This year’s Wilson Day was the first in its 14 year history to occur over two days, featuring an expanded range of community service activities and opportunities for the Class of 2006. It also included events that were unprecedented for Wilson Day, including Rochester Transit Service tours and urban issues workshops.
Senior Dan Lioy, who helped organize and coordinate the expansion of Wilson Day, said that the general purpose of the event was to “orient students to the Rochester area through community service.” Lioy felt by expanding the range of activities involved, students would get a better sense of the city of Rochester, both in terms of its needs and generosity.
Dean of Students Jody Asbury explained that the reason for the expansion was twofold ? the students could deliver help on more projects, and the confusion and chaos which comes along with having an event with over a thousand people involved would be cut down.
Asbury also added that most of the motivation behind the changes was to further integrate learning with the Wilson Day experience. “It’s the right thing for us to be doing,” she said, “especially since we’re the only local university actually located in the city.”
A crucial part of the addition was the much needed help given from community agencies and student groups, which made it possible for such an expansion to take place. There were many people involved, such as employees of RTS, the Rochester Historical Society and Mayor William Johnson. Many student groups, such as the Urban Fellows, the Community Service Network, Alpha Phi Omega, Amnesty International and Delta Kappa Epsilon also participated in and helped organize many of the activities of Wilson Day.
One of the most important aspects of this expansion was the addition of RTS bus tours for first year students, which were intended to not only give students a better understanding of the surrounding communities, but also to introduce them to the transit system to get around Rochester, something which some older students struggle to use. The tours were researched and scripted by Urban Fellows, and given by community volunteers, such as the local news anchors of Channels 10 and 13 and the head of the Rochester Chamber of Commerce.
These activities “made it more of a gateway event,” coordinator of the Community Service Network Marie Lewis said. “There were many more opportunities for students to connect with the community and build ties for the future.”
“It achieved a goal of giving students a bigger picture and a better sense of community,” sophomore and co-chair of the orientation program Jesse Bailey said. He helped write the tour script for Bus 72 and helped organize the urban issues workshops. “I was completely humbled to work with such an incredible group of people,” he added.
The success of the event was emphasized resoundingly by those involved, many of whom were overwhelmed by the amount of work which was accomplished in such a short period of time. “Dan Lioy put it all in place,” Lewis said. “He took a program and tripled it in one summer.”
When asked if he thought the expansion of Wilson Day had been a success in its first year, Lioy said, “Absolutely, I had a lot of anxiety about whether or not it would work, but it worked so well that it will probably become a permanent part of Wilson Day.”
“It’s important to spread the idea of how far the walls of the community extend,” Asbury said, “so students don’t get locked into a bubble existence.” Whether or not Wilson Day leads to more involved and concerned students among this year’s freshmen remains to be seen.
Muhlenburg can be reached at email@example.com.