The fall semester on the University of Maine’s campus has brought many adjustments for students and faculty due to the COVID-19 pandemic. With all of the new guidelines and precautions in place to keep students safe, groups and organizations have been brainstorming creative ways to welcome students back and keep them involved.
The Center for Student Involvement (CSI) has been working to provide engaging activities for students who still wish to stay connected to the university and meet new people. Members of the CSI Benjamin Evans, coordinator for campus activities and Mackenzie Bumpus, graduate assistant for campus activities, collaborated with the Office of Admissions to host Fall Welcome Week and plan upcoming activities for students.
“We spent time looking at what other colleges were doing for their back to school events, brainstormed with colleagues at other institutions, and figured out how to best support our students,” Evans said. “We also evaluated the spaces which we were programming in, and changed them to allow for social distancing.”
Fall Welcome Week was a week-long program that ran from Aug. 24 to Aug. 30 and allowed new students to get accustomed to university life and interact with returning students in new ways. The week included events such as residence hall move-in, welcome tabling, Reality U, self-guided tours, a magician, drive-thru kits, mask making, and many other opportunities for students and their families to learn what UMaine is all about.
“Due to the pandemic, we wanted to offer events that students could attend from the comfort of their room, which is when our Drive Thru Kits were born! Each kit contained all the materials needed for the event, a Zoom code, and directions,” Evans said. “Our slogan is ‘if it’s free, it’s for me!’, and with this in mind, we knew that all of our events needed to be free and fun for our students.”
One event that took place on Monday, Aug. 31 was the Center for Student Involvement’s own mask making activity.
“With face coverings being required on campus, we wanted students to at least have fun while wearing them,” Bumpus said. “We designed different styles for students to choose from and ironed them on, after they were cut from the Cricut machine. We definitely will be doing this event again!”
CSI is an office within the Division of Student Life that serves to create a connection among students on campus by hosting events and activities that provide new opportunities. The center also allows students the chance to host and plan their own events on campus as a part of the Campus Activities Board. One new aspect of CSI’s website is the inclusion of dozens of virtual activities and events that students can watch and participate in.
“The university as a whole has been making sure that there are plenty of activities and events for students to enjoy while social distancing and remaining as safe as possible,” third-year anthropology student Autumn Rogers said. “It still feels like home here, and places like the [CSI] have helped to make this scary transition to remote learning and social distancing much more fun and enjoyable.”
CSI is currently planning to host their Late Night at the U series throughout the rest of the academic year. They host events every Thursday, Friday and Saturday night, and they will be offered as both virtual and in-person opportunities for students to attend. Their next event is on Monday, Sept. 7 and is called Virtual Labor Day Monday Mingo.
To learn more about CSI and for a schedule of upcoming events and activities, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org, check them out on social media @um.getinvolved, visit in person at Room 145 of the Memorial Union, or check out their website at umaine.edu/studentinvolvement.