You just moved into your residence hall. You’ve met your roommates and sized them up. But before you can figure out how to make a top bunk bed, there’s two people in matching T-shirts and a giant, themed sign yelling at you spastically. You look around to see if anyone else is laughing, because heaven forbid you’re the only one to find these two morons funny. No one else is showing any other emotion other than “who are these losers?” because, let’s face it, you all want to seem cool.
This is only the beginning of Week of Welcome (WOW).
During that initial sit down, your leaders will tell you about all of the activities they have planned for the week. Some sound lame, others seem interesting. They range from kayaking to bonfires to community service. Let me tell you this: They will all be fun. Your leaders would not have put them into their schedule if they thought otherwise. See, the thing about WOW leaders is that they want you to look at them as the coolest people at Cal Poly. They want to become your mentors, buddies and Plu$-Dollar-users (you’ll find out what I mean by that very soon). When they plan their schedule, they choose the things they think would be the most fun for a group of eager 18-year-olds.
So participate in the activities!
I’m going to be straight up. You are in college now. College has parties. And yes, Cal Poly has parties that literally bring the roof down.
There will be parties literally every single night of WOW. You will find a friend in your dorm who has the hook up. They will know someone in your residence hall who has a friend who knows a second year who lives in Mustang Village whose old roommate is throwing a party on Hathway, and they will send you an address. You will then wander around in the dark wearing something your grandmother would have a heart attack if she saw you in, following around that one person who says they know where they’re going. After hours of wandering, you’ll arrive. It’s chaotic. It’s drunk. It’s a lot of looking around to find someone you know, maybe that person you met during Soar.
Let me tell you this, there will be other parties like that during your time at Cal Poly. But you will never have another WOW. Yes, all the “cool” kids in your residence hall are going to the jungle-themed party in the Jungle. But you will be the coolest kid to your WOW leaders if you go to that bonfire. Those are the times when you hang out with the people in your dorm (keep in mind, you’ll be living with them for the next year) and bond. WOW happens one time, parties can happen as many times as you want.
I’m not telling you to not go to any parties at all during WOW; I’m telling you to balance your week. I promise you won’t regret it.
Believe it or not, college parties don’t consist of sitting around a coffee table playing Chutes and Ladders and drinking lemonade. Shocking, right? I’m sure you can guess, the amount of alcohol at college parties (WOW especially) makes it look like we all think the world is coming to an end.
Here’s a news flash: You don’t need to get drunk to have fun or look cool. In fact, being that freshman who passes out at a party, forcing people who just met you the day before to carry you back to your residence hall, is really not cool. It’s the complete opposite. Yes, have fun. No, don’t be that freshman.
Here’s more news: you can be — wait for it — sober and still have fun! I did it! I did not have a single drop of alcohol during my freshman year. And guess what I did have. That’s right, a social life. People at Cal Poly are nice, believe it or not, and people are accepting. No one pressures you into drinking if you give them a simple “No thanks.” I would go to parties frequently. I actually really liked partying sober! I got to remember every single part of my night. Sometimes I’d carry around a red cup with water so no one offered me a drink, sometimes I’d tell people I was the DD for the night and sometimes I would be extremely straight up and just say no. It was fine.
So if you decide you want to be sober or stick to one to two drinks, don’t worry, you’ll be fine.
Think about that really hard science class you took senior year. You spent hours in class listening and hours out of class doing work. It was time consuming, right? Now double that, because realistically speaking it was your senior year and you were probably tuned out a majority of the time. That’s how much effort, if not more, WOW leaders put into planning your one crazy week.
The leaders-in-training met once a week for three hours at a time, in addition to countless hours outside those meetings. They sat through talks about every aspect of Cal Poly so they can answer any question a freshman might have about college. They planned every single minute of a whole entire week, trying their hardest to think of what a giant group of 18-year-olds they’ve never met would want to do all day.
From an outside perspective, WOW leaders may seem like overzealous upperclassmen who are just way too excited about anything green and gold, but they are so much more. As a freshman, you might assume some adult handed these leaders a planner, telling them where to go, and when. You will blow off a majority of what they have scheduled for you and disregard a lot of what they say.
Do not do this!
Here’s the ironic part. I assure you that as lame as you think they are, by the end of your freshman year, most of you will at least consider becoming a WOW leader for the next class, and many of you will take on that challenge. You will then vow to yourself that you, in fact, will be the greatest WOW leader to ever walk on campus. It will then be your turn to plan for hours and put your heart and soul into creating the best WOW experience possible. Then you’ll get a crop of freshman who will want to blow you off, and the cycle continues.
I’m going to ask the new class of 2019 to take a stand against this cycle and not be those freshmen who blow off every event just to party. Yes, there will be early mornings and late nights, but there will never be another WOW experience.