The first days of campus life will be noticeably different for this year’s freshman class than for those of years past.
Incoming first-year students will participate in the first annual Ram Welcome this weekend, which will serve as their formal introduction to CSU.
In previous years, opening weekend included some social activities and lots of free time. Ram Welcome, however, is designed as an extended orientation, during which students will meet faculty in their academic departments as well as their residence hall neighbors.
“It’s a huge institutional endeavor,” said Jody Donovan, assistant to the Vice President for Student Affairs. “We want to launch students into understanding their role at Colorado State.”
This restructure came as a result of the elimination of the freshman seminars from required coursework. A planning committee decided that an in-depth orientation at the beginning of the semester would be more beneficial to students, introducing them to various resources on campus before they need them.
One of the biggest changes from years past is that all incoming freshmen are required to move into their residence halls on Thursday.
At 4 p.m. Thursday every residence hall floor will have their first floor meeting to outline the rest of the Ram Welcome schedule. At that time, there will also be a reception for new commuter students, and an ice cream social with CSU President Larry Penley for students’ families.
Friday, first-year students will meet with faculty, advisers and other students within their academic department and college. On Saturday, the 3,800 freshmen will line up to spell out “CSU” on the intramural fields.
On Friday and Saturday nights, the Lory Student Center and the Student Recreation Center will be open late offering myriad activities for incoming students to have fun and meet people.
“We have everything from a henna-tattoo artist to distinguished faculty giving their favorite lectures,” Donovan said. “The question was, how do we keep 3,800 students busy?”
Donovan, who will take over as the Director of Student Transitions and Parent and Family Programs on Sept. 1, said there are five main goals for Ram Welcome. Those goals are: building community, increasing active engagement by students, discovery and learning, appreciating diversity and striving for excellence.
The two most important goals are building community and striving for excellence, said Kevin Oltjenbruns, vice provost and academic vice president. She said there will also be mentoring opportunities and seminars throughout the semester to continue orientation for interested students.
“We don’t want to give students the idea that they can come to CSU and do the very least and get a degree,” she said. “We really, really hope that students will feel (they are) more a part of CSU.”
Part of the community building is achieved in the residence halls. Mary Ellen Sinnwell, director of Residence Life, said the hall staffs are working to create a campus community as well as individual floor communities.
Each student will also have a personalized letter waiting for them in their rooms when they move in, including a schedule specific to their own major.
“This is a very intentional four days of really helping them get acclimated to the campus,” Sinnwell said.
Some new students are glad for the structured weekend.
Danielle Boyle, a freshman dance and psychology major, is looking forward to Ram Welcome.
“I like that it’s organized, because I can get used to the campus better,” she said. “I know, for me, that would help a lot.”
Ram Welcome coordinators also worked with other departments on campus to ensure that every new student can attend, including those who are involved with football or marching band practice this week.
Oltjenbruns said the whole campus has jumped at the idea of welcoming new students this way. Greek organizations, faculty, the Honors Program, ROTC and other groups are sending volunteers to help with the weekend’s events.
Every volunteer will be wearing a yellow CSU T-shirt.
“When you have to buy 1,500 yellow T-shirts, that is an astounding testament to how campus is buying into this idea,” Oltjenbruns said.
Ultimately, Ram Welcome comes down to keeping students at CSU.
“If I had to blend all of those goals into the real outcome, it would be to increase student retention,” Oltjenbruns said. “We want students to succeed here.”
(full schedule available at www.ramwelcome.colostate.edu)
7 a.m. Residence halls open for move-in
4 p.m. On-Campus residents: Required first floor meeting
Commuter Students: Reception in LSC Commons
Family Members: Ice Cream with President Penley, LSC West Ballroom
6 p.m. Ram Welcome Carnival, LSC West lawn
10 p.m. Social in Residence Halls
10 a.m. Connecting with Academic Department (location dependent on individual schedule)
7 p.m. Late Night in Lory Student Center
including casino night, live music, laser tag, cultural dance performances, karaoke, computer games, fortune telling, crafts and more.
10:30 a.m. PlayFair, corner of Plum and Meridian streets
1:30 p.m. CSU Welcome, Moby Arena
7 p.m. late Night at the Recreation Center
Moonlight movie, concert, hike to the “A,” free throw tournament, dance lessons and more
11 p.m. Late Night Shopping Excursion
1-4 p.m. RamServe, meet at LSC food court
Community service projects throughout Fort Collins
1-3 p.m. Challenge Course, Ropes Course, Center Avenue