By Curt Yeomans
Clayton State University's roughly 6,000 students were greeted Monday by volunteers offering information about upcoming events, and the opportunity to put pictures of themselves into snow globes, as the spring 2009 semester got underway.
It is Welcome Back Week at the university, where campus organizations roll out the red carpet for returning students. On Monday, the university had "Ask Me!" volunteers around campus to offer assistance to students. The volunteers will be out again on Tuesday.
The effort is spearheaded by Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority, the Campus Events Council and the university's Department of Campus Life.
"It's a customer-service initiative to help new students navigate their way around campus," said Audreianna Smith, the secretary and treasurer of Alpha Kappa Alpha. "I know it can be very confusing, so we have people at different locations to give [students] directions."
Many returning students said they also benefit from Welcome Back Week, since it allows them to find out about changes which took place on the campus during semester breaks, or about new organizations.
During Welcome Back Week in 2005, Urshula Patterson, a senior biology major from Lithonia, found out Alpha Kappa Alpha was forming a chapter at the university. Patterson went on to become a charter member of the sorority.
"Welcome Back Week is nice, because you get to see a lot of the changes that have been taking place at the university, and you get to see new organizations form," said Patterson.
Diara Watkins, a senior accounting major from Augusta, also discovered a new student organization during Welcome Back Week. In 2006, Watkins found out a chapter of Gamma Beta Mu Leadership Society, Inc., was formed at the university. As a result, Watkins looked into the organization, and became a member.
Watkins said Welcome Back Week is important, particularly for new students, because it offers a glimpse into campus life. "Since this was known as a commuter school for so long, younger students get to see we actually do things on campus," she said, referring to the fact that Clayton State opened its first on-campus student housing facility, Laker Hall, in August 2008.
On the first day of Welcome Back Week, several students had their pictures put into snow globes, which had slots in the back to hold pencils and pens. Denaé Hodge, vice president of the Campus Events Council, said the snow globes were chosen as an activity by the council, because "it's winter time and we thought it would be a good idea to have something winter-related for the students."
Despite the season, many students said they had snow globes made for keepsake purposes. "You create something to help you remember your college years by doing stuff like this," said Winifred Nwanze, a junior biology major from Lithonia, after she and her roommate, Whitlie Irving, posed together for their snow-globe picture.
Cynthia Anunobi, a freshman from Conyers who is also a biology major, and her friend, Oriskany Carr, a freshman nursing major, posed together for a snow-globe picture. "I did it just for the memories," said Anunobi. "I also wanted to support what the Campus Events Council is doing."
Other events planned for Welcome Back Week, include: a design-a-T-shirt event on Tuesday, in the James M. Baker University Center; a viewing of the movie "Pineapple Express" on Wednesday, in the ballroom of the Student Activity Center; a game night on Thursday, in the activity center's game room, and ice skating on Friday, the activity center's ballroom.