Opening weekend at NIU turned out to be a great success, according to NIU Division of Student Affairs and Enrollment Management.
As thousands of students were welcomed to campus, there was no shortage in Welcome Days activities to kick start their campus engagement from Thursday through Sunday.
One of the biggest events on day one was the Residence Hall Association (RHA) Block Party in Central Park in Central Park where there was plenty of free food, giveaways, and entertaining activities such as inflatables and a Euro jump trampoline.
“We had a really great turnout,” said Maria Wojnicki, secretary of the RHA. “It was an eye-opening experience for freshman as they got to witness the work that RHA does, and overall, it was a great way to start the year!”
To officially welcome in the class of 2016, freshman attended Academic Convocation on Friday morning. NIU President John Peters, along with other university faculty and staff, took part in welcoming 2,400 students at the Convocation Center that morning.
“It was a good motivator for freshman,” said sophomore Huskie Helper volunteer Jennalyn Hernandez.
However, not every event this weekend was academic in nature; other activities where strictly for fun.
With Friday came the late night Glow in the Dark Dance Party in the Martin Luther King Commons. Students wore white shirts and were provided with highlights to decorate themselves and their friends under the glow of black lights.
Saturday began with some community building activities. Saturday of Service, a new event this year, provided students with a four hour window of volunteer opportunities.
“Before selecting a service activity of choice, participants gathered in the Capitol Room where Dr. Julia Spears spoke about the importance of making a difference through service,” said Michelle Bringas, director of the Asian American Center.
“Students were offered five options from which to select a service activity, each sponsored by the diversity resource centers and Student Involvement & Leadership Development,” Bringas added. “Activities included ribbon making for several upcoming events, making bead bracelets for high school students, making greetings cards for high school students and residents of the Oak Crest Retirement Center, or making mats for the homeless out of plastic bags.”
“Important partners in our Saturday of Service event that helped make it a success included the NIU Alumni Association and the NIU Foundation,” said Lisa Schimdt, acting director of the Women’s Resource Center. “The event was also supported by several volunteers from two student organizations, Alpha Phi Omega and also Northern Lights Ambassadors. These student volunteers assisted throughout the entire event and at all service locations.”
Also on Saturday was Cultures Welcome, where students became acquainted with events and opportunities to engage in the rich culture at NIU and connect with the various cultural and identity centers that provide a “home away from home.”
“Cultures Welcome had representatives from the Presidential Commissions at NIU, the diversity resource centers, and related diversity targeted academic programs,” said Melanie Tucker Thompson, acting assistant vice president for Student Services. “Students were able to ask questions about diversity resources at NIU and meet staff and faculty whose work focuses on diversity and equity at NIU.”
Saturday concluded with Rock Tha’ Mic: Huskie Talent Jam, featuring Comedy Troupe Stir Friday Nite! Open Mic sessions served as a platform for NIU students to share their talent with the NIU community.
“Attendance was upward of 500 students, leaving standing room only,” Bringas said.
Sunday ushered in the opportunities for students to get involved on campus and learn more about their new home.
Spiritual Life at NIU and the Involvement Fair allowed students to mingle with representatives of various service, Greek, religious, performance and professional student organizations. They also had the additional opportunity to meet representatives of the campus resource centers and the Residence Hall Association.
NIU Welcome Days fun does not end with opening weekend.
For the first five weekends of the semester, various campus entities are collaborating to host Bark ’til Dark, a series of events and activities hosted across campus including outdoor movie screenings in central park, a laser tag event, and a casino night.
Forgot a camera? Don’t worry; NIU documented the Welcome Days activities. Be sure to visit the official NIU Facebook page, like it, and find yourself in one of the photo galleries featuring Welcome Days events. Better yet, tag yourself and tag your friends!
by Constance Ervins