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New Student Orientation

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Frequently Asked Questions 

What is the favorite Viterbo tradition on campus?

Undoubtedly, the favorite campus tradition is going to the yearly homecoming week events and celebrations.  Unlike many colleges and universities, Viterbo celebrates Homecoming Week during the second semester, at the height of basketball season. The two favorite activities during this week are the men’s basketball game and the SAB Dance. The Student Activities Board sets up a yearly dance. This is a free event and is always at an off-campus location, with a DJ and refreshments. If you’d like to get involved with determining the theme of the dance, and of Homecoming week, contact Marissa Kerschner. 

How can I get involved at Viterbo?

Firstly, you can get involved in virtually any of the campus student organizations.  These include SAB (president is Katie Legier), Student Government (president is Matt Krueger), and Residence Hall Association - RHA (talk to your RA).  Of course, there are many other student organizations to get involved.  Another great campus organization, though not a student organization, is VUAfterDark.  You can volunteer to help during most of the programs VUAfterDark puts on during the year, which includes most weekends.  It works on a volunteer-as-you-can basis, so there’s no obligation to volunteer for EVERY program, just the ones that you want to get involved in. To get involved, contact the Campus Activities Office. You may also get involved by applying for a work-study position.  For this, you need to pay attention to the emails you receive during the first few days you are here. The top few places for work-study employment include the Fine Arts Center, the Mathy Center, the Cafeteria, and the Academic Resource Center (however, this is primarily for tutors who have already taken multiple college-level courses). And, by simply going to class, you will find and hear multiple ways from your peers and professors that you can do to get involved.

Can I get anything for “free” on campus?

The Welcome Back Bash always has a ton of free stuff.  That will be on Thursday, August 28, 1 to 4 pm.  Apart from the free t-shirts and food you get there, you can also find a free t-shirt and student academic planner in the Student Development Center.  During the year, other free items and services include free tutoring in the Academic Resource Center, as well as free study aids to the GRE and PRAXIS tests; free medication from Sue Danielson; free pizza and t-shirts at multiple basketball games during the year; and there is also a student food pantry in the Fine Arts Center.

What is the school’s best-kept secret?

The tunnel system beneath the Convent.  Good luck learning more about them, let alone getting down in them.  Remember, it’s supposed to be a secret.

Where can I find the best coffee on campus? In La Crosse?

Einstein Bros. Bagels @ Franny’s has fairly good coffee beverages during the school year.  During the non-winter months the Caramel Latte is the best.  However, during the winter time the best beverage is the apple cider.  Many students consider the hot cider to be the best item on the menu.

The best coffee in the city of La Crosse is at the Root Note.  It’s on 4th Street and can only be described as the “essence of a true college coffee shop.”  Try anything there, but the best item (not on the menu) is the atmosphere.

What is a V-Hawk?

There has been much recent speculation on the V-Hawk.  Although no definitive evidence proves the existence of the large bird-of-prey, let alone any of its historical prevalence, most scientists and historians have accepted that the V-Hawk was—or is—more than just myth.

As a Viterbo student, you may be questioning why it is even worth studying the history of the V-Hawk.  Certainly, you must be asking a number of questions: What’s the big deal; it’s just a cartoon hawk?  The ‘V’ stands for Viterbo, right?  Is my tuition seriously going towards researching this sort of nonsense?  The answer to all of these questions is “no.”  The V-Hawk is not just a hawk.  It could possibly be a species of hawk, but, as you will see, that has not yet been definitively concluded.  The ‘V’ does NOT stand for Viterbo, but that interpretation has been adopted over time and it’s okay for you to tell your friends that that is what it stands for.  The ‘V’ is actually part of the original Latin name for the species.  This will be shown in the following articles.  And finally, your tuition money might be going to the study of these mysterious and horribly misunderstood creatures, but it’s a noble cause anyway so you should take pride in knowing that you are partly responsible for the growing understanding of the V-Hawk.

Alright, so, the first question that should be answered about the V-Hawk is what the ‘V’ ACTUALLY means.  The truth is that the ‘V’ is deeply rooted in an expansive history.  Firstly, it is connected with the dinosaurs.  Second, it’s rooted in Italian culture and language.  Keep in mind that St. Francis, St. Clare, and St. Rose (our patron saints) are all from Italy.  In fact, St. Rose was raised and also died in Viterbo, Italy, from whence the Sisters of Perpetual Adoration came.  Alright, now that all of that is established, let’s look at large birds-of-prey, the family of bird that the V-Hawk originates.  Large birds-of-prey are known as a raptors.  Eagles, hawks (including the V-Hawk), falcons and other predatory birds are all raptors.  With that in mind, and also noting the Italian heritage, let’s examine the word “Velox”.  Velox is an Italian word, meaning “Swift” or “Quick”.   It is also one of two root words in velociraptor.  Veloci=Veloce=Velox + Raptor.  Ultimately, we’re looking at the definition of a velociraptor when we look at the V-Hawk.  V=Velox + Hawk=Raptor.  In other words, you could say the V-Hawk is actually a “Velociraptor-Hawk”.  Of course, you may not exactly buy into that sort of inductive connecting of names and histories.  The scientific name for the V-Hawk is, in fact, “velox avis”.  It means “swift bird of prey.”  Magnificent, I know.  But, there is more to this than you think.

The Viterbo V-Hawk mascot, Vic, is typically criticized for his apparent ability to stand upright.  How can this be, you ask?  His posture seems to suggest that Vic is more likely to walk, run, or start a fight than to flap his wings and fly.  Most myth stories about V-Hawks depict the large birds as upright-standing feathered creatures.  Let us, again, turn to the velociraptor.  You don’t have to be an evolutionist to believe that some animals adapt to survive.  Today, we see alligators and sharks, both of which can be found in the fossilized records going all the way back to the time of the dinosaurs (the oldest shark fossils are dated back to roughly 400 million years ago, while the oldest dinosaur bones date back only to 225 million years ago, during the late Triassic period).  However, science also shows us that the species of reptile and shark that exist today are significantly smaller and physically altered versions of their prehistoric ancestors.  Some scientists claim that the V-Hawk may have been a species similar to the velociraptor, or an adapted raptor species.  This would explain the upright-standing position.  However, there is really no conclusive evidence of this, considering that no complete fossil records exist showing that the V-Hawk was even around 225 million years ago.  In 1876, in the lower regions of Italy, a Doctor of Paleontology, Reginald M. Wolters, graduate from Oxford University, unearthed the only identifiable remnants of a V-Hawk skeleton.  The bones were unfortunately never removed from the ground, due to a sudden cut in the dig’s funding, and were eventually lost.  But, Dr. Wolters’ journals describe a near perfect description of many mythological interpretations of a V-Hawk’s physical nature, and plaster cast molds show the structure and shape of many of the bones.  More of the physical mythology will be covered later.  The following is an excerpt from the doctor’s journal, describing the physical nature of the fossil skeleton:

            “…large raptor.  Six feet snout to talon.  No tail structure.  Two thin leg bones and two thick wing-like limbs…

The actual journal entry is nearly ten pages long but is currently unavailable for examination.  In the end, no definitive conclusion can be made.  It is peculiar to note that the wing appendages are largely structured bones.  One would think that a flying animal would have thin wing bones to maintain longer flight.  This is not the case for the V-Hawk.  They may not have been able to fly at all.  Which would mean that the upright-standing bird would have had to fight to survive in a manner similar to the cartoon depictions we see and study today.  One thing we do know is that, if the V-Hawk really did walk with the dinosaurs, it was not the only upright-standing bird-like creature to do so.  The species deinonychus, samrukia, and therizinosaurus, are merely three out of a number of widely understood walking-only birds-of-prey.  Again, the V-Hawk is a horribly misunderstood and under-researched creature.  Okay, so this brings us to the myths surrounding the V-Hawk.  With any hope, they will shed light on how these truly mysterious creatures disappeared, or, perhaps, still walk among us today.

Are they related to regular hawks?

Before examining the mythology of the V-Hawk, we need to clarify the connection between the V-Hawk and other birds-of-prey.  Firstly, although the V-Hawk is considered one of the first Great Birds in world history, it is not—in any way—related to the eagle.  However, they are, arguably, related to hawks.  Secondly, there is no relation between the V-Hawk and the Egyptian god, Horus.  It is important to note where the confusion existed.  Horus is the god of the king and a child of Osiris and Isis.  He was the national symbol of the Egyptian kingdom.  If you look at any image of Horus, you will notice that he has a human body and a bird head.  The beak is similar to that of any bird-of-prey’s, short and hooked, but his color is unquestionably a falcon’s.  Additionally, there is no evidence of the hawk in Egypt during the time of the ancient Egyptian kingdom.  And, as we now know, the hawk and the falcon are not directly related.  Finally, it is important to compare the V-Hawk to hawks you might see in today’s world.  The hawk of today comes in many different shapes and sizes.  Yes, they could be descended from the pre-historic V-Hawk, but some species are believed closer to the original V-Hawk than others.  Perhaps the closest species today is the Red-Tailed Hawk. 

What is the myth?

In order to understand the myth of the V-Hawk, one must also examine Greek mythology.  In the story of the Olympians, Cronos, the king of the gods, is overthrown by his son, Zeus.  Before then, he had feared that a prophecy that a son would overthrow him would come true, so he ate all of his children as soon as they were born.  His wife, Rhea, however, plotted against Cronos and hid one of her sons, Zeus.  Zeus remained in hiding until Rhea brought him back to the court of the gods as the cupbearer to Cronos.  The cup was poisoned and Cronos vomited up the children he had eaten, since gods cannot be digested.  They battled upon the mountaintop until Zeus slew Cronos and became king of the gods.  This is where the story turns to the V-Hawk.  There were many gods devoured by Cronos, but even they were not enough to defeat their tyrannous father.  Zeus and the soon-to-be Olympians employed the aid of many Great Creatures.  These creatures included much of the mythological beings we call “mere fabrications of a far-fetched and creative imagination,” such as the Dragon, Unicorn, Griffin, Phoenix, and, yes, the V-Hawk.  At the time, however, the greatest of these creatures was Vicious the V-Hawk.  This is where we get “Vic the V-Hawk” from.  Vicious was, more or less, the leader of the mythological creatures, and in return for aiding the overthrow of the king god Cronos, he asked for freedom for every mythical creature; that they may inhabit the mountainside of Olympus as immortals.  Zeus, at the time, was naïve, and even arrogant.  He also feared the power of the united mythical creatures.  He chose to not to free the mythical creatures, but instead mortally condemned them to earth to battle amongst one another.  Only the dominant creature would be allowed onto Olympus.  Of course, in the end, many creatures fled into hiding while others fought and died.  That’s why there are some mythical beings in other myth stories, and some that do not ever appear after the myth of Vicious.  After the dust settled and all challengers were defeated, only Vicious was left standing.  Zeus welcomed Vicious back onto Mount Olympus.  In the future story of Hermes, Vicious would become known as the self-less creature to give part of himself for the salvation of another being.  He sacrificed four of his chest feathers.  If you look at some of the cartoon depictions of Vic, you will notice that he stands with a silver “V” on his chest.  This is accurate to the mythological V-Hawk.  The myth tells that Vicious had a silver patch (more or less a chest plate) of feathers covering his heart.  But, in Hermes myth, Vicious gave up four feathers.  Not all, but enough to make his heart vulnerable to attack.  This also showed his trust in both immortal and mortal beings.  Either one could slay him at any moment.  In the end, Vicious’s chest went from a silver plating to a silver ‘V’.  The four stolen feathers were given to Hermes, the messenger god, in the form of a feathered helmet and two feathered shoes.  As a result of such a grand and self-sacrificing gift, Zeus renamed Vicious.  He named him Victor.

There you have it, the myth of Vic (Vicious, Victor) the V-Hawk.

The real question behind this myth is what it tells us historically.  Greek mythology dates to the early B.C. years, possibly as far back as 6,000 to 30,000 B.C.  Thus, we know that, since the V-Hawk is present in Greek mythology, the species was probably present during the time of the myth’s creation.  This brings us to a point of vital importance for Viterbo University.  Why is Vic our mascot?

The truth is that Vic (the myth) exemplifies what it means to be a student of Viterbo.  It is believed that when the first Viterbo College administrators were looking for a mascot, they wanted something that would stand out in unassuming mystery but also demonstrate the essence of school spirit.  Vic shows us that we should fight to the end, but to do so with the understanding of and faith in a higher purpose.  He also shows that it is okay to let your heart be vulnerable; it is often that which truly wins the trust of others.  Now, although Vic isn’t necessarily connected with Franciscan spirituality and history, he comes close.  Francis had the notion that he owned nothing and that this was right in God’s eyes.  Likewise, Vic sacrificed his chest feathers, understanding that they never really were his own.  Physically speaking, the V-Hawk is deeply ingrained into Italian history and mythology, as has been explained.  Similarly, Viterbo’s patron saints are deeply ingrained in Italian culture, as you will learn more of in your VUSM classes.

Where will I meet most of my college friends?

Good question.  Unfortunately, there’s no one correct answer to this question.  Everyone’s experience, including how and who they meet, will be different.  It’s likely that you’ve already met some people during orientation weekend.  And by “people” I mean somebody other than your roommate.  Granted, your roommate(s) and you will have bond and spend plenty of time together, but it’s also important to meet other people, people you don’t HAVE TO share a room with.  The most likely locations you will meet people and how to meet them are included in the following list:

  • The cafeteria: In order to make friends in the cafeteria, you must first be a stranger.  Acknowledge the fact that you aren’t in high school, but neither is anybody else.  Be empathetic—See things from you prospective friend’s point of view.  They’re nervous and anxious to meet people; they’re fearful of messing anything up—this is a chance to become the person you’ve always wanted to be!
  • Your Residence Hall: Get out there and introduce yourself!  Invite others to go to the gym with you; host a movie night; compliment a floor mate for their taste in style, shoes, or make-up! Don’t be afraid to be in the bathroom with others—brush your teeth and shave like your proud of it!
  • Clubs and Student Run Organizations: See Question #2.
  • Your job: Get a job and you will make friends.  

When do most people change their majors and how?

Typically speaking, most college students usually decide they want a different major sometime during the semester.  Unfortunately, this means that you need to endure your current classes or drop them.  Most students who decide to switch majors should really consider talking with three primary sources for advice.  First is your advisor.  They will help you get in contact with somebody from whatever major you’re interested in switching to.  Second is Career Services.  Believe it or not but your major is partially a reflection of your inner self.  It helps, then, to know who you are.  Career Services can not only advise you on what classes to take in your desired major but they can also set you up to take personality tests.  Again, figuring out who you are is vital.  After all, you don’t really want to keep switching majors, now do you?  Third is your parents.  You may not like it but ma and pa can really be lifesavers in college.  They trusted you to come here, anyways, so why shouldn’t you, in turn, trust their advice?  It’s also nice to just talk to someone you trust about why you really want to switch majors in the first place.

What do I do if I miss a class or accidentally sleep through one?

That blows, but realize that your not the only who has ever done so.  Often times it feels necessary to email your professor and explain that you were up too late the night before and your alarms didn’t go off like you programmed them to.  Before you do that, keep three things in mind:  1. Your professor went to college and missed classes, too.  2. Your professor has a life and he or she may not have time to ease your mind about missing class, nor is it their job to make sure you get the assignments for the day.  3. It’s not the end of the world.  If everyone had to apologize for every mistake they made, then nobody would be able to breathe without apologizing.  So, what you should do is email them an apology and be to the point.  Say something like, “I apologize for missing class today.  I slept in by mistake and will be there next class.”  Harmless, right?  If doing this will ease your mind, then do it.  However, some of you may simply not want to say anything at all.  This is okay.  Just make sure that you don’t make the same mistake twice.  No matter what the circumstances, the more you miss class, the less lenient your professor will be.

What if I get sick at school?

Go to the school nurse (it’s free), whose office is in the Student Development Center (Between the Student Union and San Damiano Chapel) and take her advice.  Period.  End of story.

What will the first few weeks of college be like?

The first six weeks of your college career are very important. During these weeks you are developing new friendships, diving into your classes, navigating your new community, getting involved, and much more. To help you adjust to college life, below is information about what to expect during your first six weeks as a new college student at Viterbo University.

Remember that university staff members, faculty, and RAs are trained to help you transition to collegiate life at Viterbo University. Use them as resources.

Week One—Welcome Week 

We are thrilled that you are here at Viterbo University! One of our goals is to help you transition into your college courses and life at Viterbo as smoothly as possible. Hopefully you met your academic advisor on this past Friday, and will continue to communicate with him/her as you navigate through your college courses. You may recall from Orientation that getting involved in activities outside of the classroom can actually help you stay organized, manage your time, and help you to release stress. Get involved in Welcome Week activities, especially by checking out the Welcome Back Bash on Thursday, August 28, from 1-4 p.m. in the Mathy Center.

Do you have your Viterbo University handbook/planner? If not, pick one up in the Student Development Center!

Week Two—Let’s Talk About You… 

Now that you are settled in, one of the best things about college is meeting people who are different from you and making lifelong friends! You are an important member of our community. We hope that you continue to build friendships and form relationships across campus throughout the year!

  • Introduce yourself to your professors; the best time to do this is after class or during their posted office hours.
  • Remember, now that you are away from home and meeting new people, don’t forget where you came from. Make sure that you are keeping connected with friends and family from home.
  • Sit in different spots in your classes so you can get to know a wide variety of individuals. This may lead to study groups and/or future friendships.

Week Three—Making the Grade 

Surely by now you are realizing the amount of work required in your classes. Some of your classes are likely to be becoming more intense as the coursework increases. In other classes, you may not feel like you have as much work to do, but be careful—you are accountable for ALL assignments as well as readings. For those classes which assign more reading, why not focus on more intent note-taking? Stop by the Academic Resource Center on the third floor of Murphy Center and see about a tutor, group study session, or workshop. Did you know that 95% of students at Viterbo utilize the Academic Resource Center?

Don’t forget to:

  • Sit in the front of your class to pay better attention.
  • Make sure you attend ALL of your classes.
  • Have a desire to succeed!
  • Talk with others in your classes and form study groups.
  • Participate in class discussions; active learning is the best way to retain information.
  • Start planning now for tests, papers, and projects coming up in the semester. Set deadlines for when you need to start working on those larger projects, tests, and papers.

Week Four—Stay Healthy 

This week is Viterbo University’s Healthy Living Week. By now you have faced and possibly experienced many of the challenges and pressures associated with college (academics, meeting new friends, developing a support system, adjusting to a new schedule, managing time, and/or pressures with the use of alcohol/drugs). This is a good week for you to take some time for yourself. Check out Healthy Living Week programs, work-out in the Mathy Center, talk to a counselor, do something fun, and/or take a night away from studying.

Week Five—Just Do It!  

What are you waiting for? You sought out all of that information at the Welcome Back Bash, but have you actually followed through with any of it yet? Now is the time to get involved if you have not already. Getting involved makes you a more valued member of the community; it’s a great way to gain skills that may help you in your future career; best of all, it’s a great way to become better connected to Viterbo and meet friends! There are a lot of activities that are offered during the daytime, evenings, or weekends. The best way to get the information is by reading your VU Today, daily emails, or periodically viewing the university calendar. Figure out what you are interested in and then find that sort of activity.

Week Six—Celebrate! 

You have already accomplished so much in your first five weeks! You should be really proud of yourself. You have made it this far, and there is no doubt that you will be able to make it further.

Now would be a good time to think about the following:

  • Evaluate the goals that you set for yourself at the beginning of the year.
  • Check out your grades in each class. Midterms are coming up this month.
  • Keep healthy and keep involved.
  • As you begin to think about next semester, plan to have a conversation with your academic advisor.

Again, Viterbo University wants to see YOU succeed as a whole person! Get connected and make Viterbo University more than just a place where you attend class.