Good To See You, Old Chap!

Emmy Mertes, Staff Writer

Going back to school is a thrilling time, filled with lots of promises. Many see it as a chance to start as a new you, to break out of the chrysalis of years past, and to make a change. This is a daunting task, whether you’re a new student who has just graduated high school or someone who has been away from study hall for a while. Which is exactly why College of DuPage has created these event-filled inclusive days to welcome everyone back to school: Chap Days. 

Chap Days are prepared by the Student Life team and lead by the student organization Alter Ego Productions. You may have seen some people mingling around an ice cream truck, heard rumors of a golf day coming up or plan on attending the Student Life Fair which introduces all campus goers to the groups on campus. These are all planned by Alter Ego.

Chuck Steele, director of the Student Life team, said getting students to participate in Chap Days is important to building a future for new arrivals at the College of DuPage. Steele said research shows “students being more successful when they felt welcome, supported and engaged on campus.” Students who participate in these events often are able to find a better sense of community, and help make the adjustment process into college smoother. 

To further his point, Steele said while some are lucky enough to make friends in kindergarten and have those friendships see them through, one of the most pivotal times to build relations is at the college level. Chap Days are a fantastic excuse to put yourself out there in an open setting where all those around you are there for the same purpose: to try out something fun and exciting. 

Nearing the end of week one in a two-part series, last Thursday’s event was a bit unlike its fellow Chap Days.  Whereas the days prior had been events with quick comings and goings, such as picking up a delectable ice cream and then heading off to class, Thursday’s event was a vulnerable, pulling all the stops out, in-real-life-setting: putting yourself out there on a pair of rollerskates. Doing a daunting task with people you don’t know, the potential to fall extraordinarily high-yet each and every student who attended the event was in the same position as the other, bearing their raw selves and putting their courageous hearts out there. There is strength in being real, and that is where unity is built. Jacqueline Rengal, one of the members of Alter Ego, said the events  she and her team put together are a vital part of keeping a positive community, and that the students are able to feel like they’re in a welcome space. 

“The active participation students show, they are always so excited to come out here and try things,” Rengal said “it’s barely 11:30. I’ve seen various people fall, but you know what’s great about it? Seeing other people around them, maybe they are friends, maybe not, but they help them get back up.” 

Speaking with one of the skaters, Brandon, a returning sophomore, he said that he found events such as Chap Days necessary to have. “You go to class, you go home, you don’t want to go to school,” he said, “these are good ways to meet new people or just, like, chill out.” When asked if willing to be interviewed, although declined, many students did report that they were having a good time. A young pair of friends, Danny and Keegan, notated that Chap Days were little ways that “helped make college life more bearable”. 

Amidst the pulsating beats and sweating skaters, a sense of serenity radiates. The promise of golden cheese-y clad nachos draws partakers in closer, and all titles, differences, and formalities fade away. It’s a peace offering from COD to its students, who are more than willing to accept.