Three months worth of planning and hours of preparation will fall into place this weekend as the University Board unveils the annual welcome back weekend festivities.
This year’s theme is called “Panthers Back In Time” and focuses on a throwback to the ‘70s, ‘80s and ‘90s.
Though the University Board’s goals for the first weekend back mirror the years past, Nia Douglas and Katie Caulkins, the chair and vice-chair for UB, said this year was a little different.
The goal is simple: try to do something that has not been done before to get people to attend.
Caulkins said the hardest part is getting people out to events and making sure students know about the events in the first place.
“That surprises us,” Caulkins said. “It’s something that’s free, something to do in Charleston. We want everybody and anyone to come.”
As a result, Caulkins said when planning, members tried to find activities that would appeal to upperclassmen who feel like they did everything.
For example, there will be a foam dance party on Friday. Although it has been done before, Caulkins said it was a little over five years ago.
Douglas said the trick to getting people to come out, especially upperclassmen, is the incentives such as the free T-shirts or other gifts from the University Bookstore.
She said by providing incentives, it catches the students’ attention and eventually they end up staying for the whole event.
Douglas said sometimes the only way students get the free stuff is if they participate in the different activities, which are free.
“Even though the upperclassmen say that they’ve done this before they’re secretly excited about it,” Douglas said. “Don’t let anybody lie to you.”
However, welcome back weekend is not just reserved for returning students. Douglas said it is a way for freshmen to grow and start to develop as their own person in college.
Caulkins said the freshmen community is the easiest to get to come out because every freshman has to live on campus and the Resident Assistants “do good job getting people out.”
“Freshmen want to get out of their dorms because they’re excited, they’re away at college and they’re away from their parents,” Caulkins said.
As a former RA, Caulkins said welcome back weekend was a way for freshmen residents to not only meet some friends, but it was also the first time when they truly felt Eastern was their home.
“They felt like ‘I can find my place here because I’m doing all these things with these new people that I haven’t met before but we’re quickly becoming friends,’” Caulkins said.
As for those who still have some hesitation, Douglas said attending the first weekend festivities is like ripping off a band-aid.
“You were probably hesitant about going to college and what did you do, you just went. It’s just one of those things that’s like a band-aid you can’t be like ‘oh I’m scared’ because you never know what’s going to happen,” Douglas said. “Sometimes you just have to take that leap and go.”
“Panthers Back In Time” kicks off with a ‘70s themed “New Student Mixer” from 8:30-10 p.m. Thursday in the Library Quad.
Friday’s “Up All Night” event will have a ‘80s theme and takes place from 6-10 p.m. in the Martin Luther King Jr. University Union.
The three-day celebration ends with a ‘90s-themed “Quakin’ the Quad” from 7-11 p.m. in the South Quad.
Each day will have several activities for students to participate in such as a foam party and water balloon fight on Thursday; escape rooms and a sundae bar on Friday and several inflatable sets including a rockwall, bungee battle and mechanical bull on Saturday.
The events are free and students can participate in whatever they want, they might have to wait in line though, Douglas said.
For more information about the individual events or to get involved with the University Board, check out its Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/UBthere/or send an email at [email protected]
Analicia Haynes can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]