Nearly 7,100 Ohio State freshmen were introduced to some of the faces and traditions of OSU, as well as some of Columbus’ attractions Monday.
The students attended Convocation at St. John Arena and then were taken to Nationwide Arena for the second annual Columbus Welcome event.
There were some changes to Columbus Welcome since last year’s event, such as decreasing the number of speakers and the altering the program’s content, OSU spokesman Gary Lewis said in an email.
“One change has been to make the program more interactive with the students attending,” Lewis said in an email. “Also, we have eliminated the walk through the Ohio Stadium. Even though that was popular, we realized that students will have an even better opportunity to experience Ohio Stadium the following Saturday for Buckeye Kickoff.”
Some freshmen were disappointed about the change.
“I’m upset that the stadium walk was not part of Convocation this year,” first-year in electrical and computer engineering Jalen Tate said. “Convocation seemed less special, and it took away from the bonding experience. It would have also been more convenient to include walking the field during Convocation, and it is doubtful that all 7,000 freshmen will go to the Buckeye Kick-Off on Saturday.”
Others agreed but said they’ll now be making a point of attending Buckeye Kick-Off.
“I thought that the walk across the field in the stadium should have been kept as a part of the event,” said Joseph Raney, a first-year in pharmaceutical sciences. “I will attend the Buckeye Kickoff event this Saturday in order to take part in this great experience.”
Columbus Welcome was shorter this year compared to last – in 2012, the program was about three hours long, compared to the less than an hour this year.
“We still have over 30 organizations involved with the program; however we have simplified the program,” Columbus Partnership Manager of Events and Development Jordan Davis said. “Last year we had more of an overarching theme of Columbus, but this year it’s more about being a local in Columbus, and using Columbus as an advantage. It’s now more of a how to and where to go in Columbus.”
Despite the changes, the budget for Convocation stayed relatively consistent. The budget for Convocation is expected to be near the same as last year at approximately $42,000, Lewis said.
The cost of Columbus Welcome was not yet available as of Monday morning, OSU Assistant Vice President of Media Relations Gayle Saunders said in an email.
Columbus Partnership Manager of Events and Development Jordan Davis said the Columbus Welcome event began as a way to encourage students to learn about the city.
“Each year 7,000 new students come to Columbus to start the next four years of their lives, and many walk away not knowing what’s beyond 11th and Lane (avenues),” Davis said.
The event is meant to help immerse and engage OSU students in the Columbus community, Lewis said.
Columbus Mayor Michael Coleman, interim OSU President Joseph Alutto and former Ohio Supreme Court Justice Yvette McGee Brown spoke to the new students during the event, and a prerecorded video from former OSU Board of Trustees Chairman Les Wexner was also shown.
During the event, Alutto advised students to take advantage of living in Columbus.
“Here in Columbus, you can see a variety of things that will stimulate you, keep you motivated and remind you that as an urban university, you have advantages that don’t exist everywhere,” Alutto said.
First-year in physics Michael Fallen said the speeches were the best part of the day.
“I was very inspired by Les Wexner’s speech about how he got his start at Ohio State,” Fallen said. “After the Columbus Welcome Event, I am very excited to try all the food places, museums, (Columbus) Crew games and concerts in Columbus.”
Others enjoyed watching the OSU Marching Band perform.
“My favorite part of Convocation was when the band performed at the event,” Raney said. “I also enjoyed learning the Ohio State fight songs, chants and traditions.”
Coleman’s parting words encouraged students to educate themselves about Columbus.
“As you gain an education at the Ohio State University, we also want you to get an education off campus, too, in the city of Columbus,” Coleman said. “Every one of you can end up with a job in the city of Columbus and start a business in this city … We want you to spend a lifetime in the city of Columbus.”