Incoming students headed to Young Commons where they gathered for the first College Coffee of the year following the conclusion of New Student Convocation on Aug. 21, 2021. College Coffee is a campus-wide tradition where students, faculty and staff come together over coffee and pastries to develop friendships and build community.

Embracing an Elon tradition

Senior orientation leader Brooks Lacoste attended the event with his orientation group. He emphasized how important it was that students and teachers have a space to interact beyond the classroom.

“College Coffee is super great,” Lacoste said. “It’s the best way for students to just hang out with teachers in an informal setting with just donuts and a cup of coffee.” 

Freshmen Owen Baillie, Grant Baker and AJ Skalski echoed Lacoste’s remarks. Baillie and Skalski are both in Lacoste’s orientation group.

“It’s pretty cool … Yesterday felt pretty overwhelming with like, everyone moving in and everything, so this is kinda like, the calming part, meeting everyone for the first time,” Baillie said. “It’s a good way to meet new people.”

Baker, who is interested in pursuing a political science degree, said he is excited to start classes. Skalski said he enjoys the food and pastries that are offered at College Coffee. 

Sophomore orientation leader Matt Newberry shouted the E-L-O-N cheer on Young Commons along with other orientation leaders. This is the first time Newberry is attending college coffee as both a student and an orientation leader.

“I’m living vicariously through the freshmen,” Newberry said.

Masking up

Most of the groups scattered around Young Commons were all part of the same orientation group. Freshmen Jinmee Spagnoli, Gabby Orr, Greta Jones and Rachel Faykus met through their orientation group. 

Elon’s current mask policy requires all students, faculty, staff and visitors to wear a mask in indoor spaces through Aug. 29. After Aug. 29, everyone is required to carry a mask but no longer asked to wear one indoors. Looking around Young Commons, nearly all attendees were not wearing masks. Orr said she didn’t feel too concerned. 

“I think because we’re outside, and I know I’m double vaccinated, I think pretty much everyone is,” Orr said. “I totally understand being inside and wearing masks, like I’m totally on board with that. And when we were sitting so close at convocation.”

None of the girls were concerned the masks were inhibiting their ability to meet other people. Spagnoli said she agreed with Orr about wearing masks on campus during the beginning of the school year — it made her more confident just to have eye contact and not have others see her whole face. 

The girls had one common goal: “I just don’t want to fail,” said Faykus. 

Finding friendships

While incoming students continued to converse about their hopes for the upcoming school year, members of orientation group 20 thoroughly enjoyed convocation. Freshman Boyd Burruss said he got “Harry Potter vibes” through hearing the music and seeing faculty dressed in academic regalia.

Like other freshman groups, this orientation group expressed interest in meeting others beyond their assigned circle. 

“I’ve run into like four other people that I know, which is cool,” freshman Nick Wald said. “It’s weird when you don’t really know anybody other than that, so it’s like you just kinda drift, but otherwise not bad.” 

Burruss had a slightly different experience. 

“I Snapchatted a lot of people, so like, going from online to in person is definitely different but you know, it’s fun.” 

Everyone expressed interest in getting to know others, despite remaining within their current social circles. 

“It’s kind of comforting,” freshman Ryan Teisch agreed. “I didn’t meet anybody I was snapping with yet, but I know people from my hometown that I met recently. It’s cool because I came in not knowing anybody and now there’s somebody that I know.”