University Convocation set for tomorrow morning

Event is long-standing tradition; 2,000 freshmen expected to attend



Students and their families check-in for move-in weekend at Beasley Coliseum. Beasley, which has 12,000 seats, is this year’s venue for Convocation. It is currently operating at 75 percent capacity.

ABBY DAVIS, Evergreen copy chief

Incoming freshmen attending WSU’s Convocation ceremony from 10-11 a.m. tomorrow in Beasley Coliseum will learn from sophomore speaker Isabelle Busch that cougars jump 18 feet vertically from a sitting position. 

The point, Busch said, is to let freshmen know the sky is really the limit. 

Busch, a biological sciences major, said she channeled her passion for biology while writing her speech to make it interesting and engaging for everyone attending Convocation. 

“I wanted to … take a new spin on getting engaged and giving people advice, so I decided, letting our mascot do the talking was the best way to do that,” she said.      

While attending Convocation is not required, it is a long-standing tradition. Victor “Vic” Rodríguez, New Student Programs assistant director, said the event is a celebration of new students entering higher education.     

Convocation is part of Week of Welcome. Rodríguez said the week is put together intentionally to help build students’ identities and help them find resources and connections within the academic community. 

“This is where students are shown that they matter in an academic sense,” he said. “This is where they start understanding where they fall in [the academic system], and how much more they are going to be supported.”

Melissa Parkhurst, associate professor of ethnomusicology, said the Office of the Provost asked her in April to give the faculty address. 

“I was surprised, and I read the invitation three times just to make sure that it was addressed to me,” she said. “And then I got excited about it when I started thinking about the chance to connect with our new incoming students.”

While she regularly speaks in front of her students, Parkhurst said this is the first time she will address an entire incoming class. 

In preparation, Parkhurst said she spent some time reflecting on this particular group of students and the historical moment in which they are entering college. 

Parkhurst said there is a whole constellation of human experiences surrounding young people during the pandemic, including distance learning, great uncertainty, and perhaps some social isolation and anxiety. 

“What a great change it would be to be starting college this fall and suddenly be with thousands of people you don’t know and expected to interact face to face,” she said.

Sophomore speaker Isabelle Busch will share facts about cougars during her convocation speech.

Parkhurst’s speech will focus on the theme of belonging. She said although college might feel strange for many people right now, it is important to know they belong and they need to build healthy circles of community. 

Letting students know that faculty members and staff are here to help them succeed is a priority. Parkhurst said she wants students to not suffer in silence if any problems arise. 

Parkhurst said Convocation lets students know they are part of a greater experience and part of the Cougar family. It is also a good opportunity for some parents and family members attending the event to get a glimpse into WSU’s culture.     

Beasley director Leo Udy said staff are following guidelines set in place by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention and Gov. Jay Inslee. Unvaccinated individuals are expected to wear masks, and there are sanitizers located throughout the building for convenience.    

Social distancing is not required. Beasley has 12,000 seats and is currently operating at 75 percent capacity. Udy said organizers are expecting about 2,000 people at Convocation. 

Directly following the event, new Cougs living on campus can attend a barbecue in their respective dining centers at 11 a.m., according to the Week of Welcome schedule.