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SIU kicks off the year with annual Weeks of Welcome
September 1, 2022
With the school year starting back up, Southern Illinois University (SIU) is hosting its annual Weeks of Welcome from Aug. 22 through Sept. 24. Throughout these few weeks, events will be hosted around campus for new and returning students to participate in, such as college department parties, RSO fair, and other fun events.
To kick off the first week, SIU hosted a breakfast for new transfer students on Aug. 24 in the student center ballrooms to get them to meet with other transfer students and learn more about SIU. Later in the day, a student job fair in the ballrooms allowed students to see what job opportunities are available on campus.
On Aug. 25, an involvement fair was held at Faner Plaza from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. as a way for students to see and possibly join many of the Registered Student Organizations (RSO) that are here on campus, from the Forestry Club to the Muslim Student Association.
Kayla Vaughn, a second year student and president of the Naturalistas, said she started the RSO because hair is her passion and she wants to educate people about what they can do with their hair. She said the purpose of her RSO is more than just discussing hair, it also creates a community.
“We can bring black women together because there’s a lot of people that do things in my RSO, like people do lashes and people do hair,” Vaugn said. “And then people do braids and I know there are a lot of people that want to get their braids.”
Vaughn said she wants to expand the RSO to focus on more than just hair this year, to focus on nails and wellness also.
Tyler Knupp, the president of the Furry Society and a sixth year undergraduate student, said he was determined to make a furry RSO here at SIU. He said the Furry Society is more than wearing costumes, it is a place where people can be themselves.
“Being able to express themselves through art and online is probably the biggest part of the fandom. It’s a lot of expressing themselves through their own characters and through art and animation and costuming,” Knupp said.
According to Knupp, the goal of the RSO is to bring like-minded people together who have an interest in creating furries. He said they also host bowling events throughout the semester and are planning a big event in October.
Not only were there clubs at the fair, but Greek organizations as well. Members of Omega Psi Phi, Keith Hoay and Jose Pedraza, had a lot to say about their fraternity. Both Hoay and Pedraza said people from within the fraternity inspired them to join.
Pedraza said his godfather was a big influence on why he wanted to join the fraternity.
“My godfather […] he really directed me and guided me down the right lines of being a man and just upholding these principles that we have in our fraternity and I just always lived by them,” Pedraza said.
While Pedraza was inspired by his godfather, Hoay was influenced by his brothers in the fraternity.
“The guys that were a part of the fraternity when I came here were really outgoing and very easy to talk to,” Hoay said. “So it was good to try to give back to everybody and be a part of the community.”
Hoay and Pedraza also said they are excited for their fraternity to be back on campus, so it can make a positive impact on the campus and within the black community.
“I think it’s a big role in the black community. Because we have famous people like Michael Jordan, Jesse Jackson, Shaq, Steve Harvey, it goes around,” Hoay said. “There’s a lot of famous black people that are positive role models in the world, so it’s always good to be just another black opportunity.”
According to Hoay, because so many influential people have been a part of their fraternity, it inspired him and others to want to be another pillar of inspiration for younger black kids.
Pedraza said he is very excited for his fraternity to be back on campus and to be able to give back to the campus.
“We are happy to be back and give back to the campus. We are happy to combine with the campus to collaborate with the campus and everything, to be honest,” Pedraza said.
The involvement fair was not the only exciting event to happen on campus. On Aug. 26, from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m., the Center for International Education (CIE) hosted its International Coffee Hour in the CIE lobby.
Sam Bandy, the interim director of CIE, said his office does a variety of things to help international students get their degree.
“We work with immigration documents, and so forth, and services to support those international students in their undergraduate or grad and then we also work in tandem with other offices, the grad school, the CESL, which is our ESL program, and so we have that as well,” Bandy said.
Bandy said the CIE office works with a lot of departments here on campus and organizations in different countries to make sure international students get the help they need while they are attending school.
Events like international coffee hour are a great way for international students to meet each other and find common interests, he said.
“They like being able to come in to talk and relax and have a place where they can do that. [….] Some of the organizations for instance, last year I remember our Bangladesh organization did their celebration of their national day. […] so it’s just making this like another home, a space for international students.” Bandy said.
According to Bandy, the CIE can be students’ home away from home depending on what events they would like to have.
Elaine Conrad, the community and educational programs coordinator, said events like these are vital for newcomers.
“This is important because they can see that they’re welcome not just by our department, but by the entire campus by the community out there. […] This one is sponsored by the international friends club. So everyone brings a little bit of something and so that’s why we have such a wide variety.
Conrad said a lot of different people come out to these events for the CIE. It can either be students, faculty or just volunteers wanting to help.
Faculty are not the only ones who think events such as these are a great way to bring the campus together.
Bedancur, a student from Columbia studying electronic systems engineering and taking part in the Center for English as a Second Language (CESL) program, said, although he is here just to improve his English, he can tell that CIE does its best to bring students together.
He said since he has been in the CESL program at SIU he has been able to hear about people’s different experiences, talk to people with different majors and even share recipes with other students.
Kamal Ibn Shafi, a second year grad student who is majoring in electrical and computer engineering, said he came to SIU because they have the top engineering program. He said the international program has a lot of helpful resources and allows students from all over to connect with each other.
According to Shafi, the CIE has a very diverse group of students from all over the world and has many RSOs for people to join.
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