California Baptist University hosted Welcome Weekend on Sept. 3-5 to officially welcome incoming freshmen and transfer students to campus. Events took place across three days, ranging from freshman-exclusive activities to some open to upperclassmen on campus. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Welcome Weekend was an entirely virtual format in 2020. With some restrictions lifted, events were allowed in person this year.
Multiple on-campus organizations were involved in planning and executing the various parts of the weekend. Friday consisted of move-in day for residential students, as well as academic and commuter open houses. Saturday featured a choose your own kickback event, with a pool party, a lounge and fitness classes at the Recreation Center. Spiritual Life also hosted a kickoff event that night. Campus tours, lunch and a screening of the movie Cruella made up Sunday’s closing festivities.
First-Year Experience (FYE) leaders hosted their individual groups of freshmen in a smaller environment to foster new friendships. These groups stayed together for the majority of the weekend.
Liz Fronterhouse, senior communication sciences and disorders major and FYE intern, said the FYE program is important for freshmen because it helps them acclimate to campus life.
“FYE has a huge role in Welcome Weekend, as our team has a key role in making new students feel welcomed at CBU and getting them connected to campus resources and each other,” Fronterhouse said. “The FYE leaders serve as a resource to new students as they make the transition and make sure that each Welcome Weekend event is a place for them to connect as well.”
Fronterhouse also said she enjoyed observing new students’ eagerness as they learn about CBU.
“Freshmen have been eager to get involved,” Fronterhouse said. “They are excited to be on campus and see what CBU has to offer. Many of them do not know how CBU typically runs Welcome Weekend, which has been helpful in getting them excited about what we were able to do.”
Esther Logan, freshman worship arts and ministry major, echoed Fronterhouse’s words in her own experiences. She emphasized the importance of the connections she made over the weekend’s events.
“I think at first I was overwhelmed by the size of the campus and all the unfamiliarity of it, but it was pretty easy to adapt and get used to,” Logan said. “Connections with people have been crazy. I’ve met so many freshman and upper-classmen who are just excited to create friendships and have a good time. I had been really nervous. I think just about meeting people and it was comforting knowing everyone else was feeling the same way.”
FYE is a branch of CBU’s Community Life department, which led most events during the weekend. Chris Hofschroer, assistant dean of students, said he believes Welcome Weekend went well.
“We have heard nothing but positive feedback from our new students about Welcome Weekend,” Hofschroer said. “We think that students are just ready to be in person and together again.”
As well as FYE, student government organization, ASCBU, also played a role in the carrying out of Welcome Weekend by assisting Community Life. Phoebe Arevalo, senior philosophy major and ASCBU president, talked about ASCBU’s involvement, as well as becoming a familiar face to incoming students.
“Welcome Weekend was planned by Community Life, but ASCBU collaborated with them and supported them with extra hands and finances,” Arevalo said. “ASCBU, as well as all other student leaders, were asked to help with this annual weekend event. ASCBU helped with move-in, Involvement Fair, and Kick-Off. Additionally, we partnered with ComLife to fund an In-N-Out truck lunch for all new students.”
Hofschroer also said that the school took precautions for COVID-19 due to the current ongoing threat of the Delta variant. As a result, most of the weekend’s events were held outside to help mitigate the chances of the virus being spread. In addition, attendees were required to wear masks and practice social distancing at indoor events.
Sakai Kelly-Nyx, freshman pre-nursing major, said that she noticed participating students were abiding by the COVID-19 precautions.
“During Welcome Weekend I witnessed most students wearing masks when needed,” Kelly-Nyx said.