When students feel more at home, more at ease and comfortable with their surroundings, they will experience a release in their stress levels which in return will help them succeed academically.
That’s the goal, Downtown Ithaca Alliance’s Marketing Director Allison Graffin said, which is driving the Downtown Ithaca Welcome Student Weekend. The event is a joint effort between the DIA, Cornell, Ithaca College, Tompkins Cortland Community College and Tompkins County Area Transit (TCAT). The goal of the event is to introduce students to Ithaca’s downtown, helping to familiarize students with areas beyond campus, in the name of helping them feel at home.
Broken into two days, CU Downtown will take place Saturday, September 1, while IC & TC3 Downtown will welcome students on Sunday, September 2. Both days, events will run from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.
This year will be the third iteration of CU Downtown, and the second year of IC & TC3 Downtown. IC Downtown will occur within the schedule of events for the First Bomber Weekend at Ithaca College which will include a trip to the Farmers Market and on-campus activities.
Shuttles will be offered to the campuses with increased frequency. The Downtown Ithaca Welcome Student Weekend is expected to draw in about 3,500 Cornell students, 1,500 students from IC and 100-200 TC3 students.
A notable component of the weekend is that while it is coined a student weekend, members of the broader Ithaca community are encouraged to join in the festivities.
Both days will feature performances from student groups, serving as an introduction to the multitude of activities available to incoming students, while simultaneously offering Ithaca residents a look at the passion and creativity present on East and South Hill. Performances will include Cornell’s marching band, and a focus on the work of music and performing arts majors from Ithaca College.
Alumni are especially encouraged to attend the event and reach out to current students with support and advice for adapting to the community.
Amidst the performances which will continue throughout the afternoon, businesses will be open with special discounts and samples for students. Non-students are asked to respect the generosity of small-business owners and leave limited supply samples for the students.
Graffin explained that a scavenger hunt will also be open to student participation. With 25-30 stops, the hunt will lead students to different downtown niches, such as Press Bay Alley or Dewitt Mall. Helping with mapping and identification of the local landscape, the scavenger hunt will follow an Avengers theme with plenty of prizes available, including items and certificates donated by local businesses.
In addition to the scavenger hunt which will introduce students to areas beyond the Commons, shuttles offered by TCAT will not only transport students downtown but help them to feel comfortable with the County’s transportation system on which many students rely.
“By helping them learn the local transit system, it helps the students get connected to their new community at the outset of their college experience, and we hope it helps them feel more confident and at home while at school in Ithaca,” Graffin said.
The DIA, as well as the colleges, often receives feedback from seniors who say they did not know something existed, until it was too late or when it would have been useful to know about earlier in their tenure.
This sentiment from students was part of the motivation behind the event, which initially came about as an idea from Margherita Fabrizio, the Director of the Carol Tatkon Center for First-Year Students at Cornell University. Collaboration on Graffin’s part with Fabrizio, along with Lyne Pierce of IC, Deb Mohlenhoff of TC3 and Patty Poist of TCAT, has been essential to the success of the weekend•