But the summer experience is different from the fall. Most of the students on campus in the summer are student-athletes working out with their teammates while attending summer school classes. In the fall, the entire student body -- undergraduates as well as graduate and professional students -- returns to campus, and real college life begins in earnest.
Freshman orientation began with Move-In Day on Saturday, the day on which hundreds of volunteers help to move the freshmen class into their dorms quickly and efficiently. Orientation continued throughout the weekend, highlighted by the Founders Walk on Sunday evening.
More than a decade ago, Vanderbilt made the commitment to become a residential college community. To get an idea of what that means, think of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Then, instead of the houses of "Griffindor" and "Ravenclaw", think of the houses of "Sutherland" and "Gillette."
The freshman Commons is the first phase of Vanderbilt's transition to residential colleges. In all, there are ten freshman houses, each with its own Faculty Head of House in residence. At Hogwarts, houses compete for the House Cup; at Vanderbilt Commons, houses compete for the Commons Cup by earning points for academic performance, house involvement, participation in intramural sports, community service, and sustainability.
Most of the freshmen orientation activities, including the Founders Walk, are organized around the houses. In the Founders Walk, each house walks together behind the banner of their house.
Kendall Shaw and Kristen Gaffney belong to Sutherland House.
Morgan Batey and Jasmine Jenkins belong to Gillette House.
Erin Myers, Andie Lakin, Keegan Thimons, and Cheyna Williams are freshmen members of the soccer teams.
A.J. Astroth, men's basketball
The Founders Walk begins near the freshman Commons on the far side of the Peabody Campus. Then it winds past the Peabody Library, down Magnolia Circle towards 21st Avenue . . .
. . . . across the pedestrian bridge over 21st Avenue . . .
. . . . past the main library and across the library lawn.
The cheerleads and the Spirt of Gold, who have just completed a week of band camp, welcome the freshman to campus from the porch of Rand Student Union.
Members of student organizations line the way, cheering as each one of the houses passes by.
The black and gold balloon arches mark the end of the walk and the opening into the assembly area on Alumni Lawn.
In the spring of 2016, they'll gather here again as a class for Commencement. Sunday's ceremony included short welcome speeches, introductions of the Heads of Houses -- with cheering from each House as their Head of House was introduced -- and the first and last time they'll hear the Alma Mater with the words "Conquer and Prevail" sung rather than shouted.
The freshmen on the women's basketball team: Jasmine Jenkins in the back at the top, Rayte'a Long at the right, Kendall Shaw in the middle, Kristen Gaffney seated on the ground, and Morgan Batey to the left. Heather Bowe, the sixth member of the class, hadn't yet returned to campus.
Women's basketball freshmen with Chancellor Nick Zeppos
The day ends with a picnic at the Commons.
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Photos copyright 2012 by Whitney D. for VandyMania.com