The First 40 is a way build your community on campus and in Saint Louis during your first 40 days at Washington University. First 40 events inspire school spirit, honor campus traditions, and enhance WashU pride through signature programs offered in partnership with other departments and student groups. series of fun events and activities on campus and in the community that are open to new students during their first 40 days at Washington University..
A Backstage Pass to the First 40 Experience
by Lexi Jackson, Olin Business School, Class of 2020
One of the most unique staples of campus life at Washington University is the First 40. Within the first 40 days of school, the Campus Life, the First Year Center, Congress of the South 40, Student Union and other programming bodies offer free events. These events range from attending a Welcome Week to watching a symphony performance right outside the Bear’s Den dining hall. These events seek to connect first-year students to their campus community while getting to know both St. Louis and their peers.
Washington University Group Organizer (WUGO) is an online platform that organizes campus events and allows student groups to advertise their events to the entire student body. In addition to being a central hub for finding more information about First 40 events and the events throughout the school year, WUGO allows students to track their attendance at First 40 events. Campus Life offers a points system that enters students in prize drawings for attending First 40 events. WUGO keeps the First 40 fun going even after the events.
Some of the highlights of First 40 events include:
The most iconic First 40 event is one in which WashU students, first-years through seniors, celebrate together on the South 40: First Day. First Day is an event hosted in the iconic South 40 Underpass on the morning of the first day of school. WUSAs, RAs, professional staff, professors and other student leaders all gather at the Underpass to hand out free breakfast and school supplies to students as they head to their first day of class. There is also a professional photographer on site who can take the “first day of school picture” that your family will be begging you for. Many students make it their goal to go all four years.
First Friday is a campus wide tradition hosted by several student groups, including Student Union. Each year, the event’s activities vary. In the past, there have been inflatables, rock-climbing and bubble machines. One thing is for certain – there will be food! The Congress of the South 40 typically sponsors an afternoon ice cream truck that parks near the South 40 Clocktower to give free ice cream treats to students walking back to their residential halls from class. The whole day is a celebration of the completion of your first week!
Symphony on the South 40
This event is hosted by the First Year Center and includes an on-campus visit from the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra. The symphony sets up right outside of Bear’s Den around dinner time and students typically head over with their floors and WUSAs to enjoy dinner and a world-class performance. Faculty, staff and community members also join for this fantastic event. Symphony representatives also bring a prize wheel for students to win free tickets to the symphony and other swag.
Each year, the Congress of the South 40 sponsors a trip to Six Flags St. Louis for the first 100 first-year students to sign-up. Six Flags St. Louis is one of the largest Six Flags locations with some of the tallest and fastest roller coasters in the country. This trip also serves as a great off-campus opportunity for first-year students during their first few weeks at school.
The first 40 days at WashU are days you will never forget. It is the first chance you have to explore your new campus and community; there is nothing quite like it. I encourage you to make the most of each day, attend events and connect with classmates, and carry on this WashU tradition.