The school year always starts with a big welcome from the Boston University campus — except last year, it was on Zoom. This year, the Weeks of Welcome event series is returning in person, with an extra week of events to celebrate the return. SPLASH, the Comedy Night and the Student Showcase are just a few favorite events returning to campus this year.
The Student Activities Office organized the Weeks of Welcome events, and Margaret Babson, the new associate director for the office, helped bring the events to fruition. She said while the events are for all students, with “two years of first-year students,” the events will help introduce formerly remote sophomores and new freshman students to BU.
“It’s super important to just have those moments that are not on Zoom, that are in person,” Babson said. “Being able to be actually out and about discovering the areas of campus, knowing where to go, [knowing] how to navigate the GSU for those different events, meeting people and having that community I think is just so important in any normal year and especially this year.”
The Weeks of Welcome — which encompasses a total of 14 events — began Aug. 27 with the movie night screening of “Booksmart” on the BU Beach. The next morning, the same place also held an hour of beach towel yoga.
Alexis Murad, a sophomore in the College of Communication, said both events were well attended and provided a sense of community for the first weekend on campus.
“It really feels like you’re coming onto campus, and you’re actually there and you’re involved and you’re actually getting to be a part of your school,” she said. “You actually felt like a part of the BU environment.”
Two of the bigger evening events last weekend were the “Putt-Putt and Pizza” at the George Sherman Union and the Welcome Back Bash — an outdoor music and dancing event — on the BU Beach. Babson said the larger events like the latter were complemented with the more “casual” events like yoga to appeal to a wide range of students.
“We’re really trying to plan a lot of different programs to engage with new students, engage with returning students, have different activities and events that can happen during daytime hours, at night just to keep folks busy and having opportunities to be able to meet new people,” Babson said.
Murad attended the Welcome Back Bash briefly and said she was “shocked” by the mosh-pit vibe of the event. Though she was personally uncomfortable with the environment, she added that she trusts BU to handle COVID-19 policies correctly.
“We showed up, and it was just like a high school dance with everybody moshing, lots of lights, huge pit of people,” she said. “It was definitely something that I didn’t expect during COVID and stuff like that [but] I mean obviously I’m trusting BU and if they feel that it’s safe for all their students to be going to then I trust that.”
Babson said all events follow BU COVID-19 guidelines, with masks required indoors and recommended outdoors, especially at events like SPLASH. To enter all Weeks of Welcome events, students are required to show their green badge from BU Healthway.
This week, Weeks of Welcome celebrated the first day of school with the First Day Festival. Tomorrow, the comedy night will feature Michelle Buteau, a stand-up comedian who also hosts Netflix’s “The Circle.”
Marielle Belomme, a sophomore in the College of Arts and Sciences, said she’s looking forward to the comedy set.
“All of the remaining tickets are officially sold out,” she said. “I’m expecting for the event to be packed, which makes me excited because that means there’s lots of people for me to meet.”
Babson said the turn-out for many of the events was higher than expected, and “a lot more events have fully sold out which doesn’t always happen.”
This weekend, SPLASH and the Student Showcase at the Tsai Performing Arts Center are both on Saturday, and “Boom Boom Bingo” takes place on Sunday of the holiday weekend. Next weekend, “Legos and Eggos,” BU at the Time Out Market and an apple picking day trip are planned.
Babson said after a year away, the Weeks of Welcome will help reintroduce students to campus and social life.
“Everyone is really excited to engage with the community to meet new people,” she said, “to get back to in-person interactions.”