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Senior Week plans frustrate students

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As the class of 2013 continues getting hyped for graduation in just a few weeks, one aspect of graduation appears to be lacking the energy: Senior Week. Set to begin with the Senior Banquet on Wednesday, May 15, and extend through Friday, May 17—the night before commencement—students admit to feeling out of the loop, let down and angry about what their week consists of.

“Honestly, I didn’t even know what the events were,” Jaclyn Sayers (’13) said. “I don’t think they have been well announced or well planned. In years past, there were really exciting things, like the midnight boat cruise and trips like white water rafting. I’m confused as to why we don’t have those same events. It stinks.”

“I just feel we will have to make our own fun, and Drew, specifically Public Safety, should support us in these endeavors,” Julia Friedman (’13) said, following up on Sayers’ comment. “We’ve looked forward to this week for almost four years now, and it’s very upsetting that after all of the hard work that we’ve put in, the University is not allowing us to say goodbye with the awesome activities they’ve allowed in the past.”

Aware of some of the negative energy that has been surrounding the events planned, Student Government President pro tempore Christine Felix (’13) explained that she and the rest of the Senior Class Committee began planning the week last year. “In beginning to lay the groundwork, we had a lot of ideas for going off-campus. We thought about doing a trip to Atlantic City and some other ideas for off-campus trips. But, the more people I spoke to about this, the more I learned that people just wanted to stay on campus.”

In addition, Felix explained that last year, some of the off-campus day trips were cancelled due to lack of participation the day of. “We scrapped the brewery because to my knowledge, that was the trip that had to be cancelled last year, and stuck with the idea of organizing a trip to Six Flags.”

After looking into the cost of a bus, Felix explained the committee decided it would make much more sense to keep the whole senior class on campus rather than sending only the select few students who decided to attend the trip. “Our objective in planning the week of events was to figure out what people would want, and a way to keep everyone together,” Felix  elaborated.

Continuing Felix’s thought, Zack Mower (’13), another member of the committee, went on to say, “We felt that having off-campus trips during the last few days defeats the purpose of Senior Week. Our vision is to bring all of the seniors together during our last week together on campus. One of the best things about not having off-campus events is that you get to enjoy all the little things that Drew has to offer. We are not saying that people cannot go off-campus on their own trips, we are just focusing on our community this year,” Mower continued.

Alyssa Iapicco (’13) plans to do just that—plan her own trip. “I’ve been looking forward to doing the winery trip with my girlfriends for my entire four years here. I’m really upset that we will not have that opportunity this year, so my friends and I are in the process of planning our own day trip. We need to keep that tradition alive. It was a really highly anticipated part of Drew’s Senior Week.”

Also already aware of some of the disappointment circulating in the senior class, Student Government President Janelle Hoffman (’13) commented, “If I were an average senior right now who had been out of the loop with the planning process, I would probably be a bit disappointed and confused about there not being any off-campus events. But,” she added, “I really want to encourage the students to understand that we took months to reach this decision, and spent a really long time thinking about this. I don’t want people to be upset or refuse to enjoy their Senior Week because of a knee-jerk reaction, or preconceived idea that they are not going to have fun. We are really committed to making Senior Week the best it can be and made this decision knowing it was the best way to foster school spirit and community.”

After speaking with several seniors about their feelings on Senior Week, it appears the lack of day trips and the midnight booze cruise around the city are the two major causes of frustration. In explaining this, Felix said that this event is by no means a Drew tradition and was offered for the first time last year.

Hoffman commented on this. “This cruise was offered to last year’s senior class because President Weisbuch donated $10,000 to that class’s Senior Week,” she said. “Still, reviews were not very positive.”

Felix followed this up by explaining that many of last years participants “hated” their experience on the cruise. “It was freezing, drinks were expensive and they got back to campus at 4 a.m., then had to be up and ready at nine the next morning for the day trip.”

According to Hoffman, attendance on the cruise was extremely low relative to the number of students in the class. “I remember people joking that there were only a dozen guys there and the rest were girls. It sounds like a great idea in theory, but was unsuccessful in practice,” she continued.

While the Senior Planning Committee explained the negative aspects of the cruise, seniors are still very upset. “I think it’s ridiculous that all of the events, specifically the booze cruise, were taken away. Senior Week is already shorter than it used to be. We deserve to have something special planned for us before we graduate,” Devon Stefanow (’13) said.

In speaking to the week’s length, Hoffman explained that she too feels it’s too short, but that is not something that has changed. Additionally, Emily Pitts (’13) explained that she thinks, “It really stinks that Senior Week is so short, but with the amount of days that we have, the lineup of events looks pretty okay to me.”

For those who have not seen the e-mail, the event lineup will consist of the following: Senior Banquet and A Night in Madison (bar crawl through local Madison bars) on Wednesday, an afternoon picnic and white party on Thursday and a jazz brunch and food truck on Friday.

In elaborating on the events a little bit, Mower explained that he is most excited for the picnic in T/B circle on Thursday. “There is going to be a DJ, some games, good food and a beer garden,” he said. “I love being outside, so all of those things together are going to make for a really good time.”

Felix expressed similar feelings about the picnic. “We felt the picnic was a great way to merge all of the things we heard our fellow classmates wanted—playing games, eating good food and drinking. It’s a great way to celebrate our time at Drew,” she said. “We are excited to bring everyone together in the T/B circle. It’s a great way to remind students of their Drew experience.”

For A Night in Madison, Felix explained that the crawl will include Poor Herbie’s, Prospect’s, 54 Main and Rocco’s. She said there will be food and entertainment at all four places and cards given out to each participant to be stamped at each bar, which then will allow students to be entered into a prize raffle upon the crawl’s completion. Felix went on to explain that the committee decided on Madison, rather than Morristown, because they were able to hire a trolley to transport students around Madison. This way, the event avoids the risk of students drunk driving, and several other safety concerns that bringing a large group of Drew grads-to-be to Morristown presents.

While Felix also explained that there can not be any major add-ons to the events planned for the week, she hopes that any senior with ideas will come speak to her. “We are going to be doing little things like having a big piece of paper for all of the seniors to put their handprints on, we are going to have a pinning ceremony and are in the works of trying to set something up for all the seniors to be able to go back and tour their freshman room,” she said. “We really can’t add anything too big, but we are trying our best to find ways for students to tap back into their experiences at Drew, come together and have fun,” Felix continued.

As Felix also explained, the pinning ceremony is something that was brought to Drew by freshman orientation this year. The ceremony will begin at 9 p.m. on Friday in the T/B circle, where the seniors will gather in a circle—one person in the middle with a lit candle. From there, the person with the candle will give a mini speech then pass the candle onto other groups. “It is supposed to represent us joining the Drew alumni community and giving back to the school. When the freshmen did it, the lighting procession went in the reverse of the way we will pass it, representing the alumni passing to the freshman,” she said.

In beginning to wrap up the conversation, Hoffman explained that many of the decisions that the committee made in terms of this year’s week of events were made with safety, community, and cost in mind.

“We want to keep senior week free. Trips off campus cost students about $30 in years past. This is something a lot of students complained about in years past, and we do not want to exclude anyone who can not afford this cost. We are not charging students for anything this year and that’s pretty amazing,” she said.

Hoffman continued, “We want to keep everyone together and foster community within our class. Winery trips and Six Flags have nothing to do with our class and/or Drew. Why not use Senior Week to do something that fosters things that we do have connections to—like eating, drinking, and hanging out (for free) in Tolley/Brown circle,” she said.

Although it is obvious that the Senior Planning Committee has made various efforts to make this week a fun, community-oriented week for all of the graduates-to-be, many seniors and parents are still weary.

Caroline Dezen, a parent of a 2013 graduating senior stated, “One would think Drew University would want their students to feel appreciated after four years of dedication and commitment to the University. How do they expect alumni donations (and parental donations) down the road if they don’t offer gratitude towards the University’s seniors? Leaving a bad taste in the mouth of a graduate may be penny wise, but it’s definitely pound foolish.”

Mallory Mortillaro (’13), who finished her course work in December but planned to return to Drew from her full-time job for Senior Week, said that after seeing the e-mail about the week’s events, she no longer has interest. “I decided that I would really rather not use a day off to have a Tolley/Brown picnic. Instead I’m using those days to go to my boyfriend’s Senior Week at Johns Hopkins because they actually have some really awesome things planned, and make it so that every member of the graduating class is allowed to bring a date to all of the events.”

“I was looking forward to doing something like a dinner cruise or a Six Flags trip with my friends before graduation and was pretty disappointed that Drew isn’t doing anything like that this year,” Mortillaro said.

Regardless of what students and parents are thinking right now, Hoffman assures that the week, especially the Thursday BBQ, will be a week and a day for the seniors to remember forever.

“I’ve talked to a lot of people about this,” she said. “And yes, while their first reaction when they hear that there are no off-campus trips is not positive, once I explain our goals, they agree that this is the way to go. It’s going to be so neat having everyone together on campus, having fun, doing what we love to do during Senior Week!

“It’s going to be a great day, and I know that people will be happy to all be together, eat/drink for free, and to enjoy one of their last days on campus,” Hoffman concluded.