Even with the recent adjustment to fall semester, MSU leadership has not given up on the authentic Spartan experience every freshman dreams of and has created plans to host their annual fall welcome week extravaganza virtually.
Tammye Coles, associate director of student life, leadership development and fall welcome, said they originally developed several different options for their programs that each depended on the state of the coronavirus, whether fully in-person, hybrid or fully virtual.
While the department of student life is historically the head of welcome week planning, the body of the event is made up of organizations and spaces across campus. With this year being different than past years, Coles said she pulled everyone together to analyze similar institutions' programs and practices and come up with their final framework.
Coles said they aimed to offer different types of activities with social and physical engagement aspects to them, so that it's easier for those who may not be able to come to campus anymore, whether international or domestic, to try and build community and connection through the virtual world.
They also worked to address factors such as internet restrictions in certain countries and WiFi failures, so that there is never a lack of opportunity for students to access the materials.
What's on the schedule?
According to the department of student life website, the schedule for fall welcome week lists an array of activities dated from Aug. 27 to Sept. 16 on eastern time (EDT). Coles said these events are always subject to change.
Thursday, Aug. 27
- 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. — Spartan Luck of The Draw
Friday, Aug. 28
- 12-1 p.m. — Virtual Lunch and Get to Know Women's Student Services (WSS) and Coalition for Gender Equity Groups (CGEG)
- 6-9 p.m. — Spartan Basement "Kick-Back" Jam Session with Impact 89 Radio
Saturday, Aug. 29
- 8:30 a.m. to 12 p.m. — Council of Graduate Students (COGS) Virtual Welcoming and Resource Fair
- 1-6 p.m. — James Madison College (JMC) Virtual Registered Student Organization (RSO) Fair (JMC students only)
- 1:30 p.m. — Residence Halls Association (RHA) Virtual Q&A with Blake Horstmann, a former contestant on ABC's reality TV shows "The Bachelorette" and "Bachelor in Paradise"
- 7-9 p.m. — JMC Trivia Night and Student Q&A (JMC students only)
- 7 p.m. — RHA and University Activities Board (UAB) Virtual Spartan Bingo
Sunday, Aug. 30
- 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. — (continued) JMC Virtual RSO Fair
- 7-9 p.m. — (continued) JMC Trivia Night and Student Q&A
- Spartan Engage U Evening Activities:
- 7 p.m. — Movie Night with RHA and UAB
- 7-9 p.m. — Spartan Night at the Museum; Planetarium Startacular Show
- 9-11 p.m. — Sparty Smart Trivia; Spartan Scavenger Hunt
Monday, Aug. 31
- All day until Sept. 2 — "Fill the Bus" Service Project hosted by the Center for Community Engaged Learning (CCEL)
- All day — Spartan Spirit Affiliate Day
- 10-11 a.m. — Fall Convocation (required by all students)
- 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. — Midday Meditation and Yoga
- 1 p.m. — JMC Colloquium (required by all JMC students)
- 3-4:15 p.m. — LIVE IT! @ JMC (required by all JMC students)
- 5-8 p.m. — Campus Employment Opportunities; Spartan Spectacular and Sparticipation
- 7-8 p.m. — COGS Welcome Week Trivia Night
- 7-8:30 p.m. — "Frontline: Coronavirus Pandemic" Documentary Watch Party
- 8-10 p.m. — Spartan Virtual Dance Party
- 9 p.m. — ALL Residence Hall Floor/Community Meetings
Tuesday, Sept. 1
- All day — Resource Center for Persons with Disabilities (RCPD) Welcome Orientation Workshop (WOW)
- 9-11 a.m. — Colloquium with Your College (required by all students)
- 10-11 a.m. and 2-3 p.m. — LIVE (Zoom) RCPD WOW
- 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. — UAB 40th Annual U-Fest
- 1:30-3 p.m. — Viral Justice discussion with Dr. Ruha Benjamin (required by all JMC students)
- 2-3 p.m. — Commuter and Transfer Student Meeting
- 2:30 p.m. — Honors College Convocation
- 3:30 p.m. — Academic Scholars Program (ASP) Welcome
- 5-9 p.m. — (continued) Spartan Spectacular and Sparticipation
- 7-8:30 p.m. — COGS Game Night
- 7-8 p.m. — "Chisholm '72: Unbought and Unbossed" Documentary Watch Party
Wednesday, Sept. 2
- Classes begin — students should observe and follow their Mon. schedule this day. Thursday and Friday will run as normal
- 5-8 p.m. — (continued) Spartan Spectacular and Sparticipation
- 7-8 p.m. — Fem Fest Guided Visual Art Tutorial
Thursday, Sept. 3
- 4-8 p.m. — Greek Fall Welcome hosted by the four governing Greek Councils: Interfraternity Council (IFC), Multicultural Greek Council (MGC), National Pan-Hellenic Council (NPHC) and the Panhellenic Council (PC)
- 5:30-7:30 p.m. — Lesbian, Bisexual, Gay and Transgender (LGBT) Resource Center Virtual Fall Welcome
- 7-8 p.m. — Fem Fest Guided Live Spoken Word Poetry Slam and brief poetry workshop
Friday, Sept. 4
- All day — Spartan Spirit Gear Day
- 11:30 a.m. — Spartan Spirit
- 7-9 p.m. — Fem Fest Virtual Concert with Impact 89 Radio
Thursday, Sept. 10
Wednesday, Sept. 16
- 5 p.m. — Fall Veterans Orientation
The date and time for the Student Parents On a Mission (SPOM) and Student Parent Resource Center Welcome are still to be decided.
On top of this overall schedule that can be viewed in depth on the student life website and the MSU phone app, Coles said each student will receive an individualized schedule that is unique to them and their university profile.
"Let's say you're an international, JMC student with a disability," she explained. "Those things are coded in your profile, and so your individual schedule will give you information or programming that will be associated with those characteristics."
Focused on inclusivity
Coles said this is an unique opportunity, and they are trying to set the atmosphere for it to happen smoothly. She wants all students, especially those who are new to the MSU lifestyle, to try and take part in the process.
She said she recognizes the challenges many of the incoming freshman may be facing because of COVID-19 after having lost some of their long anticipated elementary education closing rights of passage like senior prom, senior skip day and commencement. She said that she understands they may be feeling like this, the sense of having things taken away, is happening to them again.
"In the (department) of student affairs and services, one of the things that we live by is that we inspire Spartans to grow," Coles said. "When you come to college, part of the reason you come (here) and you stay (here) is because you grow as an academic scholar, you grow as a person, you grow as a young professional. ... The quest for you is to grow, change and transform and to become better than when you started here."
"Part of that becoming better, becoming more civically engaged, becoming a more prepared person to go out and be a strong, civic-minded global citizen, is that you have to engage in the process," she said. "Part of that engaging in the process is going and doing something that may make you feel a little bit uncomfortable, as well as engaging in something that you're not used too or that you don't particularly like. The ability of a person to reach beyond ... is a skill that will carry them through anything."
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