EDITORIAL: Inaugural Welcome Week much more Welcoming than New Student Week

Peter Gillette

As part of my ongoing efforts to chronicle the Lawrence experience, this year I decided to participate in Welcome Week. Welcome Week is brand New to Lawrence, and has lived up to its billing.After experiencing New Student Week last year, I feared that Welcome Week would be but a repeat of that experience. But I can say, unequivocally, that this Welcome Week was nothing like my New Student Week. I think the main difference between the two Weeks is that Welcome Week made me feel…well, more Welcomed.

I arrived the Saturday prior to Welcome Week, in the evening, and slept (alone) in Sabin House. Sabin House is scary when no one else is around, and I kept hearing a creepy squeak every couple minutes. A few days later, I was relieved to learn that the sound was nothing more than an indicator that the emergency exit alarm needed its battery changed, and not a ghost.

Nonetheless, I didn’t feel Welcome my first evening.

Sunday, I put on my “Chicago Bears: 1988 NFC Central Division Champions” shirt and rode my bike for a few miles around Appleton. It seemed that I had committed some sort of faux pas. Evidently the 1988 Bears were not very popular in Outagamie County.

One Richmond Avenue motorist, however, seemed to indicate that the 1988 Bears were “Number One.” However, I cannot be sure, since for some reason he didn’t use his index finger.

Needless to say, I should have caught on before I walked into an auto supply store, which, on that Sunday, resembled a sports bar minus the Miller.

Monday, I still wasn’t feeling Welcome. So I went to my bank. One major difference between this year and last, which initially made me feel unWelcome, is that last year my bank gave me ten dollars to open up an account. (Which reminds me, if anybody is thinking of signing up an account at a certain College Avenue bank, never hesitate to list me as a reference. It will be worth both of our whiles.)

But this year, I owed the bank the majority of my emergency money in a mix-up. This mix-up I resolved Friday, finding myself with more money than I thought I had. This was just one of the many surprises thanks to the New Welcome Week.

My Welcome Week began last Thursday morning, and I could tell that the campus was just buzzing with Welcomeness.

I recall that last year, during New Student Week, I felt confused, anxious, and, well, New. But Welcome Week brought no such feelings for me.

I woke up Thursday and then worked at the Lawrentian, and started talking to some of the freshmen. I was very nervous because I had never met any of them, but nevertheless I felt that our interactions all took place out of Welcomeness, not Newness.

Thursday afternoon, I took a nap on a couch on the Sabin House porch. Last year, I was New and scurrying around and moving things up the Kohler elevator at that time. But Welcome Week was here; and when it started raining Thursday afternoon, I didn’t have to rush to close my mom’s car windows. I could just sit and feel Welcome.

Thursday night I went to Welcome Week’s concert, and, since it wasn’t New Student Week, I felt less anxious. I felt like I had known the performers on stage for months.

Friday morning I handed out pencils to the freshmen who tested at the con. I was, incredibly, less nervous than a year before. I could just sit back and be Welcoming and sharpen pencils.

Lambda Sigma President Suzanne Heinrich was the first to formally Welcome me to Lawrence. Then President Warch gave his remarks, which were not—as they were during New Student week—New, but rather familiar and Welcoming.

It was so much easier to meet students this year when I didn’t have to worry about being nervous and New. I especially met a ton of cool freshmen.

I felt so Welcomed by my freshman friends that I even wanted to participate in their photograph. But this year they distributed shirts prior to the 7 p.m. Sunday photograph. New Student Week’s photograph and Welcome Week’s photograph were so different, and represent a microcosm of how the name change has affected campus.

Last year, the photo was taken at high noon on the chapel steps during a sunny day and took about 20 minutes to finish. We had to stare right into the sun, and didn’t even have our shirts. Then we got our shirts, and they were purple. I mean, when’s the last time anything purple’s ever seemed Welcoming to you?

Some freshman sourpuss threw his red class of 2006 shirt in a bush outside Colman.

In a few weeks, I plan on wearing my new class shirt during the Fall Festival. To think that you could combine the excitement of Family Weekend and Homecoming into one, just by changing a name…

Who knows? Maybe next year it will turn out that Welcome Week is even better the second time around, even when it’s not new. Hmm…What will be 2007’s class color?