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CSU, Chico News

Expanded Student Orientation Emphasizes Successful and Safe Transition to University Life

Date: 08-12-2013

Joe Wills
Public Affairs

California State University, Chico has long had an extensive new student orientation in the fall, but entering freshman and transfers this year will have many more workshops, meetings and activities to attend from Aug. 19 to Aug. 25.

The events at new-student orientation – named Wildcat Welcome – are all designed with one thing in mind: to help Chico State students be safe and successful.

“Many of the ideas for these new events came out of the Call for Community Action meetings earlier this year to reduce alcohol abuse and other community challenges,” said Mary Wallmark, Student Life and Leadership program coordinator and chair of Wildcat Welcome. “We listened to the students, community members and professionals who attended those meetings and have implemented their ideas.”

The Call for Community Action (PDF) was a statement released by 28 community leaders in the Chico area calling for a comprehensive effort to address the problem of alcohol abuse. CSU, Chico responded with the Feb. 22 Community Action Summit, which involved approximately 400 participants, and the March 12 Campus Commitment to Action Summit, which involved approximately 300 participants.

For instance, Wallmark said, summit participants suggested events to introduce new students to community resources, as a way for them to experience Chico quickly and have alternatives to parties. As a result, Wildcat Welcome will feature a “Trip ’n’ Dip” group outing and swim in Upper Bidwell Park and a “Win ’n’ Spin” bike trip to Bidwell Park Thursday, Aug. 22.

While all the Wildcat Welcome events have an important purpose – getting students connected to college life in healthy ways – they also help new students bond with each other, which aids student success, Wallmark said. “Plus, they will have a lot of fun,” she added. “That’s very important, too – students need to understand that they can have a fun and connect with others without alcohol and partying.”

A complete list of Wildcat Welcome events is at http://www.csuchico.edu/wildcatwelcome/.

Other healthy alternative events for students include “Rock da Block,” a fair with food and music at the Sutter Residence Hall courtyard; “Friday Night Concert Wildcat Style,” where students will be brought to Downtown Plaza to enjoy the concert along with food booths and special prizes; and “Moon Over Movie,” a late-night showing of a film on the Glenn Hall lawn.

To reduce the incidence of alcohol poisoning, the Community Alcohol and Drug Education Center (CADEC) is holding free active bystander trainings. Students learn how to prevent toxic drinking and promote healthy living, and in so doing join the Red Watch Band Team. Safe Place, a campus office that provides confidential assistance to students victimized by violence, is holding workshops to teach students how not to become victims.

Wallmark said several events are geared toward students finding clubs and activities that suit them, since involvement in activities, particularly in the first year of classes, is a strong predictor of graduation. “Turnin' It Up the Wildcat Way” is a fair that will introduce new students to more than 100 student organizations; “WREC It!” at the Wildcat Recreation Center will include many demonstrations of intramural sports and exercise and wellness classes along with Adventure Outings outdoor trips; and “Wildcat Transfer-Mation” is a food, music and information fair designed specifically for new transfer students.

The official university welcome for new students will be at 9 a.m. on Friday, Aug. 23. CSU, Chico President Paul Zingg and Associated Students President Taylor Herren will greet students in the University Stadium. A reception will be held for new students’ parents while the welcome takes place. Following the ceremony, students will be invited to pose for a giant class photo on the fields behind the University Stadium. The University also staged a big photo last year to celebrate its 125th anniversary.

While orientation has always included academic advising sessions on Friday, this year a faculty mentoring session, mandatory for all students, has been added on Saturday. Faculty members and returning students will meet with groups of new students to answer questions and help them be successful in their classes immediately.

The last planned Wildcat Welcome activity will be a clean-up of downtown and adjoining neighborhoods. “Chico State is well known as a leader in community service, so this will be a way for new students to give back to the community from the very start,” said Wallmark. The "Be Chico" event is a partnership with Community Action Volunteers in Education (CAVE), the Chico Chamber of Commerce and the Respect Chico campaign.

The University expects approximately 2,350 first-time freshman and 1,900 transfer students for fall 2013.