Williams: Freshmen sour on first days

Haul boxes. Tack up posters. Hug a teary-eyed mom and solemn dad goodbye.

Now what? For Geneseo freshmen, the next step was to overpay for three shoddy meals and then participate half-heartedly in some inane icebreakers.

New students hoping to find more substance and sustenance in the following days were sorely disappointed.

The administrators, faculty and returning upperclassmen should look at this first weekend as the perfect opportunity to impress new students, not to embarrass, bore and starve them.

It should also be understood that these first few weeks of college are when freshmen are most open to new friends and experiences; this should be taken advantage of instead of stifled by awkward activities.

The hard work that goes into planning the activities that make up the "Weeks of Welcome" program cannot be ignored or downplayed. The logistics of move-in day are complicated. Herding lost freshmen from place to place, however, is worse and feeding everyone is something of a puzzle. The residence hall meetings may have been dry, but they were necessary to ensure the safety and comfort of the students.

One aspect of the first weekend that was executed exceptionally well was the move-in process itself. The student volunteers and athletes who spent the day carrying boxes up and down staircases deserve commendation. The administration clearly made an effort to create a "welcoming" first weekend.

Unfortunately, everything else fell a little short of what one should be able to expect from a reputable institution like Geneseo.

Every member of the freshman class at Geneseo put a massive amount of effort into getting accepted at this unusually competitive school. Most arrived proud of their accomplishments and eager to experience the fruits of their labors. They devoted every fiber of their existence to excelling academically, becoming extracurricular leaders and fine-tuning their application essays.

How were they rewarded? They followed each other like lemmings - there goes that leadership - into Kuhl gym so they could strain to hear directions from a crackly microphone and play unoriginal name games.

The next morning, new students were thrust face-first into the reality of college dining. When everyone purchased food wristbands for $15 the first day, no one knew what to expect. Fast forward to Saturday morning, where a significant chunk of the Class of 2013 stood on Doty Field without breakfast, realizing they had just been spectacularly ripped off.

First impressions are important, and not feeding hungry 18-year-olds is one of the easiest ways to make a bad one.

The first week of college is terrifying. If one is not open to new people and ideas, they will be eating in the bathroom, Cady Heron-style, for the next four years instead of broadening their perspectives and making new friends. Most freshmen know this instinctively and act accordingly. Therefore, it would make sense for the administration to facilitate as much structured mingling as possible, preferably in a mature way.

One of the main themes behind every discussion, speech and meeting these first few weeks is diversity. Use this time when social groups have yet to be set in stone and mix everyone up!

Instead of having book discussions in classrooms with little groups of people, hold them speed-dating style. Assign each table a symbol or concept and allow students to mingle for set amounts of time. Each table can still have a faculty member, and at the final table everyone can eat dinner.

The "Weeks of Welcome," especially the first week, should be absolutely oozing optimism, school pride and excitement. Icebreaker activities are great, but the freshman class is a group of intelligent, hard-working individuals who are proud to be here and deserve the best possible first weekend at Geneseo.

Not overpaying for two mediocre meals would be good, too.u

Julie Williams is a freshman who really hates ice breakers. But Anchorman was pretty good.