Welcome back dance makes a comeback

By The Columbia Chronicle

It had the look and sound of a wedding reception in an elegant banquet room, complete with chandeliers, where people danced to upbeat music. Glasses were clinking and people were engaging in animated conversations. But there was not a bride in sight nor alcoholic beverages in the glasses. This was the Welcome Back Dance, sponsored by Columbia’s Student Life and Development Department.

According to Student Life and Development’s Madeline Roman-Vargas, this year’s dance had the “most diverse and energetic group of students ever.” So energetic that the dance floor was full all night. “Approximately 500 to 600 students attended compared to 400 students last year, said Gloria Difino, assistant to Roman-Vargas.

Normally, at Columbia, students are segregated in different buildings based on their majors. But at the Welcome Back Dance students of different departments were able to mingle with one another, getting to know new faces. Opportunities for the student body to come together as a complete group are at Columbia. Roman-Vargas said, “There is no other event like this at Columbia and we are pleased that so many students were able to attend.”

Roman-Vargas believes that the actual attendance and participants from the students exceeded the department’s expectations. She said, “There are two goals for the Welcome Back Dance. The first is to provide an opportunity for new students to make new acquaintances in a social setting. In addition, we make students aware of all the extra curricular activities available at Columbia.” Roman-Vargas said she believes the department was successful in achieving its goals.

Fourteen of Columbia’s extra circular organizations were represented at the dance this year. (There are 18 organizations acknowledged by Columbia’s Student Organizational League). Each organization had its own table where it could present its literature to entice new students to join. Roman-Vargas said, “I was impressed that all the students set up early this year. They were eager to get started.” The Marketing Club even went so far as to display a neon-lit presentation board advertising its opportunities.

According to Roman-Vargas, this was the biggest showing ever from student organizations. Many had never participated in Welcome Back Dance before. For example she said, “The Dance Club and the Residence Center sent representatives for the first time.” It’s a reflection, she believes, on the continued growth of the Welcome Back Dance. Each year more and more students attend and individual organizations are realizing the great opportunity to gather more support.

The Welcome Back Dance was relocated from the Wilford Room at the Chicago Hilton and Towers to the Continental Room. Roman-Vargas believes that, “Many students cannot afford the Hilton any other way than a school-sponsored event. Most students do not have the opportunity to visit their neighborhood and I like providing an experience that may normally be unobtainable.” The Chicago Hilton catered the event with hors d’oeuvres and tortillas. In addition, soft drinks were available all at no charge.

Some students of the Welcome Back Dance committee would like to relocate the dance next year. According to Roman-Vargas said, “They would like to be able to offer a more diverse ethnic menu, such as Asian and African dishes, so as to reflect the diversity of Columbia’s students.”

Another charge for next year’s dance may be the music. Difino said the dance committee is considering offering students who are studying radio and music an opportunity to perform for their classmates.