Stories from intrepid reporters attending the Illinois Press Foundation Journalism Workshop at Eastern Illinois University
Photo by Champaign News-Gazatte
By Erika Meza
This year the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign will be welcoming 7,200 to 7,300 freshmen this fall, 900 of which will be international students.
The university is well known for its vast amount of international students with 8,000 international undergrads.
The school offers help that focuses on making sure all students feel comfortable using the programs and participating in activities.
As freshmen it is natural to fear the unknown therefore the school encourages students to visit before the school year begins to get a real feel of the new environment.
The U of I offers over 100 enrichment programs to the incoming freshmen, some in the summer which are optional and one in the fall where all freshmen attend.
During the summer, families can visit and the university even has programs for the parents which helps them understand the transition for their child to a college life.
The fall the orientations focus on what it means to be a student at U of I.
Often new students will come in and “they think they have it all figured out,” said Gina Lee-Olukoya, Assistant Dean of Students.
The university’s main goal is to ease the anxieties and help their students find a niche. “There are a lot of opportunities to engage,” said Lee-Olukoya.
Students are introduced to universal programs with about 1,000 organizations and 96 fraternities/ sororities.
Students can also suggest new clubs and activities.
With 7,100 students in either Fraternity or Sorority the Hazing Prevention Team and U of I university make sure students are well informed about their rights at the school. The Fraternity and Sorority department started a HPT last Fall that collaborates with the fraternity/sorority and the athletics departments, and the community to prevent any hazing.
“The typical students doesn’t know about hazing,” Brandon Common, Assistant Director Fraternity and Sorority Affairs.
The Illinois Leadership Center at U of I has programs mostly created by the student population which trains students to be leaders in their communities.
On July 27, ILC hosts a one-day summer program known as Intersect – directed by student leaders and staff – for freshmen. The program uses games and other activities to help the students understand their listening styles, teamwork strategies, and interpersonal bonding with other students. The program runs from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
All students can participate in the i-Programs, which are leadership developmental programs directed by ILC. The student staff must be juniors and seniors, go through an application process, must be involved in the community and finally are interviewed.
Ten students are currently working in the ILC office and four are interns.
Nina Youssefnia, Graf Intern, says ILC has a great community atmosphere where staff and peers are encouraging students to become better people and work to better their communities.
Another student, Annie Lin, Multimedia /Graphic Designer intern, said, “I like the work experience, the inspiring staff, and we explore our skills.”
Both agree they have learned a lot from the program.