Looking Back September 12 2018


OP archives

A student gets hypnotized into holding up a board at the beginning of the fall semester in 1985.

With all of the Golden Grizzlies either returning to campus or arriving for the first time this week, Oakland offered many different programs and parties that students could go to and have fun.

This is by no means a new direction, but the selection of programs offered during Welcome Week has changed drastically over the years.

Going back to 1985, when Welcome Week didn’t exist yet, the university offered a few activities for students, including a hypnotist, a student organization fair, and a picnic at Bear Lake, which was then known as Beer Lake.

Tom DeLuca, a famous hypnotist that still performs on college campuses today, came to OU close to 30 years ago as a part of the opening festivities. DeLuca noted that the OU audience was particularly responsive, and said that he would “…like to come back if they’ll have me.”

True to his word, DeLuca was back on campus hypnotizing students in 2010, a full quarter century after his initial visit.

Oakland would keep having activities during the beginning of the semester until 1993, when OU had its first official Welcome Week. The Welcome Week involved different activities around campus and different informational tables for students.

“The idea expanded from simply welcoming students back to coordinating activities that occur so that students know what there is to do,” said Paul Franklin, the then Coordinator of Campus Programs. “If they don’t know what OU offers, they will get into their routines without ever realizing what’s going on at OU until it’s too late.”

In 1994, OU’s Welcome Week was still in it’s infant stages, with there only being five different events, two of which were directed at students in the residence halls. Some other programs were available to all, including an ice cream social and a “Disco Bingo” in the Oakland Center.

Subsequent Welcome Week activities became a little out there. Events like Irish Music Concerts and a celebrity appearance by Judd Winick from MTV’s “Real World” were among some of the events offered to students in 1995.

Some program mainstays continued on for years during Welcome Week, such as different movie showings, the ice cream social and the annual pig roast, which started in 1994.

The pig roast, hosted by Sigma Pi, is one of the most popular Welcome Week events. Starting from an original audience of a few hundred people, the event has grown to host over 1,000 people.

“It has to be one of the largest non-alcoholic events in the country as far as I’m aware of,” said George Hakim, a Sigma Pi Grand Council member back in 2001, regarding frat events.

Some other off-the-wall events that Welcome Week has offered include a race car demo in 2011 and an Elton John inspired student production titled “A Young Man’s Blues” in 2010.

Some of the more iconic Welcome Week activities didn’t come around until more recently. Events like Meijer Mania and the Walk to Meadow Brook weren’t created until eight years ago in 2010.