CSUN considers new student convocation

Daily Sundial

Professors and administrators discussed the possibility of a new convocation event to welcome new students to the campus community next year.

The discussion, which was held at the University Student Union Thousand Oaks Room on Tuesday, was attended primarily by faculty, administrators and staff members, with a majority of its attendants tried to establish the benefits of a new student convocation.

The attendees discussed the significance of introducing new students to campus by having an “intellectual welcoming,” which would be separate from the university’s new student orientation and any other departmental programs and events at CSUN.

During the presentation, Sonja Daniels from Student Development and International Programs defined convocation as a formal coming together of a community.

She said that the convocation would serve as an “official welcome (from the) university to new students.”

Daniels said during the presentation that she had attended various convocations at other universities, such as San Jose State, CSU Hayward, UC Irvine and San Diego State. According to Daniels, recent reports show that at least 18 campuses in the CSU and UC systems have annual student convocations.

Some students at the discussion said they saw the advantages of a new student convocation event for incoming students, whether they are freshmen or transfer students.

Recently transferred from a community college, Marlene Pinotti, junior psychology major, said it would be a good idea for freshman students to have a new student convocation. She said that despite not receving a convocation when she transferred to CSUN, her community college experience helped her prepare for CSUN.

“CSUN is totally different,” Pinotti said. “(It) would help a freshman (student) who at this time has no college experience, and (as a result the student) would have more information to what it entails.”

Pinotti said the new student convocation would be more appropriate for incoming freshmen, rather than transfer students with previous college experience, mainly because of the new environment and new challenges that they are about to face.

Unlike Pinotti, Sakura Ramirez, graduate student in cinema and television arts, said she likes the idea of addressing all students. She said it gives the students a sense of being part of the campus and allows students to put a face to staff members’ names.

“I think it’s an interesting idea and a good way of introducing (campus and its staff) to the students,” Ramirez said. “I haven’t even seen (CSUN President Jolene Koester) except in pictures.”

Ramirez said convocation would be a great way to get students to feel connected with the campus despite being new to it. She added it would be appropriate to address all students by “having two separate convocations for both new and existing students.”

Thomas Piernik, director of SDIP, said the new student convocation would bridge gaps with existing university traditions. He added new student convocations would offer an opportunity for new students to meet with faculty and could bring “sense of wholeness” to the whole college experience.

“(It’s) the missing piece, (along) with the number of traditions (CSUN has),” Piernik said. “(It would) be an opportunity to inspire students and challenge them; and to say we are in it together.”

According to Piernik, based on responses to the discussion and feedback from students around campus, the recommendation would be forwarded to the university president. He added the president would either approve or deny it.

Joanne Angeles can be reached at city@sundial.csun.edu.