Weeks of Welcome
by Sarah Wu
Photos courtesy of Cassidy Donohue/Student Activities Office
After graduating high school, students are eager to start “the college experience,” whether that includes hours on end of studying or staying up late and watching the Citgo sign turn off for the night (among other “activities”). Boston University’s Student Activities Office designs and executes “Weeks of Welcome”—various recreational and entertainment programs open to all undergraduate students that take place in the first few weeks of the academic year. The staff provided entertainment for all—from the school’s annual club day program, SPLASH, to a surprise performance by Hannibal Buress that was kept under wraps until earlier that week. While the events seem to be pulled off effortlessly and with ease, these Weeks of Welcome require months of work and preparation, as many events involve working with companies from the Boston area. Several of the individual events have drawn roughly 1,500 students, and SPLASH’s estimated attendance is 6,000 to 7,000 students. The professional staff in the office are each responsible for one or two of these Weeks of Welcome events.
This year, a few new programs were added including Groove Boston and Tie Dye Thursday.
Abby Myette, associate director of Student Activities, has organized SPLASH for the past several years. For SPLASH 2016, there were 391 student organizations participating on Nickerson Field for two hours of self-promotion and recruitment, including performing arts groups, Greek life and academic-aimed groups. “We have been doing the event for so long that it’s usually about reinventing,” said Myette. “The goal is always getting new students engaged, or those who have not connected before—returning students who didn’t find what they were looking for the first year.”
While there are many students out there trying to find what they’re looking for, there are also those who work behind the scenes to make each event as successful, helpful and inspiring as possible.
Taylor Sevigny, assistant director of Student Activities and supervisor of the programming team, had to keep her organizational plans a secret as she planned the Hannibal Buress show. Sevigny said that being a spectator or student at an event of that caliber is very different from being behind the scenes, from a logistical perspective. Sevigny shared that in order to secure a performer for an event at your campus, you have to put in a “bid” for an artist to come to your school. After the initial bid process, she had to go through an agent and management team, create a contract and mutually agree on the conditions with the performer. Luckily, Buress was secured for BU, and roughly 1,500 students got to enjoy the night full of comedy, packed into Metcalf.
Hafzat Akanni (COM ’20), who worked at and attended events such as SPLASH and Groove Boston, found Weeks of Welcome to be a key bonding experience.
“I think that WOW helped me enhance the friendships I already began formulating since the beginning of school,” said Akanni. As for what Sevigny would like to see in the future--
She’d love to see a water based program.
After all, the event is called SPLASH.