Welcome Week and the renewal of IU traditions

Dunn Meadow

Newly planted trees in spring 2011 at IU Bloomington’s Dunn Meadow.

Walking through Dunn Meadow this afternoon, I was reminded of how quickly time passes in a university community such as ours.

It had been more than two years since I stopped to notice the new trees that IU groundskeepers planted in one of the many parts of campus that were severely damaged by the violent storms that swept through Bloomington in May 2011.

The difference between my last trip to the trees and now was truly dramatic, but don’t take my word for it …

Dunn Meadow

View of Dunn Meadow trees today, Aug. 18, 2015.

Indeed, four years can go by before you know it, which makes tomorrow, the official start of “Welcome Week” at IU Bloomington, especially meaningful for those of us who’ve experienced past iterations of this time-honored tradition and appreciate just how special a day it is for our students, their families and their loved ones.

For IU’s newest class, Welcome Week, which officially begins with tomorrow afternoon’s Freshman Induction Ceremony, picks up where New Student Orientation leaves off and continues their transition to becoming true Hoosiers. What’s more, Welcome Week has – to continue the tree theme of this post – branched out over time: In the dozen-plus years I’ve been here, it’s always featured a packed array of activities, but more than ever before those activities serve to equip our entering students with the knowledge and cultural understanding they need to succeed at IU as soon as they set foot in their first classes.

“[Welcome Week] is not simply a string of social events but, rather, an integral part of the culture of IU and a factor in retention and student support efforts that make IU a special place,” says Melanie Payne, senior associate director of IU’s IU Office of First Year Experience Programs and director of New Student Orientation. “The student who attends Welcome Week events can’t help but feel more comfortable with the campus, more knowledgeable about the opportunities, expectations and services that are here for them and, as important, more confident about starting that important first year.”

This year’s event theme, “Proud Traditions: Welcome Week 2015,” reflects the continued effort by staff from First Year Experience Programs, IU Residential Programs and Services, and other IU departments to showcase the longstanding academic, athletic and cultural traditions of a campus closing in on its 200-year anniversary. Indeed, Welcome Week has become a tradition in itself, through a number of popular returning events, including, among others,

  • Traditions and Spirit 2014

    Events like the Traditions & Spirit of IU pep rally help turn IU’s newest students into true Hoosiers.

    Freshman Induction, where new students will be formally inducted into the Class of 2019;

  • Culture Fest, which celebrates the cultural diversity of IU through food, music and dancing;
  • Traditions and Spirit of IU, a cream-and-crimson-filled pep rally at Memorial Stadium;
  • RecFest, where students can sample the hundreds of activities and programs available to them through their automatic IU Rec Sports membership; and
  • New Student Service Day, where students learn more about their new surroundings through community service work.

Those events are complemented by new-for-2015 offerings, such as a “Jigsaw Challenge” that allows students to examine opportunities and benefits of engaging in undergraduate research and other creative activities during their time at IU and “Rachel’s First Week,” which introduces them to what it means to foster a IU Culture of Care on campus and make good decisions during their days as IU students.

“We have the very large, exciting, traditional events, and we have smaller, more personal events,” Payne says. “Some are academic, some are social, some are cultural and some are informational. But all are designed very intentionally to help students be a part of the IU family and start their year off right.”

On the eve of Welcome Week, here’s to the start of another great year, to the growth and success of our newest Hoosiers, and to the renewal of IU’s grandest traditions.

Download IU’s Welcome Week digital booklet for a view of all the events and activities that make up this year’s celebration. 

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