As is the yearly tradition at college campuses across the country, the beginning of the fall 2018 semester was marked with a university-wide series of events referred to by Illinois Tech as Welcome Week. The 2018 installment of Welcome Week began with the opening of campus residence halls for new student move-ins on Friday, August 10 and would go on to feature an assortment of events hosted by various student organizations, campus offices, and individual academic colleges.
The same Friday of first-year move-ins also saw the official beginning of the academic year with the 2018 convocation in the Hermann Hall Auditorium, where President Alan Cramb and various other members of campus administration formally introduced the incoming class. The fields surrounding Hermann Hall then hosted a welcoming barbecue and reception as well as an interactive “Playfair” for new students to interact with each other and embrace their newfound independence. These events would set the highly energetic and exploratory tone for the rest of Welcome Week and its various events.
The first weekend of a new student’s college experience is likely one of discovery and of exploration. Luckily, various Illinois Tech student organizations hit the ground running with different pieces of programming beginning the Saturday of August 11. For instance, noon of that day saw a QuidIITch Match held on Siegel Field while 2 p.m. saw Prism IIT, the on-campus LGBTQIA+ organization, hold a condom water balloon fight. As the name implies, this event consisted of participating students being handed a condom filled with water which they were then instructed to throw at other students. The event itself was a success although the use of condoms as water balloons is somewhat questionable; many students found that, true to their purpose, the water-filled condoms did not always break upon impact and would instead bounce off their intended target.
Another event on this Saturday worthy of mentioning is a tour of the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) system held by the Illinois Tech Railroad Club. What makes this event notable is how instead of being a basic overview of the CTA system from the confines of campus, students were actually taken to the nearby 35th-Bronzeville-IIT Green Line stop, given a CTA pass from the Illinois Tech Office of Campus Life (OCL), and taken on a ride aboard a Green Line train. For students completely new to either the CTA or public transit systems in general, this Welcome Week event was hopefully an adequate introduction to one of Illinois Tech’s main selling points.
Events sponsored by student organizations such as these would continue to permeate the remainder of Welcome Week, as well as the final summer installment of the mandatory Student Orientation, Advisement, and Registration (SOAR) sessions and a series of first year Core Sessions. These Core Sessions consisted of a series of presentations and other interactive activities covering topics such as healthy relationships, alcohol and drug use, diversity, and academic orientations with students’ academic colleges. After these Core Sessions, student organization events gave new students the opportunity to learn new ways to get involved on-campus and forge friendships, whether it be by taking a tour of UFarmIIT and watching a screening of “Avengers: Infinity War” on the MTCC lawn, or by attending an open house by TechNews, the university student newspaper.
Arguably the largest event of all Welcome Week occurred on the afternoon of Friday, August 17. An event dubbed the Back to School Bash took the place of the regularly scheduled student organization fair but remained the same in execution. Almost every registered student organization as well as numerous campus services and partners were present at open tables both inside and outside the MTCC in a mad rush to gain the attention and membership of new students. A notable and entertaining addition to the Back to School Bash was the inclusion of a dunk tank, which gave students the (oftentimes much-desired) opportunity to dunk administrative figures such as Vice Provost for Academic Affairs Christopher White or Dean of Students Katherine Stetz.
The first iteration this semester of Tech Gives Back was held on the afternoon of Saturday, August 18 and gave students the opportunity to partner with local community members in an afternoon of community service. Later that evening, Illinois Tech’s Greek Life officially began Rush Week with the annual Taste of the Quad, a mass recruiting event held on the Greek Quad on the southeast corner of campus with ample amounts of free food and other social activities.
The last major event of 2018’s Welcome Week was the Student Leadership Conference on the afternoon of Sunday, August 19. Subtitled “Living the Dream at Illinois Tech,” this conference combined first-year leadership development with mandated student organization attendance, containing two separate tracks for new students and for returning student organization officers. Vital information such as OCL rules and procedures, the processes associated with the Student Activity Fund (SAF), and sample timelines for student organization travel were covered in the returning track, while more general topics such as inclusion, leadership themes, and CTA navigation were covered in the new student track.
While it is by no means an Illinois Tech-exclusive occurrence, Welcome Week still carries a sort of charming excitement to it as a bombastic means of ringing in the new academic year. The high prevalence of student organization involvement in the various events is testament to their role in making the most out of our time here at Illinois Tech. On behalf of TechNews and the greater Illinois Tech community, I welcome this new incoming class with open arms and a stern eagerness to document their accomplishments in this paper.