Despite administrators’ attempt to promote official campus activities at the start of this academic year—and the reinvention of the annual Joe College Day—freshmen still made their way to unsanctioned events this weekend.
In an effort to promote campus unity and safer student behavior, the University packaged the “1st Big Weekend,” a weekend of varied activities following the first week of classes, including Heat Wave—Duke University Union’s reinvention of the music festival formerly known as Joe College Day.
Vice President of Student Affairs Larry Moneta said the weekend was presented in order to show students—particularly freshmen—what types of on-campus activities Duke has to offer. Administrators also hoped the event would emphasize campus-oriented events instead of potentially dangerous activities such as excessive alcohol consumption, he added.
“There’s always a hope students will take advantage of these opportunities instead of engaging in those behaviors,” Moneta said. “But I would not say this was a primary goal [of the First Big Weekend].”
Senior Kawon Lee, Joe College Day committee chair, said she was pleased with the turnout at Heat Wave—which featured artists New Boyz, Stay and Walk the Moon—but noted that it was hard to compare it to last year’s program. The changes from years past included scheduling the concert earlier in the school year, making it a half-day instead of full-day event and bringing in more mainstream artists.
“We wanted to kind of redesign [Joe College Day] and make it evolve based on the needs of the student population,” Lee said. “We figured to change it, we should re-brand it.”
She added that the decision to hold Heat Wave early in the year was particularly good for freshmen because it invited them to West Campus.
But some students felt that even with the shifts away from the theme of the original Joe College Day, which garnered some criticism in the past, did not necessarily provide a better experience.
Larger events such as Heat Wave are not good environments for meeting new people, freshman Sydney Howland said, adding that this is an important aspect for events to have, particularly at the beginning of the year and in comparison to section parties.
“It is hard for freshmen because all the other freshmen go, too,” Howland said. “If you want to meet other people you haven’t seen before, it’s not conducive for that... Parties are a little more laid back.”
But those who attended Heat Wave could not help but notice a difference between the event and its predecessor.
Sophomore Kaitlin Gladney said she enjoyed this year’s event more, adding that it seemed that Heat Wave attracted a bigger crowd than Joe College Day did last year.
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“[My friends] and I were curious about what the New Boyz were like live,” she said. “And it seems like there are a lot of people here.”
The 1st Big Weekend line-up also included a magic show, campus organizations’ open houses and Saturday’s football game against Richmond, particularly the first Football Gameday.
Although many freshmen attended several of the 1st Big Weekend events, some said they thought it did not necessarily accomplish some of the administration’s goals because it was not able to compete with many of the parties also taking place.
According to University policy, no living groups may not register on-campus section parties until Sept. 9—two weeks later than in previous years when the policy only applied to orientation week. Housing, Dining and Residence Life announced the extension of this policy in an email to student groups Aug. 25, though the initial decision to prohibit section parties during the first two weeks of classes was made in April.
Freshman Reem Alfahad, who attended a couple of the events—including Heat Wave—said many freshmen were making time for both the campus events and for going out.
“From what I’ve seen, there are some people who make time for this and put off the parties,” Alfahad said. “There are people who are always going to go to the parties anyway.”
Freshman Elber Reyes said he and his friends decided collectively to go to off-campus parties this weekend. Reyes added that he believes more freshmen would go to on-campus organized events if more student groups participated.
“[1st Big Weekend] felt very scattered,” Reyes said. “If there weren’t so many other parties going on, everyone would go [to the events].”
Senior Ryan Lipes, director of Duke Emergency Medical Services, wrote in an email Sunday that four calls were made this weekend concerning alcohol-related incidents. He noted that this was not abnormal for a weekend near the beginning of the school year and that all of these calls were placed at night. Lipes said he did not have data regarding the number of calls during the first weekend following classes last year.
Moneta noted that it was too early to tell whether or not the event was a success.