After three months of summer, students are flocking back to campus from all over the country and the world. Returning students are excited to reconnect with friends, faculty, and visit their favorite places on campus, while incoming freshmen are filled with a mixture of excitement and anxiety as they begin new chapters of their lives. Welcome Week is Loyola’s answer to calming new students’ nerves and making them feel at home on campus.
This year, Welcome Week spans a 12-day period from August 20-31 and is filled with different events each day to help “ease the transition” for new students and get them settled in for their first semester at Loyola.
“We did add two additional days of programming this year to accommodate for the extended move-in period, given a larger freshman class,” says K.C. Mmeje, the assistant vice president of student development.
Mmeje predicts a big draw to events like the New Student Convocation, a tradition where the incoming students gather together for the first time as a class and journey across campus, and the Family Mass and Family Picnic.
“Family Mass and Family Picnic are huge events that are very well attended year after year by students and their parents before they say their formal goodbyes to their students after moving them in.”
Welcome Week Leader Michelle Singapori says one of her favorite outings was exploring the city with her first U-Pass.
“Something that I always look forward to is Discover Your Chicago, where you go out with your U-Pass for the first time.”
Perhaps surprisingly, Mmeje says, the Target runs are always one of the most attended events.
“We are packed,” he says. “We contract a fleet of buses to take students to Target and every single one of those buses is full.”
While Welcome Week is geared toward the University’s new student population, Mmeje says many upperclassmen partake in the festivities.
“At the beginning of the semester, the entire campus is electrified by the energy of the start of the school year and new students moving to campus,” Mmeje says. “Upperclass students are not immune to that.”
Events that have historically brought students back are Hypnotist Jim Wand’s performance, and the Saturday Night of Comedy, which will feature a stand-up set by comedian Michael Ian Black.
This year, Welcome Week has partnered with 25 different departments at Loyola to bring a wide array of events that cater to different students’ wants and needs, Mmeje says. The Center for Diversity and Multicultural Affairs takes part in welcoming student groups to Loyola through different events like the One Love Jam, where underrepresented students can meet one another over food and music. There is also a Students of Color Reception on August 22 and a reception for LGBTQI students and allies at Sister Jean Hall on August 27.
Mmeje says that while he wants students to know that the Loyola community is excited to receive and support them, the spirit of the week is for the incoming class to feel a sense of community and build strong relationships with one another.
“That’s really the overarching goal of the week: to help students feel connected and build a sense of community,” he says.
Students are encouraged to keep tabs on the schedule via the GuideBook Mobile app that is updated in real-time for last-minute changes due to inclement weather and the like. The schedule for the week is also available online here.