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Mixed bag at Convocation

BY CHRIS CURTLAND | AUGUST 24, 2009 7:05 AM

Four thousand young Hawklings crammed the Pentacrest lawn on Sunday for a welcoming Convocation to prepare themselves for becoming full-fledged Hawkeyes when fall classes start today.

UI President Sally Mason, donning her black robe of academia, invoked the autumn shade of red — a color of fervor — in her speech. She encouraged the class of 2013 to discover their passions during their first semester at the university.

But most in the sweaty, subdued crowd seemed more passionate about the water stations scattered across the lawn than the pump-up speeches.

UI freshman Jeffrey Miller, a 19-year-old with an open major, said he was less than enthused about the speakers.

“The speeches got corny; I got sunburnt,” the fair-skinned redhead said, pointing to his pink forearm. “There definitely wasn’t enough water.”

Aside from refreshments, the water-station line provided many with the chance to socialize. But not everyone was pleased with the chatty gatherings.

“Shush,” a resident assistant who refused to be named chided a group of giggling sorority sisters. “Some of us are trying to listen to the speech.”

One speaker, Casey Koschmeder — a UI senior in elementary education — recited the IOWA Challenge to “excel, stretch, engage, choose, and serve,” encouraging the agitated crowd to repeat each point after him.

By the third tier of the Challenge mantra, the crowd’s callbacks had faded into lifeless droning.
Sensing unrest, Mason urged the crowd to make its way to the intersection of Clinton and Church Streets for a block party at the President’s Residence.

But before dismissing them, Mason coaxed the crowd to its feet and turn around to face the Hawkeye Marching Band, which played for an emptying lawn left littered with plastic water cups.

The thousands marched to the party scene, enjoying free burgers, Blue Bunny ice cream, and Coca-Cola products. DJ Zato got the fest bumping with a rendition of the “Cupid Shuffle.”

Within minutes, having obeyed Mason’s request that “lots of people dance,” the entire Church Street block was popping with choreographed insanity.

Not all in attendance were dancers though — and not all were freshmen. UI sophomore Tom Kray, a 19-year-old who recently transferred from University of Miami in Ohio, was there simply to “meet new people.” He seemed weary of the grooving.

“We’ll see how it plays out first,” Kray said. “I definitely won’t be out there in the first hundred people that are dancing.”

The event wrapped up with raffle prizes for a lucky few in attendance. Among the prizes were an iTouch, a bicycle, and tickets to Hawkeye sporting events. When no one came up to redeem the iTouch after the first five tickets were drawn, DJ Zato started his own “lightning round.”

“All right, guys, I’m kind of impatient,” he mused. “Now, you only have 15 seconds to come running and screaming up here or I’m moving to the next ticket.”


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