Students sat, talked and enjoyed the sunshine during the five days of Week of Welcome. Krisha Agatep – Mustang Daily.

Cal Poly has hosted Week of Welcome (WOW) for incoming freshmen since 1957, but this year the program initiated changes because of concerns over an increase in alcohol consumption throughout the week in the recent past.

One change for 2010 was that WOW began on a Wednesday; in previous years the week began on a Monday. WOW leaders were also given a list of restricted zones — places that were off limits to take “wowies,” or incoming freshmen participating in the week — during WOW hours.

The restricted area included streets especially close to campus, such as streets and cross streets of Grand Avenue and California Boulevard.

Leaders were also responsible for keeping their groups occupied until very late at night, another change from years past.

The move-in dates for the freshman class were shifted as well because of the later start this year. Instead of moving in the weekend before WOW, freshmen moved into the dorms on Monday (because the move-in date was changed) — which received mixed reviews. City and regional planning freshman Sara Muse said her mom was not happy about having the move-in day during the week.

“My mom was mad that she had to take one and a half days off of work because she didn’t want to drive here and back home in only one day,” Muse said.

Others admitted that it wasn’t just their parents who were frustrated about the move-in. Samia Shamroukh, a forestry and natural resources freshman, said her family had to change around their move-in plans due to the changes.

“My whole family was supposed to come but (my siblings) had school and so my dad decided not to take off work and only my mom came to move me in. I was upset,” Shamroukh said.

Meanwhile, some parents didn’t have problems with the weekday move-in. Susie Horowitz, whose daughter is a freshman, said the weekday move-in did not affect her at all.

“We actually have our own business, so the days of the week didn’t matter as much for us. It was actually better because there was less traffic and everything went smoothly,” Horowitz said.

Students like Mark Berry, a bioresource and agricultural engineering freshman, believe that the change was enacted in order to give freshmen less opportunity to go out and party before WOW starts.

University Police Department (UPD) Chief of Police Bill Watton said the UPD wanted the freshmen to move in on a Monday to be kept busy with both Fall Launch and WOW.

“We wanted to eliminate any down time that the students would have the weekend before WOW started,” Watton said.

Not only did starting WOW on Wednesday affect parents who had to take a day off work to move students in, but it also affected downtown businesses. Since parents moved freshmen in during the work week, they had less time to visit downtown San Luis Obispo and go shopping.

“It seemed like sales were a little less than normal,” said Cal Poly Downtown Store employee Taylor Bunka.

Bunka said she believed it was definitely because of move-in day – since parents had less time to spare unless they decided to take time off of work.

Cal Poly Downtown store manager Maria Mendes felt there was a significant difference from last year.

“(WOW) affected it, but I’m not sure if it was in a negative way,” she said. “Last year we had way more people on Saturday and Sunday, but this year it was a bit more spread out, which was actually kind of nice.”

The changes made to WOW may have been an inconvenience to parents, but those involved in WOW felt it was important in order to keep students away from the party scene. They offered late night activities to keep “wowies” occupied.

“We were supposed to keep our group until 11 p.m. on Wednesday and Thursday and (strongly suggested to keep them) until 1 a.m. on Friday and Saturday,” said WOW leader Molly Wingo.

Many WOW leaders found that keeping their “wowies” that late at night was difficult. Although they did their best to keep their groups together until 1 a.m., most groups had less participation among freshmen in the late night activities, Wingo said.

By attempting to keep the freshmen in groups longer, the WOW staff was hoping to keep them from flocking the streets to party.

“(The WOW staff) mentioned over and over that they wanted to keep (the freshmen) from partying,” Wingo said.

Despite giving specific guidelines to entertain freshmen until late hours of the night, WOW leaders could not force their “wowies” to stay with the group — meaning many still went out to socialize.

However, this year University Police and San Luis Obispo Police were out in full force, breaking up many of the parties before most freshmen were done with their WOW activities.

Watton, who was out working on Friday and Saturday night, felt like this year the party scene was tamer than in years past.

“Although I hesitate to comment without seeing the numbers (of arrests), it does appear to look like the numbers are better than last year,” Watton said.

With the help of many WOW leaders following the directions from the WOW staff and the police department breaking up parties early, it seems WOW partying was calmer this year.

The numbers of arrests for public intoxication, minors in possession and driving under the influence have not yet been released to determine how or if the changes positively impacted the Week of Welcome program. For Berry, it was not the WOW he was expecting.

“It was a hassle and annoying,” Berry said. “We just wanna party.”

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