Last year’s transformation of Wildcat Week, formerly known as Welcome Week, included a complete overhaul of a tradition that dates back more than 20 years. Now, organizers are fine-tuning what they started last year, seeking to continue to make Wildcat Week better.
Caddie Coupe, director of new student programs, led last year’s changes and has decided to expand the leadership team this year.
“We’re really taking bigger numbers, which means we want to take bigger numbers for our mentor groups, transfer group and ESL leaders as well as our Campus Crew,” Coupe said.
This year, nine student directors were chosen – called The Nine – as well as 28 steering committee members, which is larger than last year’s seven student directors and 20 steering committee members. The nine student directors were hired during the fall semester, a change from the past in which they were chosen during the spring semester.
“Because we’re continuing to make Wildcat Week bigger and better, and continuing to make that foundation stronger for our new students, I felt like we should hire them earlier and give them more time to really make positive changes,” Coupe said. “I think I shocked some our students that I hired some student directors so early, but I think in the long run they can see that it was a much better idea, giving them more time to process and evaluate and then make the right changes.”
Bailey Goodenough, senior history education major from Abilene, is one of The Nine.
“This might be lame, but I actually have “‹an ‘ACU Dreams’ list, aka an ACU Bucket List, and student director is on the list,” Goodenough said. “I also wanted to be a director because my sister will be an incoming freshman, and I wanted to show her that being involved is really cool and that the hard work is rewarding.”
Steering committee members were chosen early in the spring semester and have begun meeting with student directors to plan for the next semester.
“I am looking forward to planning with the other student directors, as well as my steering committee,” Goodenough said. “I am also looking forward to executing the ideas we have during Wildcat Week. It’s seriously going to be a blast.”
Logan Moore, senior biology pre-med major from Amarillo, is also a student director and said his goal is to help continue to improve Wildcat Week and the freshman experience.
“One of our goals is to have a full campus involvement in Wildcat Week,” Moore said. “We’d really like to see all the faculty and all the students really buy into what Wildcat Week really is, and it’s about acclimating these freshmen into our family and our community in Abilene.”
Coupe said choosing directors and steering committee members earlier than in the past has helped the team be more intentional when choosing students as Wildcat Week leaders. In all, 300 student leaders helped execute Wildcat Week in 2015, and that number is expected to increase for the 2016 Wildcat Week.
“Our numbers are growing because we’re really adding more events to Wildcat Week,” Coupe said. “Last year we had over 60 events in a five-day span, and this year we’re really hoping to bump it up around 70, which means we need additional staff and support.”
The block party will remain on the Wildcat Week agenda, but unlike last year, will include live music. The team is aiming to get students the opportunity to earn Spiritual Formation credits for late-night worship.
Last year, each student director was in charge of six to seven main activities, but with the increase in staff, each director will only be responsible for three to four events.
“This year, we’re really able to focus and understand how that system works and how it works best,” Coupe said. “There are little things that we’re tweaking and fine tuning.”
Mentor group leaders, ESL group leaders, transfer group leaders and Campus Crew will be chosen after spring break, and applications will open March 7.
“We’re looking for somebody who loves ACU, who’s passionate and who wants to help introduce our new students to ACU,” Coupe said. “That’s really what we’re excited for and what we’re pushing for because those students make Wildcat Week happen and make it lively and fun.”
Applications can be found at http://acu.edu/fyp.