By Tony Parra
Eastern New Mexico University officials want to give freshman a good first impression. That impression will come from the Third Annual Dawg Days festivities, which begin on Thursday.
“If they feel like they don’t belong, they’re going to leave,” Will Kayatin, Director of Office of Student Activities and Organizations and Director of Dawg Days activities, said. “If they’re not mentally prepared, they’re going to struggle. We want to accomplish two things. We want them (freshman) to feel like they belong here, socially and we want them to successfully make the academic transition. Dawg Days is instrumental to student retention.”
A barbecue for the incoming freshman on Thursday from 5-8 p.m. will start off the festivities, followed by a Parent’s Dessert Social at 7 p.m. at ENMU President Steven Gamble’s house. The first night will be capped off with a hypnotist, Chuck Milligan.
Shem Peachey will be in his second year as a student leader/co-coordinator of Dawg Days and will be working along side Sarah Brooks, co-coordinator. The both of them have been in training sessions with the 30 camp organizers (15 men, 15 women) this week in preparation for Dawg Days.
Peachey and his band, Social Blind Spot, played at last year’s Dawg Days event.
Kayatin said said Peachey and Brooks select the camp organizers from a group of social leaders from ENMU.
“This orientation model is predicated on student leadership,” Kayatin said. “What better way to get students involved in orientation than to have an event driven by your peers. They’re creative in their planning and leadership and I work alongside them as a coach.”
Kayatin said there are a few additions to the Dawg Days festivities such as the transitions seminar, lunch with faculty and the Dawg Race, which is a tour of the campus.
“It (Dawg Days) was a pure student life orientation to having an academic engagement component,” Kayatin said. “Dr. Dan Brown will help students with a time and money management seminar. President (Steven) Gamble received feedback from faculty and the general feeling was that the students were a little unprepared, starting as freshman, academically. We try to incorporate academic engagement program to better prepare them for the start of their classes.”
Dawg Days officials consider the Blessid Union of Souls free concert, set for 9:30 Saturday night at Greyhound Arena, to be the major event of the festivities.
“We look at this as the perfect cap to Dawg Days,” Peachey said in an Aug. 3rd article. “We worked during the summer to schedule the events.”
According to Kayatin, the freshman orientation has been a collaboration between many organizations. He said Dann Brown, a professor, will be conducting freshman seminars on time and money management. He said some of the other entities involved were the Office of University Relations, Office of Communication Services, President’s Ambassadors, Student Government, Theater Department and Campus Union Building officials.
The orientation schedule for freshman runs from Thursday to Sunday for traditional and non-traditional students.