A variety of activities are planned Aug. 19-22 for students and their families.
Cal U plans to welcome students back to campus with a full slate of information sessions and activities as part of Welcome Weekend 2021.
First-year students will move into residence halls Aug. 19. Upperclassmen return Aug. 21. Fall semester classes begin Aug. 23.
Dr. Dale-Elizabeth Pehrsson, the newly named interim president of Cal U, will be on campus to participate in Welcome Weekend events, which culminate at 7 p.m. Aug 22 with the President’s Convocation and Candlelight Ceremony, followed by fireworks.
“Welcome Weekend is our grand reopening,” said Melissa Dunn, director of student engagement. Amid the pandemic, Cal U operated 100% remotely in Fall 2020; the University moved to some in-person instruction for Spring 2021, but all events and activities were held virtually.
“We have been quiet for so long. We are so ready to open things back up for our students.”
New this year: A Welcome Weekend Club and Organization Fair on Third Street, from 2-4 p.m. Aug. 22. Education sessions include “Top 10 Things to Know at Cal U,” “When to Ask for Help!” and “Time Management.”
Incoming sophomores will get special attention during Welcome Weekend. They occupy a unique category — students who have one year of academic experience under their belts but who may not have experienced campus life.
“We really have two classes of new students,” Dunn said of the first-year students and sophomores. “And they’re each coming with different expectations. Sophomores have had a taste of the academic side of their experience, but they don’t necessarily have the student life experience.”
Some Welcome Weekend sessions for upperclassmen will be led by their peers to provide a practical viewpoint.
“Our sophomores have had experience with some of the academic services that we offer, but what they might not know is how long it takes to get from Morgan to Eberly halls, how to order food, use their meal plans, print something, do their laundry. Our student leaders will be able to offer that guidance.”
Many sessions also apply to students who commute to Cal U. Two “commuter socials” are planned, on Thursday and Saturday, in addition to information sessions geared specifically toward students who travel to campus.
Once Welcome Weekend ends, daily events and activities roll on through September, culminating with Homecoming and Family Day activities in early October.
The University will offer a free vaccination clinic from noon to 4 p.m. Aug. 27 in the Convocation Center. Healthcare professionals from Mon Valley Hospital will provide the first dose of the Pfizer vaccine for students, faculty and staff. Participants will be scheduled to return for their second dose on Friday, Sept. 17.
Registration through Mon Valley Hospital’s scheduling system is preferred, but walk-ins are welcome.
Two new apps will encourage students to participate in these “first 30 days” of events and activities and help them to connect with others.
Students can check in using the Suitable app, which awards badges for attendance at campus activities. The Nearpeer app — open to those with a calu.edu email address — makes it fun and easy to find classmates with common interests.
“Suitable is the gamification of your first month on campus,” Dunn said. “It’s fun and competitive. The more things you attend, the more badges you receive, and there are prizes for the winners. Nearpeer is an extra way to find people like you on campus. It makes those social interactions and friendships happen a little quicker.”
Dunn and the Student Affairs staff, with a team of faculty, staff and students volunteers, are excited to get the fall semester underway.
“The journey begins with Welcome Weekend,” she said. “It’s really the time to settle in, knock out the butterflies and get prepared for that first day, then the first week, then the first month of your college experience.
“That’s why all the effort is so worth it.”