COVID-19 has put many aspects of traditional campus life on hold, but Ramapo was determined to keep traditions this year with new student arching. In place of the typical procession of all new students through the Arch with a handshake from President Mercer, students came in groups to tap foam fingers this past Saturday.
New student arching is one of Ramapo’s most valued traditions, as it symbolizes the start of a new era in a student's life. Students complete arching in the opposite direction when they graduate, as they move on to the next chapter outside Ramapo.
In order to make the event safe, new students were split into three groups to attend three separate welcome events. With all hands on deck, faculty, staff and student mentors, like the Peer Facilitation program, gathered on the band shell lawn to lead the day.
Students were welcomed with speeches from Assistant Vice President of Student Success Joe Connell, Vice President of Enrollment Management and Student Affairs Chris Romano, President Peter Mercer and President of the Student Government Association Anjali Patel.
“Your class is anything but typical,” Romano said. “And in fact, we wouldn’t have it any other way.”
The incoming class of 2024 is a unique one, the majority having experienced their final year of high school online, and now their first semester of college the same way. These students come from Ramapo’s largest application pool to date, and the administration is confident these students will show promise from the strength they have developed in overcoming such strange times.
In place of the cheers of family and friends, other administrators joined the welcoming process under the arch, including speakers from the new student assembly and Dean of Students Melissa Van Der Wal. Peer Facilitators guided their classes through the arch with signs allowing those watching on livestream at home to know when their student was coming up.
For many new students, arching was their first time on Ramapo’s campus, having not been able to take spring tours. In many ways, Ramapo is trying to actively engage all students to feel connected to the campus, even when they’re away from it, but this is especially crucial for new students.
Friends and family watching at home surely had an experience no one expected, but everyone involved showed their full energy toward creating a positive experience. While virtual milestones are not what the class of 2024 may have planned, Ramapo continues to find creative ways to make these moments as special as they are every year.