[Note: This story has been modified since its original posting to correct errors.]
As the lazy days of summer come to a close, students at both Columbia and Stephens colleges jump-start the semester with a wealth of opportunities to get involved and new resources to use.
For the women and few men at Stephens College, orientation activities have been under way for freshmen and transfer students, including the yearly "Song Fest." The event gives newcomers an opportunity to get to know their peers and perform skits in front of classmates. The skits are led by Orientation Group Leaders, and each group vies for victory.
Bailey Stewart, a Stephens sophomore from Sacramento, Calif., and a group leader, said the skits generally relate to Stephens. Stewart’s group won the competition with skits and songs describing Stephens from its founding in the mid-1800s to present day. They ended with the Destiny’s Child song "Independent Women."
"We chose that song because it shows we’re not all perfect, but we are all strong, independent women, which is a theme here at Stephens," Stewart said.
Independence is one of the 10 "ideals" of Stephens College; others include creativity and leadership.
Classes begin today at Stephens with an unofficial enrollment tally of about 650, said spokeswoman Amy Gipson. At 171 students, the incoming class is the largest in seven years, she said.
"The nice thing about Stephens is that everybody knows each other," Gipson said, "and students are very involved."
A few streets away, classes started Monday at Columbia College. There, a new student commons is set to be built and will break ground Oct. 4, said Dori Nordeen, president of the Student Government Association. Also, Renovations at the gymnasium have been done to transform it from an athlete-friendly facility to a more student-friendly center, and will reopen today.
Nordeen said the student government is focused on building leaders within the organization because many of its leaders are seniors. She said another goal is to foster community between the day and evening students. The number of students at Columbia College, including extended studies and online students, is 11,400.
One of the highlights at Columbia College this year is "Phobia Frenzy" — the school’s version of the TV show "Fear Factor." The event will take place throughout the fall athletic season during halftime at soccer and volleyball games. Four students will be selected at each of the four events and have the opportunity to win $100. At the finale, Nov. 4, the winner will receive a laptop computer and flat-screen monitor worth $1,400.