Around Campus

Student Affairs preps for arrival of 31,000

Units across campus spend the summer readying residence halls and planning programs like Weeks of Welcome, Fall Fest and more.

A crowd of students standing in an arena.
(Jon Gardiner/UNC-Chapel Hill)

Over the next few weeks, Carolina will welcome over 31,000 students to campus. Over the summer, schools and units across campus have worked to prepare for the academic year and for students’ arrival.

Student Affairs is one of those units. The division, which includes Carolina Housing, New Student and Family Programs, Campus Recreation, Campus Health, Counseling and Psychological Services and more, offers programs and resources that support learning, academic success and personal growth for Carolina’s students.

This time of year, student affairs team members are busy welcoming new students to campus and teaching critical skills for success in college. They help students establish connections with each other and with student organizations, campus resources and the broader Carolina community.

“We know from research that students who are more engaged with campus are more successful academically and more satisfied with their college experience,” said Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs Amy Johnson. “So we spend lots of time at the start of each semester helping students get connected with our Carolina community, with involvement opportunities and with resources that can support them throughout their time in college.”

“In addition to helping students get engaged because we know the benefits, we do it because we love it,” Johnson added.

Some of the bigger back-to-school events sponsored by Student Affairs include Weeks of Welcome, New Student Convocation and Fallfest.

After hosting a series of new student orientation sessions all summer, the New Student & Family Programs office quickly turns its attention to Weeks of Welcome. Over a two-week period, Weeks of Welcome includes events like mini golf in the Undergraduate Library, a pep rally, a professor meet-and-greet, the Sunset Serenade student acapella concert and the Bell Tower lighting. All of the events are meant to help the more than 5,000 new first-year and transfer students get to know campus and connect with their fellow students.

The Carolina Union runs FallFest, and planning starts nearly a year in advance. FallFest is an annual celebration at the start of the school year that features food, entertainment and giveaways. Following FallFest comes SmallFest, where students explore the many options for involvement in registered student organizations and can sign up to be new members. “Summer is a busy time for us preparing all of the programs like FallFest and SmallFest for our students,” said Carolina Union Director Alexandra Marchesano.

This year, the Union is also hosting a new event called Market Days. Several times throughout the year, the Pit and the Plaza will transform into a marketplace for members of the Carolina Community to shop for food, art, jewelry and vintage items from student organizations, artists, businesses and more.

Carolina Housing also plays a big role in welcoming students to campus.

During the summer, the department supports summer residents in Baity Hill Graduate and Family housing, summer school housing and those attending camps and conferences on campus. Carolina Housing also prepares for the fall by hiring and training full-time and student staff, planning for all the programs and services needed for the year and tackling repairs and renovation projects.

This fall, 8,074 undergraduate students will move into approximately 4,737 spaces. To get ready, Carolina Housing staff participates in new student orientation, hosts online chat sessions and coordinates efforts for when students move into their residence halls.

“The coordination of thousands of details, including parking lots, move-in appointments and key distribution, takes a village,” said Executive Director Allan Blattner.