Hi there all!
I think there are two different parts in the contact with new students.
First and important, is what kind of feeling the 'regulars' give a newcomer.
Second, is the newcomers personality.
For me as a new student- first time I got right on the mat, yes it was scary, and I was the only female in an all male dojo, but I came knowing that from looking I'll learn nothing, including the fact that I like the art or not.
I know a lot of newcomers sit outside and watch, but I still think it's important to give them a nice feeling of welcome. say hello, intuduce yourself maybe... After class usually a higher ranking student or the teacher would talk with the newcomer, answer questions anything that interests the newcomer.
When a newcomer comes to train, he will be paired up with a higher ranking student. We start with a warm up, so any un-understood movements would be explained by the other student. When we start training, sometimes the same student will work only with the newcomer, sometimes the higher ranking students will take turns with him/ her.
In our dojo we do alot together. We sometimes meet for a drink after training, we have group evenings at different students houses, we arrange our own camps (aikido weekend in some nature area), etc...
So we tend to give newcomers a good feeling, there is a strong center of people in the group.
Of course it's their choice how much they care to open up to the group, but they are not pressured in any way.
We do hug (at least some do) and it's with affection (no, it does not mean there has to be anything personal between us) but the students that train longer are also friends, even outside the dojo. A newcomer will not be hugged, it does irritate, but will be bowed to and maybe shake hands. those who like the group and stay might just come to train or make stronger friendships with the other students.
But I guess it has to do alot with the personality of the people or even the culture.
Anyway, train and enjoy aikido!