First Big Weekend, The Second Time Around

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It's your first weekend back at school. So much to do, so many things to get done, so many people to see and meet. Who has time to organize and plan fun things to do?

The second annual First Big Weekend (FBW) has you covered. From live music to pre-football cookouts on all three campuses, there are great things happening everywhere, campus-wide for the campus community. All you have to do is show up. Oh, and bring your DukeCard.

If you're not familiar with FBW, it's Duke's newest tradition. It's a fall festival of welcome, including a wide range of events featuring community-focused activities and performances. FBW introduces first-year students to the greater Duke atmosphere and welcomes back returning students, all while promoting a borderless, responsible social scene.

"The First Big weekend is more than a bunch of random events at the beginning of the new school year," says Christopher Whitaker, a student co-chair of the FBW planning committee. "We’re in the business of trying to engage students, and to do that, we’re working on creating a school tradition. The FBW is first and foremost about building a Duke community where everyone belongs."

FBW has become a truly student-run event, with administrators taking an advisory seat only. "This year, students are running the process, for students, with student input," Whitaker said. "The collaboration has been great. We’ve engaged a good many student groups and gotten them to take ownership of shaping campus culture."

"I’ll give you two examples so far of collaboration: for the first time, all four Greek campus groups will be coming together to run back-to-back events to create a 'Greek night'. This is unprecedented. Second, for the first time, all student dance organizations will be coming together to not only perform for the undergraduate students, but also to sponsor a campus-wide school dance in the Great Hall. These are going to be fantastic, fun events," Whitaker said.

So why was FBW developed in the first place?

"Our goal was to create an engaging weekend for students with an emphasis on collaboration, participation, and student-produced programming and events. We hoped students would eventually take the lead. The fact is, they took it over faster than we expected, though honestly, we should have seen that coming, given the strong leadership role Duke students take on campus," said David Pittman, director of Student Activities for the University Center Activities and Events. "Student Affairs and other campus departments are still involved in creating a warm and welcoming community here at Duke, but students are truly in the lead."

"We have a lot of faith that the First Big Weekend is a big step towards a more inclusive Duke," Whitaker said, expressing his hopes for the long-term vision of FBW. "We're creating a place that we can all call a beloved community."

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