Convocation celebration

By CiaraShook

More than 3,000 students and faculty gathered in Grant Park in the spirit of the 1893 Columbian Exposition on Sept. 3 for Columbia’s annual Convocation.

Columbia President Warrick L. Carter welcomed fresh faces by acknowledging Columbia as the largest community of young creatives in the world.

“This is the last part of your downtime because starting Tuesday, we’re going to work your butts to death, but that’s what you came here for,” Carter said. “We want you to drain the faculty of everything they have so that you … are the best prepared students in the media, communications and arts community.”

The ceremony was opened by Student Government Association President Jessica Valerio, who encouraged newcomers to get involved with student organizations at Columbia, followed by Student Organizations Council Chair Alicia Wilson, who invited students to join or form clubs on campus. Louise Love, vice president of Academic Affairs, and Provost Stephen Kapelke formally welcomed faculty to the event by giving them pink and purple sashes to wear.

Vice president of Student Affairs Mark Kelly led the energy during his call-and-response “Hell Yeah” speech, requiring students to make a commitment to themselves and the college during their time at Columbia.

“[Convocation is] a really fun environment to find all the different clubs,” freshman film major Adam Gasperoni Riddle said. “I had no idea how many clubs there were. It’s hard to believe that other colleges don’t have something like this.”

While most college convocations are filled with formal, pomp-and-circumstance ceremonies, Columbia offers a more social environment for students and faculty to become better acquainted.

“It’s one of the coolest convocations you’re going to find in the country,” Kelly said. “[It’s] full of Columbia energy.”

Columbia’s name, intellectual curiosity and passion were inspired by the Columbian Exposition in 1893.

“The message to students is that there is this world to explore,” Kelly said.

The festival was chock full of cigarette girls, fortune-telling, mimes on stilts, cotton candy, sideshows and Midway games.

The student-organized event featured live music from three bands that each delivered high energy, hour-long sets and got the crowd dancing in the park.

Columbia student-band World’s Fair, a folk-rock group, took the stage shortly after Kelly’s speech. Sidewalk Chalk, a group that includes Columbia alumni and current students followed with a mix of hip-hop, soul, rock and poetry. Columbia alumnus DJ Scenery ended the afternoon mixing diverse genres of music such as Kings of Leon, Diddy, a-ha’s “Take On Me” and Sir Mix-A-Lot.

Among the music and mimes on stilts were games of bags and knock-out-the-clown. Graham Casket S’mores allowed students to pick marshmallows from a casket built out of graham crackers and lined with chocolate. The Amazing Tomas & The Silent Theatre Company gave performances in a tent, and alumni Heather Hartley and Casey Murtaugh demonstrated “Garden,” which is an “outdoor exploration of inner forbidden fruit.”

In the giant white tent housing dozens of student organizations from the Ad Club to the Columbia chapter of To Write Love On Her Arms, organization members reached out to fellow students, inviting them to become involved in activities and initiatives on campus.

While cigarette girls carried caddies of small buttons and reusable convocation bags, students filled the bags with ink pens, pamphlets and condoms.

“It’s a good place to meet new people and to see all the different committees there are on campus,” said freshman music theory major, Sharisse Manning.