For the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic began, the University of Miami will open its campus to the loved ones of hundreds of students for its annual Family Weekend beginning Thursday, Sept. 23.
In what is likely to be one of the biggest Family Weekends to date, the Department of Orientation and Commuter Student Involvement (OCSI) has been hard at work to ensure a safe and fun time for families.
“This event is seen as exciting for both our families that started with their students in 2020 as well as 2021,” Michael Baumhardt, the director of OCSI, said. “We have already seen over 350 more families signed up, which is an increase people-wise by over 1200 people.”
The festivities kick off Thursday evening as families arrive and are invited to attend the soccer game at Cobb Stadium at 7 p.m against Notre Dame. For those families visiting campus for the first time, check-ins run from noon to 7 p.m. on Thursday and 9:30 a.m to 4 p.m. on Friday at the Shalala Student Center. A vendor fair will also be taking place in the Breezeway during that time.
Friday provides the most opportunity for families to immerse themselves on campus with interest sessions and model classes. From 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. there is the Pep Rally & BBQ to show off school spirit and give families a peek into the tailgate experience. Tickets for this are sold separately at $35 per family member.
These two days provide a chance for students to not only reunite with family they have not seen for six weeks, but to also walk their families through their daily routine as a full-time college student.
“My goal really is just for families to spend time with their students,” Baumhardt said. “We are here to compliment that with ways they can experience the campus and spirit tradition that makes UM what we are.”
On Saturday, families are encouraged to attend the football game at Hard Rock Stadium. A separate admissions ticket can be purchased for family members.
First-year student Ali Delaet is planning to attend the football game with her parents, who she has missed the past few weeks, but is most excited to see her dogs.
“It’s weird waking up here and not seeing [my dogs] jumping in my bed, excited to start the day,” Dalaet said.
Additionally, the activities are not restricted to on-campus events, and families are encouraged to go out and explore the wider Miami area from Wynwood to South Beach.
“They come to realize why their students picked this school. They picked it for the great things on campus and the great experience of the city life as well,” Baumhardt said.
He recommends making the most of the city on Saturday, especially if families are foregoing the game. He also suggests a brunch sendoff on Sunday before everyone heads home.
“We know that there is a lot going on when they move their students in and get settled with the information they need,” Baumhardt said. “Family weekend I always see as a way for them to come back in more a stress-free environment and truly spend time with their student as they get to enjoy campus and the city more.”
To account for the surplus of guests and still present COVID-19 risk, OCSI has extra staff posted at events to enforce UM guidelines, signs stating the mask policy and have been sending out emails to remind parents of the COVID-19 expectations.
The complete schedule for Family Weekend can be found on the UMiami app under the Family Weekend experience.