Class of 2023, welcome to the 62nd annual Week of Welcome!
In Special Collections and Archives, located in Kennedy Library, there are many items documenting WOWs of the past. Maybe one day you will also be recorded in the archives?! Read on to learn more about the evolution of Week of Welcome…
In 1957, Cal Poly rolled out the official “Welcome Week” orientation program, but it was not the first event designed to introduce new incoming students to Cal Poly.
In 1951, there was an optional two-day “Round Up Camp” in Cambria where new students could meet Cal Poly veterans and receive information about the campus and culture. It was here that the “rooter’s cap” tradition began.¹
In 1954, Cal Poly offered a campus-based orientation program for students who could not attend the Cambrian camp, but it was not until 1957 that the idea of an entire Week of Welcome on campus came to fruition. The camp continued, and the two orientation programs, affectionately referred to as “Camp” and “Campus”, existed simultaneously until 1972.
In 1970, Bill Walters, WOW advisor extraordinaire, took the reigns. Under his guidance, WOW flourished. Focusing on the campus program, he set out to “help new students adapt to an environment away from home and also help students’ productivity in schoolwork and college life in general.”²
In the 1990s, WOW shifted gears again. Instead of focusing on solely orienting students with their surroundings, Walter’s successors, Ken Barclay and Phil Bailey integrated academic seminars as well as social issues and cultural awareness seminars that emphasized cultural diversity and tolerance for others.³
In 2016, the Week of Welcome became integrated with the first day of classes. WOW activities paused for Thursday and Friday classes, and picked back up Friday evening to continue through the weekend, and this model has continued to the present.⁴
- Fall Quarter Report, 1957. UA630.07, Box 1. Special Collections and Archives, Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo.
- Lisa Iruguin, “36 Years of WOW: Poly’s weekend campout has become a nationally-recognized orientation program,” Mustang News, Sept. 13, 1993, https://digitalcommons.calpoly.edu/studentnewspaper/4494/.
- Brian Robbins and Dylan Ring, “WOW continues into first day of classes, unclear if it will be the same schedule next year,” Mustang News, September 29, 2016, https://mustangnews.net/wow-schedule-continues-first-day-classes.