Flames engulf the experience of welcome week

By Afia Jones


After a week of ice breakers, packets of syllabuses and personal introductions that you’ve reiterated so much it feels like you’ve memorized a script containing your major, year and hometown, we can all rejoice that it is finally over.

Hopefully, you have survived the first week of school or as I call it, “hell week”.

Every class is the same.

You’ll be given a dense syllabus that outlines how to contact the professor, required or recommended texts, attendance policy, grade break down and assignments.

However, if you have an immensely eager professor, they will kick off the first class by starting a lesson, or  they’re reminding you of previous information you should’ve retained from last semester to prepare for the class.

Amazingly, I have been to a completely different university, a community college and back to a university, and all of my “first week” of college experiences has gone pretty much the same.

Nevertheless, I won’t say that the syllabuses or even the excessively ambitious professors are the main contributors to why the week is completely hellacious.

What topples the syllabuses, are the utterly exhausted introductions.

Being from the Chicagoland area, I have a very limited knowledge of what happens in any other part of Illinois. Cornfields still leave me aghast, and I can’t help but chuckle when people from Aurora try to say they are from Chicago too.

Regardless, I still get to pretend that I have even the slightest idea where Oswego is and you’re now aware that New Lenox was voted the most boring town in Illinois because you were dying to go visit, right?

Listening to unknown towns, majors and extra “fun” facts after the third class of the week, starts to sound like a parent from a Charlie Brown Thanksgiving special is speaking.

Introductions and syllabuses are all the same year after year, and this being my third year has taught me that I’ll never be able to escape their inferno.

Yet, the top tier layer of what constructs the humdrum week is trying to adjust to being the only minority in the classroom.

While how we deal with hell week varies for each individual, I find that minorities face the same experiences during this week.

You either rejoice that there is a least five of you are in the class or relieve a deep-seated sigh when you realize you are the only one in class.

I had two memorable classes from last semester. Not because the actual content was that intriguing but because I was reminded daily of how isolated I was in a room full of people.

For example, in a communications course, I was one of two African-American girls in a class that was basically full.

I never had to worry I would be missed for attendance. My teacher would have to decipher which Anna was which, but he would just glance up at me and just mark my attendance.

That same feeling is shared with other minorities here on campus as well.

“When I walked into my course, I was not surprised to see the lack of minorities in the class since the school is majority white,” sophomore financing major Jaelin Moon said. “Sometimes, having more white people in a course shows you how the majority of society thinks,” she said.

If you’re a minority that is planning on going to a public white institution, then you’re accepting to face the reality that other students like Moon experience.

“Initially when I walked into my class, I figured I would be the only black person. However, there ended up being two other black males in the class,” junior kinesiology major Sujuri Barrett said.

It comes with the territory.

If you’re lucky enough to find some people with the same complexion as you, it still won’t take away from experiencing that isolation in other classes. This only ignites that flames that engulf the experience of welcome week.