By Blas Alvarado
After more than a year of virtual learning, new Cal Poly freshman and transfer students participated at this year’s in-person Week of Welcome earlier this month.
Also known as “WOW”, Week of Welcome is a five day orientation filled with a variety of events, activities and resources that newcomers can experience with groups of 10 to 20 students.
In order to make the experience safe amid the COVID-19 pandemic, guidelines like wearing masks indoors and completing a daily healthy screener were required throughout the orientation.
Along with the beach bonfires, farmers market night and other activities,the annual WOW concert hosted by Cal Poly’s Associated Students Incorporated tends to be a popular event among incoming students.
This year the event featured the artist KYLE and was held outside in the University Union Plaza.
While university COVID-19 policies did require students to wear masks indoors throughout WOW, they did not apply to the concert since it was held outdoors.
Natalie Rathle, Animal Science and Theater Junior, was a WOW leader who took her team to the KYLE concert. Rathle says that she felt uncomfortable with the close proximity of the students who were mostly maskless even when the concert was held outdoors.
“One thing I noticed was that the University Union was extremely packed. People were shoulder to shoulder, neck to neck. Not at all following COVIF guidelines that the university would have hoped to establish” said Rathle.
Rathle notes that it would have been hard to get students to adhere to new COVID guidelines at the concert but she says that it felt wrong to hold an event like this due to its potential to spread COVID-19 especially as the university decided to cancel Wow-A-Rama, a school tradition, for the same reasons.
While there were some concerns over the concert, most of the other students that I spoke to said that they still felt safe from COVID during the orientation ceremonies.
Business administration and Industrial Technologies and Packaging Freshman, Piper Stroh and Merav Tzori, also attended the concert and say they were shocked at how large the crowd was.
Still, Stroh and Tzori did not feel that their safety was a concern.
Stroh said “ I was surprised honestly… but with 96 percent of the campus being vaccinated, I felt really comfortable with the situation.” “I felt that it was good that it was outside. It was questionable that they picked the UU because it was so small so it was jammed packed. But we were outside so I didn’t worry about it COVID wise” followed Tzori.
There has yet to be a COVID-19 break out linked to the event.