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WVU’s re-imagined Welcome Week takes aim at transforming student culture

Daily Athenaeum photo by Kyle Monroe Mountaineer mascot Michael Garcia takes a selfie with students Sunday afternoon.
Daily Athenaeum photo by Kyle Monroe
Mountaineer mascot Michael Garcia takes a selfie with students.

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – As some 5,000 new undergraduates make their way to Morgantown this week along with a cadre of returning students, West Virginia University officials have a weekend of fun and engaging activities planned aimed at transforming student culture. 

“As I have talked with students and families, I have stressed that at West Virginia University, we ‘work smart and play smart.’ The events we have planned for our students during Welcome Week will help foster that sense of having fun while making a strong academic and cultural connection to campus and a new home here in Morgantown,” President Gordon Gee said.

Vice President of Student Life William Schafer said he hopes Welcome Week events will create spaces where students can have fun safely, interact with classmates and forge lifelong friendships through meaningful experiences.

“Our focus for Welcome Week is to showcase the great opportunities students have to become involved at WVU, whether it be through service, through a student organization or through social and academic experiences,” Schafer said. “It’s an important time for students to get off to a great start – and everyone here is committed to helping them do just that.”

Move-In Day
It all gets under way Friday, Aug. 14, with move-in day as freshmen get a hand from senior leaders, including President Gee, Housing staff and upperclassmen as they move into WVU’s 20 residence halls and apartments on the Downtown and Evansdale campuses.

After settling in, students will get a chance to unwind and meet their fellow first-years at floor meetings and cookouts. They can also take part in a little friendly competition through bubble soccer at the Student Rec fields, and then join in Volleypalooza with the women’s volleyball team.

Many students are also participating in service activities throughout the City during their first days on campus.

WVUp All Night at the Mountainlair on Friday night features, among other activities, the movie World War Z, based on this year’s common read book selection, World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War, by Max Brooks.

And, if parents aren’t too exhausted, there is a Parent “I Survived Move-in” Reception at Erickson Alumni Center on Friday from 4-6 p.m.

Balancing fun and academics
Saturday, Aug. 15, events for new students include both academic and social components. The college-focused First-Year Academy takes place at 1 p.m. at all of WVU’s degree-granting colleges. Students will learn what is expected of them as college students and get advice about bridging the transition from high school to college. This mandatory event aims to prepare students for the first day of classes and connect them with the resources they need for academic success throughout the year.

On Saturday night, WVU will host a new event — Saturday Night Lights at Milan Puskar Stadium. First-year students will join President Gee, WVU coaches, the Mountaineer and WVU Marching Band for an entertaining evening, complete with fireworks.

On Sunday, Aug. 16, at 2 p.m., first-year and transfer students will experience a Mountaineer Welcome at the WVU Coliseum. A variety of student organizations will be set up with information about their groups, and a short program will follow with President Gee, Basketball Coach Bob Huggins, Mountaineer Michael Garcia and others offering advice, teaching traditional chants and cheers and generally getting freshmen involved in what it means to be a Mountaineer.

Exciting new Welcome Week activities for all students
While Friday and Saturday events are primarily geared toward first-year students, all students are invited to some new Sunday, Aug. 16, activities: Mountaineer Midway, FoodFest and a new Sunday afternoon/evening timeslot for FallFest.

These activities, according to Schafer, are geared toward bringing a fun, yet balanced approach to the academic year.

Mountaineer Midway from 1-5 p.m. at the Rec Fields will feature Zorb balls, a mobile zip line and other outdoor activities.

FoodFest will take place from 2:30-6 p.m. in Woodburn Circle and will feature a variety of local food vendors from American to Greek to Italian and Latin fare – all free to students.

In its 20th year, FallFest will transition from a Monday night to a Sunday afternoon/evening – 4:30-9 p.m. This free concert annually features well-known artists and bands that students won’t want to miss. (Bands will be announced Tuesday afternoon, Aug. 11.)

Holding FallFest earlier on Sunday should make it less distracting for the community and help ensure that students are better rested for their real introduction to college life – classes on Monday morning, officials said.

WVU’s PRT will also extend hours of operation throughout the weekend, and buses will shuttle students to the various activities.

Back to class
After a busy weekend, students will be heading to class Monday and Welcome Week will be shifting gears. Throughout the coming weeks, there will be information fairs, a student health insurance help desk, tutoring, various WELLWVU activities, opportunities to meet student government leaders and join Mountaineer Maniacs, take recreational trips, and more.

For more information about Welcome Week and to see a full schedule of events, visit welcomeweek.wvu.edu.

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