Mason Rolls Out the Red Carpet During Welcome Week

Posted: August 17, 2009 at 1:06 am, Last Updated: August 17, 2009 at 12:09 pm

By Catherine Ferraro

One of the first people to greet new students each year on move-in day is President Alan Merten.

One of the first people to greet new students each year on move-in day is President Alan Merten. Creative Services photo

More than 30,000 students will flood Mason’s campuses beginning Aug. 27. Representatives from offices all across the university are ready and have been preparing for several months to welcome new and returning students to a new semester.

Continuing students are helping, too.

“One of the goals of this year’s Welcome Week is to get as many individuals from across the university involved as possible, especially students,” says Dennis Hicks, associate director in the Office of Student Activities.

“Even though there are a lot of students serving on the Welcome Week committee this year, we want that number to increase every year and get students involved in planning events that are geared specifically toward them.”

Special Greetings for New Students

Welcome Week, which runs from Thursday, Aug. 27, through Monday, Sept. 7, takes on a new meaning this year with a special theme called “The Preamble.” Most people associate a preamble with the U.S. Constitution. Putting a spin on this historical element, Welcome to Mason Nation: The Preamble marks new students’ first 12 days at Mason and the beginning of their lives as Patriots.

During convocation, new students get a formal welcome, learn some Mason history--and the fight song.

During convocation, new students get a formal welcome in an informal setting, hear some music and learn some Mason history — and the fight song. Creative Services photo

With more than 75 activities scheduled, Welcome Week will kick off with Mason President Alan Merten and representatives from Housing and Student Activities greeting students and their parents during move-in on the Fairfax Campus.

The excitement of move-in will continue into the night with First Night Mason, a mainstay of Welcome Week that encourages new students to mingle with one another while enjoying food, music and games. First Night Mason will take place from 6 to 9 p.m. on the Southside Plaza.

The next day, Friday, Aug. 28, the New Student Convocation will take place from 4 to 6 p.m. on the North Plaza. Instituted last year, the convocation is a new tradition that’s here to stay.

During convocation, President Merten and Provost Peter Stearns will welcome incoming freshmen and transfer students to their new academic community. Richard Norton Smith, presidential historian and Mason scholar-in-residence in the Departments of History and Art History and Public Policy, will speak, and Mason’s dynamic Pep Band director Michael Nickens (“Doc Nix”) will lead his Jazz Parade.

Something New

Information fairs are always popular during Welcome Week. Creative Services photo

A new information fair this year called Cross-Cultural Connections encourages students to learn more about Mason's diverse student population. Creative Services photo

Information fairs are popular during Welcome Week and provide students with facts about the university, its services and academic departments. A new component of the fairs is Cross-Cultural Connections, which encourages students to learn more about Mason’s diverse student population.

Another new event during Welcome Week is Mason Mayhem. Students get to take over the Johnson Center with laser tag, trivia games, video game tournaments and arts and crafts. Mason Mayhem takes place on Saturday, Aug. 29, from 8 p.m. to midnight.

Although Mason’s residential population has swelled to nearly 5,000 students, there will be a focus on socials that reach out to all types of students — transfers, residential, commuters, undergraduate or graduate.

Adding a service component to this year’s Welcome Week, Mason will partner with the Orphan Foundation of America (OFA) to offer a day of service to benefit college students who were once in foster care. During this Mason in Action event, students can help by writing letters of support to those in OFA programs or buying much needed school supplies such as notebooks, pens and pencils.

Showing Mason Spirit

Taking part in Mason Nation Celebration is the perfect way for students, faculty and staff to get revved up and show their Mason spirit. Taking place on Tuesday, Sept. 1, from 3 to 9 p.m. on the North Plaza, this mini pep rally will teach some Mason history and the fight song. Mason students will also attempt to break a world record for the longest game of “Telephone” by gathering more than 1,300 participants.

In addition, students who are spotted wearing Mason green or gold during Welcome Week will be rewarded with prizes. Students can also exchange their old high school or college T-shirts for Mason gear. Shirts collected will be donated to a local charity.

“This year, we want to emphasize that Welcome Week activities are not just for new students, but for everyone coming back to campus,” says Hicks. “After Welcome Week is over, we want everyone walking away feeling excited and happy that they chose to go to school or work at Mason.”

Focus on Sustainability

As Mason continues its efforts to create a more sustainable campus, it’s only fitting that Welcome Week should include events dedicated to the issue.

To learn more about recycling and composting at Mason, students are invited to attend the Campus Recycling Information Session on Friday, Aug. 28, from 2 to 3 p.m. in the Johnson Center. In this session, students will learn all they need to know about smarter waste management at Mason.

On a guided tour with a representative from the Office of Sustainability, students will learn how Mason is taking strides toward sustainable living with its newest dining facility, Southside, and Smart Markets at Mason, a farmers market. The sustainability tour will take place on Monday, Aug. 31, at 6 p.m.

Students will also have an opportunity to learn about sustainability courses offered at Mason during the Sustainability Studies and Coursework session on Tuesday, Sept. 1, from 10 to 11:30 a.m. in Student Union Building II, Rooms 1 and 2. Mason faculty members will share information about courses and degree programs, answer questions and encourage suggestions on how Mason can promote sustainability even more.

Other sessions include information on transportation, bicycle maintenance, Mason’s climate action plan, how to grow vegetables and herbs, as well as cooking vegan.

For more information about the events on the Fairfax, Arlington and Prince William Campuses, visit the Welcome Week web site.

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