Tuesday, June 19, 2018


To kick off our regular posts, we thought we'd begin at the beginning with an insider scoop on UVA's annual opening ceremony. This will be your first major University event– read on for an idea of what that will entail. –Ed.

    Convocation: it’s a strange word. It feels stuffy and old and outdated. Sometimes before I say it
I panic because it has the potential to be a word that I might mispronounce.
What does it even mean? Why do people keep mentioning it? How does it pertain to UVA?
Why should I care?

    It’s Brynna again, and I’m here to answer all of these questions.
I sure asked similar questions before I attended first-year convocation last August.
While I was skeptical at first, Convocation proved to be a neat experience and a great introduction
to the UVA community I had just joined. So here is what I’m calling,

“What the Heck is Convocation”: A Sneak Peek of a First-Year’s First Glimpse of UVA

My hallmates and I at our convocation in August 2017.

Seriously, what is a “Convocation”?
    According to the dictionary, the word “convocation” means a large gathering or assembly of people.
This definition makes sense because almost 4,000 first-year and transfer students will gather on the lawn,
seated and facing the Rotunda, the first weekend of the academic year for this event.

Why do students face the Rotunda?
    The Rotunda is the center of UVA. Built in 1826, this building was the first library of the University.
Students sit facing the Rotun This symbol comes full circle four years later at graduation, when students
walk from the Rotunda toward Old Cabell Hall, leaving the first library of the University to enrich the
world with what they’ve learned over their four years.
Look at it! Teeming with knowledge to be learned by YOU!

Should I sit somewhere special? Are some seats better than others?
    All seats are the same except for one. Since you, dear reader, are already preparing for your
first year I will enlighten you on the greatest secret of them all. The Seven Society will ask the
student sitting in the seventh chair in the seventh row to read a note to everyone in attendance.
I pitied the poor soul who had to read a fairly long note to 4,000 people. So if you would prefer
not to take on this responsibility, don’t sit in this seat. But if reading the Seven Society note is
something you’re interested in, by all means go for it.

I heard everyone gets a nickel?
    That’s correct! Each chair will have a nickel on it, face up (which conveniently is
Thomas Jefferson’s face). These nickels are a gift from the UVA Alumni Association, and
serve as reminder to give back to the UVA community after you graduate.

Do we ALL sign the Honor Pledge? Wouldn’t that be a crazily long line?
     Yes you do all sign the Honor Pledge at the conclusion of the event, and yes the line is long
but not as long as you would think. There are several tables on the sidewalks next to where you’ll
be seated where you will sign the Honor Pledge. There will also be volunteers at each table to
organize the line and make sure that everything is moving smoothly.

But what happens during the ceremony?
    The ceremony is made up mostly of people addressing incoming students. From the President
of the University and Dean Groves, to the Honor Chair, these people have sage words of wisdom
to share with you.
    One of the most exciting and fun parts of the ceremony, however, involves singing.
It doesn’t matter if you’re a particularly gifted singer or not, the Good Ole Song doesn’t
discriminate. Convocation is the first time you’ll join arms with your fellow Hoos and sing
the Good Ole Song. Maybe you already know the words, maybe you’ll stumble through it
this first time. Either way, it’s your first moment as a true Hoo, which is what Convocation is all about.

Whether you don’t know a single word to the Good Ole Song or you end up reading the Seven Society letter, Convocation is your first event as a member of the UVA Community - so embrace it! If you have any more questions or want me to write about something specific, please feel free to email me at bmg5bg@virginia.edu. See you later incoming hoos!

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