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Incoming class leaves its mark with help of student organizations

September 17, 2009

Each fall, the First Year Experience (FYE) staff and Weeks of Welcome (WOW) leaders prepare for the arrival of freshmen and new students, and this year’s events had some new approaches. One major change was that move-in weekend did not fall over the Labor Day holiday weekend. This allowed upperclassmen and faculty to be around to witness the WOW events—something that was not always the case in past years.

At move-in, freshman and new students were “welcomed home” by WOW staff, FYE coordinators and other faculty.

New this year, the biggest event was the pep fest that took place the night of move-in at Ramer Field. Maggie Funk, New Student and Family Programs coordinator, said the stands were packed with new students. As they arrived, students were greeted with a gift bag that contained a Falcon t-shirt and a noisemaker.

Chancellor Dean Van Galen, River Falls Mayor Don Richards, Athletics Director, Rick Bowen, and Freddy the Falcon raced out onto the field in golf carts and spoke to the new students and welcomed them home. Afterwards, the students put on their shirts and all sang the Falcon cheer song together. The night ended with fireworks, and the chance for the students to “leave their mark” on the path near the intramural fields by painting a falcon print.

The events of this year’s WOW were more relaxed than previous years and allowed the students a chance to adjust to their new home without being moved around from activity to activity.

This year, students spent two days with WOW leaders instead of just one day. On the second day, many groups were brought into town so they could get acclimated to the River Falls community in addition to the UWRF campus.

WOW leader Laurie Cicchese said she feels the new events were worthwhile.

“I think the thing that made this year was the fact that students were with their WOW leader for two days, and on the second day we got more of a chance to interact with them and go places,” she said.

Sarah Egerstrom, FYE director, said the students still did many activities that allowed them to get to know one another and the campus, but were also able to simply hang out in the town and community in which they will be living.

Freshman Jake Deutsch said he feels the WOW events were very beneficial in helping him be more prepared for classes and know where everything is located on campus.

“I feel very acclimated to campus after attending these events,” Deutsch said.

The FYE staff does not just focus on move-in weekend and the first few days of new students’ time here.

“We know that it takes more than three days for students to get used to campus, so we have events throughout the year that provide first-year students with campus resources and getting to know the University,” Funk said.

These events are part of WOW2, which is a first-year success series that aims to get students involved and help them continue to be successful on campus. The events range from a session on understanding financial aid, to “Sex Rules” with Maria Falzone and an intramural golf tournament.

FYE also offers the Falcon Challenge and Out to Lunch. The Falcon Challenge is a way to encourage students to attend events on campus, and when they do, they receive a raffle ticket for different prize drawings. Out to Lunch allows students an opportunity for students to take a professor or advisor out to lunch, which is paid for by FYE.

One of the main goals of this year’s WOW events was to encourage the students to get involved and leave their mark during the time they spend at UWRF.

“This year more than ever we also made a strong effort to create a stronger sense of school pride,” Funk said. “[And] to encourage students to make the most of their college experience, and to inspire students to think about what ‘mark’ they want to leave on our campus.”