While there were no more “Oh yeah? Hecht yeah!” chants, orientation this year has felt more similar to pre-pandemic events than ever before.
“While orientation freshman year will never occur again, it was the closest it has ever been,” said senior Tatiana Alvarado, a ‘Cane Kickoff Program Coordinator. “It’s been so weird trying to not only convince freshman that this week is a good time but for underclassmen also since this is kind of their first orientation.”
For the first time since the pandemic, there have been indoor, maskless events for full capacity crowds. One of those events, ‘Canes Take Flight, even allowed parents to attend and witness the marching band and Hurricanettes perform.
“The crowd was electric,” freshman Quinn Mckie said. “It got me so hype to become a ‘Cane.”
It was one of the first performances for sophomore Thalia Vlahos as a Hurricanette. Since she started UM in the spring, it was also her first ‘Canes Take Flight.
“The crowd was insane,” Vlahos said. “I now know what it is like to be on the basketball team where thousands of people have their undivided attention on you.”
Later that day, ToppelFest transformed the parking lot of Toppel into a mock Miami club featuring a DJ booth, decorations and food trucks. There were also brand new orientation activities, including nighttime rock climbing at Lakeside and glow in the dark painting.
“There were so many activities to choose from,” freshman Emma Woodward said. “It definitely made this giant campus feel a lot more manageable.”
These events have not just been a warm welcome for incoming freshmen, but for other underclassmen who have had their college experience hindered due to COVID-19. While there were in-person activities for orientation last August, it was still not the complete welcome to ‘The U’ ceremony that orientation staff strive for.
“I am so happy to be sharing this experience with all of the freshmen,” sophomore Orientation Fellow Nik Howell said. “I never got to have this and feel like this is for me too.”
During the weekend, students had the opportunity to explore the greater Miami area, from Wynwood to Key Biscayne with the Experience Miami excursions. They were able to immerse themselves in their new home and see the various Miami hotspots away from campus.
“Freshman get to experience what UM entails both on and off-campus,” Alvarado said. “It is a great way to get them excited for the next four years.”
To close out Orientation Week, students attended CanesFest where they were able to see hundreds of UM student-led organizations they will have the option of joining this year.
“It was definitely exciting to see the myriad of clubs UM has to offer,” freshman Gabe Viskoff said. “There’s so much more than at my old high school.”
This past week has helped not only freshmen but all undergraduate students finally see what it means to be a ‘Cane.
“Seeing the U return to what the U was when I first got here in 2017, and that is a very inviting and communal campus, I’m excited for that,” said Ryan C. Holmes, associate vice president for student affairs and dean of students.