UNO Campus Prepares for Privateer Plunge

“It’s basically extended welcome-week programming,” said Dale O’Neill, coordinator of leadership and community service programs in UNO’s Office of Leadership and Student Involvement. “It’s six weeks. It’s full of events, workshops. They can be student organization-related, student involvement-related, social and cultural activities or career-related.”

Privateer Plunge, a joint effort of the Division of Student Affairs and the Office of Admissions, provides new students a variety of opportunities to understand available resources and to meet UNO students, faculty and administrators. The six-week orientation challenge for new students is divided into four tracks – blue, silver, red and green – representing academic opportunities and traditions; social and cultural events and opportunities; health, wellness and personal development, and community service and leadership.

New students are expected to attend at least 12 events, three in each category, within the first six weeks at UNO, said Christy Heaton, associate director for orientation and first-year student success. A guide to the Privateer Plunge shows a color splash next to each scheduled event to indicate the proper category.

Heaton, who works in the Office of Admissions, created the event last year together with O’Neill. The pair meets once a week throughout the year to plan the fun.

This year, the organizers will provide awards to students who have attended the most events at Privateer Plunge. The prizes bring big incentive to participate: a 50 percent reduction in spring tuition; two tickets to a New Orleans Saints football game; vouchers that can be used in the UNO bookstore and upgraded campus parking, Heaton said. Events have been scheduled at varying times throughout the day to include adult freshmen and transfer students.

The Privateer Plunge is “not just fun and games,” she said. The six weeks includes academic success workshops, counseling career workshops and events hosted by academic departments and UNO’s five colleges.

“It’s good for the students but it’s also good for the departments who participate,” said Heaton. “Research shows that the first six weeks [at a new university is the best time for campus leaders] to help freshmen get incentive to form a new community and be a part of the new UNO community…making friends, meeting administrators, feeling like they are UNO Privateers. We want them to meet friends at UNO and feel like they have a place on campus.”

Students who attended last year’s Privateer Plunge reported that the six-week welcome introduced them to resources that they did not know were available, she said. Had they not attended said events, the new students may not have known where to pursue critical or helpful resources. Counseling and Career Services saw increased attendance from previous years, after participating in Privateer Plunge, Heaton said.

The six weeks of excitement begins Thursday, Aug. 16 with Freshman Move-In Day and includes banner social events including the Blackout Party on Friday, Aug. 17, Welcome Back Luau on Thursday, Aug. 23, a Student Activities Council meeting on Monday, Aug. 27, and Swampball on Monday, Sept. 22.

For more information, visit the website of the Privateer Plunge.