeps in touch with many of the people he met during Welcome Week.

“They may not be my best friends, but they’re definitely still friends,” he said.

But there are other upperclassmen who believe that Welcome Week isn’t the only – or the best – way to meet and foster long-lasting friendships on campus.

” At the time, it was fairly enjoyable,” Scott Sadowsky, senior history major, said. “The first week, people still pretended to care about (making a good first impression). It wasn’t until October when people started to separate into groups.”

Sadowsky notes that while Welcome Week may have been helpful in breaking the ice, it did little beyond that to enlarge his social circle.

“I think the situation of everyone moving and knowing no one else brought us together,” he said. “Then we got to know one another more and decided who to hang out with.”

These days, Sadowsky meets most of his friends through “classes and campus activities, or through other friends,” he said.

Whether your memories of your first week as a froshie are good, bad or ugly, one thing seems certain: Welcome Week is here to stay, with its list of programs and activities growing larger each year.

Hey, maybe it’s not such a bad thing. With the real world and job hunts looming come May, we could probably all use a standing ovation.