Revelry at the Welcome Week Kick-off Event at The Franklin Institute in 2019 (pre-pandemic photo).
Welcome Week 2021 will soon be the first big breath of life back into Drexel University’s campus before a full fall return and after a year and a half of decreased in-person activity due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Running this year from Sept. 13–Sept. 19 after an elongated four-day campus move-in period, Welcome Week is aimed at helping incoming undergraduate students meet each other and acclimate to campus before the busy start of fall term classes kicks in. But just like last year was a novel virtual experience for new Dragons, Welcome Week 2021 marks a different kind of change to this annual University tradition.
“It’s really exciting that we are not only welcoming the incoming class of 2021, but we’ve also invited the incoming class of 2020 to join us for Welcome Week this year,” said Kaitlyn Delengowski, director of special events for Enrollment Management & Student Success. “So our population is potentially doubled for students that would like to come and join us for Welcome Week. We are going all out this year. So, events upon events upon events.”
This blow out of and broader invitation to Welcome Week means a lot to students like Munazzah Hashim, a rising second-year mechanical engineering student and a sophomore class senator for the Undergraduate Student Government Association (USGA). Hashim represented USGA and last year’s incoming class in working with the University to make it possible for 2020 new Dragons to participate in Welcome Week. This included a process by which second-year students who planned to live on campus this year could request to move in early, or access a similar early move-in opportunity for American Campus Communities (ACC) residencies.
Drexel students attending a Welcome Week event in 2019 (pre-pandemic photo).
After spending her first year of college socializing with only her pod or over Zoom, Hashim thinks that this in-person Welcome Week experience will be very meaningful and much needed for her and her peers.
“Most of these events are designed in a way that you would get to know people, make friends and have fun. I think that is very important,” she said.
And upperclassmen don’t disagree. Maxwell Nash, a fourth-year entertainment & arts management student and president of the Campus Activities Board (CAB), said his best friends at Drexel are people he met during his first week or two at the University.
“They either lived in my dorm or they were in my major or something. So, I think having that first week where there are no upper classmen around and you know that everyone around is having this shared experience with you, it’s kind of a different vibe than the rest of the year at college,” he said.
Nash and other student leaders involved in planning programming for Welcome Week are hoping to provide good vibes all around. During Welcome Week, CAB will help put on the “Glow Into Rush” dance party at the Rush Building from 7–9 p.m. on Sept. 16, a laser tag event from 11 p.m. to 1 a.m. on Sept. 17, and “Cabbie” tours to help introduce new students to Drexel’s campus.
To kick things off from 7–9 p.m. on Sept. 13, Dragons will once again be invited to The Franklin Institute for a night of dancing, giveaways, engagement with student orgs and all-around fun. Then, the party will continue with First Bash back on campus from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m., and hosted by The Good Idea Fund (TGIF).
Rachel Bathurst, a third-year marketing and business analytics student and vice president of TGIF, said First Bash this year will encompass everything from water slides to bounce houses to bubble soccer, and even an open mic night.
“I always compare it to a county fair,” Bathurst said of the annual First Bash. “We have just a tasteful variety of events scattered throughout campus. … It’s this great big event that we put on to give everybody something to do on that very first night, and also to give them a chance to meet each other in a social setting before they have to get into the classroom.”
Welcoming new students in the Main Building.
Other exciting events throughout the week include Drexel Night at the Phillies for the 7:05 p.m. game on Sept. 14, where students were able to pick up free tickets and a pass to take the subway down to the stadium — though this offering is already filled to capacity!
One new event this year will be the Taste of the Neighborhood and Welcome to Philly Fair taking place on Lancaster Walk from 12–2 p.m. on Sept. 17. Students will have the opportunity to get to know their new neighborhood with off-campus resources, local food vendors and giveaways. And finally, an event that proved rather popular during remote Welcome Week festivities, drag bingo will now happen live on campus from 8–10 p.m. on Sept. 18 in the Main Auditorium. Attend for your chance to win $1000 worth of prizes, and interact with host Nina West from “RuPaul’s Drag Race” season 11.
“We are really using this opportunity to kind of spread our creative wings a little bit and be able to do some things that we haven’t done in the past,” Delengowski said of the new offerings this year. “There’s definitely more programs, more diversified programs, and [we’ll be] encouraging students to kind of go out there and have fun.”
Putting themselves out there is an important component for new Drexel students in order to capitalize on everything Welcome Week has to offer, the upperclassmen student leaders agreed.
“Welcome Week is kind of what you make it,” Nash said. “It’s also a great time to get involved with student organizations or anything like that. I always wish I did things earlier.”
Bathurst said that the fact that Drexel’s welcome period is a full week is valuable in terms of giving new students the time to explore opportunities and begin finding their place on campus before the fast-paced nature of the University’s quarter schedule sets in.
“If you don’t take the time to do that during your first year, or even your second, when you have an opportunity — if you put it off for too long — you might never get around to it,” she said. “So that’s why I would really encourage everyone to go to Welcome Week if they can.”
Hashim said she believes the opportunity to attend Welcome Week will be cherished by both of the invited classes as they help harken a sense of normalcy back on Drexel’s campus and for the entire student body.
“Having this huge event which has the purpose of us meeting new people and being friends and having fun, I think it’s just way more special to us than it was probably to the previous classes,” she said.
“I am so appreciative that we’re able to gather again,” Delengowski added. “I think it is something that everyone took for granted, just the ability of being around other people and laughing and having fun and enjoying yourself. So I’m thrilled that we’re able to do that again for our students.”
All Welcome Week 2021 offerings are subject to change based on local, state and national health and safety guidelines.
Students who were unable to add the Drexel Night at the Phillies to their schedule before the event was sold out can check to see if any tickets remain by stopping by Office 220 in the Main Building on the day of the event (Sep. 14).