MACOMB, IL- Western Illinois University’s President’s New Student Convocation, which typically hosts administrators, students, families and community members in Western Hall immediately following move-in, was held in an entirely different format this year. The event serves as the first real, tangible experience that students have on our campus. All freshmen and their families are invited to hear from various speakers and gain inspiration for the four years ahead of them. The ceremony as a whole serves to promote the values of Western Illinois University and set students up for four years of academic and personal success. Usually in person, the university opted to live stream the event via Zoom on Friday at 10 a.m. so incoming students could still experience the words of welcome and the formal beginning to their college experience.
While the event was live-streamed and was not open to the public, a number of student leaders were invited to sit in the audience during the event to demonstrate a sense of community and remind those watching of the university policies in place, no matter the occasion. Upon entering the COFAC Recital Hall, students were directed to social distance. In each row, many chairs were taped off in order to prevent anyone from sitting in them. Masks were required as per university policy.
While the audience may have been smaller than usual, speeches were still given in person by Academic Vice President William Clow, Interim President Martin Abraham, Associate Professor of Theatre and Dance Lysa Fox, Mayor Mike Inman and Student Government Association President Daria Levchenko. The speeches focused primarily on the challenges this year may bring as well as the opportunities that can still be found on campus.
During her address to the class of 2024, Levchenko stated, “During these COVID times, getting involved is going to look a little different than normal. More things are going to be online, some events may change last minute and it will be a challenge. But do not let that discourage you from seeing the different organizations and meeting the students who make up this school. You may have to reach out of your comfort zone this semester as we all navigate this new time we are in. Whether you get involved in several organizations or only one, make the best out of it. You never know what could happen if you don’t try.”
Levchenko went on to mention that even in the midst of these times, she hopes that students will make the most of their time on this campus and in this community. She reminded the student body to do their part to ensure that the Leatherneck family remains safe and healthy during these times.
While many traditions on campus may look different this year or may not be able to occur at all, convocation is a prime example of how important moments can be conserved in new ways that are realistic in the world today. With safety and regulations in mind, convocation remained able to serve the purpose of welcoming students and families to a new community, campus and phase in their lives.