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Several Welcome Week traditions return in person

The Lantern
Buckeye Kickoff will be held in-person Aug. 26 at 7 p.m. Credit: Courtesy of the Office of Student Life

Campus is slowly coming back to life this fall with many treasured Welcome Week traditions returning after a quiet year due to COVID-19.

Though the pre-pandemic Welcome Week has not returned completely, events such as the Buckeye Kickoff will be offered in person. Other events, such as the Student Involvement Fair, will have both in-person and virtual formats, while some will remain strictly online or unavailable entirely.

“We are very excited to have students coming back to campus and coming back to the traditions that we, as Buckeyes, love,” Dave Isaacs, spokesperson for the Office of Student Life, said.

Many Welcome Week events are geared toward incoming first-years, but Matt Couch, associate dean of students within the Office of Student Life, said he hopes all students attend events this year — especially second-year undergraduate, graduate and professional students who missed out on normal campus life in 2020.

“Since they didn’t get the same sort of welcome to the university that we’re accustomed to providing, we’re going to make extra efforts to promote these events to those students,” Couch said.

The autumn semester will begin with Residence Life’s five staggered move-in days from Aug. 16-21, cutting back from last year’s 12 days, Isaacs said.

The Student Involvement Fair will be held in person on the North and South Ovals Aug. 22 at 4 p.m. with hundreds of student organizations, local nonprofits and university departments in attendance, Couch said. The fair will also be offered virtually for students looking to avoid crowds.

The Buckeye Kickoff — a spirit event in the Ohio Stadium — will be held in person Aug. 26 at 7 p.m., with appearances from the Ohio State football team and the marching band. The event usually culminates in a large Block-O group photo, but Couch said that tradition has not yet been confirmed.

“It might not be exactly the same as what we’ve seen in years past for the sake of safety,” Couch said. “It’s obviously a fun event and a great way to start sharing the athletics tradition and spirit-related aspects of being a Buckeye that we all love.”

Students can enjoy a double showing of “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” and “Pretty in Pink” on the Oval Aug. 25 through Ohio Union Activities Board’s Flicks for Free. Additionally, Pay It Forward’s Community Commitment’s day of service around Columbus will begin at 9:30 a.m. Aug. 28.

Convocation, the official welcome to Ohio State for freshmen that features the university president and other guest speakers, has not yet been declared in-person or virtual, Jenny Osborn, associate director of the First Year Experience program, said in an email. Students should keep an eye on their emails and the Welcome Week website for updates.

The Multicultural Center will offer five Welcome Week events for students looking to connect with African American; Latino; Native American and Indignenous; Asian, Pacific Islander and Desi American; LGBTQ; and women-identifying communities at Ohio State. More information and registration for these events can be found on the Multicultural Center’s website.

The National Panhellenic Council will host “Navigating Being Black at a PWI (Predominantly White Institution)” at Hale Hall Aug. 24 at 6 p.m., Couch said.

Buck-i-Frenzy, an annual event where local and national organizations connect with Ohio State students and give away free merchandise, will not return until 2022, Couch said.

Couch also said Student Life recognizes that it may be difficult for some students to attend events on campus, so some events will feature a virtual component in order for everyone to enjoy Ohio State traditions and engage with the community.

“If people are not yet comfortable gathering in person with large or small groups of people, I just want to reassure folks that that’s OK,” Couch said. “I wouldn’t want anyone to feel any undue pressure to get back to attending these big events before they are ready to do so.”

Couch said although staff and students may look forward to resuming campus traditions, many of these events are contingent upon COVID-19 infection and vaccination rates. He said there is “always a possibility” to revert back to virtual events, and students should check the Safe and Healthy Buckeyes website for any updates to the university’s COVID-19 safety guidelines.

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