As this year’s freshman class made its way to Crisler Arena for the new student convocation last Friday, it was met by advocates for Palestinian freedom, the Intervarsity Christian Fellowship and Michigan Student Assembly, among others. The theater combat troupe Ring of Steel practiced its swordplay near the parking lot as nearly 6,000 bright new faces filed into the arena.
Student groups said convocation is the best event of the year for recruiting new members.
The convocation program consisted of professors and administrators, including University President Mary Sue Coleman, giving praise and advice to the entering class.
The nuggets of wisdom bestowed on the crowd ranged from Coleman’s entreaty to “explore the knowledge that surrounds you” to Faculty Senate Advisory Committee Chairman Bruno Giordani’s suggestion to not overindulge in the soft-serve ice cream served in the dining halls.
Nearly 90 percent of new students were in the top 10 percent of their graduating class in high school, 25 percent were elected to student government and 51 percent are female, according to statistics read by Theodore Spencer, director of undergraduate admissions.
Giordani joked the class is not only one of the most talented and academically qualified in University history, but also the best looking.
Coleman also doled out her share of praise, but her address focused on recognizing the students and faculty that sustain the University.
“Regardless of their experiences, alumni all agree on one profound detail — the University of Michigan is about the people you will meet,” she said.
Coleman likened the prestige of the University to that of great cities like Paris, London and New York. She advised students to prepare for a wild ride.
“Like the spectacular places and images around the globe, the University of Michigan will be one of the most amazing adventures of your life,” she said.
Coleman’s remarks earned rave reviews from attendees.
“(She) sure beats the hell out of Henry Caudle,” said LSA freshman Will Fink, referring to his high school principal.
“Amazing” was a word used by both students and parents to describe her speech. According to LSA freshman Leslie Gleason, the speech was the highlight of the night.
Coleman wrapped up with the words of Ralph Waldo Emerson, encouraging students to maintain a spirit of inquiry and exploration. MSA President Jesse Levine employed the words of Ferris Bueller to drive home his point. “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”
The evening concluded with the University Fanfare Band leading a rendition of “Hail to the Victors.”
As they exited the building, members from university organizations equipped with fliers and signup sheets opened their arms to the next class of University students.