A first impression for a frosh student and his or her family coming to St. F.X. on Welcome Day could be; “they’re really good at chants here.”
The enthusiastic and colourfully-clad O-Crew would leave that impression on anybody and, despite a steady rain on the morning and early afternoon of Sept. 2, as most first-year students landed on campus, the O-Crew was in fine chanting and welcoming form.
“Wel-come home” and “oh my gosh, is that a frosh” were the most common refrains heard as new students, often accompanied by parents, siblings and other family members, worked their way through the arrival process.
Along the way in that process was St. F.X. President Kent MacDonald who greeted each new student and their accompaniment as they made their way into the Keating Centre’s main surface.
In that same venue a little later in the afternoon, MacDonald addressed all the first-years and family members.
He talked about the university looking for two things in all of the students who apply to be part of the Xaverian family.
“The first is that they’re academically focused; that you think of yourself as a university student, someone who is going to embrace all aspects from an intellectual point of view and to think more deeply about what it is they want to learn at an institution like St. F.X.” he said.
“The second part is to be socially engaged in life,” he added, pointing out there are many opportunities, provided by the numerous societies on campus, to get involved.
“This is a place that believes young people can make a difference in the world.
“I welcome you to this very, very special place, St. F.X. and I welcome you to the Xaverian community.”
Later in his speech, MacDonald talked about choosing a theme for the 2017-18 university year and how his original, basic concept of “community” evolved after an outing to Judique, Cape Breton.
“There we were in this little hall and I was meeting people from Troy, Judique, Creignish, Port Hood, Inverness and Mabou, and all these people came together to celebrate St. F.X., including a student out there, who is joining our nursing program for the first year,” he said, gesturing to where most of the first-year students were sitting.
“I took away from that experience and, on the way home, started to think of St. F.X. from the point of view that St. F.X. as a community, it’s not a place, it’s not a structure, it’s not somewhere you go.
“St. F.X. separates itself from community, from the experience of community; the notion that people come together from around the world who are prepared to go into a community to make a difference, who create community by living together, learning together, eating together and celebrating together … that’s the type of community we have at St. F.X.”
That part of his speech segued into a video presentation of students, faculty and staff giving their own takes on ‘community’ as it pertains to St. F.X.
“To the class of 2021, I welcome you to this very special place, St. F.X. University, and to this very special community,” he said in closing, as a tremendous roar went up from the audience. Led, of course, by the ever-present O-Crew.