Photo by West Chester University (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0).
Golden Gateway is a new program run by the admissions office where WCU Ambassadors are paired up with incoming freshman to entertain for the evening and stay overnight in their dorm.
Most students at West Chester University interacted with the University Ambassador program as they familiarized themselves with the institution.
Ambassadors lead tours, host events and are on call for panels and questions for potential students, making them an essential part of the admission process. The introduction of a new program has been criticized by Ambassadors as underprepared and unclear, leaving members with unanswered questions.
At the first Ambassador meeting of the 2020 spring semester it was announced that there was a new event called Golden Gateway. The event was described as an opportunity for incoming students to spend a Friday night into Saturday morning in a residence hall as a precursor to a Saturday event. Though the idea sounds like a great addition to the Ambassador schedule, it was quickly evident that there were issues with the execution.
Ambassadors are expected to house students in their own dorm rooms and entertain them on campus and in town. This already presents a number of issues for the Golden Gateway. According to an inside source, roommates of the Ambassadors are not provided housing elsewhere for the night. Though students are expected to bring a sleeping bag, this can be an uncomfortable situation for the unsuspecting roommate. An anonymous Ambassador shared their own experience with breaking the news.
“The clubs that your roommates participate in should not interfere with personal living space. I have three roommates, and all of them were taken aback when I told them about the event,” said the anonymous Ambassador.
Resident halls prohibit guests under 18 years of age from spending the night, which creates another issue for the event. Many incoming students are underage, excluding many from the event.
“We have some Ambassadors that are also involved in Resident Life, and they had to let our program know that visiting students are not allowed to stay overnight in the dorms unless they are 18 or older, which the Advisers were unaware of. The Advisers then stated that they would revise Golden Gateway to only be open to students who are already 18. The Advisers said they would give us more information on the event at a later date.”
Golden Gateway was presented as a volunteer event, though participation from all Ambassador staff was “highly encouraged.” Payment for the event was not overtly stated at the meeting but when asked, leaders did confess it is an unpaid event.
“The Advisers stated that we would be getting paid to work the day event, but housing students overnight would be volunteer [work]. They explained that it would be really expensive to pay everyone since it would be such a long period of time; which student Ambassadors understood. Nonetheless, housing strangers overnight is a lot to ask from us, especially unpaid,” said the anonymous Ambassador.
Multiple sources have expressed dissatisfaction about the disorganization of the meeting, as well as a frustration with the lack of clarity about the Golden Gateway event. Overnight events for prospective college students are not uncommon and the addition of such an event at West Chester University could be highly useful. However, clear and precise execution is key when it comes to such an undertaking.
“I’d feel more confident in the event if it was presented with some more structure. I think telling us that we’ll have to house strangers in our dorms and then not elaborating on more details of the event was not necessarily the best way to get the Ambassadors on board. I would also feel more comfortable if the Ambassadors got to know the student they were housing throughout the daytime event,” said the anonymous Ambassador.
Ambassadors remain hopeful that Advisers will get to work on providing clearer details. Events like this can be what make or break a prospective student’s decision, so it is essential to have every part of the admissions team on board.
Caroline Helms is a first-year student majoring in English. CH923621@wcupa.edu