New Academic Year Poised to Begin as Students Return Over Labor Day Weekend

AMHERST, Mass. – UMass Amherst will welcome thousands of new students as well as faculty and staff to the campus community this weekend as the Commonwealth’s flagship campus launches the 2014-15 academic year. New students arriving over Labor Day will participate in an array of activities to learn about campus, become familiar with community opportunities and expectations, and meet new friends. The weekend includes an attempt to host the World’s Largest New England Clambake.

On Saturday, nearly 1,500 students will travel by bus from campus to watch the UMass Minutemen football team play the Boston College Eagles at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough. For those who don’t make the trip in person, they can watch the game on the big screen at the Mullins Center 2:30 to 6 p.m. Students gathering at Mullins can also enjoy game-day snacks, participate in community service projects, check out information sessions and connect with classroom tours that depart every hour.

This will be after spending a couple hours downtown as part of Adventure into Amherst. The next day includes UFest on Goodell Lawn, a Sunday afternoon event culminating with the annual Rope Pull where members of the Class of 2018 compete with each other and then with members of the Class of 2017.

On Monday, Sept. 1, Labor Day, there is the New Students Convocation at the Mullins Center starting at 2:30 p.m. Students will learn the university cheer, the fight song and alma mater. They also will receive a Class of 2018 maroon T-shirt and take a pledge affirming the campus’s community values. Chancellor Kumble R. Subbaswamy and others will address the incoming class. Afterward, students wearing their new UMass colors will gather for an overhead photo taken from a bucket lift.

Next comes an attempt to set a world record for the World’s Largest New England Clambake at 4 p.m. on the Haigis Mall near the Fine Arts Center.After setting four world records in recent years, UMass Amherst Dining Services again attempts to set a new one recognized by the Guinness World Records by serving 3,000 people a traditional clambake.   

All these activities are part of New Students Orientation that leads into First Week. These are designed to make sure the school year begins with a warm welcome for the estimated 4,650 new students to the campus community.

It all begins with student move-in. First-year students move in Friday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., transfer students on Saturday from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. and returning students on Sunday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

For the arriving first-year students, on Friday night after dinner in the dining commons, there will be floor meetings from 7 to 9 p.m. to help introduce the residence hall staff. On Saturday, in addition to all the football activity there will be a tour of the Permaculture Garden at the Franklin Dining Commons at 11 a.m. Students interested in learning about how to be a resident assistant can find out at Berkshire Dining Hall, in the Berkshire Room, from 11 a.m. to noon. From noon to 3 p.m. student veterans and active members of the military are welcomed to the Student Veterans Resource Center in Dickinson Hall.

Students can also make a trip to the Hampshire Mall in Hadley from 9 p.m. to midnight thanks to special bus runs from residential areas where they can take advantage of special discounts. There is also a late-night movie.

Sunday features the New2U Tag Sale in the Student Union Ballroom from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Monday noon to 5 p.m. This sustainability event, the campus’s first-ever move-in tag sale, offers thousands of refurbished items and clothing at discount prices or free for international students. Lamps, futons, mini-refrigerators, rugs, storage, school supplies and other items will be available.

UFest runs from 1 to 5 p.m. on Goodell Lawn. Highlights include performances, games, 25 tables, interactive displays, a climbing wall, texting-and-driving simulation, hands-on fire extinguisher experience, student firefighters orientation, Zip cars, sidewalk chalk competition, Outing Club trip sign-ups and bone marrow donor registry. The Rope Pull at 4:30 p.m. in front of the Old Chapel is the UFest grand finale.

On Labor Day, deans from the schools and college will welcome their students at events across campus that begin at 1:15 p.m. Then it is off to the New Students Convocation at the Mullins Center for an official welcome to campus from Chancellor Subbaswamy and other officials. After that comes the Largest New England Clambake world record attempt at 4 p.m.

Labor Day also marks the beginning of First Week and the beginning of classes. Students will find that the traditional class schedule has been altered, with class times on Monday, Wednesday and Friday in 50 minute blocks with 15 minutes for class change beginning at 8 a.m. until 2:30. After that, class times are in 75 minute blocks with 15 minutes for class change. On Tuesday and Thursday, the class times are in 75 minute blocks all day.