Beginning with a welcome stall outside James Joyce Library, UCDSU are holding events and stalls across campus all week to welcome returning students to their first week on a fully reopened campus since 2020.
Today marked the return of undergraduate students to campus, and UCDSU met them with a stand giving out pens, condoms, KitKats, wallet sleeves, and personalised UCDSU tote bags.
Unlike previous welcoming events, UCDSU has decentralised its activities from the Quad at the rear of the Student Centre, which is currently undergoing construction ahead of Freshers’ Week.
The remaining events include a ‘Fun Day’ on Tuesday on the green by the Sutherland building, a tour followed by a wine and cheese evening for graduate students on Wednesday, and an Irish film festival on Thursday, located at UCD Cinema.
Speaking to the University Observer, Ciara Moroney, Entertainments officer for the Student Union explained “I really wanted to do something to mark the first fully open week back. I do think there’s emphasis on Freshers’ Week, and rightly so, every student deserves to be welcomed into the UCD community. However, I wanted to make sure that returning students know that we’re here for them, and that we wanted to do something to mark their return, and try bring a bit of life back into their first week back on campus.”
This sentiment was echoed by Molly Greenough, UCDSU President, who said “It’s been a very difficult year for many students, even for stage two and stage three students, they never really got a proper welcome into UCD. We did try our best last year, but with the guidelines in place it was difficult to run a variety of social events. So we really want to hone in on creating a sense of community this year on campus.”
Moroney, on the topic of Tuesday’s ‘Fun Day’, went on to say “We decided to do one, day long event with the inflatables, just a bit of classic fun to sort of be a completely different thing to do other than your lectures. It's a nice break away, and we’ll have a presence there from 11am to 3pm.
“We’ll have the inflatables and games, FM104 will be there in the afternoon with brand ambassadors and will be playing music, and then we’ll also have ourselves at our stall with some freebies and we’ll be there to talk to everyone. And also the Dominos Pizza, it’ll be every hour from half twelve.”
When discussing student reception so far, Greenough remarked “It is funny because sometimes people are like ‘What’s the catch?’ and it’s like, there is no catch, we’re just here to chat with you, and give you some free stuff. Obviously, down the line, we’ll be promoting our class rep elections and membership of the Cost of Living Coalition and different bits throughout the year, but to start off the term we just wanted to be out on the ground speaking with students and welcoming them back to university.”
In previous years, campus orientation and welcome events have centred around the Student Centre, typically in the large marquees that are erected on the Quad. On the Union’s decision to move away from that area, Moroney explained “One of the things I really wanted to do this year was to try move away from the hub of the Student Centre for events, and I thought it was a great location to do it.” This sentiment was again echoed by Greenough, saying “I think it’s something we’re going to actively try to do a better job of this year - of bringing the union to people. We’re kind of isolated to this end of campus, in the Student Centre, if you aren’t directly involved with a club or a society it’s unlikely you’ll stumble across us unless it's for one of the more serious reasons you might need us.”
As for Wednesday’s events, which will be run by Graduate Officer Marc Matouc, they consist of a tour for incoming graduate students, followed by a wine and cheese social in Clubhouse Bar, beginning at 5:30pm outside UCD Village entrance. According to Greenough it is “a really great opportunity for Graduate students to get a feel for the university and campus itself, because there aren’t at present - they aren’t really given tours by the university, so it’s great to see Marc leading out in that regard.”
As for the Irish film festival on Thursday, hosted in collaboration with the UCD Student Centre and UCD Cinema, it will be running from half one until late in UCD Cinema. Tickets are available from UCD Cinema and the event will be followed by another wine and cheese social in UCD Clubhouse.
When asked what more students have to look forward to in the coming weeks, Greenough highlighted the upcoming Oktoberfest, during which the SU have planned a disco, a speed friending event, a drag show, with a cornerstone event on the Wednesday in Astra Hall, featuring an Oompah band and steins of beer.
For students interested in getting involved with the Student Union, there will be information on Class Representative elections at the events running this week.