Letter to the Editor: “More Welcome, Less Weak”

Welcome Week Leaders

Dear Members of the Washington Square News Editorial Board,

Thank you for sharing your opinions and feedback on Welcome Week. We appreciate your insight and will take your feedback into account for next year. Although we agree that we could always improve our program, we wanted to provide everyone with our thoughts on Welcome Week as the core group of student leaders responsible for its execution.

Welcome Week serves not just first-year students, but also transfer students and students who spent their first year away. This means that we aim to create a variety of programming that caters to those populations, to help make them more comfortable in their initial transition. However, we also take this as an opportunity to introduce a diversity of experiences to the new students that they may not have had in their hometown. Students come from all over the world to attend NYU, and that means that they may not have had a chance to see or even learn about all that New York has to offer. Many of our marquee events allow students to see that, such as showing students comedy from both students and professional New York City performers, giving them a night of entertainment from Broadway performers or drag queens. These events are not meant to introduce you to your best friends, but they do allow students to have a great night with great entertainment for free. These events also allow for students and RAs to form groups to bring to the events, so even if the students are not making friends at the events, they often have the potential to deepen connections with new friends, floormates and more.

Although we cannot necessarily introduce students to clubs in their first week, as returning students are not yet back to host events like Club Fest, we offer smaller events that allow them to meet others with similar interests. This is done not only through counterpart programming from many departments at NYU, but also through “hangouts.” These hangouts are usually attended by 15 to 20 students, where leaders oversee a meetup session based around a specific topic (a popular one is Harry Potter); here, students of all majors and backgrounds can bond over something they have in common. We definitely will advertise smaller events like these more in future years. It is important to note that impactful work is done outside of staffing events as well. One of the many responsibilities of our leaders is called non-event staffing. At any given time during Welcome Week, there are leaders staffing in the lobby of Kimmel and on the stairs, at the Kimmel Market Place and in the Center for Student Life office. At the simplest level of interaction, these encounters are chances for new students to gain knowledge that we take for granted, and not be judged for asking questions or looking lost on campus. This typically occurs in the lobby and on the seventh floor of Kimmel, but we have found that some of the most rewarding experiences occur in the Kimmel Marketplace. Our leaders staffed there are encouraged to interact with students one-on-one, and these first years — some of whom have not found their group yet or are just generally anxious — walk away feeling somewhat better. A friendly smile and a quick chat can go a long way when students are intimidated by groups around them that have already started to form. These impactful moments are the core of Welcome Week, some of which lead to what are called lollipop moments. While being trained to run Welcome Week, leaders are introduced to the concept of a “Lollipop Moment” through this TED talk. In the midst of running events all week, we work hard to make these moments happen. This means approaching students when they seem lost or confused and comforting them, helping a student when they need it, and sparking conversations in our smaller events. The tricky thing about this is that we cannot tell our impact immediately. However, the moments that are communicated to us touch all of our hearts and keep the Welcome Week spirit strong. The large majority of these would not be possible without the openness and hard work of our Welcome Week Leaders — who really are the foundation of Welcome Week.

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Leaders are responsible for the experience of the students, captains are responsible for the experience of the leaders. The students who join Welcome Week as leaders typically either had a great Welcome Week themselves and want to share the experience, or had a terrible one and want to make sure that does not happen to anyone else. They come from all schools and backgrounds, forming teams of 25 to 30, and are led by one captain. Whether they already have a close group of friends or are still struggling to find friends after their first year or two here, what they end up discovering during the three days of training and Welcome Week itself is not only the larger community and spirit of NYU, but also a family of 400+ student leaders and staff that will stick with them long after Welcome Week has ended. We have had many leaders tell us how much Welcome Week has given to them, even a few who said they have decided to stay at NYU in large part because of the community they found during their time in Welcome Week. It is honestly a fresh start for everyone involved, whether they are a first-year, sophomore, junior or senior — student, leader or captain. Our collective goal is to bring out the students who have not found their place or group yet, to help them feel like they belong. To give them those lollipop moments and let them know that there is a community, somewhere in this big school, for them. Welcome Week is a jumpstart on each student’s NYU career, one in which the student leaders of Welcome Week and all the staff in the CSL are ready and willing to help with each step of the way. The following weeks of Fall Welcome are really intended to build on that feeling and spirit and provide them with the clubs and resources necessary to branch out, which then flows into the programming that spans the whole semester provided by various student organizations such as Student Government, Class Activities Board and Program Board.

We hope that we have provided more context for you regarding Welcome Week and its true purpose for new students. As Welcome Week and NYU continue to grow, we look forward to building Welcome Week even further and help our new students in new and different ways that suit the needs of the incoming class. To help with this large task, we will take any and all feedback into account while ensuring that our main mission is at the core of our growth, and that is to help all of our students establish a sense of belonging at NYU.

Sincerely,

Welcome Week Chairs Joseph Santore and Katherine Facchini, Welcome Week Media Captain Polina Buchak and Welcome Week Captains Aaron Petykowski, Alejandro Gonzalez, Andrew Hong, Carly Messig, Christopher Mendoza, Daphne Smith, Jennifer Leonard, Joshua So, Mathania Toussaint, Reilly Cashmore, Srishti Sanya and Stephanie Sison

Opinions expressed on the editorial pages are not necessarily those of WSN, and our publication of opinions is not an endorsement of them. 

Email the WSN Editorial Board at [email protected]

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