AU launches new Welcome Week programs
Welcome Week to focus on local and global social justice issues
AU’s newest wonks will get their social justice work started early with an entirely new set of Welcome Week programs centered on activism and volunteerism in the city.
The class of 2020 will have the option to participate in one of eight thematic Explore DC programs during Welcome Week, which will attempt to combine many of the aspects of past Welcome Week events, such as the Freshman Service Experience and Media by Metro.
“The change was precipitated by a number of things, but the most significant reason is the student voice,” said Garrett Schlichte, coordinator of Orientation, Transition and Retention. “We felt the changes made better reflect the needs and wants of AU students.”
Schlichte said the restructuring was based on feedback collected from previous classes that demonstrated that each group of students tends to bring new interests.
The week’s themes are: Food and Justice, Housing Justice and Community Engagement, Community Health, Arts and Media for Social Change, Environment and Urban Sustainability, Identity and Civil Rights, Education and Community Building and Global Human Rights, Immigration and Refugee Issues.
“Each area was designed to expose students who participate in the program not only [to] a better understanding of their new home, but a better understanding of the identities and community that dot its historic streets and neighborhoods,” said Eamon Martin, a junior in Kogod and a 2016 Orientation Chair.
Taylor Dumpson, the Explore D.C. Program Coordinator and a junior in the School of Communication, designed the program's logo very deliberately to reflect the intersectionality of each of these themes.
"The logo is a tic-tac-toe design. There are eight social justice areas that are around the border of the tic-tac-toe board, and it goes to show that whether you're in Food Justice, Housing Justice and Community Health, they all impact each other," Dumpson said.
Additionally, according to Dumpson all programs within the eight themes will be led by either faculty and staff, students or orientation leaders.
For example, faculty members and advisors will lead small groups of students in programs called “Media by Metro” and “Kogod Capital Connections,” which will focus on social justice work at particular organizations, Martin said.
“In many ways, we have taken the best aspects of each of the old three programs [Freshman Service Experience, Media by Metro and Discover D.C.], and have created an excellent new program that seeks to challenge and educate students while also enabling them to experience our beautiful city and have a great time while doing it,” Martin said. “I think it is an excellent course of action, and I look forward to seeing how it turns out.”
He said a service-based option will also still be available and will be led by students, while “general exposure” programs within each area will be offered and led by Orientation Leaders. Welcome Week will still include its traditional opening and closing ceremonies, Dumpson said, but the entire week will be driven by social justice activism.
“The goal of Welcome Week has always been to foster an inclusive community,” Schlichte said. “We know that there isn’t one way to do that, but rather many ways to create a culture of care and inclusion.”