When Virjaa Gada started college this year, she was anxious and nervous. Would she be ragged? Would she say something silly?
Her first day at KJ Somaiya College of Engineering (KJSCE) was, instead, a pleasant surprise.
“Our seniors had planned games and fun ways of introduction. I settled in much sooner than I expected,” she says.
Students across colleges say that the days when seniors bullied juniors into calling them ‘Sir’ and ‘Ma’am’ are long gone. Instead, newbies are welcomed with sports events, outdoor trips, socials, online gaming and music sessions as seniors seek to break the ice and help new students settle in. The IIT Bombay Broadcasting Channel (IITBBC) made a welcome video for freshers this year. Students at NIFT and SP Jain were taken on trips in and around Mumbai.
Dose of culture
At KJSCE, juniors were welcomed with a flash mob in the college quadrangle followed by games of Pictionary and Confessions.
“The idea was to make everyone feel at ease and a flash mob seemed like something they would connect with,” says Dharmish Bhatt, third year IT Engineering and public relations officer for the student council at KJSCE.
At Jai Hind College, the first day for first-year students included a treasure hunt with clues sprinkled from Churchgate to Dadar. “The treasure hunt has been organised every year since 2014 by the college sports department. It helps the juniors get together as a team and become familiar with the area as well,” says Kanchan Bhanuvanshe, Bcom third year and culture secretary at Jai Hind College.
For those less inclined towards activity, there are pajama parties and jam sessions over free juice and popcorn provided by the college. “People play music or card games, or just chill,” Bhanuvanshe says.
“The ambience was so informal that it immediately helped us connect with each other and with the seniors as well,” says Harsh Chanodia, a second-year bachelor of financial markets student at KC College, recalling his first-year experience.
Playing the field
Sports events with a difference, where all can participate, have helped new students make friends and fit in at Ruia College. “The monsoon sports like rink football, box cricket and tug of war motivated me to get involved in extracurricular activities. The time when we practiced together for games, we really got close,” says Nishant Panjari, a first year BMM student at Ruia College.
To get familiar with the city and its people, the new students are also taken out for tours.
This year, the freshers of NIFT Mumbai were taken out on a tour of Gateway of India, Marine Drive and CST Station in a Mumbai Darshan bus. The BBA students of SP Jain School of Global Management were luckier. They were taken for a two-day outdoor trip to Varsoli, Alibaug. They had bonfires and team-building games and verbal volleyball, a memory game that encouraged students to remember each other’s names.
“Such fun ways of inducting students in the college helps them open up and feel comfortable in a diverse crowd,” says SS Shikaripurkar, adjunct faculty at the institute.