Ram Welcome celebration not just for first-year students this fall

Ram Welcome 2021 Move In

New students and their families enjoy a picnic as part of a past Ram Welcome at CSU. Photo by CSU Photography

As Colorado State University students return for their in-person Fall 2021 semester, they’re going to experience a campus that is wholeheartedly excited that they’re back.

Ram Welcome kicks off the semester this week with student orientation, move-in, and many familiar and new events new to the Welcome Week program that started in 2004. Jody Donovan, the assistant vice president for student affairs and dean of students, said that Ram Welcome is an important way for students to build community. This is especially critical after students were mostly remote over the past year and a half.

“We’ve extended Ram Welcome to cover those components we weren’t able to deliver in the summer, including CSU’s values and Principles of Community. And with only virtual orientation, we felt we couldn’t express that perfectly,” Donovan said. “Those are returning this semester for our students.”

Starting Monday, Aug. 16, CSU students will register for what day of the week, besides Friday, they would like to move into their assigned residence halls on campus. The day after, Ram Welcome will begin for them. This practice is new to move-in but supports students moving in with much less of the stress, contact, and general chaos that comes with the previous two-day move. 

One of the features of this year’s Ram Welcome is that they’ve made it so that new students have smaller groups to engage with their peers and hopefully find it easier to navigate everything new, Donovan said.

Returning events

Events like the Ram Welcome Carnival on Thursday, Aug. 19, will be returning outdoors for students to spread out and enjoy the festivities. This includes more inflatables and carnival booths, food, and games for students as well as the return of physical social interactions together. Sanitation stations will be available for attendees as well.

Before the evening festivities — where there had previously been a traditional picnic outside before the carnival for the students — they are encouraged to eat dinner at any dining center of their choice. 

“We want to help students get into a pattern before they start the semester, plus it helps contribute to our sustainability values, eliminating the need for packaging waste,” Donovan said. 

Ramapalooza also will be returning as an event for students, but it will be held mostly outside with music, activities, and outdoor movies. Also, Night at the Rec will be both indoors and outside to help students become familiar with the Student Recreation Center while encouraging physical distancing. The traditional Hike to the A will be an option for those who are looking to engage in one of the “70 Things to Do Before You Graduate CSU” list, and there is much more for students to do during the first week back on campus.

While there are a few changes in comparison to previous years — such as a barbecue replacing the welcome ceremony in the Lory Student Center Theatre for the transfers, adult learners, and veterans coming this fall — Donovan said the push for so much improvement on this year’s Ram Welcome is motivated by a feeling of a missed connection.

 “There’s just no substitute for in-person,” she said. “This is a residential university. We’re meant to have students on campus.” 

Second-year students

Parents and students at Move In

New students move into the residence halls during a past Ram Welcome. Photo by CSU Photography

Considering that last year, many new first-year students experienced CSU mostly virtually, there’s a new challenge of welcoming second-year students to a potentially brand-new campus as well. 

The Orientation and Transition program will be sending out a monthly newsletter that highlights Year 2 @ CSU programs specifically for sophomores, like moving out of a parent or guardian’s house for the first time and changing majors. Additionally, $15 of Ram Cash will be deposited on all second-year students’ Ram Cards to use at the LSC food court, CSU Bookstore, or other on-campus locations to engage with campus more. 

Ram Welcome is not just for first- and second-year students either, Donovan encourages any student at CSU who may have not had the experience or just wants to have fun to attend. 

“We’d love any of our current students to come and engage in Ram Welcome,” she said. “It’s where we learn to know and take care of one another.”