BlogDH Explains Orientation: Opening Convocation

UPDATE: Convocation will be held indoors at 4:00 p.m. in the Pizzitola Sports Center due to inclement weather. New students who wish to walk through the Gates together can do so tomorrow, September 6 at 12:00 p.m. along with President Paxson. Additionally, new students can walk through the Gates tomorrow at their convenience from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. But don’t let the rain get you down; it’s still going to be a great day.

First-years: you’ve survived move-in, pre-registration, and awkward small talk at the Ice Cream Social. Mazel Tov! Now, it’s time to get initiated. Not in some creepy, cultish kind of way (unless you’re into that), but in true Brunonian fashion — by walking through the Van Wickle Gates.

If you ever went on an official tour of campus, you’ve heard the legends surrounding those famed gates: first years enter them during Opening Convocation to mark the beginning of their time on the Hill, and graduates walk out through them onto the streets of Providence to signal their departure. It’s very sentimental, one of those gratuitous Ivy League traditions that comes with the package.

It’s pretty easy to get caught up in it all. There are cameras everywhere, and no one ever really knows where to go. (Pro tip: through the Gates.) Faculty superstars (including Paxson herself) line up on the Quiet Green and sport their alma mater regalia to welcome you. They applaud you as you walk to the Main Green. You! The first-year! Savor that glory now, before those faculty superstars get real around midterms. We can assure you that Opening Convocation will be one of the most memorable moments of your life; check out our ways to make it count after the jump.

  1. Try not to look disheveled. It’s Orientation week, and odds are you spent the night before pretending to know how to play beer pong on Wriston making friends into the wee hours of the morning. And hey, I don’t blame you. But look alive at Opening Convocation. Because there will be photographers, and those pictures will end up on the Brown homepage. (And on BlogDailyHerald! Yay!)
  2. Think about what the moment means to you, not what hashtags you’re going to use on Instagram. Walking through the Van Wickle Gates is one of the most highly anticipated moments of your first year at Brown. It’s also your official induction into the Brown community. So put your phone away, and look around you and take it all in. Truth is, you probably won’t might not even be on speaking terms with the people you walk through the Gates with, but that’s not the point. For the first time, you will be surrounded by your graduating class. They’re your community, and will be your community until 2016. That’s more special that #Instafame.
  3. Actually listen to Paxson’s speech. Ruth Simmons was the highlight of my Opening Convocation. Her speech was inspiring, insightful, and probably not as spectacular as I choose to remember it, but it was special. And I even got a hug after! But you came to Brown at a really interesting time—this will be Paxson’s first ever Convocation. So her speech will be talked about for some time. You might want to pay attention. No promises on the hug, though.

But the most important rule of all… Just cherish this moment. Cherish the fact that it’s your first year at Brown, and that you’re getting all this special treatment. #YOWTTGO (#YouOnlyWalkThroughTheGatesOnce… do you think we can make this trend, y’all?)

1 Comment

  1. '13

    But you walk through the gates twice…


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