Welcome Week goes virtual, participation stays steady


Eric Henry

Students receive their free T-Shirt by St. Vincent’s Circle as part of one of the few in-person events for Welcome a Week at DePaul University.

Bingo, trivia, real life recess, and a virtual photo booth — these are just some of the events DePaul students participated in during this year’s virtual Welcome Week. This multi-week series of events allowed new students to learn about DePaul and meet others through 165 virtual and four on-campus events and activities. 

Director of Student Involvement Courtney James said the Office of Student Involvement strove to ensure that students could participate in Welcome Week in the ways that best suited them. 

“This year, we worked to create an experience that allowed students to experience DePaul’s Welcome Week in the way that works for them,” James said.“We had a number of streamed events, online community building events, and a small number of in-person events.”

While most events were conducted virtually, the Office of Student Involvement held a t-shirt drop on campus. The event, called Blue Thursday Spirit Shirts, took place in St. Vincent’s Circle with about 80 students coming to campus to receive a Welcome Week shirt. For students that could not come to campus, James said students had the ability to request shirts online which resulted in about 320 requests for shirts “in an hour of the form being open.”

“Shirts went quickly, so it was a popular event and reason for students to come to campus,” James said. “We hope to do additional shirt drops throughout the year with how well this event went.”

DePaul students hold up their free t-shirts received at one of the few in-person welcome week events on campus. (Eric Henry)

James said the Office of Student Involvement is happy with the results of this year’s virtual Welcome Week. She added that students have expressed appreciation for the efforts made by staff.

“Generally, we have received a lot of notes of appreciation from students for two main reasons,” James said. “First, for our new students, they are appreciative for the chance to learn about DePaul and for the chance to connect with their classmates. Second, from our returning student leaders, we’ve gotten messages that they are thankful that we are trying new and different things to keep them engaged.”

In the future, James said another virtual Welcome Week depends on the status of the COVID-19 pandemic but explained that the Office of Student Involvement will continue to provide virtual events and activities.

“I think no matter what, we will always have some online offerings moving forward because students are utilizing them,” James said. “I imagine for the future, we will lean into the technology we’ve learned to use to continue to provide high quality events and experiences for our students.”

KALAHI, DePaul’s Filipino Student Association, is one of the student organizations attending this year’s virtual fair

Sophia Paige, KALAHI’s social chair, said the organization plans to create a presentation for students interested in KALAHI to introduce them to some of the club members and to help them get acclimated to another quarter of online learning.

“We’re planning on making a presentation and having people do their part and record a simple video for people that are interested in our club to see the people on the E-Board and know that we’re available to answer any questions, or to talk to about getting comfortable with this online situation and with DePaul in general,” Paige said. 

Paige said KALAHI is holding its meetings on Zoom in light of COVID-19 and discussed some of the events the organization is planning.

“We started last year and we’re having meetings on Zoom, having movie night, possibly like study session Zoom calls for people to just join in and relax and have people to talk to.”

As this year’s Welcome Week ends, students can look forward to exploring ways to get involved on campus through the Involvement Fair. The Involvement Fair will take place Friday, Sept. 18 from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on DeHUB.