Goodman: Wildcat Welcome expansion a step in the wrong direction


Meredith Goodman, Columnist

As a student anxious to start college so far from my parents, I enjoyed my Wildcat Welcome. It was helpful for me to tour campus, register for classes with guidance and meet my peer adviser, fellow students and freshman seminar professor. Plus, I got to roam around Six Flags for a few hours without waiting in line for anything.

That being said, Wildcat Welcome gets a little old after a few days. The endless array of mandatory activities, the need to walk everywhere with your PA group and the required lunches and dinners start to make you feel like a little kid back in summer camp. I became overwhelmed by the sheer number of activities and just wanted a few hours to myself to explore the campus and Evanston.

This is why I was surprised to learn that Northwestern will expand Wildcat Welcome to 10 whole days this upcoming school year, up from seven my freshman year and eight the past two years. I know this decision won’t affect me personally, but I feel the need to advocate for the freshmen coming to campus in the fall. Freshmen do not need 10 whole days of required activities for Wildcat Welcome.

Though I disagree with the decision, I applaud the rationale behind it. Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, begins the evening of Sunday, Sept. 13 this year, and classes start the next Monday. Because the organizers of Wildcat Welcome cannot hold required events during the Jewish holiday, they want to expand orientation to accommodate Jewish students who want to take days off to observe the holiday, while still finishing all the required activities before the start of classes.

As a Jewish student who takes off class and activities to observe the Jewish holiday every September or October, I do appreciate this reasoning to welcome and accommodate new Jewish students. However, starting Wildcat Welcome and then taking a one- or two-day break from mandatory activities does not make any sense to me or new students. Additionally, Jewish students will miss out on any PA group bonding activities that happen while they observe the holiday.

As a solution, Wildcat Welcome should consider making move-in day Sunday, Sept. 13, and then having two optional days of PA-led programming during Rosh Hashanah. This will give Jewish students the chance to observe the holidays for both days and allow other new students to either explore NU and Chicago or get to know campus with their PA. Perhaps Wildcat Welcome could even subsidize El passes so PAs could take their advisees to downtown Chicago. Whatever students choose to do, giving everyone a break before the madness of Wildcat Welcome will allow everyone to be more relaxed and prepared to start school.

Ultimately, Wildcat Welcome has the important responsibility of making sure that new students are prepared to start their NU journey, but this can be done without overwhelming students with an extraordinary number of mandatory activities. NU should consider shortening Wildcat Welcome to let new students get to know the campus on their own terms.

Meredith Goodman is a Weinberg senior. She can be reached at [email protected]. If you would like to respond publicly to this column, send a Letter to the Editor to [email protected].