ANA SANTOS / THE EAGLE
As the pep band played the AU fight song, the Class of 2016 marched passed throngs of cheering faculty, staff and older students into Bender Arena for the 87th convocation ceremony on August 24.
“We gather this morning to celebrate the beginning of the 2012 school year,” Vice President of Campus Life Gail Hanson said.
Hanson was one of many faculty members seated on the stage clad in academic robes waiting to address the freshman class. Behind them hung posters emblazoned with the word “IDEAS” that the students had made at Eagle Summit .
Hanson went on to say that more than 1,000 freshman had participated in Discover D.C. and Freshman Service Experience while another 200 tried one of the other Welcome Week programs offered this year.
“Last year, we kicked off the semester with an earthquake and a hurricane,” she said. “This year, we decided to let the special effects go.”
The next few speakers offered advice to the incoming students.
“Don’t be afraid to take chances early,” Student Government President Emily Yu. “These first few weeks are meant for you to expand your horizons.”
AU President Neil Kerwin advised students to take advantage of everything the District has to offer so that they leave AU “truly educated.”
However, Provost Scott Bass warned students to take it slow.
“Yet, as I encourage you to take advantage of AU and all the city has to offer, I caution you to pace yourself,” he said.
The winner of the 2012 Scholar Teacher Award, College of Arts and Sciences Professor Richard Sha, explained the Odysseus problem as a word of caution: after poking out the eye of a Cyclops, Odysseus couldn’t help but brag about it, he said, and for that Odysseus was punished.
“Odysseus has to learn that it’s not all about him,” he said.
Then, addressing the students directly, he said, “It’s not all about you.”
Erin Fuller, president of the AU alumni board, said the core of AU was a “passion for learning.”
“You know our experience, separated by decades, will have more in common than not, “ she said, “So much has changed, but the core of AU has stayed the same.”
Finally, Yu, Residence Hall Association President Fiona Erickson and the Eagle Summit orientation leaders taught the freshmen the AU fight song.
The lyrics to the song were written on the back of the Class of 2016 T-shirts so they could read off the person in front of them.