From freshmen to friends

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Jamila Webb knows how to draw freshmen out of dorm rooms and into conversations with new friends. The Playfair facilitator welcomed about 200 students in the courtyard Saturday night with music, dancing, and icebreaker activities.

“It’s really about bringing your walls down and going out and meeting people,” Webb said. “This is your new family.”

For three years, Webb has been bringing Playfair to almost 30 schools in the Midwest, South and East Coast. She said Midwestern schools are generally “the fun group,” more open to meeting new people. Cardinals’ school spirit, however, made SVSU stand out from other schools she has visited.

“There’s a lot of school spirit,” she said. “Some schools don’t really chant, but before the show even started students got up on stage. They said, ‘I SV you say SU.’ And that was just a way to bring us together throughout the show as they would use that. Some other schools, they don’t have that.”

Webb prompted students into groups based on the months of their birthdays, their majors, the areas they came from and their interests. Groups changed often, allowing students to make connections with many classmates throughout the event. Activities included a hype man contest, standing ovations by request and a game of ultimate rock, scissors, paper.

The Resident Housing Association sponsored the event. Computer electrical engineering junior and RHA member Brian White said the purpose of Playfair was to “get all the freshmen out of their shells.”

“They’re all dancing and having a great time,” White said. “They’re going to be able to communicate with all the other residents who would [otherwise] stay in their rooms or maybe do other things. [We] get them out and active.”

Nursing freshman Shantinique Beverly said the event exceeded her expectation and found it to be “pretty awesome,” adding that she did not participate in many back-to-school events in her first semester.

“I don’t think I was into all this. I was kind of antisocial,” she said. “But with all the programs here, you can’t help but get social.”
Students such as Beverly found others at Playfair with common interests.

“I know a lot of people who watch Jersey Shore now,” she said.

Accounting freshman Han Yin, a first time international student from China, also said he enjoyed the social scene at Playfair.

“Coming to the U.S., it’s a totally different life from where I’m from,” he said. “I wanted to come to America to learn more about the culture here. The support is awesome.”

Playfair closed with freshmen dancing in line to “The Cardinal Shuffle,” and, after the event, a majority of students joined classmates at the Project Dymamite comedy show rather than returning to their dorms.

Reflecting on the night’s festivities, Webb commented, “Now that they know other people here support them, they feel a little bit more confident about starting college.”

Accounting freshman Han Yin, a first time international student from China, also said he enjoyed the social scene at Playfair.

“Coming to the U.S., it’s a totally different life from where I’m from,” he said. “I wanted to come to America to learn more about the culture here. The support is awesome.”

Playfair closed with freshmen dancing in line to “The Cardinal Shuffle,” and, after the event, a majority of students joined classmates at the Project Dymamite comedy show rather than returning to their dorms.

Reflecting on the night’s festivities, Webb commented, “Now that they know other people here support them, they feel a little bit more confident about starting college.”

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