Most people who attended the University’s annual First Night ceremony, held last Friday, agree that the event went well and that most first-year students who attended enjoyed it. However, although a majority of first-years went and enjoyed themselves, a significant proportion did not bother to go. Rooke Chapel was crowded, but not nearly as jam-packed as during Orientation, and many halls had at least a small group of students skip out on the ceremonies. Some of these absentees had legitimate excuses such as athletics commitments, but many students bypassed the tradition by choice because they were not interested in participating.

Students party every week, and it is upsetting that even a minority of first-years would rather spend an extra few hours doing so than participate in an important University tradition.

First Night is a ceremony that initiates first-years into the University’s alumni community; it also features the unveiling of the first-year class’s motto, colors and crest. Still, it was apparently unclear to many first-years going into the event why they should care about it. There was a noticeable lack of enthusiasm in the time leading up to the event, and expectations were low. Many students evidently decided that attending would not be worth their time.

These low expectations were at least partially a result of a failure to hype up the event sufficiently. The RAs and OAs of first-year halls and class representatives could have done more to get students excited, promoting the event further in advance and more clearly emphasizing why it would be enjoyable and worthwhile. If First Night had been portrayed as a bigger deal in the time leading up to the event, the students who declined to attend might have been more interested.

Still, it is sad that a major University tradition should need so much marketing and promotion just to sustain student interest. Even if First Night may not have been the most thrilling few hours of everyone’s college careers, it was certainly more memorable and meaningful than anything else that first-years were likely to have been doing on a Friday evening. Few students do homework or anything useful on Friday evenings, preferring to spend the time relaxing, socializing and preparing for parties. Although we could understand why students would want to have time to wind down after a busy week, First Night only happens once in a student’s time at the University, so students should have embraced it and looked forward to it, even if it cut into their normal routine.

In any case, First Night was over well before the night’s major parties began at 10 p.m., so it certainly did not prevent anyone from otherwise enjoying their Friday night. Even if the event was not as hyped up as it could have been, the blame for students’ reluctance to participate ultimately lies on them.

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