Welcome Week brings events, energy and enthusiasm to campus community

After the class photo, students stayed for pictures with Sammy. Photo credit: Carolyn Lagattuta

In celebration of the start of the fall quarter and in an effort to empower a new class of students to connect with campus, UCSC hosted an array of high-energy and highly attended, Welcome Week activities last week. Led by the division of student affairs and success, 2023 Welcome Week festivities featured events old and new. Here’s a look back at some of the highlights:

On Monday, September 25, an estimated 600 students waited in line – some for well over an hour – to play Laser Tag in the Stevenson Event Center. Undeterred by the long line, students passed the time by getting to know one another more. They sang happy birthday to celebrants and played guessing games until it was their turn to enter the laser tag arena. The Dean of Students even offered the last group of students a pizza party as appreciation for their patience and positivity throughout. 

On Tuesday afternoon, students once again filled East Field for Cornucopia, the university’s annual back-to-school resource and organization fair. Organized by athletics and recreation and touted as the largest gathering of new Banana Slugs, 2023 Cornucopia did not disappoint. Thousands of students filled the field to connect with over 300 university departments, student organizations, and vendors promoting their services and offerings. While students explored all UCSC has to offer, 14 different student groups offered musical and dance performances on the main stage.

By Tuesday evening, the hum of Cornucopia had given way to the familiar lights and sounds of Boardwalk Frolic. Nearly 7,000 Banana Slugs – including new students and staff – took over the Santa Cruz boardwalk for this traditional welcome to UCSC event. While Boardwalk Frolic happens annually, this year several students used a new method of transportation to get to the fun: e-bikes. Organized by Slug Bike Life, students came together for a group b-cycle ride to the Boardwalk. For the first time, On the Margins also joined this year’s frolic and tabled throughout the event. On the Margins is a non-profit organization and campus partner that offers UCSC students up to 12 free coaching sessions in support of student well-being.

Wednesday afternoon, old traditions gave way to new as incoming students made their way to East Field for the first-ever class picture. Bedecked in their new blue Welcome Week shirts – also a new tradition – over 1,000 students joined Sammy to create the outline of the UCSC athletics and recreation logo. After the photo, students dispersed across campus. Some stopped to get snow cones (a freebie offered to all who showed up for the photo) while others made their way to Quarry Plaza for the first-ever Student Success and Equity has your Success at Heart resource fair. The event was scheduled to end at 3 p.m., but interest and attendance were so high that the fair continued well beyond the advertised finish time.

On Thursday, the division of student affairs and success helped students celebrate the first day of classes by canvassing campus with first day photo ops, treats, and even rides to class! DSAS inaugurated this first day blitz at the start of the fall 2022 quarter. It was such a hit that the division brought it back this year with additional locations, more staff, and longer hours across campus. The Dean of Students decorated a golf cart and offered students rides to class. By day’s end, the division had taken over 1000 pictures and estimated nearly 2000 students stopped by for a first day photo. 

Saturday marked the end of Welcome Week with a movie  in the Quarry Amphitheater. Over 900 students made their way to the amphitheater for free treats and a free viewing of Us, a movie filmed on the Santa Cruz boardwalk. 

While Welcome Week 2023 is officially over, the energy and enthusiasm created by the host of events and activities continues to be felt across the university. The opportunities to connect with campus will continue, too. Students are encouraged to get involved and get connected to Banana Slug life!


Upcoming events and opportunities

Around the division of student affairs, departments will be hosting numerous events to encourage student involvement and belonging. Beginning this Friday, October 6, each of the Resource Centers will soon host their welcome back events. Check out the resource center webpage for more information. 

Activity will continue across campus and in the local community, too. On Friday, October 6 from 2 - 6:30 p.m. students are encouraged to head downtown for Downtown Day. Downtown Day offers students the opportunity to explore the Santa Cruz community. There will be a scavenger hunt, job fair, goodie bag giveaway, raffle, and free shuttles to and from campus throughout the event. 

Then, on Saturday, October 7, at the music of Arivu and the Ambass Band will fill the Quarry Amphitheater. The concert is free but does require prior registration