Welcome Weekend has come and gone again, but this time, it is bigger and better than ever. Perhaps one of the most defining events of the school year, Welcome Weekend encourages the creation of friend groups, core memories and sets the tone for the first-year college experience.
According to Gavin Andrew, director of New Student Programs, Welcome Weekend is one of the year’s most meaningful events as it takes over nine months to prepare.
“We always want to design events for students that allow them to interact with one another. We want to meet the needs of both introverts and extroverts,” Andrew said. “For example, the movie night on Friday is more designed for introverts. Those who want to relax, take a deep breath, and watch a video can do that, and those who want to keep talking are allowed to do that as well.”
While Friday consisted of settling onto campus and finding one’s bearings, Saturday was chock full of various events. CBU provided breakfasts for both commuters and on-campus students and throughout the day, students were given several options as to how they spent their time.
“The idea is that we want students to feel like CBU is home. We want a student who doesn’t know anyone to have a group of friends they can call their home base. That’s what it’s all about.”-Gavin Andrew, director of New Student Programs
“We had all the afternoon activities on Saturday,” Andrew said. “There’s the pool party, there’s the Recreation Center and there’s intramural sports. Then we have some downtime where they can go to the Van Dyne Gym and paint tote bags, listen to live music and drink coffee.”
However, the men’s soccer game that evening appeared to be the most popular activity. Bethany Hooper, freshman psychology major, expressed how much fun it was to root for her new school.
“It was hilarious watching the people around me cheering and going crazy for our team,” Hooper said.
Andrew shared that this is the first year CBU has had the opportunity to work with athletics and the student response has been overwhelming.
“We had in our schedule a men’s soccer game, which was Saturday night, and the women’s soccer game, which was Sunday afternoon. We’ve never collaborated with athletics before, which allowed us to break a new record attendance record for the men’s soccer game with over 1,500 fan engagements throughout the night. It kicked off with a pregame party and food trucks. It was great, so I hope to continue that tradition.”
As usual, CBU wrapped Welcome Weekend with the campus-wide event Clash n’ Roll. Students are encouraged to throw together the most horrendous outfits possible and enjoy a night of bunco and live music at this whirlwind of a gathering.
“It’s fun to see the smiles,” Andrew said. “It’s fun to see the connecting. It’s fun to see people coming by themselves and still getting connected by the end.”
Beto Espinoza, freshman kinesiology major, did just that. He shared how he came to Clash n’ Roll alone but walked away from the event with several potential new friends.
“Overall, it was good. I had a blast, talked to a lot of random people and became familiarized with others around me,” Espinoza said.
While Clash n’ Roll is, first and foremost, a night of fun for first-year students, it is also a night to remember for the people who organized it. Andrew shared how he first met his wife at Clash n’ Roll during his freshman year at CBU.
“Our first picture together is set at Clash n’ Roll,” Andrew said. “Back in my day, it was Clash n’ Bowl because we went to bowling alleys. Now we’ve outgrown any bowling alleys in the area.”
For Andrew, Clash n’ Roll is not just an event but the catalyst that began his passion for CBU’s inclusive culture. Andrew recalled being a senior and telling the former Director of New Student Programs that he wanted to have his job one day.
“God’s sense of humor kept me around,” Andrew said. “Now my three boys get to see Dad do this. They were at Clash n’ Roll, so it would be cool to see if they become FYE leaders one day if they choose to go to Calbaptist.”
Even though CBU has gone through many changes, the warm and inviting quality of the once small and cozy college is kept alive through Welcome Weekend and the passionate staff that put everything together.
“The idea is that we want students to feel like CBU is home,” Andrew said. “We want a student who doesn’t know anyone to have a group of friends they can call their home base. That’s what it’s all about.”