Students returned for the Spring semester with a message from Baruch’s Undergraduate Student Government welcoming back everyone for a fresh start in 2016. Hosting their annual “Welcome Week,” the USG spread positive vibes to all who passed the halls on the second floor of the Vertical Campus or happened to wander into the main gym during club hours on Feb. 4.
For her third consecutive semester, Nardine Salama, vice president of USG, was in charge of the production of Welcome Week. Being that she had the chance to learn from her last two experiences in order to grow this Welcome Week, Salama said that practice makes perfect. “This year was so successful, because we started working on Welcome Week from the very first week of January; we divided up the work, and everyone who said they would do something followed through.”
With different members focusing on different aspects of Welcome Week, the turnout was significant, and students were actively participating in everything offered. Fliers, cover photos and T-shirts were all designed and ordered by the Christina Young, vice chair of marketing.
The “Dreaming of Potatoes” event kicked-off Welcome Week on Monday with the help of Baruch’s Thespian Club. Agata Poniatowski, chair of public affairs, led USG in the planning for the event.
As students lined up in droves on the second floor, they were encouraged to jot down a dream they had before being served a variety of hot food, including chicken, french fries, baked beans, meatballs and the marquee entree, baked potatoes. The dreams were then passed on to Baruch Thespian Club members to act out on a stage nearby.
“I think it’s something completely different from what USG normally does,” explained Poniatowski. “It gives a nice, new kind of feeling to Welcome Week that has not been done before a million times.” She continued, “Incorporating the Thespian Club is something that I really wanted to do because we could show-off that Baruch also has not just USG planning big events, but we also have [the] Thespian Club and other clubs that are welcome to help us out.”
Potato House supplied enough food for 250 people, and the popularity of the event could easily be inferred by the rapidly depleting stock.
“I think it is great start to Welcome Week, considering (it was) the first day of classes,” said Christina Russo, arts administration major and vice president of Thespian Club.
Several spectators of the event also affirmed the welcoming atmosphere. “I think it’s kind of good, especially since the Thespian Club just started maybe a year ago, so it’s good that USG is pairing up [with Thespian Club] because there’s a lot to learn if you are a smaller club,” said Melanie DiPalma, a member of Exit, Stage Left.
The Gamer was the second event of the week held by USG on Feb. 2. Ehtasham Bhatti, USG representative senator, headed the planning of this event, which included two game installations for the day in the second floor lounge and game room. Students challenged each other in Dance Dance Revolution, battling for bragging rights of the best footwork. On the other side of the room, students gathered around to watch others race while playing Virtual Reality racecar game.
Welcome Week’s unwavering spirit was noticeable midway through the week with Wednesday’s “Netflix and Chill” event, which attracted hordes of viewers.
A wide variety of muffins, Starbucks coffee and two white leather couches made for an inviting environment in which students could sit back, relax and watch television.
“Not everybody is in the mood to do some activity, plus everyone is running towards classes, so the best thing we thought of was to put some couches out there and giving out some free muffins and coffee,” said Viral Shah, representative senator. “This will make the mood easier for them since it is the first week of class.”
Students were also given free USG-themed planners, t-shirts, stylus pens and sticky notes in addition to an abundance of food. At one point, the line of students eager to get in on the event stretched from the second floor landing to just past the S.E.E.K. office.
“It’s a place where everyone can come together and socialize a little bit in a school where maybe that is not a student’s top priority, but it gives students an opportunity to take the time out of their hectic schedule.” said Yenenehe Tedla, accounting major. “I think it’s a pretty cool event that USG has put together, and it looks like it’s doing pretty well.”
USG decided not to host an event on Thursday out of respect to other on-campus events hosted by student-run clubs and organizations. Instead, they helped plan, pay for and market for the Office of Student Life’s recreation of Candyland in the main gymnasium. “We wanted to support the other initiatives to the best of our abilities,” said Salama.
The gym was flooded with blown-up bouncy houses, castles and rocky mountain climbing on blow-up mountains. For those who were not jumping around and falling over, two professionals were doing caricature drawings of students, and nameplates were being made for those who lined up. To accommodate all the expended energy on jumping and waiting on lines, smoothies, candy and cookies were being offered around the gym.
“Bearcats on Ice” will be the next big hosting from USG to come. USG rents out Rockefeller Center Ice Skating Rink for several hours, allowing students to come and skate for free.