The Center for the First Year Experience created a new program called The Badger Welcome Groups to help students new to University of Wisconsin acclimate to life in college and the unprecedented year ahead.
According to the Center for the First Year Experience, this program will run from August 27 to Sept. 20 and aims to help students get acquainted after coming to campus amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Assistant Director of Orientation at the Center for the First Year Experience, Chris Verhaeghe said students may have a more difficult transition with these additional factors.
“The pandemic is hard on all of us, and starting in a brand new environment where you don’t have the support that you’re used to adds another layer of complexity and challenge to this pandemic for these students,” Verhaeghe said.
This group was open to all undergraduate students whether they were living on or off campus. According to UW News, more than 600 students signed up for the program. Badger Welcome Groups especially encouraged out-of-state students to join as they may not know many other students coming into the school year, UW News said.
In-person and virtual small group events were offered for students who signed up for the program. According to the Center for the First Year Experience, groups were split up by living location and admittance type — either freshman or transfer. Each small group was led by a Wisconsin Welcome Ambassador.
According to UW News, Wisconsin Welcome Ambassadors were undergraduate students who were familiar with UW’s campus. The small group events these ambassadors led allowed students to meet others in similar situations as them and hopefully make connections to assist them in their campus experience, UW News said.
UW News added the ambassadors worked to help the new students get familiarized with the campus by leading information sessions and hosting activities for group members to engage in.
“Being able to offer this as just a touchpoint or a resource for students has been great, and I’m glad that we did it,” Verhaeghe said.
The continuation of this program is currently unknown as the arrangements for future semesters are still unclear Verhaeghe said.