Cummings: Destination: Iowa State welcomes some, others have disadvantage

Kelsey Cummings

Back again to the snow-packed streets and iced-over sidewalks of Iowa State, students discover themselves flooded with routine and normalcy. But for those students who are new to the university this semester, normalcy is anything but an easy find.

Making the transition into college is a challenging time for most students, especially for those who are heading into their college experience alone. Not only do students have to figure out how to live on their own for the first time, but they also have to learn to navigate an entirely new social arena.

As a university which prides itself on student success, Iowa State has long since had a program in place to ease students’ anxieties about coming to college. Destination: Iowa State was implemented in 1999 as a weekend-long event for incoming freshmen and other students entering their first year at Iowa State.

During these 2 1/2 days, students become better acquainted with the campus and attend fun, social activities like comedy performances and spirited yelling competitions. Students are bombarded with free food, t-shirts and advice as they celebrate their beginning as a Cyclone.

After the experience, students are supposed to feel more equipped to handle their first day in class and their first experience as an independent adult. Destination: Iowa State’s main goal is to make the students feel welcomed by the university they will be calling home for the next four years.

However, for some students, this is not the experience they are left with. For greek students, students entering school at mid-year and other students unable to attend Destination: Iowa State, the coming-to-college experience may not provide so many opportunities for welcoming.

While greek students are involved in rushing and other sorority or fraternity affairs during the weekend of Destination: Iowa State, they miss out on interacting with other ISU students, which may partially contribute to the tight-knit friend groups they form with one another. If greek students were allowed the same time spent with other students at Destination: Iowa State that they are allowed with their fellow greeks during rush, they may feel even more included at the university.

Students who enter Iowa State at term do have the advantage of being able to attend a smaller version of the start of the year’s Destination: Iowa State; however, this event is a mere half a day compared to the larger event’s two and a half days. Because these students have the distinct disadvantage of coming into college when everyone else has already formed their friend groups, they need the relationship-building opportunities that even a small Destination: Iowa State provides.

However, many students choose not to or are unable to attend the activities at all. Though the faculty in charge of organizing Destination: Iowa State can only do so much to entice students to attend the festivities, the many students who choose to skip out are missing their chance to build key relationships with peers and staff at the event.

Of the 31,040 students who enrolled at Iowa State in the fall of 2012, 6,375 were freshmen. 5,400 students signed up to participate in Destination: Iowa State that year. Though such a high participation number is impressive, it fails to include the other non-freshmen first year students enrolled that year.

While it is probably impossible to persuade everyone to attend Destination: Iowa State, there are many students on campus who really could benefit from being exposed to such a fun, welcoming environment, like the one produced at the event.

Most of the officials who run Destination: Iowa State seem genuinely excited about the service they are providing. The school cares about the success of its students, whether that be in academics or social groups. Destination: Iowa State truly is designed with nervous newcomers in mind, but in it are flaws.

What Destination: Iowa State and the people who organize it need to work on is being more inclusive to nontraditional or sometimes unavailable students in order to encourage academic and social success in everyone.

During this time of year, when most everyone is slowly sinking back into the hustle and bustle of school, it’s easy to forget that not everyone feels right at home. Now, it becomes even more important for Iowa State’s big welcoming bash to be truly welcoming to all.