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Return to Campus: Welcome Week Overview & APAD Announcement

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ASUCI hosted a series of events during Welcome Week to celebrate the reopening of campus from Sept. 20 to Sept. 24.

The events allowed students to adjust to campus life and prepare for the upcoming school year.

“It’s hard with this many people and COVID still going around, but the school is trying their best and it’s been pretty fun,” fourth year mechanical engineering student Enrique Garcia said. “It’s nice seeing people again after being locked in for so long. There’s still more to come.” 

With UCI’s ongoing COVID-19 policies, students have complied with the vaccine and mask mandate. 

“I went to the Anteater Involvement Fair and Late Night at the ARC, but it was really crowded. It’s not too bad [being around many people] because it’s on the better end. People wear their masks while they’re inside and even outside as well,” first year mechanical engineering student Ailsa “Ellie” Watt said. 

The week started off early for those new to campus — first years, second years and incoming transfer students — with the New Student Convocation on Sept. 20. 

About 5,000 students attended convocation, which was held in a hybrid format on Zoom and in person at the Crawford Athletic Field. The ceremony opened with Chancellor Howard Gillman and Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Willie L. Banks Jr., and had other notable speakers such as ASUCI President Michelle Wei welcoming the students to campus.

Photo by Amanda Zhu / BioSci Marketing Team Student Photographer

UCI’s Office of Campus Organizations held a hybrid Anteater Involvement Fair with clubs from 100 clubs and organizations participating both online or all over Aldrich Park. 

Aldrich Park was divided into sections with organizations ranging from religious and spiritual, club sports, academic or career support, community service and hobbies. 

ASUCI Student Services ensured that UCI’s student talent was featured as well and hosted a talent show beside the flagpoles. A small crowd formed on the staircase to watch the dancers and singers showcase their talent. 

A scavenger hunt was held throughout the fair with about 300 participants completing various tasks to receive prizes.

The Hill hosted “Welcome Night at The Hill” during the evening of Sept. 20.

A DJ from KUCI played music inside the bookstore, and there was a spin wheel for attendees to earn prizes ranging from UCI merchandise to gift cards.

“About 400 people came and spun the wheel that we had out. We used to order pizza, give out food and even had games set up, but it wasn’t the same [because of COVID],” The Hill General Manager Stacy Weidner said.

Late Night at the ARC was held from 5 p.m. to 2 a.m. on the same night. 

More than 5,000 students attended, with the event being held in person for the first time since fall 2019. “Preparing for Late Night 2021 was an exciting and amazing process since the event was unlike any past event in so many ways. The event went very well. The students were so happy to be back and excited to participate in new activities,” Campus Recreation Director Greg Rothberg said.

Photo by Marcus Carillo / Campus Recreation Student Photographer

The gym held a wide variety of sport tournaments and demonstrations for students to enjoy until 1 a.m.; students that participated in two or more activities were given a free t-shirt. Stickers and other goodies were available as well. 

The Langson and Science Libraries held tours of the libraries from Sept. 21 to 22 for students to learn about the study spaces that the campus had to offer.

ASUCI Student Services also held movie screenings called “Screen on the Green” in Aldrich Park. Snacks and blankets were provided on a first-come, first-served basis.

Photo by Jennifer Cheong / Staff

“It was the first time [ASUCI] held screenings in two, back to back, and [the screenings] had a big turnout. We didn’t do an official count but about 900 students came to watch both Luca and Shrek,” ASUCI Student Services Vice President Joshua Ma said. 

Ma credited ASUCI Multimedia and Marketing Commissioners Ron Abina and Kaylyn Hoy for the success of the screenings. He went on to discuss the objectives for the office.

“[The office] wants to break records [when hosting events] and a big part of that comes from UCI students and letting us know how to provide the best experience for them,” Ma said. 

Aldrich Park After Dark (APAD) was scheduled to take place during Welcome Week amid all of the other events; however, students soon found that it was not being offered. 

“I think it’s pretty cool that most of the clubs are on campus. Some are still on Zoom, but that’s understandable because of COVID and all — just like how the classes are half Zoom and half in-person. But, I missed APAD,” fourth year aerospace engineering student Ethan Leong said.

No official statement was released regarding the cancellation of APAD.

Ma addressed certain concerns and clarified that APAD was just being pushed back for the safety of the student body. 

“[The office] was planning over the summer and had artists lined up. But, after seeing the Chancellor cancel his big event, it was in the best interest of my office to push back the event [to winter quarter],” Ma said. “UC Riverside also pushed back their concert after seeing that we postponed ours.”

Ma wanted to protect APAD’s reputation, and with students flying in from all over the world, he thought it was for the best to wait until COVID-19 was at bay before hosting a large event. 

He also wanted to ensure that his office was trained and comfortable being around a large crowd at full capacity. 

“I want the rest of the students to realize that, in the end, it’s students like themselves that run the events that they attend. We take the same classes as you do, go around the same places and even eat the same food as you do,” Ma said. 

He shared that his team is working hard to bring the best possible events for the rest of the student body to enjoy. 

The week concluded with the Esports Kick-off in celebration of their five year anniversary. A total of 3,500 students attended the Esports arena during a period of 3.5 hours.

Photo by Julia Vo / Student Affairs Student Photographer

“It was incredibly moving to see the UCI gaming community show up in big numbers after 18 months of isolation. It was clear to me that Anteaters are excited to be back,” Esports Director Mark Deppe said. 

Details for the next club fair will be announced shortly. Students can check the UCI Campus Groups event page for more information.

Jennifer Cheong is a Campus News Apprentice for the fall 2021 quarter. She can be reached at jacheong@uci.edu.