Welcome Weekend opens fall semester

Classes for the Fall 2023 semester begin Aug. 21, but before that happens, students returning to the University of Tennessee at Martin campus will have a celebration centered on move-in days and getting acclimated – or re-acclimated – to campus life.

The Welcome Weekend event begins with “Move-In Mania” on Thursday, Aug. 17, when students move into their campus residences. The inaugural Welcome Home Picnic later that day will help students relax after a busy day and enjoy food and fellowship with friends, family and faculty.

The First-Year Initiative program will host Welcome Weekend, and the UTM Office of Student Life and the Office of Housing will team up with other campus organizations and the City of Martin to provide entertainment and fun events for returning students and first-year students to enjoy.

Director of Student Life Rachel Stephens said her office will coordinate Move-In Mania and several other Welcome Weekend events.

“Move-In Mania is always lots of fun because we bring in our upperclassman students and a lot of our student organizations, fraternities and sororities come out and volunteer,” she said. “We help get all the first-year students moved in.”

For the first time, UT Martin will have a Welcome Back Picnic, to be set up between Ellington Hall and University Village II. The picnic will begin at 6 p.m. Aug. 17.

“This is a brand-new event; we have never done this before,” Stephens said. “One of the biggest bits of feedback we got was that Move-In Day is tiring – and it is. You’re here, you’ve just moved in and the last thing you want to do is go do something else and have some other type of mandatory program.

“It was actually the brain-child of John Abel, the assistant vice chancellor for student affairs. Campus rec is going to bring games out to the Ellington front lawn, we’re going to have a bunch of booths set up with door prizes, and the (Student Government Association) is going to be giving out Popsicles.”

Faculty and staff will grill hot dogs and hamburgers with chips and cookies. Music will be provided to provide students with two hours of relaxation and fun.

The Office of Student Life also advises Flight Crew members with coordinating the events for Saturday, Aug. 19, that include pep group meetings at 9 a.m., a free play time from 2 to 5 p.m., taking in comedian Brent Pella at 7 p.m. and viewing “Guardians of the Galaxy 3” at 9 p.m.

All of these events are free to UTM students.

The City of Martin will welcome students to campus with the annual City of Martin Fair, to be held from 6 to 9 p.m. on Monday, Aug. 21, in Festival Park in downtown Martin.

“Downtown Martin is so pretty, and we want students to see everything that Martin has to offer,” Stephens said. “So, we partner with the city and actually set up inside the (Martin Public Library) and outside.

“We’ll have food trucks, and businesses will set up and hand out information to the students. They’ll have giveaways and give away free food, and it gives students the opportunity to focus on the businesses, nonprofits and churches – things like that in the community.”

The Campus Involvement Fair will be held from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 22, in the campus quad.

“Sodexo (Dining Services) has agreed to serve dinner on the back patio, so dinner is going to be outside that night on the north patio between the Boling University Center and the Paul Meek Library,” Stephens said. “I think they actually will close the dining hall that night, so all of dinner will be served outside.

“Then, we’re having a wellness fair hosted by Student Health and Counseling and some partners. That will feed into the Campus Involvement Fair, where we’ll have 100 different student organizations, departments and areas set up. It’s like a big block party, and it’s open to all students.”

The schedule of events for Welcome Weekend 2023 includes:

Thursday, Aug. 17

• 8 a.m.: Move-In Mania (housing move-in, First-Year Initiative check-in, Solution Central)

• 6 p.m.: Welcome Home Picnic, Ellington Hall, University Village II

Friday, Aug. 18

• 8 a.m.: Commuter check-in

• 9 am.: Pep group meetings

• 10 a.m. Convocation, Elam Center

• 11:30 a.m.: Pep groups, lunch (Blue Group), pep meeting (Orange Group)

• 12:45 p.m. Pep groups, pep meeting (Blue Group), lunch (Orange Group)

• 2 p.m.: Pep groups, “Getting Involved” (Blue Group), Watkins Auditorium, Bling University Center; Success Counselors (Orange Group), Duncan Ballroom in the Boling University Center, Gallien Auditorium in Gooch Hall, Campbell Auditorium in the Holt Humanities Building

• 3:30 p.m.: Pep groups, Success Counselors (Blue Group), “Getting Involved” (Orange Group)

• 7 p.m.: Floor meetings

• 8 p.m.: Housing block party

Saturday, Aug. 19

• 8 a.m.: Pep group meetings

• 9 a.m.: Pep groups, “Living the Skyhawk Creed” (Blue Group), Elam Center; Safe Flights (Orange Group), Watkins Auditorium, Boling University Center

• 10:15 a.m.: Pep groups, Safe Flights (Blue Group), Watkins Auditorium, Boling University Center; “Living the Skyhawk Creed” (Orange Group), Elam Center

• 11:30 a.m.: Pep groups, pep meeting (Blue Group), lunch (Orange Group)

• 12:45 p.m. Pep groups, lunch (Blue Group), pep meeting (Orange Group)

• 2 p.m.: Free play

• 7 p.m.: Comedian Brent Pella, Watkins Auditorium, Boling University Center

• 9 p.m. “Guardians of the Galaxy 3,” University Village I lawn

Sunday, Aug. 20

• 1 p.m.: Pep group meetings, “Taking Care of Me” (Blue Group), Watkins Auditorium, Boling University Center; scavenger hunt (Orange Group), various locations

• 2:15 p.m.: Pep group meetings, scavenger hunt (Blue Group), various locations; “Taking Care of Me” (Orange Group), Watkins Auditorium, Boling University Center

• 3:30 p.m.: Kickoff to Classes, Hardy M. Graham Stadium (Elam Center is the rain site)

Monday, Aug. 21

• 6 p.m.: City of Martin Fair, Festival Park, adjacent to Martin Public Library

Tuesday, Aug. 22

• 4:30 p.m.: Campus Involvement Fair, the UT Martin quad

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