The Daily Gamecock

Carolina Kickoff welcomes freshmen in a new way

Shortly after move-in, Carolina Kickoff – formerly known as First Night Carolina – provided freshmen with an introduction to the university's traditions, organizations and members of their class. 

The event, which took place on Aug. 16, 17 and 18, looked much different than years prior but was still focused on the student experience and welcoming the incoming freshman class. 

"The goal of Carolina Kickoff is, it's for everyone at the university, but especially our first-year students, to get a sense of the community and of the traditions that we love as a part of the Gamecock family," Student Body President Issy Rushton said. 

Groups of students, donning face masks, could meet others from their residence halls and walk around the Horseshoe and Greene Street. Student organizations tabled and gave out information along the route. 

Carolina Kickoff also included traditions such as "Sandstorm," and students ran through the gates on Greene Street with smoke and fire.

"We had to, you know, revitalize the student experience this year. We wanted to make sure that our freshmen still had the opportunity to build community here at the university, and so Carolina Kickoff does look a little different. Instead of the typical everyone in the stadium, or everyone in an arena, we went for the, kind of, build-your-own journey around the Horseshoe," Rushton said.

President Bob Caslen made an appearance, thanked the band for their performance and welcomed students on the Horseshoe.

"I'm very proud of our students. There will be exceptions, but our students understand the seriousness of what's going on with COVID, and they are committed to taking care of themselves so that they can take care of the public good," Caslen said.

Caslen said students "demonstrated" this commitment by wearing face masks during the event.

Zachary Dunbar, a third-year business management student, called himself the "hype man" for Carolina Kickoff. Dunbar said his job was to get students "excited" to run through the Greene Street gates.

"I want to try to make this as good for them as possible. This year is going to really be about trying to make them feel like they are at home," Dunbar said. "It's so important for them because this is what creates the sense of community at USC." 

Some freshmen said they came to the event looking to meet people and find out how to get involved.

Jillian Watson, a first-year English student, said she wanted "to learn more about the college and meet people who were excited."

"Seeing the band is cool, and seeing some of the organizations that I could be involved in is really cool, too," Watson said. "I definitely feel like I know more about what's going to come."

Benjamin Early, a first-year environmental science student, said he enjoyed meeting other freshmen and learning about campus.

"I came to this event 'cause there's big groups of people walking around and I wanted to meet new people," Early said. "I learned about a couple clubs ... I definitely want to try a rec sport."


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