Saturday, January 22, 2022

Annual UFest highlights MSU Union to new students

August 31, 2021
<p>Students gathered at the MSU Union for free gifts, fun activities, food and a good time at the 41st Annual UFest on August 30th, 2021.</p>

Students gathered at the MSU Union for free gifts, fun activities, food and a good time at the 41st Annual UFest on August 30th, 2021.

The Michigan State University Activities Board hosted the 41st Annual UFest Monday night, giving new and returning students an opportunity to socialize and experience what the MSU Union has to offer.

Activities ranged from inflatable skee ball to psychic readings, and local businesses showed up to offer their goods and services. Free drinks, tote bags and color-changing cups also enticed some participants. 

The event was one of the first large-scale university social events of welcome week, and represented what in-person, on-campus events could look like this year.

“We just want to welcome people back to campus,” UAB Volunteer Ian Jacobs said. “We have obviously been closed the past year, and so we’re excited to have such a large turnout.”

In its 41 years of existence, UFest has traditionally been aimed at advertising the MSU Union and its amenities to students. It took on new meaning this year as students returned to campus full-time for the first time in a year and a half.

“It was a way to support the Union and promote the Union and all it has to offer,” Event Coordinator Lauren Krueger said. “But also celebrate the fact that students are coming back to campus- so this year we tried to make it a little bit bigger.”

Hundreds of students could be found partaking in the numerous games and activities throughout the east lawn. A sizable line stretched to Grand River Avenue, waiting to gain access to the free drinks and souvenirs inside the building. 

Aside from the physical attractions and freebies, many students’ motivations for attending UFest was to meet new people and find new friends for the coming school year.

“I just wanted to meet new people honestly," human biology freshman Bianca Hami said. "Get to know everyone before classes start.”

With COVID-19 cases rising in Ingham County, event organizers implemented numerous practices to insure the safety of participants. Two UAB members manned the entrance to the Union, letting in only 50 students at a time to prevent overcrowding. The university-wide mask mandate was heavily enforced, and disposable masks were on-hand for those who needed them.

“All of us are focused on masks and making sure people are complying, and [that] people are comfortable,” UAB Graduate Assistant Catie Kocian said. “We’re also resources for students who need masks or need to take a step away.”

The entire layout of the event was affected by this health-conscious focus, with many booths, sports and stations being moved outside to maintain social distancing.

“Typically a lot of these activities would be put inside,” Krueger said. “So we made sure that we utilized the east lawn.”

UFest may be one of the first, but it’s definitely not the last in-person event coming this week. For more information on upcoming events, rallies and meet-and-greets, check out the The State News’ guide to Welcome Week.

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