After a year of virtual learning and interactions, Drexel University will let second-year students attend an in-person Welcome Week Sept. 13-19, Drexel announced in an email July 6.
The national lockdown caused by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic caused many universities — including Drexel — to shut down their campuses for an extended period of time. Many second-year students have not been able to set foot on campus and enjoy college life. In order to properly welcome second-years to the university and celebrate reopening, Drexel has decided to give them a redo of the traditional Welcome Week, which, unlike last year’s, will be in person.
“We know how hard the past 18 months have been and how much it has affected students,” Drexel’s Director of Special Events, Kaitlyn Delengowski, said. “Since this is the first time many second-year students will be physically on campus, we want them to know how excited we are for them to join us in person as Dragons! … As such, we made the decision to offer in-person Welcome Week to the incoming second-year class.” According to Delengowski, some of the scheduled events include: the traditional Kickoff at The Franklin Institute, a Drexel Night at the Phillies, a Glow into Rush, and a Live Drag Queen Bingo. These events are just four of over 300 programs scheduled throughout the week. The schedule is currently being finalized, and it is expected to be released late August.
One student, Siani Wright, says she will be attending Welcome Week because she wants to start her second year fresh and get the experiences that she missed after a long and disappointing year.
“Honestly, I was extremely disappointed when I found out last year’s Welcome Week would be online because I was totally expecting to have a great opener to my college career, which wasn’t the case,” she said. “And honestly, I did not attend any of the virtual activities.”
However, this year, Wright is glad that she has the ability to have a proper opening to her college career. She says she looks forward to being able to experience the joy of welcome week, meet new people, and have an overall great time.
Due to the two-year housing agreement, many second-year students will be on campus. However, formal move-in dates for second years happen at the end of Welcome Week. To accommodate students and maximize those able to attend Welcome Week, all campus housing — Canaris Hall, The Summit, University Crossings and Chestnut Square — gave students the option to move in earlier to partake in Welcome Week.
Some students have taken advantage of this, but other students plan to commute to attend the various festivities.
One such student is Kala Summers, a Philadelphia native.
“Since Welcome Week was virtual last year, I thought it would be nice to attend this year’s event, even if I have to commute, since it is in-person and I get the chance to physically participate, meet new people, and see peers I’ve already become friends with,” she said.
Summers is especially excited because she says this is the first large-scale school event that she and many of her peers have attended since many schools shut down in March 2020.
“A lot of second-years missed out on key celebrations in their life: prom, graduation, etc. and even the most important parts of their freshmen year were stripped from them. I think if we weren’t included in events like Welcome Week 2021, a lot of the rising sophomores would’ve felt left out of a once-in-a-lifetime event,” she said.
According to an email sent by the Office of Student Life, any second-year who wishes to attend Welcome Week is encouraged to download the DrexelOne Mobile App because it will include a section dedicated to helping students manage their Welcome Week itinerary. Due to health and safety restrictions, registration caps for programs may be in place. So, students are encouraged to register as early as they can. The Welcome Week section of the app will be available in late August.
Delengowski said she hopes that as many students as possible partake in this upcoming week of festivities.
However, since the university is pushing an in-person approach, it is unsure if there would be any virtual or later activities on-campus for second-year students on co-op outside of Philadelphia or on study abroad programs.
“I’d just want to reiterate how excited we are to welcome everyone back. We’ve been planning all these programs for quite a while and are ordering some Welcome Week exclusive swag that you won’t find anywhere else — we truly cannot wait to welcome you to campus for the first time,” Delengowski said.