UMass Boston's independent, student-run newspaper

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Welcome Week transports students to ‘Future Times’

Welcome Week Images by Olivia Reid and Valentina Valderamma Perez.

Every year, UMass Boston’s Student Arts and Events Council welcomes students back to campus with several events and delicious treats. This year, they upped their game with a claw machine from IKEA in addition to the First Friday Concert and more. 

SAEC is a student-led entity in charge of planning, promoting and hosting programs that foster connection amongst the Beacon community. It is composed of three paid coordinators, Dillon Rodgers, Ashvi Shah and Isabella Villegas Leal, as well as volunteer members.

Volunteers come to help while the events are taking place, guiding students through the activities or handing out food and swag. As a part of SAEC, they gain a genuine sense of involvement by hosting events for their fellow Beacons.

“Welcome Week is for everyone, but mainly new students—for them to get excited, facilitate people to make new friends and hang out. You know, have a good time,” said Villegas Leal.

The first day of classes started with a traditional welcome from Chancellor Marcelo Suárez-Orozco. Students could enjoy his short talk with refreshments and a new “Future Times” themed planner.

Coordinators worked through the summer to plan all the events for the semester. Early in their meetings, they were brainstorming the theme for Welcome Week. After being inspired to do a futuristic theme and sketching some marketing ideas based on Times Magazine, they decided to do “Future Times,” which conveniently worked as a play on words on the slogan “For the Times” from the ten-year plan (1). The event brought pink and purple balloons and other space-themed memorabilia like the T-shirts adorned by staff. 

This is Villegas Leal’s second year in SAEC. She is a Management major with concentrations in business analytics and marketing. Being involved with the council allows her to gain experience related to her major. 

Last year, she managed all marketing for Welcome Week 2022, “Welcome to Paradise.” This year, she designed the “Future Times” mascot Luna, a sweet robot. Similarly, she analyzed the feedback data from last year’s events to create a meaningful plan for this Welcome Week.

Villegas Leal also used her expertise to guide the incoming coordinators, collaborating on the design of the swag and promotion. Rodgers focused on the activities pamphlet, illustrating some of them from scratch, while Shah did the posters and Villegas Leal designed the planner.

UMass Boston’s newest addition to the police department also made an appearance at the Chancellor’s Welcome. The canine Beacon was added as the police department’s comfort K-9. Members of the UMass Boston community can find this pup at his Instagram, @k9beacon. 

UMass Boston student Emma Pion was followed by the account to which she said, “having a campus celebrity like Beacon follow me means more to me than if it was a real famous person. He’s just so cute and iconic. I can’t wait to see him in real life.” Beacon was seen performing tricks for his fans and enjoying pets from many friendly faces.

The UMass Boston chapter of HerCampus invited the beloved Swedish brand, IKEA to Campus Center’s second floor on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. IKEA set up a lovely selection of home decor and a claw machine in its signature yellow and blue branding. Students took turns using the claw to win prizes including gift cards up to $500 or a stuffed animal.

Before students had the chance to win a prize, they had to sign up for IKEA’s free rewards program and were provided with a complimentary tote. Their staff brought a photographer to capture the joy from the winners and sadness from those who weren’t so lucky. There were also staff members handing out free raspberry and chocolate cookies and bits of advice to those in line.

This was the claw machine’s last stop on its first tour. Before reaching UMass Boston, it stopped at the University of North Florida and Spelman University. The Marketing Communications Specialist at IKEA U.S., Aaron Talbot, said, “(we) took a look at the data and demographics around each of the locations we visited. We tried to pick locations that were slightly more central, different from one another, and had a high density of colleges and universities in the area.”

Their first priority was to bring fun to college students. Talbot continued, “​​We love being a little unexpected and connecting with our customers on a one-on-one level; the ability to help someone start the semester by winning a prize in the machine or finding the perfect product. Additionally, we wanted to bring awareness of IKEA to students that may not be familiar with us. With so many affordable and simple solutions for dorms and apartments—including storage, desk essentials and décor—it made sense for us to connect with college students to help set themselves up for success.”

The IKEA claw machine was definitely a huge success with students who were so excited to win gift cards to the fun store.

Throughout the week, Health Services, U-ACCESS, the Undergraduate Student Government and others held WOW tabling events while Student Employment hosted a job fair on Wednesday. The first floor housed tables from several different activities, including Dining Services, Jumpstart, The Mass Media, Off-Campus Housing and more. Each table shared information about their group with students and gave them little trinkets as well. 

SAEC focuses on creating events that will be attractive for students. Last year, as everyone gained a sense of normalcy from COVID-19, they decided to do “First Friday,” a free concert composed of Boston-based bands.

Concerts were new on campus, so organizers were worried the UMass Boston community wouldn’t resonate, but the event turned out to be an unprecedented success. Friday, Sept. 8 as the sun set, DJ RM, Notebook P, Eph See and Coral Moons took the stage. All of these artists are available on streaming services for those who missed the show.

About the Contributors
Rena Weafer, Arts Editor
Valentina Valderrama Perez, Features Writer