Efforts to increase student engagement and participation on the University of Connecticut’s Hartford campus has led campus leaders to create the Week of Welcome. Mimicked after the Storrs campus tradition, this year’s events were held from Monday Aug. 29 through Friday Sept. 2.
“It’s a chance to let new students connect to their campus and community,” Coordinator of Student Activities Dan O’Reilly said.
UConn Hartford's first ever Freshman Convocation was held on Monday. First year students listened to speeches by members of the UConn community, including Provost Mun Choi and Director of the Hartford Campus Michael Menard.
Students also enjoyed DJ performances, cupcakes and outdoor games. Event Services Coordinator Shannon Guilmette assisted in the event setup. As a former UConn Hartford student, Guilmette has seen an evolution in the campus’ available activities.
“[Convocation] was really good. A lot of students showed up, which is really nice, because we’ve never really had that for undergraduate students...This week was a lot about networking. Some people might not know anyone on this campus. Some people might have a clique of friends from high school that they’re sticking with right now but by getting them involved with different clubs or activities, they’re able to branch out and meet new people,” Guilmette said.
During “Taco Tuesday” members of the Associated Student Government (ASG) served burritos, while members of the Arts Club performed.
On “Wellness Wednesday,” ASG collaborated with the Wellness Center to provide a relaxing day for students through discussion of stress management techniques, a free yoga class and a chance to play with Diva, the therapy dog.
“The Wellness Day was also about taking care of oneself and making smart choices, ” O’Reilly said.
More than 25 clubs and organizations from both on and off campus gathered in the Zach’s room in the School of Social Work for Thursday’s “Involvement Fair” to showcase their organizations and recruit new members.
With over 250 students in attendance, the event allowed individuals to network and see available on campus resources. According to Assistant Director of Student Services Paul Young, the Involvement Fair was the highlight of the week.
“The biggest goal is to let students know what opportunities and resources are available to them on our campus but also creating a fun welcoming environment and one of the things that we say internally is that we are trying and we will continue to develop the UConn Hartford experience,” he said.
For many students on campus, the Involvement Fair created a sense of community. For Marshauna Williams, a first year molecular and cellular biology major, she thought that the fair was very helpful.
“Honestly, it’s very welcoming and it’s very fun. I’m not used to it as an incoming freshman,” Williams said. “It made me feel comfortable just seeing all my friends [from SSS Program]. It’s definitely a way to connect to people and it was very fun.”
“At first I was scared because I didn’t really know anybody and I was a little disappointed that I didn’t get into Storrs, but I actually really like it here. It’s a cute little campus. It’s very diverse.”
Returning students were also very excited about the fair. Many cite the growing number of clubs and opportunities as contributing factors to the growth of community on campus.
“It definitely gets students more involved. It has people meet each other and make friends,” Ryan Scannell, a fifth-semester business administration major, said.
The weeklong event wrapped up on Friday with an ASG open house and breakfast to get students to interact and get to know student leaders on campus.
“We pride ourselves in giving our students here on the Hartford campus as good of an experience as they would get at Storrs, ” Young said.
Sarah Al-Arshani is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.