In contrast to last year’s schedule of online-only welcome events, this fall, first-year, transfer and second-year Miami University students will all have the opportunity to attend in-person welcome events.
Beginning Wednesday, Aug. 18 with a movie at Yager Stadium, events are slated every day, stretching all the way to Sunday at 5 p.m., the day before students begin classes.
After the movie Wednesday night, Thursday starts off with a campus-wide scavenger hunt and ends with the First Night Block Party where students can skate, get free food, watch Pip the Comic Illusionist from Australia's Got Talent live and more.
Friday begins with the academic college welcome where students can meet faculty from their department. At night, Miami Activities and Programming (MAP) is hosting its annual Welcome Home program with many activities across campus, ending with a fireworks show behind Benton Hall.
Saturday evening, all six residential quads will be hosting different events that on-campus students can participate in. The last day of Welcome Weekend is the Love & Honor fair at Yager Stadium where the first-year class will get their class photo taken.
Liz Walsh, director of Orientation and Transition Programs, said students should download the Miami University Events app for the latest information on events.
Emma DeShay, a first-year psychology major, said she plans to attend the Welcome Weekend events to meet new people.
“My hope is to meet people and just get a glimpse of what campus life is like before everyone shows up and just kind of be comfortable in this space,” DeShay said.
Riley Jones, a first-year zoology major, said getting involved early is her main goal this fall.
“I’m hoping to meet new people and get involved as much as I can on campus,” Jones said. “Overall, meeting new people with different interests is what I’m hoping to accomplish.”
Walsh said this year’s welcome events are focused around both brand new Miami students and sophomore students because the sophomores have had such varied experiences with campus.
“These events are really designed for our newest Miamians so that they can experience campus a bit more,” Walsh said. “[They] can meet new people, learn about Miami resources and really spend time on campus before classes begin so that they can start to get comfortable and start to feel more confident about their new experience for this year.”
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Second-year Surge is a new program for sophomore students to get reoriented on campus and get reconnected with classmates in person. Walsh said more than 200 students have signed up for the program.
“Lots of the students who signed up to attend are excited to meet new people,” Walsh said, “and they sort of told us this on their form when they signed up that they’re excited to … get to know campus a bit more and have some sort of welcome experience that they feel that they didn’t have or only had online last year.”
The Second-year Surge event starts Friday with get-to-know-you activities, an ice-cream sundae bar and then merged with the Welcome Home event that evening.
Jayne Brownell, vice president for Student Affairs, acknowledged the rise in COVID-19 cases and the threat of the delta variant and said additional safety precautions are being put in place.
“The nice thing about Welcome Weekend is that there are lots of options,” Brownell said. “There are these large scale events, but even within them, there are smaller pockets, so we’re never going to have 1,000 people in the same space together. There’s always going to be options.”
Brownell said students can find lower traffic events on the Miami University event app and noted this is something the university plans for even outside of a pandemic.
“Even in a non-COVID year, we have introverts and extroverts,” Brownell said. “Not everybody is comfortable with those large scale events, so we always try to create some smaller opportunities.”
Miami is requiring all members of the Miami community to wear masks indoors as of Aug. 9, and encouraging non-vaccinated individuals to follow CDC guidelines and wear a mask around others.
Jones said she is vaccinated and will wear a mask indoors as Miami is requiring, and otherwise, it depends.
“When it comes to outside, it would probably just depend on my proximity to other people,” Jones said. “If there's like hundreds of us crowded together I would probably wear a mask, but I guess it just kind of depends on who's around me, whether or not they're vaccinated, how many people are around me, that sort of thing.”
DeShay said she is also vaccinated and agrees with Miami’s decision to require masks indoors, echoing Jones’ sentiments.
“If there's enough to space out, then I probably won't wear a mask outside,” DeShay said, “but probably at Mega fair I will be wearing a mask.”
Brownell said she advised students to do what they’re comfortable with.
“While we're not requiring masks outside, masks are always going to be a good idea,” Brownell said. “If you are uncomfortable, even if you're vaccinated, wear a mask. I think that would be a smart plan when you don't know that you could keep distance from other people [and] that it will just help increase that comfort level.”
Miami will also hold its annual first 50 days of events with something for students to attend every day, whether it is academic-related or a MAP event.
Brownell said she is excited to have students come back to campus this fall, no matter where they’re at in their college experience.
“I think that we need to be able to meet the needs of all different kinds of students, the introvert [and] extrovert, the person who is going to jump in with both feet, and the person who's going to take a little while longer to find their place,” Brownell said, “and we think about all of them and provide different opportunities throughout the year, but I think that that has become easier when we can do this together.”