A Rhody Welcome

Students on the URI bike path

Students Luke Mackenzie, Aidan Votaw, and Devon Libutti on URI’s O’Neill Bike Path.

Photo credit: Nora Lewis

Beaching, biking, and s’mores on the Quad from a safe social distance: It’s how URI says hello.

First-year and transfer students will be welcomed to campus this year with an unprecedented orientation experience called “O-Week.” Meant to signify both orientation and the period preceding the first week of classes, O-Week is a mix of in-person, online, and hybrid experiences—reflecting the University’s dual goals of observing CDC pandemic guidelines and building community in those crucial first days of a student’s college experience. The move-in process will span two weeks, a measure intended to mitigate the potential spread of the COVID-19 virus.

A team of 16 student orientation leaders and tour guides will help facilitate O-Week under the direction of Erin Earle, associate director, Campus Visit Experience and Welcome Center. “This is about creating opportunities for students to make friends, to get connected to resources, and also to provide them with some entertainment, some sense of what life is like at URI,” said Earle.

Among those working with the incoming students will be Dakota Grenier ’20 and Luke Mackenzie ’21.

“The transition to college is a challenging one in the best of times, said Grenier, a nursing major interested in public health. “We’re excited to be a resource for our new students.”

For quarantined students, URI Libraries will offer the loan of books and DVDs as well as the opportunity to register to vote and to participate in digital crowdsourcing projects on diverse topics such as vintage Cuban radio, astronomy, criminals’ lives, and Greek and Roman mythology.

While this year’s experience will be different, it needn’t be isolating, said Mackenzie.

“Do away with the idea you’re going it alone; no one has this 100 percent figured out,” said Mackenzie, a Global Business and Spanish double major. “We have been working overtime to make sure students feel supported and connected.”