URI to welcome its newest students with First Night ’99 to kick off Same Planet, Different World

KINGSTON, R.I.-August 30, 1999 — To welcome the 2,200 members of the class of 2003 to the Kingston Campus, the University of Rhode Island will hold a celebration of campus life at Keaney Gymnasium and the Memorial Union on Sunday, Sept. 5. Called First Night ’99, the program builds on last year’s efforts to get the new academic year at URI off to a rousing, safe start. The opening event is part of Same Planet, Different World, a month-long program that offers students a wide range of alcohol-free events. The kickoff takes place in Keaney Gym from 7 to 8 p.m., and includes a video of URI students and highlights, and entertainment by the URI Flava Unit, the cheerleaders, the Ramettes and That Ram Band. In addition, there will be a talk by Joe Walsh, student body president. Master of ceremonies, Doug Cureton, a private training consultant, will involve the audience in several fun, thought-provoking exercises, to help the new students realize they are all going through the same nervousness and anticipation. Resident hall advisers will lead the new students to the gym, where they will then be ushered to their seats by student leaders. Jayne Richmond, interim dean of University College and special academic programs, said the event in Keaney is focused on bringing the new community of first-year students together. “We want to give them a spirited message about how to join a new community and talk with them about the values of the URI community,” Richmond said. Richmond said the program emphasizes that their world changes when they arrive on campus, and knowing what to expect is an important first step to welcoming those changes. Following the one-hour program in Keaney, the Memorial Union and its surrounding grounds, will be turned into a block party until midnight. “We’re turning the area into a street fair,” said Frances Cohen, dean of students. “It will be so exciting to have 2,000 new students enjoying themselves. I also know that a lot of upper-classmen will be helping out as volunteers. Everyone’s welcome.” The impetus for the Same, Planet, Different World, comes from a federal grant to fund URI’s Next Steps program, an initiative designed to prevent violence and substance abuse. “We want students to know they are coming to a place where they can have fun without drinking,” Cohen said. “We are encouraging students to take part in the academic and social life of the campus; both are legitimate. During the Union event, students will be able to sample Sumo wrestling, the work of magician Scott Jamison, spin art Frisbeee, Tarot Card reading, karaoke, a game show, and a scavenger hunt. Of course, there will be plenty of refreshments. But the fun doesn’t end on Sunday night. Throughout the month, there’ll be other events. On Thursday night, Sept. 9, there’s a “Dive-in Movie” at the Tootell Center pools, and on Sunday, Sept. 19, five great bands will be in concert at the Memorial Union. The list goes on and on through Sept. 29. All events are free and open to all URI students and the general public. NOTE TO EDITORS: Please see enclosed Same Planet, Different World brochure for dates and times for excellent photo and feature opportunities. The news media are welcome to cover First Night ’99 at Keaney Gym and the Memorial Union. For further information, call Dave Lavallee at 874-2116. -xxx- For Further Information: Dave Lavallee 874-2116