Students feel at home after ‘First Night’


Molly Dotson

Students cheer for their favorite contestant during the dance off at “First Night” in O’Brien Field Sunday.

Angelica Cataldo, Entertainment Reporter

Katelyn Nichols was worried about missing her home back in Huntley, but after a weekend of Prowl events, she is finally starting to feel at home at Eastern.

“I was scared to come [to Eastern] because I’d be far away from home,” Nichols said. “But I love it here. With all this going on, I haven’t had to think about it.”

Nichols, a freshman psychology major, along with her new friend and roommate, Hannah Brickey, a freshman English major, attended First Night: an EIU Tradition together.

“We’ve attended every event this weekend,” Brickey said. “It’s so exciting.”

New freshmen and transfer students gathered in O’Brien Stadium Sunday night to kick off the fall semester with contests, giveaways and music.

This year, student body president Catie Witt made the decision to move First Night from the South Quad to O’Brien Field to make sure there was enough room for all the performances and activities and to give new students a taste of what the energy would be like at athletic events on campus.

“I wanted to leave my mark, and I wanted to improve First Night,” Witt said. “I can understand it’s a tradition and I know it’s always been in the South Quad, but I still think the tradition will always be there.”

Witt said she does not think that means changing tradition; rather it is trying something new to see what students like.

Witt said her goal was to encourage students to get involved on campus and feel like a family.

“I really just want to get more students really engaged,” Witt said. “I think that first weekend is crucial because that’s where you get to meet everyone, (and) you realize it’s a family and that this could be your home.”

Witt said getting involved and meeting people through Prowl weekend is what lead her to the path she is on today.

An introduction to the fall semester was given by Eastern President David Glassman, followed by performances from the Pink Panthers, the cheer squad, marching band, and an introduction of sports teams were shown in front of approximately 700 new students.

Emceeing the event was admissions counselor Omar Solomon and Hailey Tellier, speaker of the student senate.

“Just being able to see how passionate and excited everyone is at Eastern made me that excited about Eastern as well,” Tellier said. “There is a lot of energy.”

Tellier was a transfer student last year and was involved in multiple events during this year’s Prowl weekend. But this was her first time speaking in front of a large crowd for the entire campus.

“Last year was actually my first ‘First Night’ and I just really remember that that was my first time I really felt at home at Eastern,” Tellier said. “You could tell everyone was super excited, and it really just set the atmosphere for the entire year.”

Both Tellier and Solomon brought their energy to the field, motivating returning and new students alike to participate in the school fight song and other school cheers.

“I hope that it gets [new students] really excited about Eastern and to get their hands dirty on campus,” Tellier said. “I hope they realize that Eastern is their home from the first day they come on campus, and that is really is just one big family here.”

First Night is the last Prowl event before the start of fall classes, and aims to bring the entire campus together.

“[First Night] is one of my favorite traditions on campus. [We’re] providing school spirit and kicking off the new year with that spirit,” Solomon said. “Every new student should know that we’re all in this together ­­— top to bottom, start to finish.”

Angelica Cataldo can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected].