UI programs help entertain freshman

By Anna Heinemann

With move-in day out of the way and classes two days from now, the University is offering freshmen plenty of opportunities to stay occupied and learn about college living during their first official day on campus.

Convocation, 4:30 p.m.

Resident advisers will lead their first-year students to Assembly Hall by 4:30 p.m. today for the class of 2008 convocation.

Pat Askew, vice chancellor for student affairs, said this will be the only time the roughly 7,300 students, the University’s largest incoming class ever, will be assembled together until their graduation.

“We see it as bookends – there’s convocation to welcome them and then commencement, both taking place in the same place,” Askew said. “We want to show them that if they’ve been admitted to the University, we have total confidence that they are committed and able to graduate.”

In addition to speeches by Interim Chancellor Richard Herman and English professor Philip Graham, students will see a video representing some of the University’s most successful alumni and an Illini trivia show developed by another group of alumni, Askew said.

As they walk into Assembly Hall, students will receive an orange “Class of 2008” t-shirt to wear during the 45-minute ceremony.

Kirby Avenue will be closed from First Street to Fourth Street from 3:30 p.m. until 6:30 p.m. to accomodate the large number of students traveling back and forth from the residence halls to Assembly Hall.

First Nite, 5:45 p.m.

Immediately following convocation, close to 5:45 p.m., the group will move to Memorial Hall for First Nite, an introduction to fall sports and other opportunities on campus.

Askew said First Nite will start off with a picnic dinner of chicken, hamburgers and vegetarian options catered by dining services.

The one-hour program will feature an introduction to all the fall sports teams and their coaches, and performances by registered student organizations such as the Black Chorus and the Flippin’ Illini, according to Dena Bagger, associate director of student programs for the Alumni Association.

“We want to show students there are many diverse ways to get involved,” Bagger said.

She said the Marching Illini will also teach students Illini Fight songs and lead the group in singing “Hail to the Orange (Alma Mater)”.

Bagger said the First Nite experience will also end with a small fireworks display.

Fresh Start, 7 p.m.

After the official student welcoming activities, Campus Recreation is offering students a chance to have some more fun with live entertainment and activities at Fresh Start from 7 p.m. until 11 p.m. in the Intramural Physical Education Building (IMPE).

According to Jayne DeLuce, associate director for Campus Recreation, Fresh Start will include activities ranging from inflatable games and karaoke to open play in various sports.

“This is really going to be action-packed,” she said. “There’s something going on in every area, and it’s a great way to introduce them to the fun side of campus and the facilities that will be available to them.”

Gyms will be open for students to play kickball, dodgeball, wiffleball, volleyball, basketball, badminton and more, DeLuce said.

Outside in the tennis courts, campus recreation will have refreshments set up for students listening to the local music group Mike & Joe. DeLuce said the tennis courts will also feature a dunk tank that will let students dunk their resident advisors.

At the outdoor pool, freshmen can race kayaks or participate in cannonball and belly flop contests. Once it gets dark enough, DeLuce said there will be a “dive-in” showing of Pirates of the Caribbean, a movie that will set a Caribbean theme for the rest of the evening.

Inside of Gym 2, students can visit the Krannert Center booth to dress up in Caribbean costumes or enter to win a “great prize treasure.” Nearby at the Campus Information Technologies and Education Services (CITES) Caribbean Carnival, there will be a limbo contest and, among other prizes, the opportunity to win an Apple iPod.

DeLuce said there will a lot of giveaways throughout the evening, such as free pizza from Domino’s for a year, or free room and board for one semester.

Campus recreation is also offering to take students on hard hat tours through the new renovations in Gym 1.

IMPE will be open to all members until 6 p.m. Once Fresh Start begins, only freshmen will have the option of using the workout portions of the building.