President’s Picnic offers food, fun, new traditions

For the third year in a row the venue for the President’s Picnic has changed, but this year’s is set to become the official tradition. In 2013 the picnic was held in the BankUnited Center; in 2014 it was former President Donna E. Shalala’s home, and Sunday the annual event was held on the Foote Greene and University Center Patio.

Program coordinator Ashley Dixon said part of the reason the picnic wasn’t held at the president’s house this year, which has been a part of The U tradition for years, was because President Julio Frenk is also new to Miami.

“We’re having it on campus, which is a new tradition,” Dixon said. “A new president, a new tradition. We’re keeping all of the same crowd favorites just in a new location with a little twist.”

“I think every picnic is better than the last,” she continued. “We have a bigger turn out because we don’t have the buses shuttling back and forth.”

This year’s freshman class of about 2,000 students arrived Sunday in the humidity and scorching sun, smiling and chatting away, seemingly unfazed that they couldn’t be at the president’s house for the picnic.

“I think it’s going to be exciting,” said freshman Emily Hoshaw. “It’s going to be fun to be able to mix with the whole campus and meet more people and enjoy Miami.”

In addition to freshmen, new graduate students and transfer students were also invited for a free meal courtesy of the school.

Different food items were provided under tents like Bimini Jack’s Chicken Shack, Sizzling Salads, and Cheeseburger in Paradise.

Orientation Fellow Marion Vilberg said the large crowds and close proximity to students who aren’t new to the school could potentially change the tradition of it only being for those select students. Because the picnic was being held on campus, those new students for whom the free food was meant were given orange wrist bands so the events organizers could differentiate.

“As of now it’s smooth but it’s hard to make it exclusive,” she said.

“Since it’s on campus we can’t really block off campus or anything, which is why we have the wristbands,” Dixon added.

There were also ice cream sandwiches and snow cones, to relieve students of the heat. Students were also invited to play corn hole, mini golf and watch a water show. The water show, held in Lake Osceola, consisted of a man in a back pack using pressured water to elevate him. While in the air he performed tricks like spirals and up and down motions, jetting up high before settling back down to hover just above the lake.

While there was plenty of things to do, other students made themselves comfortable at the tables in front of the Donna E. Shalala Student Center, hammocks and surrounding area, jamming to the music and enjoying the breeze.

“It was nice,” said freshman Caroline Zimmerman. “We have been stocking up on all of the free soda.”

Zimmerman and a few other students also said after a speech given by the president, they were most looking forward to football games and classes.

“The games are going to be awesome and I’m really excited for classes to start,” Zimmerman said.

As a second time orientation fellow, Vilberg also said she was excited about the potential for this class.

“The freshman class is super involved,” Vilberg said. “We’ve had a great turn up to all of the late night events, which are optional. I’m excited for the class of 2019.”

Vilberg has been to all three of the president’s picnic and feels that this one was a hit because of what it symbolized about the campus’s connection to the president.

“It’s a welcome to The U party,” she said. “You don’t need to leave campus to connect to the president.”