A Common Goal: #UWSOAR & First-Wave

Appreciating diversity and addressing issues with campus climate are issues that both the Center for the First-Year Experience (CFYE) and First Wave have consistently wanted to address.

Now entering its fifth year, the partnership between the UW-Madison’s Center for the First-Year Experience and the First Wave program through the Office of Multicultural Arts Initiatives provides a platforms for students to discuss complex topics of identity and oppression at #UWSOAR.

First Wave is a hip-hop scholarship program that assists selected students in their creative, academic, career, and social development at UW-Madison. Students enter the program with a variety of talents, from spoken word and dance, to graffiti.

Garrett Pauli is involved as both a First Wave Scholar and a CFYE Programming Intern. This combination of positions has allowed Garrett to “have an impact on the cultural competency of our student staff, to work as a liaison for the First Wave Scholarship Program and CFYE, and learn more about university processes to be a better student activist/advocate.”

Starting this year, First Wave students are able to engage more fully with #UWSOAR by working as New Student Leaders. This allows the students to delve more deeply into conversations of power, privilege, and inequality with new students who arrive on campus for orientation.

Previously, the main focus of the First Wave program was producing a piece that is performed for every first-year student during the Student Evening Program. This extremely labor-intensive process is specifically designed for #UWSOAR and takes into account students’ experiences and campus events. After #UWSOAR, this performance is presented at other venues, thus spreading the intended message of the students.

The departments work together year-round to not only plan SOAR, but also to engage students with various events and opportunities. In past years, the groups have tried expanding their partnership to include appearances at Convocation, Transfer Welcome Dinner, and other events.

The partnership is expected to continue well into the future. However, an annual agreement review provides the departments with an opportunity to make improvements to the current system.

For more information on the First-wave program, visit their website, follow them on Twitter, or like them on Facebook.

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