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Student government seeks to ease transition through Welcome Weekend programming

| Friday, August 18, 2017

Starting Friday, Notre Dame will welcome the incoming class of 2021 to campus and kick off Welcome Weekend 2017 — three days of activities to help introduce and welcome new students into the Notre Dame community before returning students arrive and classes begin.

As in years past, much of the scheduled programming for the incoming freshman class was planned by student government over the summer. Each of the executive cabinet and student senate members arrived back to campus Wednesday for the Team ND Student Leadership Retreat and will begin helping with Welcome Weekend programming as soon as the retreat concludes Friday.

Welcome Weekend staffs paint signs, dorm windows and more to welcome the class of 2021 to campus and into the dorm communities.Kathryne Robinson | The Observer

Welcome Weekend staffs paint signs, dorm windows and more to welcome the class of 2021 to campus and into the dorm communities.

Junior Prathm Juneja, student government chief of staff, said he spearheaded much of the Welcome Weekend planning.

“I’ve been here all summer, and a lot of the work that I’ve been doing as chief of staff has been helping out with the Welcome Weekend stuff,” he said. “Paul Manrique [program director for new student engagement] has his own staff of interns that have been working on it and we’ve been partnering with them on a few things.”

The planning for Welcome Weekend 2017 has included plenty of collaboration with the South Bend community, Juneja said.

“One of the things that we’ve been working a lot on our director of student engagement and outreach — [senior] Adam Moeller — has played a big part in,” he said. “Basically on Sunday at 1 p.m. in the fieldhouse mall we’re going to be doing a ‘quad market.’ Adam, myself, and a few other people have recruited 11 vendors from the South Bend area who will be selling everything from jam to snacks to jewelry.”

Juneja also worked with Manrique and his team to plan the kick-off grill for the incoming new students.

“On Friday is the main opening kick-off grill for all the incoming students and the opening prayer, and I’ll be leading a staff of 30 volunteers to make sure everyone gets to their dinner and knows where to go,” Juneja said. “We’re helping kids get to their Moreau [First Year Experience] classes on Saturday morning, we’ll be helping them set up for their class picture on Saturday.”

Welcome Weekend also aims to help incoming transfer students get involved in campus life and activities. To this end, Juneja said, student government will host a social for all transfer students Monday night.

“We’re really just trying to get all the transfer students immediately involved in whatever they want to be a part of on campus,” he said. “That could be student government, and we’re going to talk with them about how to get involved with student government, but also other clubs on campus so that they can immediately immerse themselves in campus activities.”

Student government has not added any new events to the weekend’s repertoire, Juneja said, but instead has been focusing on improving the environment of inclusivity they believe will help all incoming students feel welcomed and at home at Notre Dame.

“Just in general, one of the things that we’ve been trying to do for Welcome Weekend is give our input on how we can make Welcome Weekend this huge welcoming for every student who comes to Notre Dame,” he said. “How we can make it a super inclusive and exciting opportunity for every student to feel like they really belong here. That includes everything from changing the way we talk about diversity and inclusion to emphasizing that we are the Notre Dame family and we are our brothers’ and sisters’ keepers.

“I think this weekend’s going to be a great one, and the Welcome Weekend staff has done an incredible job of putting together all these great events.”

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