Orientation activities are largely over for new parents (or the P’18s, as we call them). The grand finale was a huge picnic on the Quad, followed by the “Making of a Demon Deacon” ceremony.
During the event, there were speeches and remarks, musical performances by singing groups and the Spirit of the Old Gold and Black Band, and it was generally a really festive (if hot!) atmosphere.
There was some audience participation too: parents and loved ones wished the new students well in unison (with phrases like “We believe in you.” “We trust you.” “We love you.” – brought a tear to my eye, I confess.) Students learned to sing the alma mater, they pinned a WF pin on each other, which we’re told they should keep, as they will need them again at Commencement 2018. And finally they got some instruction in rolling the Quad from upperclassmen, then they took to the TP like champs and rolled the trees on their own. (Interesting aside, I have heard some of the upperclassmen refer to the new students as Baby Deacs or Baby Deacons.)
And then at the end of that event, I saw a lot of hugs and kisses and some misty eyes. Many (most?) of our parents and families are departing soon, because your formal activities are finished. However, the activities for your new students will continue throughout the weekend.
A couple of newsworthy items to mention. For those of you who could not attend Orientation – or those who want to revisit it! – we have made some of the parent Orientation handouts and slide shows available online. We were piloting the recording of some of today’s events for parents and families and hope to put them online next week at this same website if the quality is acceptable. Let me manage expectations for a moment and tell you that this was a volunteer (read: free) effort; we are trying to be good stewards of our resources, so we were trying to do this in house using existing technology.
In academic reporting news, some of you might be familiar with FERPA (Family Educational Right to Privacy Act) – which controls the release of academic information. New students received an email about how they can go online and grant proxy access to various parts of their academic experience. So if you want to have access to your student’s academic information protected by FERPA, please encourage them to complete the proxy access process.
And because it is Friday and we have a lot of new parents and families onboard now, we’ll close with a couple of our oft-preached refrains.
We like to think of Fridays as Black and Gold Fridays. Translation: show your support for Wake Forest every Friday by wearing black and gold, or WFU apparel. This gives you a tie to your students, but it also can give Wake some valuable exposure in your home areas, particularly if you wear something that says “Wake Forest.” It is a tradition we would love to see our Deac families adopt.
And since it is the first weekend of school for our new students, we hope they will all exercise good judgment and make wise decisions, particularly in manners of their personal safety. Your new students are finishing a Staying Safe at Wake session right now where they are hearing from campus experts. But you can do something too.
Christy Buchanan, who is our Associate Dean of Academic Advising as well as a developmental psychology faculty member, shared this at the parent Orientation session about alcohol: call your student sometime on a Friday and have a meaningful conversation with them. It has the potential to influence your student’s behavior for the weekend in a positive way.
You don’t have to talk directly about alcohol or tell them to be good. It can just be a friendly conversation. There is research that showed that students whose parents and family members called them on Friday tended to engage in less risky behavior than students who did not hear from loved ones.
The idea is that when students have contact with parents and loved ones on a Friday, there is a subtle reminder of the values of home, and expectations of parents. And then they behave with a lower degree of risky behavior.
Even if you just left campus, consider picking up the phone later today and every Friday and have a nice chat with your students. Nothing to lose and everything to gain. You might be the bump in the right direction as the weekend starts.