This article is from the archives of the UB Reporter.

Opening Weekend activities welcome new students

Published: August 18, 2005

Reporter Editor

The Division of Student Affairs will welcome the newest members of the UB family to campus next weekend with a variety of programs and activities, including some offerings designed to link incoming students to the greater Buffalo community.

Among these are bus trips to Niagara Falls, the Niagara Falls outlet mall and the City of Buffalo, and a Buffalo Bisons game, and a community service project on the city's East Side.

The weekend also will feature traditional Opening Weekend standbys like the New Student Picnic, to be held from 12:30-2:30 p.m. on Aug. 26 at Baird Point, North Campus, and the Welcome Back Bash, scheduled from 9:30 p.m. to 1 a.m. Aug. 26 in the Student Union, North Campus, as well as the first cookout for South Campus residents, to be held from 4:30-6:30 p.m. Aug. 27 outside Goodyear Hall; a free performance by comedian and hypnotist The Incredible Boris at 7 p.m. Aug. 27 in the Center for the Arts, North Campus; and Playfair, a program promoting campus unity and school spirit, to be held Aug. 28 on the North Campus.

Opening Weekend kicks off "September Welcome," a month-long, campuswide series of special events designed to celebrate the beginning of the academic year, as well as welcome new students to the university.

The Opening Weekend activities that get new students off campus and into the community follow along with President John B. Simpson's establishment last year of community engagement as a key UB focus, explains Dennis Black, vice president for student affairs.

"To reflect that commitment, we want our new students to view their university experience as extending well beyond the campus into the surrounding communities. We are promoting this principle through activities in the areas, service projects and a summer reading selection that asks students to consider the challenges and pressures in today's urban environments," he says.

Opening Weekend is one of the last opportunities UB has to reach out to new students and parents, all in one place at one time, Black notes.

"UB tries to take advantage of this chance to warmly greet the newest members of our academic family, to offer them assistance in the transitions taking place and to set high expectations for the years ahead," he says.

"At the end of the weekend, our hope is that our new students are ready for the exciting academic experience that begins Monday morning (Aug. 29) and lasts for life."

Moreover, Opening Weekend is not just for new students and families, Black points out.

"It also serves as a kickoff for our faculty and staff as we all get prepared for a new year, new experiences and new people and ideas."

After resident students check into their assigned residence halls on Aug. 25 and Aug. 26, the weekend's activities formally will begin at 11:30 a.m. Aug. 26 with a welcome program for students and parents featuring President John B. Simpson; Satish K. Tripathi, provost and executive vice president for academic affairs; and Dela Yador, president of the undergraduate Student Association. The program will take place in the Mainstage theater in the Center for the Arts.

The New Student Picnic will follow the Presidential Welcome—a departure from the traditional dinnertime picnic held in the past. Students and their families can enjoy a chicken barbecue lunch and mingle with UB faculty and staff, and meet other students.

During the afternoon, new students can meet with representatives from UB service departments, who will answer questions about UB resources.

Special receptions will be held for students and their families who live outside New York State, as well as those from African, African American, Caribbean, Latino, Asian and Native-American (ALANA) heritages.

The Community Service Project, to be held from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Aug. 27, will bring students, faculty and staff into the community to help clean up Fillmore Avenue from Main Street to Kensington Avenue. Participants will paint over gang-related graffiti, pull weeds and pick up trash, says Mary Clare Fahey, community service-learning coordinator for the Office of Student Life.

A community service project has been included in Opening Weekend activities to get the word out to incoming students that community service opportunities are available on campus and encourage students to take part in the community, Fahey notes.

About 85 percent of incoming freshmen participated in community service projects in high school, she says, adding that more high schools are making community service mandatory.

"We want to keep the idea in their heads," she says. "So it makes sense to start early (in students' college careers). "Service is on the uprise; we want to take advantage of it."

The Playfair project, to be held at 2 p.m. Aug. 28 in the field between The Commons and Clemens Hall, is an attempt to personalize what can be a large and imposing campus, Black notes.

"To an incoming student, the size and scope of UB can seem daunting," he says. "Some of the numbers we casually toss around can unintentionally reinforce that sense—40,000 students, faculty and staff; 10 million square feet of space; 38 miles of roads; 1,400 acres; 78 degree programs; 200 buildings.

"Playfair is an interactive, large-group experience designed to create small group and one-on-one interactions and involvement," he says. "Through a series of exercises and activities, new students will have opportunities to meet each other and to gain comfort in their new peer group. They also will have lots of fun!"

Classes for the fall semester will begin on Monday, Aug. 29.